Sunday, November 25, 2012

Elephant River Zambezi

The  Zambezi is a big river! Its kicks off in Zambia in the hills near the Congo border near the town of Mwinilunga in the North West of Zambia, spanning out on the huge Barotse Floodplains near Mongu  pouring over the Victoria Falls at Livingstone sweeping through Lake Kariba and down through the Lower Zambezi joined by the Kafue River,  to later be met by the Luangwa River and then on through the Cahora Bassa dam and then onto the coast to wash across the huge crocs lolling in the surf at Chinde on the Mozambique coast...

The Lower Zambezi is a splendid park, full of game, lots and lots of elephant and great for fishing on a boat with a cold box full of Mosi beers. The Zambezi escarpment sweeps up above to crystal clear blue skies and the thoughts of more adventures to come. To get there by road, one heads south from Lusaka, to the dusty, dirty little border town of Chirundu, hang a left at some large concrete bollards and into a township to the East. There are no signs for the park, odd really, but then so is Chirundu. The township gives way to a bush road and eventually, after a several kilometers of good country one hits the Kafue River. To cross it means driving onto a wonky old ferry with a happy go lucky captain and his first mate who takes a small fee from you for passage.

Kafue River Ferry Lower Zambezi

The crossing is short and you share it with local people, goats, bicycles and on one occasion a cow!

The Chinese are building a new road all the way down from Lusaka, through the Zambezi Hills to Chiawa, then onto Luangwa Boma where the Luangwa River meets the Zambezi. They will then do a link from Chiawa to Chirundu and they are already putting in the piling for a bridge across the Kafue. So use the ferry while you can, its days are numbered!

Chinese Contractors putting in piling for a bridge across the  Kafue River.
After crossing the Kafue its a nice relaxed drive following the Zambezi, bumping into the odd elephant and impala, or lovely smiles from the people in the villages until you reach the Lower Zambezi Park boundary on the lazy but beautiful Chongwe River lined by Winter Thorns, elephants abound and the Zambezi stretches out far and wide at its confluence. Here you will find a charming camp, Chongwe River Camp owned and run by splendid fellow called Chris Liebenberg. The camp is very comfortable, perfect location on the Chongwe River and Zambezi River with a great chef and wonderful staff, really worth staying with them!

Chilling on the Chongwe River

Chongwe River Camp

Sunset Fishing Zambezi River
Sunset on the Zambezi

If you want some very helpful free information on how to the trip above and the best places to stay or any other information on where to go on safari in Zambia, Tanzania or Botswana try this cool new website: Africa Spectrum i love helping people find the best trip and best places to stay...enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Elephant Charge

Every year, in a dusty range of hills and gullies in Zambia, never more than a few hours from Lusaka, a bunch of people who love to drive vehicles and break them, gather together for the 'Elephant Charge'.The Elephant Charge is a 4x4 rally, inspired by the Kenyan equivalent the 'Rhino Charge'. The event raises large amounts of money for conservation in Zambia....and its bloody good fun too! Each team consists of 6 folk: a driver, navigator and 4 runners whose job is too seek out the best path ahead through sometimes impossible country. The aim is to complete the course as quickly as possible by checking in at all 10 check points on the course. Time is deducted for the shortest route navigated to each checkpoint, which is often near impossible in a straight line due to the hard country (steep hills, rock faces, gullies and sometimes rivers). Thus lots of winching and digging and getting covered in dust and dirt is par for the course, such is the motto of the EC: 'Dust, Sweat and Gears'.  Each vehicle is fitted with a GPS tracking device, and at the end Andrew Fleming takes the data reading of each vehicle's route and time from the tracker. Our team 'The Chicken Run' came 7th but we cam second in the fundraising with $17,500 for the pot, mainly down to the hard work of Chris Tatem. Chris is also one of the finest 4x4 drivers and mechanics in Zambia!

There were 22 teams this year and the event can take up to 30 teams, so if anyone out there fancies coming along and giving it there best shot....we are waiting for you!

   'The Chicken Run' takes off!
Wheels up! Dodgy Gully Crossing

 The team
                  Clearing a path down

Chris Tatem tries to take off again
 Gearbox mounting gone, winch and sling solve the problem to keep it in place!

 Lean out and hard, just like at sea: trying not to roll!
Looking across to the Luano Valley
         Extra Steep: Bwana Winch! 
Good Country
  Chris Tatem fires through the rocks