I left Karen at Livingstone airport, and drove back into Livingstone, and then headed south. I got to the Zambian border, with the fixers trying to stop me at the beginning of the bridge at Kazungula. Over the bridge, into the combined border crossing on the Botswana side. It was about 15 minutes, paid my bridge toll to the Botswana customs, and had my vehicle checked, then I was out to Kazungula. I went to the supermarket, then headed south towards Nata.
I saw an elephant and baby not far south, and a few giraffes. However it was all pretty dry compared to when I had travelled south a bit more than a year ago. At the wild camp, which I had camped at a year ago, 200km down the road, I stopped about 30 minutes before sunset.
I had a quiet night, but even though I was 500m from the Nata road, I could still hear the traffic.
Next morning I got going about 7:30am. I stopped at Nata for more fuel. Then continued south. The road south of Nata is a bit narrow with broken edges, so I wasn’t going fast, maybe 65kph. Eventually I got to Francistown, which was busy. I thought about headed to the shopping mall on the main street, but it was way too busy, and jammed with cars, so I continued on south. I was going to stay at a campsite at Palapye, but the latest iOverlander review said someone had got robbed their. So I decided to turn off earlier and head to an iOverlander wild camp, east of Palapye, that had got good reviews. I got to the quarry just before dusk, and it was a great quiet place to camp.
Up and going at 6:30am I headed for the border at Martins Drift. I tried to get fuel at the servo near the border, but their network was down, and they couldn’t take a credit card. I cleared the Botswana border, and then managed to weave through the trucks on the South African side. I managed this time to get a TIP (temporary import permit), after about 30 minutes of waiting. Then old though the Police check at the exit to the border crossing. I stopped amongst the dozens of trucks on the South African side and put up the starlink dish, and added data to my Vodacom sim, and then heade south-east. I got more fuel, and kept driving until I got to the Weesgerus campsite near Modimolle. I was jammed in with lots of other caravans, because it was school holidays.
Its an OK campground, and the next morning I got going around 7:30am. It was 10km to the N1, where I hit a police checkpoint. I managed to get though that and worked my way down the N1 for 180km to Johannesburg. I arrived at Airport en Route around 1pm in the afternoon. Total trip around 5,000km.
It was another warm night. As Karen has pointed out we have had about 3 weeks of 35C+ weather. We got everything ready for the Botswana to Zambia crossing. I knew this crossing could be difficult. When I crossed from Tanzania to Zambia last year, it took me more than 3 hours, and I had to employ a fixer to assist me.
We loaded up with fuel at Kazungula, and headed across the bridge over the Zambezi River to the combined Border facility. We had to go through the gatehouse and get a gate pass, something we didn’t expect, possibly because we have an Australian registered vehicle. We then went to the main passenger terminal building. The whole border process took 90 minutes, which was faster than I expected.
Then it was the 60km drive to Livingstone. We got to Livingstone and stopped at the Shoprite supermarket and got supplies. Then down the road to Thorn Tree Safari where I had stayed at a year earlier. We suffered from the large number of mosquitoes at Thorn Tree overnight.
The next day Karen suggested we go to the Royal Livingstone hotel where we had drinks at the riverside deck, and could see the spray from Victoria Falls in the distance.
Then on Monday I dropped Karen at Livingstone airport, and she headed to Iringa Tanzania while I headed south towards Johannesburg.
Campsite at Moorings farm was good, because it was 2km from the road, and thus very quiet. Everyone left before me, I got to the main road by 9am. It was 350km to Livingstone.
Pretty uneventful drive. I passed a town around lunch time that advertised a Steers, which is a South African burger chain. I thought a chicken burger would make nice lunch. It cost 75 Kw and I handed over 100Kw, but as is typical of Zambia they don’t have enough change. It takes an extra 5 minutes to come up with 25Kw change (just over $A2). The campsite at Moorings charged 140Kw, but they cannot change 150Kw I gave them (less than $A1), so I paid 150Kw. Same with Wildlife Camp at Mfuwe, it cost me an extra 20Kw because they could not give me change. I find it interesting that the supplier of the service is never willing to take the loss.
I stopped at the side of the road for a stretch, then went to start the car, and nothing. I had no ignition at all. I thought this is not good, as the battery failed already? A bit of investigation showed a broken fusible link. I think the link probably stretched under load with all the temporary cabling putting the AGM battery in. I temporarily fixed the link and everything was good.
I got to Livingstone, stopped at the Shoprite, which was the most supplied one ever. I bought some pink lady apples. Then off to Thorn Tree lodge, about 2km from Victoria falls. There are elephant droppings everywhere, the lady who greeted me said they were here a few minutes ago. I can hear the helicopters making flights over the falls. I will go and see the falls tomorrow. I have seen the falls from the Zambezian side, tomorrow from the Zambian side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I spent 3 nights at Kings Highway campsite so I could fix the broken things. I fibreglassed the wheel arch back together. Then I reconnected the broken cables and routed them lower from the body so they would not get cut again by the severe motion of the camper body. I found in the end one broken rubber mount that I decided to leave for now because it will be tricky to replace (I have spares). I had problems with the cables trying to figure out which was which. Especially a cable that I had put in that I had never used.
So with all the packing up, I had spread out again, I got going about 9:30am. First stop was Isoka, about 60km down the road to go to an ATM. I was down to about $A15 left. The road to Isoka was new, and very easy to drive. I however have got so used to driving slowly, that I rarely go over 70kmh. I went through a Police stop outside Isoka where the policewoman interrogated me for quite some time, and also asked for a cold drink. I then turned into Isoka, drove the 3km to the township and found the ATM. The ATM refused the card. Darn I thought, ATMs in Zambia where not going well. It was 80km to the next bank. I was ready to drive off when I thought, what if I try my credit card? I did, and it worked, and I withdrew the maximum of 6,000Kw (probably too much).
Flushed with money I went on a spending spree in town. One thing I like about Zambia is that many more people speak English, its easy to do business. I wandered the main street and found a little market. I bought some peanuts, and some potatoes. I was offered tomatoes. I have to rant a little about tomatoes. I don’t dislike tomatoes, but they really don’t travel very well, but I probably should eat them more. However it is amazing in East Africa that Tomatoes are everywhere. You can guarantee as some roadside stall there will be tomatoes on offer , if not anything else. Anyway I also bought some bananas and crossed the road to a bakery I had seen and bought two bags of bread rolls.
So I hit the road down to towards Chinsali the last town with fuel. The good road ended some time out of Isoka and I was back to road works. I got to Chinsali ,I filled up the tank with another 33l. It was then 40km down the T2 to the turnoff to Chama. I was really surprised the road to Chama was bitumen. It went on for maybe 80km before deteriorating to dirt. I went through another military checkpoint, and then drove another 2km and found a disused quarry at the side of the road. Quarry’s are my favorite place to camp. No scrub, usually hidden from the road. This was really quiet. I must be a fair way from villages I heard no noise during the night, and only two vehicles came past earlier in the evening.
I slept well at the Forest camp, but it was cold in the morning. I packed up and went to start the engine, and no start, battery problems again. This cranking battery is on its way out, the cold temperatures have weakened its cranking power. So I know how to fix this, and luckily it was sunny, although the sun was only just over the horizon. I got out the folding solar panel and connected it to the battery. Within about half and hour and some starting spray I had the engine going.
It was another 400m climb until I got to the top of the escarpment, with Clancy crawling slowly up the steep hills. I passed another truck accident, a dump truck on its side. Then it was a windy road down into Mbeya, with good views over the city. I tried to get fuel with a credit card at the Puma but no go. I tried to find a KCB bank which does not charge extra fees, but no go, so I went to and ATM and withdrew 400,000 Tsh (about $A250). Then stopped for fuel. I knew I was low, it took 67l, so I was down to my last 8l.
Then off through the crazy traffic in Mbeya, and the road to the border, which was about 80km away. The road to the border was crammed with trucks. Long conveys of trucks crawling up the hills, nose to tail so they are very difficult to overtake.
I had read lots of accounts on iOverlander about this border, and how complicated it was. I had decided that I would try to do it myself, but if I got into trouble I would call on Robert a fixer mentioned several times by iOverlander users. So as soon as I got to the roundabout to turn into the border crossing I was surrounded by fixers. I told them to go away, So I entered the Tanzania building, but I was soon completely confused. Someone told me I had to go to the Zambian building, which I wasn’t even sure where it was, so I went outside again to be surrounded by fixers. As it turns out one of the fixers was the famous Robert. So I engaged his services. We went through all the fees I would have to pay, and he seemed fairly reasonable. So we trudged from place to place, getting different pieces of paper. He left me to do the immigration part. So I got stamped out of Tanzania (where they wanted to scan my vax certificate – why?). Then it was getting a visa for Zambia. They had dropped the price of Zambian visas to $25USD. I had $80USD in 4 $20 notes. You can only pay for a visa in USD. They would not accept and of my 4 $20 USD notes because they were not pristine enough and suggested I go onto the black market outside and see if I could get “better” notes. So I find a dealer who will give me (under pressure) $28USD for $40USD of slightly better notes, including 8 $1 notes. So I go back with my $25USD including 5 $1 notes to get told by immigration that they don’t take $1 notes. I must have made such a fuss, that they gave in and took my $25USD.
So back with Robert, more bits of paper, until we have almost everything (we are about 3 hours in by now). We just have to drive to the gate park and he will hand over the Tanzanian road tax paperwork. So the gate area is jammed with trucks, Robert gets me to maneuver past a truck to park, and I hit a raised edge of the road, Clancy tips and I clip the side mirror of a Mercedes Benz truck, and breaks it. All my fault, but what a pain. So is a security guard, a police woman, the truck driver, the truck drivers boss and 4 of 5 other hangers on. So much discussion in Swahili about what to do. I must say it was all very civilized, and with Roberts help they decide I should pay 1,200 Kwch (about $A110). This seems reasonable to me so I hand over the money, and everyone seems happy, if not somewhat embarrassed that I paid any money.
So by now its about 30 minutes from dark. I say goodbye to Robert and head down the dreaded T2 of Zambia. The road is a terrible mix of potholed bitumen and dirt. I stop at the ABSA ATM about 1km down the road, but with two attempts I cannot get any money out of the ATM. I am down to about $A50. I have 50km to get to Kings Highway and its about 15 minutes from sunset. I overtake a truck past some pot-holes and hit a pothole really, really hard. I hear a crunch from Clancy in the back. I stop to look, but I cannot see anything wrong so I continue.
So here I am again. Don’t drive in Africa in the dark, driving in Africa in the dark. The road is terrible for a few kilometres then it becomes road works. The Chinese are building a new road, but of course its all diversions and dirt and bulldust and everything else. So its a slow (40kmh) drive to Kings Highway, and it is a welcome sight when I get there. Its a nice camping area, and I have a nice solar powered hot shower. I then notice power cables hanging down the right hand side rear wheel, and realise my pot-hole collision has caused more damage.
The next morning I find that the fibreglass wheel well, has broken as the wheel hit it, and it ripped four power cables in the process. I decide I am going to have to stay another night to be able to fix everything. I ride into the village and get a sim card, which all goes well.
I spent all day fibreglassing and fixing cables. That’s why I carry 2 litres of epoxy with me. I am 50/50 if I can leave tomorrow. I have to reconnect cables. I have this problem of running out of money, and its at least 50km to the nearest ATM.