Day 22 A tough day in Africa

September 14, 2012 - Kasanka National Park, Zambia

We began the day by visiting the grounds of Shiwa House, which wasn’t as smart as we expected it to be – a bit run-down and in need of quite a few repairs, but clearly was once a magnificent place. We had a lovely chat to ‘the lady of the manor’ who we met in the garden – a real down-to-earth farmer’s wife who finds herself running this great house which is her husband’s inheritance and a huge responsibility. As well as the house, they have a large farm, farming dairy and beef, a few sheep. pigs and chickens and eggs and game. She was busy fencing off a section of the garden for her various orphaned and injured young animals, which included a couple of calves who had lost their mothers, 4 lambs and most interesting of all a 6 week old eland bull who had arrived with a consignment of adult eland with a badly broken hind limb. Apparently they should never have sent him with the adults, but anyhow she was nursing him back to health and now he is completely imprinted on her and thoroughly domesticated. The problem is that all these orphans had been wandering around the garden while the owners were away and the staff had been negligent about closing gates, etc. These youngsters were generally creating havoc, so she was now trying to make them an enclosure .

From there, into Mpika for some interesting shopping at the local shops. We managed to stock up on everything we needed for the next few days, including getting some really odd-looking little bananas and a couple of avos, as well as some potatoes at the local market, where one could really buy an odd assortment of things – galvanised iron pots and tubs and braziers fro burning charcoal, lots of plastic goods, sacks for packing your maize and cotton if you are a small farmer, clothing, even a couple of live chickens!

We had decided to take a ‘different’ route to Kasanka, our next major stop, via a Community Camp Site we had been told was on the way. Another MISTAKE!!! After travelling a long way on a pretty bad road, we came to a town and asked directions – Mistake no 2, as we did have some idea where we were. After some thought, we were told that we had missed the turning and were given detailed directions to follow to a ‘Cultural Village’ which we were told was the only place they knew of which had camping. So we set off on a now very dicey road which was fast deteriorating – Mistake No 3. We should have followed our own instincts. We did eventually find the cultural village and were immediately surrounded by kids asking for (demanding, really) sweets, pens and money and not an adult in sight. This clearly was not the place we had been told about. I knew that there was a community camp site at Lake Waka Waka (37 km away)which we had been told about and read about and our GPS could find this, so we decided to head for this, knowing that it was now getting late and that the road was NOT good. The sun was already turning red, and so was Terry with 37 km to go at a top speed of maybe 15 km per hour. The road (track) was terrible and at this point Terry switched into Serge Damseaux mode (SA’s top rally driver) and we bumped and ground along, scattered a few chickens and missed a few piglets but it was amazing to see the number of cyclists along this path in the fast fading light. We drove through the miombo woodland, passing homestead after homestead, little more than a few thatched rondavels and what seemed to be a central thatched cooking/communal area carved out of the forest. All had kids who ran out with hands outstretched as the car passed shouting ‘Want sweeties’ and ‘give me money’. Really very distressing. We couldn’t help thinking of the baboons in Cape Town who have been spoilt by hand-outs!! Anyhow, the sun set and we were still going, and the tank was getting low, and the road was appalling. Eventually we reached Lake Waka Waka Community Camp Site and this was now clearly defunct. What to do now? It was late and we would only reach Kasanka Game Reserve, which was our next stop and the nearest camp site, well after dark and probably after the park was closed. So we decided to carry on, and if necessary sleep in the car outside the gates and go in early the next morning. So on we went, now in pitch darkness with just the glow of an odd fire as we passed a homestead on the way. We stopped and emptied our spare petrol tanks into the tank in the dark and carried on along the terrible road, bumping and bouncing, occasionally hitting a huge pothole, and eventually hit the tar and the road to Kasanka. We arrived at Kasanka at about 8.30 to find that there was still a couple of guys at the gate, and after a bit of wrangling and chatting on the radio, they directed us to the local community education centre near the entrance to the park. We were met by Kingwfoot and Calvin who appeared out of the darkness with torches and led us to a spot to pitch our tent. The two of them then busied themselves making us a fire, putting toilet paper in the loo and asking us what time we wanted to shower in the morning. It turned out the next morning that the shower consisted of a bucket of hot water which they filled up at the given time. They had to climb up a really rickety ladder to the roof of the shower to fill the bucket. It was really quite a sight comical.

Anyhow, we were absolutely exhausted. We braaied our pork chops and sausage and fell into bed.


top of the hill
fly damage
hot springs
huge baobab
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