Days 17 and 18

September 6, 2012 - South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

We followed the long Great East Road to Chipata (next to the Mozambique border) where we stocked up at a very fancy Spar, very like any of the more upmarket Spars in S Africa. We also did a little detour through the market area which was very busy.

The road to Chipata goes through rural settlements, where the main industry seems to be charcoal burning, so the smell of burning is everywhere and visibility is poor due to the constant pall of smoke. The resultant deforestation is very sad to see, but this appears to be the only way people make a living here. Large bags of charcoal are for sale all along the route, at the equivalent of about R12 per bag.

From Chipata we turned West towards the South Luangwa National Park which lies on the Luangwa River which we had camped next to on its lower reaches the previous night. As we got closer to the river, the local occupation included small farms and women were sitting along the road selling produce like tomatoes, onions, eggs, etc as well as basketware. Another important crop is cotton as well as maize. There are depots all along the road where farmers bring these crops in huge sacks, very often on a bike.

The main method of transport in Africa is the BIKE!! You see people with specially adapted bikes travelling long distances ferrying others on the carrier, carrying huge bags of cotton. Maize and other produce. We even noticed a couple of guys with goats strapped sideways across their carriers. Many have made large rectangular baskets which they also strap across their carriers. Many have made large rectangular baskets which they also strap sideways across their carriers and use these to carry all their shopping and goods. None of the bikes appear to have gears, and Zambia isn’t exactly flat!!

Very noticeable also is that all girls and women in rural Zambia wear skirts well below the knee or sarongs, never tight jeans or miniskirts or pants of any kind, but as soon as you get nearer to the larger towns you see women in tights and jeans and miniskirts.

Also noticeable in rural Zambia is the number of religious organisations. Every little settlement boasts mors than one church of all sorts of odd denominations, a kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and we also saw many Masjids, so Islam must be a common faith here as well.

We finally arrived at Croc Valley Campsite just outside S Luangwa Game Reserve, a beautiful, beautiful place. Our campsite is on the wide, wide river, with crocs and hippos in the water. Elephants are wandering past, with crocs and hippos in the water. Elephants are wandering past and we hear lions and hyenas at night. The monkeys and baboons are playing iin the trees and the hammocks in the garden. We had 2 nights here, and last night the elephants came wandering through the camp. We woke up to a clatter to see a to see a large elephant turning over our camping cupboard and then stamping on our large black box which only had a coup[le of flasks in it. which only had a coup[le of flasks in it. At this campsite all fresh food is locked away as the elephants have been known to break car windows to get at fresh fruit and veg. Anyhow, Terry went out of the tent as this elephant started sniffing at our car.,At this campsite all fresh food is locked away as the elephants have been known to break car windows to get at fresh fruit and veg. Anyhow, Terry went out of the tent as this elephant started sniffing at our car. He gave a weak clap to chase it away, but when the elephant turned towards him, he ducked b He gave a weak clap to chase it away, but when the elephant turned towards him, he ducked back into the tent very smartly. Quite a thrilling experience to wake up and see an elephant peering in at you through the flaps. Tomorrow we cross S Luangwa on a 4x4 route to the Great North Road. Both of us are rather anxious, but we are assured it is do-able.


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