Ours was a carefully and
well in advance planned trip to
Day 1 - 4
we had arranged delivery
of the two rented vehicles. One of them a fully equipped Landrover Defender 110 with all
the camping and recovery equipment from Livingstone
4x4Hire (Foleys). The other vehicle a non equipped 4x4 from Zambian Safari Company
for 60% less money than the equipped one with the purpose of being our second vehicle for
the remote areas we were going to and for the sanity of the two couples. One first look
at the automatic Toyota Landcruiser a very old model, with two obvious oil leaks, a shattered
windscreen but still in place, a suspicous looking rear suspension as well as totally worn
tyres made our faces go sour. The delivery guy agreed to go with us to the Livingstones
yard so we could have another look at the vehicle from the pit and we then knew that this
car would be only problems, so we refused it. An even worse replacement was brought 2 hours
later to the yard. We cancelled this operation alltogether and agreed with the guy in charge
that we would be refundend our prepayment at a later moment. In the meantime the mecanics
at Livingstones were replacing a broken reardoor from a LR 110 in record time, since
the owners swiftly offered us that car as last minute solution. The car had just been returned
by other clients, (bloody americans we were told) and was still dirty. We took it gladly
just as it was. Kirsten from Livingstones had done all our shopping as per previous
agreement and shoppinglist, and we loaded the prefrozen meat and the tons of other goodies
into the vehicles and were off at
. Had 5 to 6 hours drive ahead of us to reach pitstop number
Total driving time to Mc
The last sunray fell as we turned into the path leading from Hippo airstrip to McBrides camp, a huge elephant bull was not given proper attention since we wanted to set up camp before nightfall. The Tse Tse disappeared only a few kms before camp.
There are only two sites, each with own lovely bushablutions, a camphelp showed us the way and we settled in. There was nobody else in sight. Sometime after dinner a man in his pijamas and a jacket and armed with a huge rifle arrived on foot in company of a night watchman and startled us all. Chris Mc Bride was over happy to get a Cola, as we later learned this is his very addiction. We arranged to meet at a next morning to go for a game walk with him. The night was filled with the sounds of two roaring lions and plenty of hippos.
We extendend our stay at Mc Brides and still did not get enough of the place. We never actually saw the lions, but following the new tracks the lions left the night before every morning for a couple of hours with Chris was a thrill. We also went on a boatcruise on a large doubledeckerboat with a sunroof. We saw a leopard mum with 2 cubs and plenty of birds and hippos.
From the campsite itself
one does not see the
Day 5 and 6
Now we faced two problems,
1 there was no diesel available in Mumbwa, but we had already checked out the black market
on our way up. 2 the really bad news was that the Lubungu Ferry was broken. Our initial
plan was to exit Kafue up north, along the old Kasempa road and do a loop vía Kabompo
and Zambezi and enter Liuwa from the north, but with the ferry broken we had to return
to Mumbwa and from there travel on the paved Lusaka-Mongu road to the West where we had
to enter the Liuwa Plains National Park from the south, the more commonly used access from
Kalabo. Negociations with the diesel guy went so so and we bought only 20 Litres each from
the black market, both vehicles had about 100 liters in their double tanks and we also
had 3 full jerry cans. We chose to spend one night at Mukambi
Safari Lodge conveniently located only 2km off the M9 near
The remaining stretch to Kalabo was a bit over an hour, the monster trucks from the construction company of the new dam road do never stop and we had to dodge out of the deep single sand track with shaking tails in order not to be run over.
Days 6 9
The Luanginga crossing at
Kalabo is by handpulled ferry, but first we had to pay our admission fees for Liuwa. The
single officer at the AP (African Parks) office
near the ferry was obviously nervous about our arrival on a Sunday and suggested we go
get Bwana David who is in charge of collecting the entrance fees as he leaves churchservice.
The worst sandtracks are those inside the
Next day we took a game drive with only one vehicle, since the other one had the Roof Top Tent open and headed to 9km distant Matamanene scout camp area where we found plenty of different waterholes within a short distance and observed lots of game. Even if the main migration of wildebeest had not started yet we managed to see quite a large number of animals, lots of birds, mainly cranes and plenty of spotted hyenas. We were very confident and left the tracks to find the cheetahs the three out-of-nowhere- motorcycle-riding anti poaching rangers had told us about earlier. And we did the one thing one should never do, go into deep grass. We got stuck. Hi Lift was back in camp some 15km away inside the other vehicle, also the shovel. Handwork and 40 miuntes later we had managed to place the two sandblades under each rearwheel and got the vehicle out, but only for 10 meters and then we were really stuck, both wheels on the left side were deep in water and mud. So Max and Paul went off by foot with the GPS in hand to get back to camp to get the second vehicle and eventually find us again. In a distance they could see the antenna at Matamanene, perhaps there was somebody at the scoutcamp. We two ladies started to get comfy in the car away from the melting midday sun with empty stomachs since we only had early morning tea…this was supposed to be our gamedrive before breakfast. The guys brought help in the form of a very young AP employee in a Landcruiser with winch, but as he approached the rim of the swamp he also got stuck. A little while later we all sat under a shady tree laughing about our stupidity.
The total flatness of the Liuwa Plains was a soultouching event, I have spent the next day sitting on the roof gamespotting enjoying the warm wind and the sounds of nature. We had a GPS track from a german couple that leads from Matamanene towards the West and then up north along the limit of Liuwa park and ending at Lukulu ferry. This was the route we wanted to do initially but the other way round. We now realised that it would take us 2 days with at least one overnight along the route to complete and our timeframe did not allow it, although we had enough diesel to go for it. So we backtracked the same way we came in and did Katoyana Mongu in one easy day. In Kalabo we made a lunch brake to eat our sandwiches under the shady straw-umbrellas at the beachbar• and bought some cold drinks. Bwana David in full uniform came to greet us off. We had seen some scars on his arm and asked him if they were a bite mark. No, he said its a bullet from a AK-47. Realising he now had our full attention he took his shirt off and showed us some more AK-47 bullet holes, in 2003 he had survived a poacher ambush while patroling inside Liuwa, one of his collegues had died on the spot. He now works in the office, no more patrols.
In Mongu there is no decent
accomodation let alone safe camping. Apparently there is quite a lot of cartheft in Mongu.
So we went to one of the mediocre hotels and promptly there was no water in the showers,
how we missed our bushcamping facilities! The
Days 9 11
We had made reservations for one of the 2 rapids campsites at Kaingu Safari Lodge in the GMA next to Kafue South National Park for the next two nights. If it would not have been for a puncture on the tarroad we would have had lots of time to spare for this days leg from Mongu to Kaingu incl the stop at Shoprite. From the turnoff from the M9 to the ZAWA checkpoint on the road to the Ithezi Thezi dam its a 45 minutes drive, and its about there where the Tse Tse start again. For the last 37 km to the camp we needed a good 2 hours. We were received by camp help Willard and once again were told to be the only guests both for camping and at the lodge. The two sites are the most beautyful sites we have ever been at, right on the bank of Kafue River under lush vegetation including palmtrees and in front of huge round rocks where one can swimm in natural jacuzzis at the rapids, safe from crocs. The ablutions are simply perfect, very nice carpenter work combined with good taste and love for details. We soon learned that owners and managers Tom and Vivienne Heineken are personally in charge of all the details. The Tse Tse made it into camp and the owners are thinking of building cloth traps since the flies have become a nuisance in the past few months. Biologist Tom took us on a boatride and a walk into the bush, we learned lots about plants and trees and fruits. We also got to know the carpenters workshop where all the furniture for the lodge was made with a pitsaw. The couple truly reflects the spirit of pioneers. For those who wish to get really pampered I can highly recommend the 6 very well appointed tented safari chalets with private verandahs onto the river that go for usd190 per person all inclusive.
Days 11 and 12
Its a 5 hour ride
from Kaingu to Lusaka, we started early since we had to pass the Tse Tse belt with closed
windows and no A/C again and didt want to get roasted. The ride to
Days 12 16
We had made reservations
for 3 nights at Mvuu Lodge,
The first 50km were lined
by one small cluster of huts after another, yet its a GMA. Only about 8km before
Mvuu is a gate and beyond it no more settlements. Those last 8km were also the worst to
drive and took us 40 minutes. Mvuu Lodge is located on the banks of the
If you open any Getaway
magazine you will always see their advertisment for the best camping along the
On our last day we all spoke
very little during the ride back to