Just a small note to mention, yesterday we moved out of our room at a lodge to our more permanent home. It is a bungalow type on a walled plot of land with a shared access with the owner's house that is exactly the same. The rental includes water, telephone and cable TV (not that I watch much anyway). Also included is what appears to be a large number of staff. We have a cleaner that comes twice a week and is included in the cost but the owner (with a family of four) has more than I can yet recognise. I know he has a male cook cum house manager, there is a cleaner for sure if not two. Then there is the night security man, probably a day security man, gardener and I don't know if he sorts out the shared pool as well. Maybe it is someone else. All I do know is when I got up this morning at 6am, someone had already cleaned my car.
Mentioning the car, we went out for dinner with a few of Mrs M's work colleagues. Had an excellent steak but I took an instant dislike to one man, who fortunately won't be around much as he is being posted elsewhere. He knew we had been looking for a car - he has a Toyota Landcruiser 70 series (which means little to most people but does to me. It is probably the ultimate overland vehicle) fully kitted out, roof tent, recovery gear etc. He asked me what I'd bought, I told him why we had bought what we did and said it was a Mitsubishi Pajero. He sneered. He actually sneered. He was sitting opposite me with Mrs M to my side. Mrs M immediately put her hand on my thigh under the table and pressed down to stop me getting up and slapping him. She really did believe there was a danger I'd do that. I think she knew what was going through my mind.
Internet is not the most advanced of things here, as expected, and I took quite a while to decide what might suit us the best. None of the providers... errr..... provide anything like European standards for speed, cost and limit (or not). If you have about two hundred euro a month you can get something quite reasonable and though it is supposed to be unlimited the small print restricts you to I think 100Gb a month. You do need fibre optic cables put in though. We opted for a 'pay as you go' mifi router thing which I don't fully understand but gives enough speed and capacity for what we need. You can get bundles to top it up to whatever you need but 25Gb is about 40 euro. That is plenty for us as we don't tend to stream movies and stuff.
He was, or rather, is, an arrogant expat and also him and his wife were quite rude to the serving staff at the restaurant. I think they've lived too long in the expat lifestyle. I just hope I never get like that. The lip moved enough that a work friend of his said they had many Pajeros as project cars (cars used by the company to go to far off places for the running of different infrastructure projects).
He is the alpha male type, which I have no time for and it was only a few sentences later after he'd listed the places he'd gone in the car (all being southern African countries), that Mrs M, bless her little cotton socks, just so happened to mention and go into a long explanation of all the African and Asian countries I'd done expeditions through. In a truck. Leading a group. In all weathers. I just ignored him after that.
Oh good for you Mark - that must have dented his ego! But not too worry my good man - his bank account is probably in the RED, he has awful, just awful hemorroids, and can't get IT up for love or money. Just laugh the A-hole off as a bad joke. People like him have very low esteem so try to impress with their wordly goods. So sad when it backfires...NOT!
Lol - I want to remember that for future use. Fascinating Mark - just catching up with this thread . I am embarrassed to say that I had to look up Zambia - of course I knew it was Africa somewhere to the south but no idea otherwise. PS I think the male of the duo looks quite content ... rather than scared
Bixa, if you see people sneer I bet they can only do it with the one side of the mouth. I certainly can't do it both ways. Try it. I wonder if there is a word, like ambidextrous, if you can. Maybe ambisneertrous.
lugg, Zambia usually stays off the radar. That is good. I think it's not unusual to not be able to point it out on a map.
Somewhere around 3 to 4 hours away from Lusaka is one of the major National Parks. It is called Kafue. I went there many years ago, probably so long ago that if I saw any animals, they'd be the children if not the grandchildren of those I saw originally. I did wonder if in their folklore they would have heard of me. Especially the two lions I watched for a good couple of hours mating. The male wasn't too pleased with being put off by the sound of camera shutters, I remember.
I decided to overnight in the park mainly for a couple of reasons. To give the car a good run and also to try out the camping kit I brought with me, rather than going for a serious trip and finding something missing or kaput. Mrs M is away on business so it was the ideal opportunity to do so. We brought stuff from Spain such as a tent and sleeping bags but I've had to locate some other things here. One other reason is to see if using a normal tent as opposed to splashing out on a roof tent, is do-able and convenient.
I tried to organise things in the same way as if we were heading out for a few days, especially as the old saying when camping is you end up carrying enough for a night as you do a fortnight. Apart from food and clothes, that is. So I bought a few cheap plastic boxes and divided stuff up and shoved it in the back of the car. I still carried things like a folding table and a full cooking kit even though I knew I wouldn't use them. They were just left inside but gave me an idea about what to pack and what to pack where.
The first few hours along the tarmac road were drama-less, especially because I found some very, very long straight bits it seemed. Eventually though I turned off and spent a little time on something like this -
Another turn led me down something a bit smaller -
And the final turn along here -
I wasn't really looking for animals though I know there are many. I'm not that lucky with them anyway as all I seem to be able to photograph is their backsides as they are walking away. I saw plenty of elephant tracks and poop but the only time they made an appearance was in the middle of the night around the campsite. There were a number of different deer/antelope, plenty of hippos in the river (but none decided to pose for me), tons of monkeys and some relations of Pumba skittered across in front of me with their comical tails held high. There is no way I can do better than Tod's photos anyway, so I though unless i see something particularly good, I'll approach this from the angle of the extra bits you probably wouldn't normally see.
Just to prove I did see something -
After some hours and ready for a break I hit the campsite, which is as usual, attached to a Lodge. There were just three pitches at the side of the river and as it is off season I managed to grab one of the two vacant ones. Behind those though are a number of others, maybe ten in total. For your information, camping was 150Kw (about 15 euro) per night. To stay in the Lodge would be about 300 euros per person per night.
The view from my place -
You can't see the hippos in any of these photos, but trust me, they were there and quite a raucous bunch too.
My 'bit' of river bank -
Looking back there are the other pitches -
“Stuff” in the back of the car -
My ringside seat for the afternoon and evening -
Eventually I was accompanied by a little rainbow -
There were a couple of toilet blocks, kept clean by a man who lived nearby in his own little hut. He was also on hand to help with anything like setting the fire, sorting out water, putting tents up and striking camp and rubbish collection -
Each block had a septic tank and was supplied every morning and evening with hot water by one of these -
Unfortunate evidence of previous game -
I had a fairly peaceful night, if you excluded the night birds, insects and those bloody elephants traipsing through the camp. They sounded "just like a herd of elephants". The hippos must have gone elsewhere. Maybe to a party down river, but they were quite quiet. On the way back today I grabbed a shot or two of the local residences strung along the road. Often each has an extended family and a bit of land to try and grow something -
I needed to get back today for an appointment but I've a mind to nip away overnight again soon – just for research purposes, of course.
A small incident on the way back - On the main road there are a number of Police checkpoints. Quite normal. At one in the middle of nowhere I stopped, as required and instead of being waved on, the Policeman asked me a couple of questions. Again, often normal, as they sometimes are bored and just want a little change in routine. He asked me where I'd come from and then where I was going. I told him first I was going to a nearby town, about 25km away for fuel en route back to Lusaka, a further 150km. He asked politely if I could give a lift to a middle aged man nearby who was heading for the town. I said it was ok and the man jumped in.
Soon he was talking about wanting me to sponsor him and/or investing in his business. I wasn't interested to find out more and spoke little to encourage him as I am often asked the same things. I told him I was retired, I lived on a small pension and had little money. He then told me his family owned a small guesthouse cum lodge that they wanted to sell and did I want to buy it? I mentioned my pension again and having no savings. He then asked if I would just give him money anyway but didn't specify what for. We shortly entered the town where he was to get off and I was to re-fuel. I asked where I could drop him. He said, "I don't think I will stop here now. You can take me to Lusaka" - (about two more hours away at least and there are regular buses between the two places).
I said, "No, I'm not doing that. I'm stopping here (pointing at the petrol station) and you can get out". His mother's words probably got the better of him and he mumbled a "thank you" as he reluctantly alighted.
I always say that even though hippos are dangerous, they are vegetarian. That means they may kill you, but they won't eat you.
My mother was chased by a hippo because she got between it and the water. She just managed to run and dive into their car before it reached her. So yes, get between a hippo and the water, surprise it at night (using flash photography for instance) or get too close to it when it is in the water, and they are very dangerous. Leave them be, let them munch the grass round your tent, (albeit noisily and scarily) and they are fine. It is the scared thing and the getting between it and the water thing that makes them nervous. Elephants are usually fairly placid unless they are in 'musth'.
A few questions floated through my mind as I read this interesting addition.
1. Were there road signs to your destination on those small roads or did you have to rely on GPS? 2. Was the firewood provided or did you have to hunt for some yourself? 3. Is the water level high or low at the moment? It looks like that river could flood very easily. 4. What are the daytime temperatures now? 5. Mosquitoes?
1. Were there road signs to your destination on those small roads or did you have to rely on GPS? A combination of both. There is often a sign put up privately pointing off the main road to a certain Lodge. It is then up to them to put more up at track junctions, or as is often the case, don't bother or they have fallen down or whatever. Invariably I do my research anyway and make note of GPS points if I feel it warrants it. I'd rather have too many than too few. In this case I also took note of distances which were easier to manage than having to input all the GPS points. So it was easy enough to remember something like - turn off road at sign, go 8km to junction and turn left, go 6.5km and turn off right etc etc. Eventually you get pretty close anyway.
2. Was the firewood provided or did you have to hunt for some yourself? Provided. Usually is in many southern African campsites. Plus, as mentioned, the man who lit it and looked after it for me. He also set up a wash basin with water and offered to do the tent thing and the washing up. I gave him the equivalent of 2 euros the next morning which he was quite happy with.
3. Is the water level high or low at the moment? It looks like that river could flood very easily. Water level is quite low as the rains have only just started. They should last for another few months. The photos are a bit deceptive because I doubt the campsite would get flooded. It was a bit too high I think but not far away it probably would..
4. What are the daytime temperatures now? In Lusaka it is mid to high twenties but getting a little cooler. Further south in the Lower Zambezi you can add on about another six to eight degrees as it is a lot lower in height. Lusaka stands at about 1200m. I was in Kafue which is about the same as the capital. Most places are quite humid though - after Egypt, Spain and Jordan in comparison.
5. Mosquitoes? Yes, but actually not as many as I'd thought. I still sleep under a mossie net and use prevention in the evening but it is quite liveable with. In the park, with having little or no standing water, there were few. Plenty of normal flies though because of the poop from the elephants plus a few tsetse flies, which I hate. One thing just to add on - in many restaurants which have an outside area (which is most), in an evening if you ask they will virtually always provide you with a can of mossie spray. It's the done thing to supply some.
It looks beautiful and peaceful out there. I'm assuming no electric lights so you could see the stars and so the animals rhythms weren't disrupted.
Fascinating to see the traditional houses. Adobe? Also, is that red soil clay? It looks as though the garden plots are kept small enough so that minimal water is necessary. It must have to be carried from the lake or a stream, as I don't see any cisterns.
There is often a mixture of normal, though locally made and of poor quality, brick and adobe bricks and .... (I had to look this up) cob. The problem mainly is when the rains come and wash stuff away. Adobe works best in dry climates doesn't it. I did notice various ways they build the huts/houses and it seems more and more are being made of normal brick with the thatched roof. In the photo of my chair with the Pringles you can see behind a sort of shelter which is used on the campsite for cooking in. Things can be built initially like this, wood frame, thatched roof, and then the sides filled in depending on what material is common where you are. With the two photos of the houses it did take me a little while to find the right places out of the many that were along the road. The reason being that invariably they all seemed to have at least one or two square structures that aren't traditional.
Water is usually carried and as you would expect, by the women and kids. You get plastic water deposits in the towns and cities but rural areas don't have them. It is also getting less and less that water is from a stream except really off in the wilds. There are more and more standpipes now especially because of projects from NGO's etc. A well is actually something I can't remember seeing yet.
Those concrete trenches at the edges look really lethal.
And once it rains, I think they might need to make some a bit deeper still -
This is one I pass near where I live and as there is a downpour now nearly every day it is a regular thing. It's not the only one either but just so happens to be where I could stop and grab a quick photo.