Thread: Zambian Joyride
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:12 PM   #32
metaljockey OP
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
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Ihmman's Camp to bush camp

It turns out to be a lovely spot. Hennie has the unique experience of a vervet monkey urinating on his head while he sleeps.

A spider making himself at home in my bedding.

It takes us a while to get going as I am kept busy trying to get the airshock to do what I want.

As we continue in the direction of the Lower Zambezi National Park the animals increase, we also see elephant but cannot get a good picture. The parks in Zambia aren’t fenced, they are surrounded by Game Management Areas which are populated by man and wildlife alike.

When we get to the park and pull in at Nature Conservation the message is unambiguous – no pedestrians, bicycles or motorcycles allowed. But they turn out to be the nicest people and on seeing our disappointment, they organize us breakfast and a beer. How decent, especially as they do not cater for visitors. I have to juxtapose this against the treatment we got at Kariba Bush Club, who showed us away without as much as an offer of a drink of water.

We go to the Chongwe river, which is the border of the park, to have a look at what we are missing. The park is also only accessible to vehicles for part of the year when the river is low enough to cross. This is not that time of year. This is the crossing.

Looking at the frowning locals it may have been a blessing in disguise that we were not allowed in.

In this riverine forest the visibility is not so good and the bush is full of elephant. So what we do is ride very slowly to give them the opportunity to move away. Except that the track then turns and you are on the other side of the same lot that just tried to get out your way.

While we are riding on tenterhooks like this, swiveling heads checking for elephant, I suddenly see two lion slap bang in front of us, lying under a small tree. A full mane male and a female. They are close, maybe 30 metres and the track passes right next to them.

I jam the brakes and Hennie cruises on another ten metres before he stops, he hasn’t seen them, he is looking for elephant. He turns around to check why I’m stopping, by this time I’m already making turn around maneuvers, I motion with my head to look in front of him. When he sees the two lion not 20m away looking him in the eyes he goes into a stupor. For a further two seconds we look at them and they look at us, then, suddenly the lions jump up and race away. We also assist by putting some more distance between us and them. When it looks like we are clear I stop and take a pic, understandably a little blurry.

Bikes cannot be common here, and the fact that we were two might have been the little bit extra needed for the lion to be caught off guard. Where we were, if they came for us, we would have had no chance at all.

The Nature Conservation people had given us directions to a road that leads out of the valley to the north, so that we did not have to backtrack to the ferry again. It’s called the Leopards Hill road and we find it quite easily. Again a road that has not yet been put in use since the start of the wet season.

In places it is thoroughly overgrown. Not the most pleasant stuff to ride in. The seeds are sharp and your forearms gets cut. The seeds also penetrate your clothing and then gets to prick you many times over. Lastly you get a colourful collection of insects joining your forearms for a short ride, some of them repaying you by stinging, biting and whatever the word is for what the the hairy worms do to you.

In this grass it is easy to lose the track. We stop here and as soon as the motors is shut off, the friendly chap behind me calls out to come and show us the correct way. Zambians are really just the most helpful lot.

Then the track turns into a river. A blind one, you cannot see the other end, so you do not know if it gets deeper or gets overgrown or just turns into a big river.

Luckily it has a quality rocky bottom, so Hennie is off.

Some to and fro shouting and I know it’s safe, he’s on the other side.

A nice 90 degree lip.

As the afternoon shadows gets longer the track keeps moving upward and things start opening up.

It turns into the most beautiful scenery. This area is not populated and we are the only ones around to enjoy it.

The pass going up turns out to be very steep and twisty as well as technical and we ride it in one go. So unfortunately no pictures. But really worth it and I can recommend this road to any 4x4 junkie.

When we get to a river we are ready to stop for the night.

Cool clear running water feels like heaven after a hot day of getting slapped by grasses. A bath is in order.

There are beautiful pools upstream.

Little fish come and groom you from top to toe. Really pleasant, like little fingers all over your body.

It is impossible to find any open piece that is not overgrown, so we camp in the road.

metaljockey screwed with this post 06-02-2010 at 01:57 PM
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