north of Nata to Palapye

I covered 450km today, which was the most I have ever done. That is mostly thanks to decent Botswana roads. I had a good night at the wild camp, but no wild animals appeared. It was really cold in the morning less than 12C, so I fired up the diesel heater, and after a while it actually worked.

I got going and just tried to cover the kilometers. Went through a vet fence were they checked my fridge, but I had not had meat for ages.  South of the vet fence was a lone Elephant by the side of the road.

I got to Francistown, where maybe the last time I was there was maybe 7 years ago? Francistown had grown. It had a shopping mall, a freeway. A Builders where I got some replacement hose connections that I broke.  I headed out of Francistown for a least 20km on a dual lane Freeway. The road became narrower after that but was still good, so I covered the kms. I got to Palapye close to dark, and was even more amazed by its transformation. Palapye used to be a collection of a few tiny shops. Now it has huge new subdivision north of town, many supermarkets, fast food joints, service stations. There are traffic jams, and so many people. This is what African development should be like. I go to Mozambique and nothing changes in 3 years, I go to Botswana and everything is improving. Thats what a decent government gets you.

I am camped at Camp Itumela in Palapye. Tomorrow Martins drift and the RSA border.

Lone Elephant by the Nata road
Camped at Camp Itumela in Palapye

 

Livingstone and Victoria Falls Zambia to north of Nata Botswana

I packed up and drove down to Victoria Falls, expecting as I got close some enormous car park where I would park Clancy for a fee. Instead I ended up driving to the border building and realising this wasn’t it. I drove back and found the entrance to the falls. I parked on the road with the trucks waiting for the border. It was just me, no enormous car park. I guess not many people drive to Victoria Falls, they are driven there.

So I paid about $A30 to enter. Didn’t need to show my passport, even though the sign said I did. I took my raincoat and entered into the Falls area. Since I had already seen it from the Zimbabwean side, I knew what it was like. I think this time the falls were drier and thus easier to see. Less spray blocking the view. I tend to think though to really see Victoria Falls you probably need to go up in a Helicopter.

After 30 minutes of viewing I was off. I stopped at Shoprite for some more supplies and headed of to the border, it was 70km away. I was going to use the last of my Kw buying fuel at the border, but that was a mistake because there was no fuel station. I drove up the approaches to the bridge, with fixers trying to wave me down, and me ignoring them and driving past. I drove over the bridge, and was sent to the Health building where they took note of my vax certificate. I then drove to the main building were someone at the front told me where to go. I visited Zambia Immigration, no forms just another stamp. Then Zambian customs where he took some of the enormous number of pieces of paper I had gathered in Zambia. Then it was over to Botswana immigration where I got my visa and then my bridge toll and road tax, all paid by credit card. Botswana is so civilised. That was all down in about 15 minutes. Then it was out to car inspection, which was a superficial look, they are more interested that the car comes fro Australia. Then I was out. The whole process took 30 minutes, its the best border crossing I have ever done!

I went to a money exchange then got some Pula in exchange for Rand. Then got a sim card with some data. Then some fuel, again paid with credit card, then of down the road. I was aiming for Panda camp 100km south. However when I got there I knew I could do another 100km. So I aimed for a wild camp another 100km south. Close to sunset, with a bit of searching I found it. Since I have seen Elephants, Oryx, and Giraffe on this road, I will have to be careful tonight.

Victoria Falls looking over to the Zimbabwean side
The only visitor who drove himself to the falls, the parking outside the entrance
Giraffe crossing the road north of Nata
Some Oryx next to the road north of Nata
Elephants next to the road north of Nata

east of Nyimba to Lusaka to Moorings Farm

I got woken up a bit before 7am at the wild camp east of Nyimba to someone outside saying “hello” many times. I looked outside through my peephole and saw someone across the clearing. I got everything packed up inside then went outside said hello, continued to pack, threw everything in the camper that was loose in about 2 minutes, then started the engine. He said he wanted to talk about mining. I said I didn’t understand, jumped in Clancy and drove off. I have no idea what he wanted.

I stopped in Nyimba for fuel, and bread rolls at a Bakery. The road started to get hilly as we got close to the Luangwa River bridge. I waited in a queue at the bridge, because it was one vehicle a time over the bridge.  When I crossed I talked to two Italians who were riding a KTM motorbike. They had been doing it for 7 years. Storing the bike and coming out for a few weeks each time to tour Africa.

I continued on the hilly terrain. The road was pot-holed, and there were so many broken down trucks. I estimated there was a broken down truck every 3km of this section of the T4.

I aimed for a lodge about 50km out of Lusaka, because I wanted to get in and out the same day. I stopped at the lodge, recommended on iOverlander, but they seemed to have no idea about people camping at the lodge, they only wanted to sell rooms. I gave up and continued on. I got to Malangano Camp, which was 25km out of Lusaka. It didn’t have great reviews on iOverlander, but I thought it was fine.

Next morning I got going into Lusaka traffic about 8am. No traffic further out, but as I got close, it was bumper to bumper.  I got to TyreKing, and as promised they had the battery and were helpful. It was about $A235, which seemed fine. I then drove to the adjacent mall, with the Builders and installed the battery and put the AGM battery back with the other one, and cabled it up. I went to Builders as well to see if I could get a piece of Aluminum angle to replace one that ripped off. However their range was a bit limited, I will have to get one in South Africa.

So then I headed south to the Pick and Pay supermarket. Pretty much a disappointment, not much range. I picked up a few things.

After the Pick and Pay I went to an Engen fuel station opposite where I was the victim of an attempted scam. I pull in and ask the attendant if they take credit card. Yes they do (so much better than Tanzania). So I tell him to fill it up. I know my tank is close to empty. So I look at the pump to see what the price is, and do notice that there is 500Kw for the previous sale. The attendant puts the nozzle in and I idly look away, and after a minute he says you only wanted 500Kw didn’t you. I am surprised and say, no I want the tank full. He says sorry and puts the nozzle in again and starts pumping. At this stage I think something strange is going on, and tell him to stop. I turn on the ignition and look at the fuel gauge, and of course the tank is still empty. If he had really put in 500Kw the tank would be half full. I say to him, you did not put in 500Kw and he looks sheepish and says no that was the previous car. I had caught him in a scam. I had heard of this scam, but this was the first time it had been tried on me.

Then it was south towards Livingstone. I targeted Moorings Farm, as it was about 150km, and would knock the trip to Livingstone in half. I got there about 4:30pm, with 2 other sets of campers already there. I had a nice shower via a donkey boiler, and I had 240V power. All was good.

The queue for the Luangwa Bridge, only one vehicle at a time
Sellers trying to find customers in the captive queue
The two Italians riding a KTM around Africa
Yet another broken down truck
Kids begging for money because they “filled in” a pothole. Maybe they did maybe someone did it last year.
Camped at Moorings Farm

 

Mfuwe to east of Nyimba

I stayed two nights at Wild Camp. The Elephants came and went. I was rotating the tyres when an Elephant approached and a staff member told me to be careful. When I came out of the shower block the second night, the night security warned me of an elephant hiding in the trees next to the shower block. I sat on the Luwangwa River both nights to watch the sunset and animal show. Definitely a good campsite, I hope to return.

So I emailed a couple of battery providers and one came back with a branch in Lusaka that has the replacement battery I want. So I loaded up with water, rotated the tyres, and greased the universal joints, ready for the 700km to Lusaka.

I got going by 8:30am. Stopped in Mufuwe for fuel. Got caught up in some enormous gathering with 100’s of people on the way to Chipita, that I had no idea what it was about. Once I got on the T4, all went pretty smoothly. A couple of toll booths, where they wanted to check my border purchased road toll plus pay 20Kw toll.

I stop just on dusk at an IOverlander wild camp east of Nyimba. I had to get the fibreglass gear out. I had to re-fibreglass the latch on one of the flaps, and the aluminum strip at the back of the camper, that has partially ripped off when I went down a steep embarkment and also broke the hose connection. This is the seventh month that Clancy has been travelling in Africa, so some wear and tear is to be expected.

Elephants helping rotate the tyres
Sunset on the Luangwa River
Driving the quite nice T4
Camped off the T4

 

Luangwa River to Mfuwe

The fishermen (about 10 of them) were around early to see if I could get started. So I skipped breakfast connected one of the Aldi batteries to the AGM deep cycle, and filled the air cooler with starting fluid, and the engine started. I thanked my helpers, and I drove a couple of km south and then stopped for breakfast (with the solar panels in the sun) and the engine was warm. and had breakfast.

I went through a couple more checkpoints. I was basically transiting national parks as I headed south. I stopped in a park to take a panorama, and while I was taking the panorama I noticed a herd of elephants. They gradually got closed and passed me 100m away. I also looked the other way and saw some zebras. I am sure I saw some Cape Buffalo as well.

The road continued south with a long river crossing and a very steep exit bank. I sure the villages gathered at the top of the bank thought they would have to push, but I had my hubs locked and low ratio, and I got up.

This is a more tourist area because I have problems with kids chasing me, which is very dangerous. They are either yelling out for sweets or money, but they chase me as I pass, and it happened in Mozambique where kids hung off the back. It hasn’t happened this trip, but its a dangerous habit.

I got the the bitumen, to the west of Mfuwe. Four days of dirt track. I drove into the centre of town, where there was a supermarket, and a market. I bought some fabulous bread rolls from a seller in the market. I need to get some more on the way out.

Then it was 6km to Wild camp, very popular according to iOverlander campsite. I rolled up to a group of elephants standing outside the entrance. They were fully booked, but they found me an overflow spot with no power. I haven’t had power for two weeks, so that wasn’t a problem. I told them I was going to stay 3 nights, but then I analyzed my route. I have to get a new battery and that is probably in Lusaka, and that’s 700km away. So I told them only two nights I have to get going Saturday. I will have to come back here and do this area again properly. I would like to do a game drive in the park, but my battery situation is too precarious.

A passing herd of Elephants
The Elephants standing around at the entrance to wild camp

 

Camped next to Elephants
Elephants at the back of Clancy

 

 

 

north of Chitete village to Luangwa River north Mfuwe

Well things went from bad to worse. I measured in the morning the battery voltage. O.02V. I started rigging up the solar panels to see if I could get the battery voltage up. I tried and tried for hours, got close to starting, but never actually got it going. I decided it ws time for plan B and see if I could gt one of the AGM storage batteries out, and get it to start the engine. Removing the battery was easier than I thought, but it is very heavy. It would not start it straight, but if I added the solar panel, plus the DC-DC charger and one of the Aldi 20V batteries it started.

Then down the road, leaving at lunch time. Still no internet. I went through three park check points. The second was the north end of Luambe National Park, with no fees if you are just transiting. In front of me at the checkpoint was an ordinary sedan car with 10 passengers! It was an interesting drive through Luambe National Park I saw one Elephant just of the road. I went through the exit checkpoint, where there was meant to be an iOverlander wild camp, but I looked for ages and could see no sign off it. I saw about 6 Giraffes just outside the park. The sun was going down so I headed for a camp right next to the road, but also the Luangwa River about 9km away. I made it just before dark. I got talking to some local fishermen, who told me to be careful because someone locally had got injured by a Lion that very day. They told me if I needed a push tomorrow they would give me a push-start.

Multiple attempts to connect different batteries nad solar panels to get the voltage up
Inserted and jury rigged cables to install one of the AGM deep cycle batteries
An Elephant by the side of the road on the D104
Giraffe by the side of the road D104
Another Giraffe
Passing another Giraffe
Camped by the Luwagwa River, I could hear the Hippos at night

 

road to Chama to south of Chimphamba Village

A great night camped in the quarry. No cars in the morning, its a pretty quiet road. I get going 8:30am. Within about 2km I come across a minibus down the side of an embankment, with the passengers waiting by the side of the road sitting on the seats removed from the minibus.

The road just got worse and worse. It became a 4wd track with me doing about 15kph. Areas of thick bulldust, ruts, creek crossings. I was somewhat dreading 100km of this all the way to Chama. I passed a couple of vehicles coming the other way, and minibus very slowly going my way. Then after 50km of this, there was a bridge crossing a river, and suddenly it became an excellent bitumen road. Not the first time I have hit this in Africa. A good road, then it doesn’t get finished and there is a section of terrible road, then back to a good road. The terrible road never gets fixed and so the whole road carries hardly any traffic.

I get close to Chama and the road goes past a dirt road intersection with lots of traffic on it. I keep going, someone waves and makes a hand gesture and it dawns on me that this good bitumen road goes nowhere, they never built the bridge across the river. I turn round and go back to the guy that gestured to me and yes the road goes nowhere. I go back to the intersection with the dirt road, and follow it into Chama.

Chama is a well built town, with nice bitumen roads, even roundabouts, and almost no cars, nearly all bicycles. I find the market centre and park. Someone comes up to the window and wants to fix my bicycle, which of course is fine, I just store it with the front wheel off so it fits. He then wants to “help” me. I have come across this before they want to “help” so that they can get some money off me later for their “help”.

I find the bakery, and buy some bread rolls. I walk though the market, but cannot find any bananas, mostly people are selling the tiny fish that are a like whitebait in New Zealand, and are sold in Malawi. The Malawi border is only about 100km away. Considering the lack of water around I wonder if that is where it comes from. As I drive out of the market I pass one of the rare cars. He yells out asking where I am going. I say I am heading south on the RD105. Keep in mind I have not seen another tourist for more than a day now. He stops gets out and asked for 20Kw (about $A2) to fix his tyre. I reply why is he asking random strangers he passes for money. The I say you must be one of the richest guys in town, you have a car. He half grins, and I drive off. I struggle finding the RD105 but after a misstep I head south on the track that is mostly used by people, and hardly used by cars.

It is a slow drive south. The road is narrow, but there are dozens and dozens of bicycles. Guys transported goods out of Chama south, people riding between villages, its a busy busy road, but just with bicycles. I come across two cars, and then further south I pass a few trucks. At 5pm I pass Chimphamba Village and find a clearing in the forest south as a camping spot. A few motorcycles and a truck pass before dark, but after that it is quiet.

The bad bit of the road to Chama
Bridge over the river to Chama, almost at the end of the bad road
Broken down truck blocking the RD105 south of Chama
Bicycles on the RD105 south of Chama
So many loads carried on Bicycles to villages south of Chama
The river crossed by the bridge on the bad road to Chama
Camped of the road south of Chimphamba Village

 

south of Kambikatoto to escarpment Forest camp north-east of Luala

My wild camp south of Kambikatoto was great. I heard nothing, not even anything driving down the road. I had my normal barley breakfast, and headed down the road, about 280km to go to Mbeya. The road was definitely worse. It was rocky, basically single lane, so I would have to squeeze to the side in the ditch to let trucks and buses pass. There were not many villages, and no mobile reception. About mid-morning I came to a rope across the road outside a village. This is a common practice with the Police, and most villages have some sort of barrier, but it was always up. I stopped at the barrier, and said a friendly hello to the your man who came up to the window. He spoke zero English. He tried telling me in Swahili why there was a rope, but I kept shrugging no understanding. Then it was the rubbing of stomach, and I knew this was extortion for money. I mentioned the word “Police” several times, and “illegal”, but this didn’t stop him. So I said I can wait here and block the road as long as I want. I switched of the engine, and wound up the window and starred forward, ignoring him. He went over and removed the rope and let me through. This might be inconsistent behavior with me paying the villagers to cross the river. However I was on much stronger ground in the bigger village. A truck or bus would come along some time and have to get past me.

I stopped for lunch then continued what was a punishing road, with corrugations and rocks. I was worried about fuel. I had not really bought enough fuel 200km+ north of me, so it was a sight for relief when I pulled into the first service station for about 200km. Except that it was closed because it had no Diesel. So off down the road, about 1km away, where there another servo, this time with Diesel.

I eventually got close to Makongolosi, where there was a Police stop and praise be, a bitumen road. I was heading for a iOverlander wild camp at the look-out about 34km form Mbeya. Outside Makongolosi as I had got 3g internet for the first time in 6 days, I stopped and uploaded the blog posts and pictures I had done. This timed the arrival at the look-out camp a nice 5:15pm. Unfortunately, the look-out camp was having a fence built and had a security guard, so that campsite was a bust. I turned back down the road, because the area was all pine forest (I was at 2000m+), and within 500m I found a forest track. About 300m down it I found a good spot, out of view of the road. I set up the shower tent for another hot shower, draining the hot water from the roof hot water tank. This was the 5th night of wild camps in a row.

Yet another broken down truck
Bee hive traps, these are all over the place made of different materials designed to trap bee hives
Camped at 2100m+ in a pine forest

east of Kafuri to Migungani – turning south

I spent two days at the wild camp east of Kafuri. I didn’t see any crocs, hippos, or Kilimanjaro.  Yesterday it was thick cloud, and it rained two or three times during the day. I had a child cattle herder come past. Maybe he was 10 years old. He had this dog helping him. You would think the dog (and the boy) would get tired all day guiding these cattle. However, no. The boy played with the dog, he threw things for the dog to chase, and the dog ran up and down chasing things. Levels of energy I wish I had. Then the boy playing with the dog in the (crocodile infested) water, catches a fish with his bare hands, and tries to sell it to me.

Later a fisherman came along on the river in his canoe.

I got going early, my battery levels were low, because there had been almost no solar the previous day. Amazing fact of the day. I went through 20+ police stops and did not get pulled over once! The reason for this I think is its tourist central. There are Landcruiser Troop carriers all over the place ferrying white people around, so maybe the police are under orders to leave the white tourists alone.

Then it was onto Arusha. Arusha is big, 400,000+ people. I headed for the Shoppers supermarket to get some more apples. I tried getting more small denomination USD for the Zambia border, but again it was too hard.

I have decided I am going to take a detour, to see if I can drive through the Hadza lands. I am bit bit fascinated with the Hadza, some of the last hunter-gathers left, especially the double labelled water experiments. The Hadza live near Lake Eyasi, so tomorrow I will see if I can pass that way.

So I am camped at a campground at Migungani. First hot shower in five days.

Fisherman on the swamp/river
The furthest north I will get this trip, 3.3 degrees from the equator
The best picture I could get of Kilimanjaro

 

 

Dar es Salaam to north of Mailikumi to east of Kafuri

Another slow start out of Mikadi Beach campsite at Dar es Salaam. I was doing some extra cooking to store in the fridge. If I cook when I have power and store it in the fridge, its much cheaper, I don’t use any gas. I also had to check Clancy underneath, check for loose suspension bolts etc.

I thought about taking the ferry across the harbour, but too many unknowns, and I had driven the road in, so how hard could it be? Well returning to the centre of Dar was much harder the other way. The roadworks were routed differently, and it took be at least an extra half an hour to negotiate all the detours. I headed to the Dar city centre, because I wanted to get some small denomination USD for the Zambian border. There was several money exchanges in the centre of town I had seen the previous day. So because of all the one way streets in the city centre I had to follow a tortuous route with the GPS. When I got close I realised my target was wrong and I had to circle around again, all very slowly. I went in a second time, and by chance someone waved a parking spot to me. This was some sort of parking scam with the parking inspector. I gave the guy 1000Tsh (about $0.65), and it seemed to work. I tried the money exchange, but they didn’t have small denomination notes, so it was all a bit useless, and I headed back to Clancy.

Then I headed north to shoppers plaza, with the shoppers supermarket. I loaded up with more supplies. I paid another 1,000Tsh (about $0.65) for a car guard with a double barreled shotgun to guard Clancy, which I thought was very good value. Then I was finally ready to leave Dar es Salaam at 1pm in the afternoon.

I had a target of 290km in the GPS, but I had two sub targets thinking I would never get 290km. I got near Bagamoyo, about 80km north of Dar. The camping ground looked very nice, but I have to get moving. I have 4,500km to do to get back to Joberg.  So I pushed on. At 5pm I passed the next target another 100km on, and I decided I would push on and find a wild camp before the next target which was the original another 116k further on. It got closer to dark, it was 6:30pm, and I could not find any camp. So breaking my African rules again I drove into the night figuring I would make the wild camp at 290km out of Dar. Of course it was horrible, but so many other people drive in the night in Africa. I went through two police stops that pulled me over with their torches. Its crazy for these police to be standing in the middle of the road in the dark. About 7:30pm I came to an intersection with two servos, one a Puma, one an Engen. I tried the Puma to see if they would take a credit card (Puma usually do), but not this time. Try the Engen they said. So off to the Engen. Yes they would take a credit card but they had run out of diesel.

So I slowly drove on the last 8km, doing about 50kmh, and made it to the wild camp along a powerline at 8pm.

Next morning I was up having breakfast at 6:30am, because I wanted to get going and cover the 240km to Misho, the nearest town to Mount Kilimanjaro. The road was good. A couple of police stops along the way, include a surprise one where he wanted to see my passport. So after a lunch stop I decided to make for a wild camp east of Kafuri. So I am camped by the river which the locals tell me has crocodiles and hippos

Camped by the Irara river
Firing mud bricks. I have seen these stacks all over Malawi and Tanzania, but I have never seen on in operation.