Today, Dai will be proud of me as i totally scrapped my planned third leg of the journey in search of continuing my real African adventure. The rugged roads I once dreaded when riding through Ghana, Cameroon and Congo, I now yearn for. I miss the challenges, people and the cultures. As many of the messages I received describes:
“Don’t worry; you are not losing your mind. You have experienced first-hand how difficult and precarious the lives of the common people are in Africa due to no fault of their own. We, only because we were lucky enough to be born in modern western countries, automatically have an advantage. I believe it is a positive, healthy respect for the people you have encountered on your travels”.
“The real Africa, West where nothing works, but feels more raw and real, or Southern Africa where stuff works but feels less raw”
Thanks for that Ross and Russell, hope you don’t mind me publishing only it helped me understand and couldn’t have described my feelings better than your words.
My route now takes me in to Zambia then Zimbabwe, both unscheduled stops.
This morning, the isolated jungle lodge had no running water but slow flowing stream just feet away so I washed there. The lodge was so isolated I had no idea where reception was so left my key in the room and continued along the Caprivi Strip en route to Zambia.
I passed through a check point with thick metal barred gated barriers and a cattle grid indicating wildlife ahead, I hoped so. I had heard sightings of elephant along the Caprivi Strip are almost guaranteed because of the Chobe National Park just to the South and an overflow form Botswana’s 63,000 elephants.
Along the smooth, straight, tarmacked road I noticed signs warning of elephant crossing so scan the bush land in hope of seeing just one, please. There what’s that? Oh, its buffalo, but it’s a good sign. A hundred kilometres later after numerous triangular elephant warning signs, all I see are the fallen trees damaged by the illusive elephant at the side of the road and in the bush land and elephant dung.
In the distance, I see a Baboon canter across the road so switch off my engine and head in to the bush by foot. I see others, but there much bigger than I imagined and they begin to bark at me, loudly. I take a photo from a distance and retreat back to Livingstone. Although still no elephant, I’m very pleased at today’s Baboon sighting.
Along the Caprivi Highway are resting points with blue and white concrete tables every few kilometres. Now in land, the temperatures has increased to 37’C so I make use of the deserted resting points choosing one in the shade of a tree which has escaped the destructive elephants. There, I make coffee using my jet boil whilst thinking back of the last few weeks on the road and smiling at the various incidents I have experienced.
Passing a village, I notice a small wooden shack with a thatched roof and “Barbers” roughly painted on its side. I remember looking in the mirror a few days ago and being surprised at the grey hair which had appeared. I pull over, but the shack is padlocked shut. So not to miss out on his custom, a lady nearby calls him on his cell phone. A few minutes later, he appears carrying a plastic bucket with his lotions and tools in. I sit down on his invitation. The barber pours methylated spirit on his clippers to clean them, I can smell it and hopes he will wash it off before using them, he doesn’t. Most local’s hair designs are the same, a skin head for the ladies and men. Without asking, the barber attack’s my hear leaving a stripe of bare skin showing down the centre of my head. It’s too late for me to say anything so I let him continue and now I have a bare skin head. Anyway, the wife thinks it looks sexy so that pleases me.
Fuel stations are few and far between, but luckily my 33 litre fuel tank just lasts to the towns where a refuel opportunity is welcome. Since Angola, fuel has been cheap and continues to be so.
After approximately 184 miles along the Caprivi Highway I reach the turn off to either Zambia or Botswana/Zimbabwe. I take the Zambia route and soon reach the border. There I have my Carnet and Passport exit stamped with nothing to pay. Passing the Namibia Police check point, he waves me through but warns of the corruption the other side and invites me back if I experience any problems which was kind of him, though it cost me a polaroid of him sitting on Livingstone.
Across the border I’m directed to immigration where I’m told I need a Zambian visa at a cost of 450 Namibian Dollars (or 50 USD). I ask for an atm, there isnt any, so have to return to Namibia to find an one. Luckily, there’s one nearby so withdraw plenty of money to get me through the border and return to immigration to buy the visa. From there, I’m directed to customs to have my Carnet stamped for free; however, I had to pay 75 Namibian Dollars towards a Carbon Emission tax. Reluctantly I paid the customs lady who was dripping in gold jewellery and well dressed. By now, I’m thinking, yes! Could this be the return of my African adventure? I then entered the vehicle insurance agencies rusty old container a few meters away and purchased third party insurance for my motorcycle at a cost of 300 Namibian Dollars and an additional 75 Namibian Dollars for it to include Zimbabwe, The insurance agent then directs me to the caravan next door where I have to pay the local district council tax of only 50 Namibian Dollars. By now, I’m thinking my three day journey through Zambia is proving costly. The local councillor then sends me the road safety container opposite where I have to pay 10 USD for what I don’t know as road signs are limited along the Zambian roads. Here, a customer tells me “Welcome to Zambia”. I said “Do you mean that because your officials certainly aren’t making me welcome and by the time I’ve left the border I will have no money to spend in your villages”. The man quickly replies telling me that for him to enter my country is significantly more, especially with the health checks. I have no argument, he is right, so wilfully pay the charge.
Leaving the border I cross the wide Zambezi river and think what I just paid is worth the trip across this bridge alone.
The tarmac road continues although pot holed in places. Approximately 126 miles later I reach my planned campsite “Bushland” near Victoria Falls. Here, I can’t resist to choose a chalet which really resembles a luxury lodge. I tell the proprietor I am on a budget since travelling from England. He understands and offers me a chalet for half price. I ask to see the chalet which looks new and even has a luxury bathroom made pebbles set in concrete, floor to ceiling. The shower is slab of rock, water pouring out across it purposefully resembling a water fall.
In the restaurant, for the fourth night running, I eat fillet steak and chips, and definitely feeling the weight regain (as per photo). Whilst I eat, BBC news is played on an old radio reminding me of my days working in Kenya with my Father many years ago. The news reporter tells of rebels threatening to take Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I travelled through Kinshasa just days ago and feel lucky I escaped the trouble. If the rebels take Kinshasa, the overland route through West and Central Africa would no longer be accessible and I feel for the many travellers I left stuck in the Congo waiting for visas.
For all the readers sending me messages, my apologies if I don’t reply. Internet connection is not always available along the way; however, I thank you all for your support and well wishes and look forward to receiving more of them.
Cole and Lewis, here are some photographs of the monkeys I said I would post for you both. It took me thousands of miles to find these monkeys but I finally managed to find some in Zambia. They live in the trees over my Chalet roof and wake me up in the morning. There is one very cheeky monkey who tried to steal my spare motorcycle tyre which was strapped to my bike “Livingstone”. I got it back eventually.