Day 19 A tough Day

September 7, 2012 - Shitayke Hot Springs, Zambia

Set off early, bidding a sad farewell to Croc Valley. What a lovely place to have stayed. Then into South Luangwa National Park, and after paying entrance fees of US$80, set off across the park. It turned out to be rather dull road through mostly mopane forest with very little game that we could see. All the game is concentrated near the river on the East side during the dry season.

As we drove through the park, Terry didn’t want to put the aircon on so as not to overload the motor as we drove through quite a lot of soft sand. So we drove with the windows open. MISTAKE!!!! We were bitten to pieces by horseflies, tsetse flies and just about anything else that flew. Even Terry’s bald head is bitten!! Eventually he relented and the last bit we did with the windows closed and the aircon on.

The road through the park is not too bad, a bit of soft sand and 2 sand river crossings about 100m wide with very soft sand, and jsut before one leaves the park there is a fairly deep river crossing, but it has been sandbagged, so we managed to get through that easily. We did notice as we left the gate that we were the first people through there in 2 days, which wasw bit worrying in case anything had gone worng.

As soon as we left the park, however, the road deteriorated – very sandy in parts and a very high ‘middelmannetjie’. At one point we spun off the road, but managed to get back going – at this point my confidence really took a knock! However, on we went until we had to drive UP the escarpment – steep, badly degraded road, huge rocks and stones and sharp corners – 8 km of really serious 4x4 ‘white knuckle’stuff. It made the Baviaanskloof lokk like the N1. But we made it, just and when we reached the top, Terry informed me that the clutch was no longer functioning! Heaven knows how he managed! Mind you, we didn’t get out of first gear and low range for the whole climb. So Terry lifted the bonnet and tinkered with the clutch and then suggested we wait for it to cool down. So we sat at the top at a little settlement in the shade, and after a little wile the clutch seemed to ‘come back’. Thank goodness!

And then on to our next campsite –the most Northerly point of our trip – Shitayke Hot Springs. It’s a magical place. We are going to stay here 3 nights.

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