05-28-2010, 08:00 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Livingstone to Sinazongwe
It was to be just two of us, me and my pal Hennie. Neither me nor Hennie had any experience of Zambia, but we had heard good things, and we were keen to do a trip with a difference.
Normally our trips are at the end of the dry season. This helps with the terrain and the game viewing. But I have grown weary of the dusty, dry and mono-chrome surrounds. I wanted some greenery, moist sandy tracks and the odd thunderstorm to pretty things up. So we planned to hit Zambia at the end of the wet season.
Our first target was to ride the length of Lake Kariba on the Zambian side. So we started from Livingstone and the first 60 potholed kilometers claimed my number plate.
As soon as we swung off the main road towards the lake, it became clear that we were gonna get what we came for.
I have never been able to ride mud, and I doubt that it is a skill that I will ever acquire. This red stuff however turns out to be not too bad. It’s scary stuff to encounter and it makes you build up a sweat in no time, but after a couple of kilometers you can actually ride it pretty effectively. It’s almost like sand, just let the bike move around and do it’s thing, the throttle can get you out of most situations.
Rivers are running fast and high. Not really a good sign because we intend crossing a variety of rivers that are only passable in the dry season. Zambia had a proper wet season this year; three weeks before we came, there was news of 12 people having drowned in floods.
When we get to a village we stop for some refreshments. Have a look at my headlight and screen on the X and the headlight and screen on Hennie’s 800. We had just ridden the exact same road. Now please explain to me how BMW finds it appropriate to fit an ornamental fender to the most off-road biased model in their range?
It turns out that this village has no beer at all. Well, not commercial beer. They do make a home made jobbie from milk and maize though; chibuku. Now this is upsetting news for us, we are on the first day of our trip and already there’s a beer issue. We may have to learn new vices if this is indicative of how things are going to be for us further on. So we have some chibuku. It turns out to be an acquired taste. We will have to put some effort in if we hope to become regular imbibers. On the plus side, it’s cheap, around $0,15 a glass (or plastic container). There, it tastes a lot better already.
After climbing a rough track we finally get our first view of Lake Kariba in the distance.
We have left the road by now and the track we are on is proving to be very enjoyable. Stopping at a stream to cool down I take the opportunity to clean some of that mud off my radiator.
We are by now riding parallel with the lake but the track is several kilometers inland so we never get to see the lake. Good riding however, crossing streams and the like every so often.
We get some quality riding in and by late afternoon we notice that we are within striking distance of a lodge called Kariba Bush Club. Seeing that we are tired and dusty this looks to be the ideal spot to overnight. When we get there, there is a sign at the gate that they are closed for a private function. We try our luck anyway but are shown away without so much as an offer of a cold one as consolation. The cherry on the cake being that the guys in charge stand there with beers in their hands. To be fair though, they were really civil about it.
The next lodge is 60 km away. A bit of a tall order as it is late afternoon already, but I reckon we can make it. I’m wrong of course, like I always am when it comes to getting somewhere before dark. And so it happens that on the first day, in the dark, we have to cross a river where the bridge washed away. Although it is not too deep it is flowing and has a sandy bottom (‘spoelsand’ in Afrikaans). I make it some way in before the back wheel buries itself.
Excellent, wet boots for tomorrow then. To our relief extra hands appear out of the night.
They are experienced in these matters too and we are sternly instructed by an 11 year old to shut the bikes down and put it in neutral. By pushing the bikes they are able to stay largely on top of the sand and although it is hard work and I have to take a short break to get my breath back, we manage to get both bikes across.
All this takes place just 3km short of our destination. And the last 3km we have to find our way through a flooded floodplain which can be tricky in the dark.
When we finally get to Lakeview Rest Camp, we are the only guests. Being tired, filthy and wet, we opt to take a bungalow and with an icebucket full of beers and Fanta we retire to our stoep to reflect on Day One.
We are mightily impressed with Zambia. It’s seldom that the first day of a trip gets out of the blocks so decisively. We are well satisfied, this was not a day wasted.
metaljockey screwed with this post 06-02-2010 at 02:50 PM