A Few quick notes on Zambia: July 2010
For the full story of our travels, you’re welcome to have a look at the Blog on www.pictureafrica.org or http://africapicture.blogspot.com/. The purpose of this thread is to mention the places we stayed in Zambia, how much we paid and how we found it. I’ll also mention the annoyances of the country to hopefully prepare future travellers a little better.
The Moorings by Monze is a fantastic camp site and a must stop over for anyone travelling that way. The cost was about R75 for the two of us and that included a nice lawn to camp on, drinkable water and hot showers. They do have a reasonably prices bar in the camp site as well.
Our second place was Mukambi Lodge run by Jacques and Linda (Thirsty on the forum). The campsite itself is fantastically located on the banks of the river. The ablutions are hotel quality and come complete with a camp attendant that makes hot water on demand and keeps the place sparkling clean. There is also a self catering kitchen with long tables, sinks and a gas stove as well as gas freezer for your use. The SADC rate is a reasonable $10pppn. The nice thing here is that you can choose when you’d like to go into Kafue and avoid paying the hefty park fees for bad weather days. This may not be necessary as we had Lion and Elephant roam through the camp site at night and Basil, the resident but wild Hippo came to visit often. Jacques and Linda arte part of a very rare breed of lodge managers who will go out of their way to make your stay comfor4table while making friends with everyone they meet. This was by far the nicest place we stayed in Zambia! Be aware though that you can only contact them by email or Skype as there is no phone reception where they are.
Outside of Lusaka we stayed at a Zambeef farm with people we had met at Mukambi. (Zambia is a friendly place) however, it was just across the road from Fringilla Farm which we would have stayed at. The place looked really welcoming, had free and fast Wifi and the best butchery you’ll find in Zambia. Their prices were really good as well!
In Kasanka National Park we were supposed to stay at the Pontoon Campsite. We had a look and decided to rather stay at Fibwe Hide. Fibwe has a platform above the scent line and by far the best place to see Sitatunga from. In the worst month in the year for sightings we saw 9 within an hour on one morning. Being a national park it is pricey though! We paid the normal $15pp and $15 for the car to enter and on top of that around $10pp to camp. What they did not tell us at reception was that the park was flooded, the pontoon not working and the passable road network could be driven in less than an hour. If you’re not into Sitatunga, I’d give it a skip.
We missed out on Shoebill Island which is run by the same people as Kasanka and seemingly the same fees. We were however later told that it was something to behold and not be missed.
As a stopover towards the north we stayed at Samfia Hotel on the shore of Lake Bengweulu. It was cheap and cheerful and we parked right on the beach. They were busy building a beach bar which would be good once completed, but they had no campsite facilities. This meant that we were given access to one of the rooms to have a shower and toilet. As a stop over if was really good, but I wouldn’t stay more than one night. The cost was about $7 pppn.
Our plan was to see all the waterfalls on the road towards the north and the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. Every waterfall that is signposted however is now a National Monument and entrance is charged at $15pp and $5 per car. We stayed over at Ntumbachushi falls, paying $35 for the pleasure. There was a hole in the ground as a toilet which completed the extend of the facilities. There were hiking trails which we completed in less than 30 minutes. The falls were spectacular, and we camped within spitting distance of the sheet of water, but for the price, we felt it was not worth it.
Our next falls were Chishimba falls, sometimes spelt Chisimba. Price was the same as the previous falls, but they had flush loos. Still no shower. The falls themselves were really impressive though!
At the bottom of Lake Tanganyika we stayed at the Tanganyika Lodge. This was fantastically located on a pebbly beach with primitive but impressive facilities including very hot shower and flush toilet. We parked the car right on the beach and paid the pitiful $15 for the two of us for one night. Although this is on T4A, best to follow the signposts rather that the GPS. It is highly recommended!
Our last waterfall was Kulambo Falls. They wanted to charge us $15pp entry, $5 for the car and another $15pp for camping, making the total $65 for one night’s camping in a car park with a hole in the ground for buys, and another one for girls. We showed them the receipts of the other two falls we had stayed at and got away with only paying $35 for the night. Still, as impressive as the 200m high falls were, they were no where near as impressive as Victoria Falls which would have been cheaper to visit. It also takes no longer than 10 minutes to see everything there is to see. Ad to that the last 30km of 4x4 driving to reach the place and our honest advice would be not to bother…
Kapishya Hotsprings however was a completely different story! Mark Harvey, the colourful owner of the place has much knowledge on Zambia and loves sharing it. The campsite was comfortable with hot showers and flush loos. The 40deg natural Hot Spring was incredible day and night and the lodge’s bar and restaurant was always alive with people. The cost for camping was $10pppn and our recommendation is to stay a minimum of 2 nights, perhaps even 3.
Further south we stayed at Mutinondo wilderness Camp. T4A lead us to their hiking camp, so follow the gps to the Lodge, not campsite. The place advertises itself as an echo lodge complete with solar panels and a sun cooker (I’m not going to explain, you’ll have to go and see) The comfortable camp sites has very hot showers, the cleanest long drop loos I had even come across and a mountain of free fire wood under the built in braai. The place itself is pretty much reserved for people who would like to relax, hike or go horse riding. Although we did manage to spot Roan, the game is non existent after being almost completely wiped out by poaching. The place had a strange feel of neglect to it when we were there. We later learnt that their lease was up in 2012 and they had been trying to sell. It is not a stop over place due to the distance from the main road, but it is a worth wile place to visit. We stayed two nights at $10pppn and liked it.
Next we drove through North Luangwa, staying at the Pontoon (Chifunda Bush Camp) by the eastern gate to the park. It was very primitive, but clean and came with more attendants than guests. Fire wood was free, but the camping cost was $12pppn. It was a stop over for us and we did not feel like camping wild in a place infested by Tsetse Flies.
Their sister camp of Mwanya Bush Camp after driving south on the eastern side of North and South Luangwa parks. This was in June and apart from two water crossings, it was actually an easy drive. The two camps are identical and charge the same. They are a handy distance apart from each other and offer a good staging ground for entering parks.
We passed through the corner of South Luangwa NP along the transit road (Accidently meandering along the river) without needing to pay park fees. Outside Mfuwe we stayed at Crock Valley Camp as Flatdogs was full. Crock Valley had great wide lawns on the river bank, a big bar and nice facilities including electricity for $7pppn instead of the $10pppn that Flatdogs was charging. They are close to the gate for easy access in and out of the park and offers Internet at a hefty charge and game drives for less than the other camps were charging. It is managed by a very Afrikaans guy, if that makes a difference to you. We stayed 4 nights and enjoyed every second of it. Park entry for South Luangwa totals $75 a day for self drivers from outside of Zambia, but your permit is valid for 24 hours. So you can enter at 11am, exit at 6pm, re-enter at 6am and exit by 11am on one permit which seemed to be the preferred way.
A few more things:
Visa in king and you can get ZK2 000 000 out of a machine at a time. This was enough to fill our 256l fuel tank with diesel, or buy a heap of supplies. Charcoal is sold by the road side in HUGE bags for ZK25 000 (R40) which lasted us three weeks per bag after leaving the half we could not fit into the car by the road side. Fruit and veggies were cheaper, and better quality in the Shoprite than the markets for some bizarre reason and although petrol and diesel was readily available, Paraffin for some reason was not… if you care.
We went through more roadblocks than I could count and was almost the victims of a scam once. They wanted to see some document that truck drivers needed explaining their route and preventing them form illegally offloading their goods in the country. As a non truck driver you do not need one and we fortunately knew that. Make sure you know exactly what paperwork you need for the country and make a note of the anti corruption phone number at the port of entry. Also keep in mind that any official document, and especially and invoice in Africa has at least three copies. This idiot wanted to write me a receipt on a single sheet of photocopied paper without keeping a copy for him self.
Lastly, it’s important to have up to date information on roads you intend to travel. We wasted two days trying to find a way around a massive expanse of water only to fail and backtrack anyway. Zambia has more water than you can imagine and just because a road exists on a map, or gps, does not mean you will find it where indicated, or that any of the literature or electronics you have will agree on where it actually is supposed to be. We found T4A alarmingly inaccurate in the north of the country.
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