Zambezi and Ferry Crossings

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Zambia  , Western,
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On the way to Liuwa

We would stop off at Sioma falls in Ngonye Park as it was en route. We stopped at the campsite first.  A rustic campsite, with interesting ablutions. Although we could not see the falls from here, one can walk to the river. Beautiful pure white sand that whistles when you walk on it lies stretched out before you, right up to the river.  We had fun running in the sand to hear the sand whistle under our feet. Black volcanic rock forms a sharp contrast to the white sand, and then, on the other side of it, the fast flowing blue waters rush by. 

Peter told us that we need to get to the falls, to view it from the top, to appreciate the horse shoe shape. We stopped at reception only to be told that we need to pay the equivalent of R230 per person to walk to the falls – about 5 min away.  Well, we saw Vic Falls a day before and decided that it was not worth the money or the time.  

The next stretch of road to Mongu was being worked on with heavy machinery and laborers busy at it.  The signs were all hand painted on oil drum lids. Others cut into triangles. The river was to our right but we could only see it from time to time. At some stage there was an option of either crossing a scary looking bridge or a muddy water crossing.  Mike and Christine investigated and went for the bridge.  With them safely on the other side, we took the same option.  The bridge has a metal frame with planks across.  The noise it made when we drove over it was enough to give one nightmares.  We made it!

Mongu Town was next.  Here we needed to fill up on fuel and water.  Draw money from the teller in Kwacha making us instant millionaires. This was around mid day.  We had the option to stay at the only camp in town – Motoya. Behind corrugate iron gates, a refreshing campsite awaited.  Only problem was that the road down the hill was thick, deep sand and not either of us were willing to risk the possibility of getting stuck.  Motoya is also a mission station with a tented camp used for this purpose.  We had to push on the next best thing.

The road from Mongu was "off road" to say the least.  The Chinese are busy building a big new road, but for the moment it is hardly a road.  This made for slow going and we reached the first ferry crossing just short of the cut off time, 5h30. Now we had to put foot to reach Kalabo where we would have to stay for the nigh.  The GPS showed a campsite in Kalabo. When driving into Kalabo, just as it was getting dark, we realized that the camp was on the other side of the ferry!! The other camp was a lodge with no camping.  Last resort, look for the community base campsite. The GPS said – “community camp site – ask for Lemonte Simalayo.  So that is exactly what we did.  Only thing is not everyone seemed to know Lemonte Simalayo.  Driving through villages and bush we got to a spot – on the other side of deep sand where we almost got stuck – we got to a spot in the bush that was the supposed camp.  Some locals arrived with Mr Lemonte Simalayo in tow. He agreed that we could camp here for the night.  There were no facilities what so ever.  Only a clearing under some big trees.  We paid something like 100 000 K for the night + a fee for the man that called Mr Simalyo.  Then Richard appeared.  He brought fire wood.  We thanked him. All too soon we realized that Richard was not going anywhere.  He wanted to “look after us”, be our security guard.  At a fee, no doubt.  We agreed and Richard sat with us around the fire for a while before we retired to our beds and he guarded our camp for the night.  Christine and I both gave him dinner, tea, coffee and milo – some in the early hours of the morning.  He stayed for breakfast and after receiving his payment bid us farewell.  We had a crowd of youngsters watching our every move for about Hours.  How we ate, cooked, cleaned, packed up camp, etc.  Not soon enough we got out of there to make arrangements to cross the ferry and enter Liuwa.

This process took about two and a half hours.  Long enough for us to soak up some of the local vibe and activity.  A colorful place with much activity.  A place with a lot of unwritten rules.  One of which I got into trouble for.  Don't take pictures without asking!! Unless you can hand them a copy to keep.

We were on the road to Liuwa at long last.  It is not over till the fat lady sings!! The road was something else.  A lot of deep sand driving with a number of nervous moments.

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