Most of my posts have been about what I am feeling and very little is actually about our days and what is involved in "life-on-the-road"... so I put together the below as a small little summary of what is like for us..... so I guess more of a travel blog......
14th February – Sunday – Kapishya Hot springs – Mpulunga (Zambia)
Nothing quite dampens the spirits when on your day of departure you are rudely awoken by the sound of heavy rain on your tent. It somehow just does not bode for a good morning kind of day. After 2 days of dryness where our tent finally dried out after the deluge of the previous days our hearts just dropped as the rain continued to drip drip drip on our tent…... We had a long drive from Kapishya Hot springs up to the very northern Zambia so couldn’t wait and hope for the ruddy tent to dry.
We squeezed the pile of blankets & pillows into the back of bakkie and dry spots in trailer but the rest we knew would just have to get soaked! NOT ideal!
From there we started our long drive to Mpulungu on the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika and very northern Zambia. The red mud road leaving Kapishya was in bad condition after the heavy rains. Whilst having a wee I noticed we had a puncture. (it was not even 8am and already I was feeling rather tested!) So poor Dev our champion had to change the tyre in the rain and red mud!!! I was the mere umbrella holder!
The rest of the journey up north was pretty uneventful save for the MASSIVE storms we drove through. One being so huge we had to stop the car as could not see the end of our bonnet!
The roads in Zambia are hilarious. There are long sections of perfect tar and then up ahead you notice red sand and know this is like a massive red flashing SLOW DOWN sign and sure enough, there ahead section of road so potholed I don’t think one can actually all it a road….. So the journey is hard work as u nipping along fast and furious then chugging slowly at 10km/hour to get out the dongas. After a solid 8 hours on the road we finally arrived at Mpulungu. Being Valentine’s Day and a Sunday the little fishing town was alive with activity- soccer matches, families promenading along the road, markets set up on the shore, the Muslim influence been seen for the first time (and my favourite call to prayer ringing out over town- the kids were as mesmerised as me- this is a sound that warms my soul!) I had only been able to get hold of one “lodge” to stay at so had secured us a room as knew we would be late arriving. Nkupi lodge was possibly a great place to stay a few years ago but on our arrival the sign outside said “serious buying offers accepted “ and long over grown grass. BUT the most gracious beautifully spoken and presented lady, Mavis, came out and greeted us and showed us a very humble but spotlessly clean room. The kids were appalled to be staying in such conditions but somehow I knew this establishment needed the mere 450kwacha (R300) from us and also knew our kids needed to be exposed to roughing it a little bit! It was at this point that we noticed that our spare wheel off the back of the trailer was no longer there. It could have somehow bounced off after the treacherous roads but also could have been slipped off (even though locked on) in any of the villages we went through). It had been a long testing day!
The kids were desperate to swim in the lake and we also wanted to see it properly so we went to try find our tyre (unsuccessful) and found a gem of another lodge/ restaurant further west along the coast. This place had stunning rooms on the lake and a gorgeous restaurant, but we felt too loyal to Mavis so just had a cold beer and the kids had such fun swimming in the lake and entertaining a boat load of little boys! Mavis had prepared us the most delicious Ikoopi (English) fish and chips for dinner. Surprisingly we all slept really well in our simple little abode!
15 January - Monday – Mpulungu to Tanduma Border (Tanzania)
Dev left early to go and sort out the tyre with the puncture as well as get the car customs sorted in order to leave Zambia into Tanzania (the border was an hour away). I stayed with the kids and did some schoolwork.
Dev returned with the tyre fixed but with bad news re the border. Sadly the rules had changed and we were no longer allowed to take foreign cars out of that border and had to drive 2,5/3 hours east to the other border post. As we were learning such is Africa and hit the road to that border. Thankfully this was a beautiful road but only got to the border at 1 . As in all borders in Africa they take time ..... this one 3 hours to be exact! Legally no covid testing is required for Tanzania but it seems everyone is trying to find a little gap to make some extra cash.... but this covid screening was soooo funny. So we get taken into this TINY windowless room and the man closes the door and has no mask on and then proceeds to tell us how dangerous covid is and how they need to secure their borders (still no mask in sight!!!) and how as we have no test they need to charge us $20 each for screening ..... well after some sweet talking and our pockets a little lighter we were sorted! At the borders dev usually does all the multitude of car stuff and I look after the kids. This time tme and thekids sitting in hard uncomfy airport style chairs! The kids were gems but shame they did get very anci after 2 hours.
We finally emerged from the border into the frenetic Tuk-tuk town of Tunduma. Dev and I find it fascinating how an entire world can change in a mere 1km from one country to the next! It was 4;15om a massive storm was brewing and the next town which had any form of accommodation was 3,5 hours away. So we found ourselves a hotel for the night - the most hilarious “bling” hotel ever, which I think could have been a brothel too by the gold curtains, purple/pink/blue changing lights and gold wallpaper. But by now we are open to experiences and with safe parking and a restaurant on site we agreed! We were treated to the most delicious meal - fish and chips for the kids, Zanzibar chicken curry (coconut based) for me and goat masala for dev (which was delish too!) that evening back in bed we all watched Chariots of Fire on the laptop and what was meant to be 45 minutes of the movie turned into us watching the entire heart lifting movie!
16 February -Tuesday - Tunduma to Lakeshore Lodge, Lake Tanganyika
We left our Bollywood abode early and already could notice the huge differences in the countryside, homes and the people. We were graced with seeing the mighty Ufipa cattle from Southern Tanzania (huge horns)....... and the odd Masai warrior walking tall and straight along the roadside. In Sambuwanga we had to get a sim card for our phone as well as find a new rim and tyre for our trailer - this all adding 2 hours to our days journey.
The long drive continued, and the poor kids after 3 long days in the car were starting to loose it being confined in this small space. (Note to self ....maybe banning the tablets for poor behaviour is not good idea before 3 long days of travel!!!!!)
We finally came to the entrance gate of Lakeshore lodge where their sign “come as guests leave as friends” welcomed us in, and the sight before us had us both proclaiming “we are staying here forever!!!!”
Perched on the Eastern shore of lake Tanganyika lies the gorgeous Lakeshore Lodge. In front of the lodge are dotted a few small islands and 45km across from it lies the foreboding dark Congo mountains. Lovingly built by the Safa owners Chris and Louise this place oozes peace and tranquillity, grace and love. Stunning waterfront chalets, simple Banda rooms and campsites with huge presiding mango trees. Unlike so many other lodges the campsite ablutions have been shown care and attention to detail- shell beaded shower curtains, baskets of toilet rolls, flowers in the toilets, wooden towel rails, pretty washing up areas... it is just so special the care and thought that has gone into everything. And what special people the owners are. They make you feel so at home and have helped us with so much stuff and just eternally generous and positive and just incredible humans!
More to follow on the awesome Lakeshore Lodge and the absolute gold mine of a place we are now staying at ……