Country : Zimbabwe/ Zambia (Mana Pools to Lusaka)
Distance : 265km
Our final morning at Mana Pools broke with the sounds of yawns and not quite frantic packing. Tent zips slid open and tired bodies emerged to start the task of breaking camp and getting the day moving. Fresh coffee helped an all hands hit the deck running. An early start (by our standards) had us mobile by 6am and the camp slowly disintegrated as tents came down, utensils were packed and last minute temper tantrums were thrown over missing toothbrushes and condoms… sorry, condiments.
Dietwin’s coolerbox waved a fond farewell (in his absence) to the mighty Zambezi, we loaded up all the cra.., I mean luggage, and 3 hours later we started the trek out of the park. The drive of 77km back to the main road took 2 hours at which point we stopped to say good bye to our erstwhile companions (the Bafana Bafana), dropped off our trash and headed north while they headed south.
A sad moment for all but we got over it quickly since we still had another two and a half weeks of trekking through Africa 🙂 Our joy was to be short lived… Chirundu border post is a trucking border post.
We counted over 50 trucks parked outside the border gates.
While it proudly claims to be a one stop border post (meaning you stop on one side and clear both countries at the same time) this apparently only works well if you arrive before or after lunch… Our progress was fast at first until we reached (a) customs on one of the vehicles which required a higher level of clearance needing a senior officer’s approval and (b) payment of taxes at a window whose occupant was out on lunch…
Two and a half hours and I forget how many dollars/kwacha later (all legal) we finally left the border post. To say our smiles were strained is to put it mildly – Sharpies infamous throbbing forehead vein remained in control and I managed not to get deported despite walking backwards and forwards for half a km each time to get papers approved.
We cruised up out of the escarpment up to the Kafue flats and on into Lusaka.
Stopping off to resupply at an impressive shopping centre (recently upgraded) we then headed out of Lusaka on the Great East Road. Now after sunset and since we were running later than expected, due to our border experience, we decided to stop at Pioneers Camp (just outside town).
A lesson in signage: In the pitch dark, where you do not know where you are going and the road you are on looks like it is a dirt track leading to nowhere – if the last sign says 2.5km to the place you are going, do not stop until you have done 2.5km. As we found out, the decision to do the last 200m when we were ready to turn around was the right one 🙂
Request for a room was initially a problem (the last one had just been taken) but the owner quickly did a check and confirmed that a cottage had just been vacated. He asked if we would mind waiting… Our reply… “If you’ve got cold beers we’ll wait until morning!!!” was greeted with a smiling affirmative and all parties moved into action. We drank, they refreshed the room, we ordered food, they cooked, we ate (excellent), we showered and hit the beds… hard!