Friday, July 29, 2011

Road Trip North to Lake Tanganyika

What we found there, what we left behind and all the pot holes in between.

To begin I should tell you that the trip was initially planned for all of us, plus Mom's sister Ann. We had a little over two weeks and we were bound and determined to make it to the lake and a few other spots along the way. Unfortunately, Nora's immune system decided that having amoebic dysentary the week before her trip to Mayotte with Ann was just not enough, so she contracted Typhoid Fever a week later. She was all weak smiles when we decided that it would be best for her and Mom to stay home since she needed daily injections, something we were not sure we could pull off in the middle of the Zambian bush.

So off Dad Ann and I went into the land of Livingstone, Stewart Gore-Browne and countless other native Zambians before them.....

Our first stop was Kasanka National Park which is the first National Park in Zambia to be privately managed and funded entirely by tourism and private donations. The park is a 5-6 hour drive from Lusaka along the Great North Road. A note about the roads in Zambia. We found that having the person sitting shotgun had to be on constant pot hole watch in case a pot hole the size of a twin bed would suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Kasanka is very close to Bangwelu Wetlands and the park was full of birds, animals and marshy woodland surroundings. In November there is a very large bat migration and people flock to the park to see the bats take to the evening skys in search of dinner. We stayed in cute rondovals with warm bucket showers provided upon arrival and kerosene lanterns adorning the paths at night. We took an evening guided walk around the lake with Kennedy who was really there to protect the animals from us, instead us from the animals. In the morning we woke up early to climb the fibwe hide located 20 feet up an old Mahogany tree and a great place to see animals in the marsh provided that the grasses are not too high.

backpacks are so 2010....

Re-fuelling stop #2 unfortunately SUV's are the vehicle of choice for off roaders such as ourselves, but they sure do eat a lot of gas. Note the DAPP in the background. Nora and I came away from our Zambia experience with a bounty of second hand clothing that cost us no more than $2-3 per item. Keep donating all your clothes to Africa, they make a great business and even better buy!

This is what the road looked like the entire trip. Two weeks of endless grasses and one long asphalt strip. Not to mention the throngs of people always walking on the side of the road going where, coming from where we had no idea.

Our hot water showers were filled up per request.

Dad climbing up to the hide.

View from the hide. We did not see any Black Lechwe, a type of antelope, which tend to populate large marshes of Papyrus like this one. The grass was so tall all the animals were able to hide in it.

Sunset on the marsh

From Kasanka we took a small 50k detour to visit the site of the Livingstone Memorial. David Livingstone, famous for his "discovery" of Victoria Falls and his encounter with Henry Stanley ("Livingstone, I pressume?), died in Zambia durring his excursion to find the source of the Nile river. His heart was buried beneath a tree and then his body was carried by his two most faithful porters over 1,000 miles to the ocean where it was then sent to Britain.

We gave these ladies a ride up the road.

Livingstone Memorial

Beautiful Pointsettia tree.

We took another side trip this day, only 14k, which proved to be two hours out of our way and caused us to be terribly late in arriving at our next sleeping place. Normally this would not be a problem on a road trip. Except that in Zambia if you don't make it to the next town, well you saw the road, there are not very many alternative places to stay.

It was worth it though because we went to see Kundalila Falls or "Cooing Dove". Dad said he would like to be buried here. With good reason it looked out over a beautiful escarpment over the African bush.

We also found a beekeeping club on the way.

When we finally arrived that night at Kapishya Hot Springs it was well worth it to have pushed on through.

A brief history on Stewart Gore-Brown. English by birth. In 1911 he was in Africa working for the Anglo Belgian Boundary Commission to mark the border between Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and the Belgian Congo. Durring this time he came across Lake Ishiba Ng'andu or "Lake of the Royal Crocodile. He managed to purchase the surrounding land and eventually constructed an English style Manor house in the middle of the African bush. His dream was to run a plantation of sorts and he experimented with many different crops eventually finding some success in the production of citrus fruit for essential oils. The farm however did not really ever take off as he would have liked. Later in life he became active in Zambia's struggle for independence and was a large educational supporter of one of Zambia's presidents Kenneth Kaunda. One grandchild still manages the estate as a farm and guest house while another has taken over the hot springs and hostel 20k away from the main house.

We stayed at the hot springs, which were really only tepid springs compared to some in the states, took a few walks around the area to some rock paintings and waterfalls and we went on a tour of the house just to see what all the hype was about.

The hostel had a pool since the river was full of crocodiles.

The extensive gardens at the hostel.

Rock paintings

Bark cloth and bark rope are one of the more fascinating things I discovered in all of my travels around Zambia.

Someone was washing dishes.

Near the hot springs they are using a natural waterfall to install a small hydro electric plant to provide electricity to the surrounding community. Problem is no one in the community can afford to hook up or even run the power.

Shiwa Ng'andu

Inside the house.

Flora of the area.

From Shiwa we hit the road again. This time our destination was Mpulungu on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The lake is the worlds longest freshwater lake and second deepest. It is the largest rift lake and is home to many kinds of Cichlid fish, the pretty bright and colorful tropical ones. We stayed at a lovely hostel with stone rondovals and friendly staff. We spent a day rowing on the lake, walking around town and the harbor and we also spent a day in search of Kalambo Falls which according to the Lonely Planet was an hours drive on a nice paved road. What we found to be true was a three hour drive on the worst road of the drip full of deep crevices, mud, stones and switchbacks that eventually gave us a flat tire. But we made it! And it was worth it. The falls were beautiful and we made good friends along the way.

Some folks hitching a ride.

On the lake. Dad kept us afloat by bailing the whole ride.

We stopped some fisherman and our boatman bought some fresh fish.

Kalombo Falls

Tanzania to the right, Zambia to the left.

Dad and Fred fixing the tire.

From the lake we headed back South to meet Nora, who had recovered, and mom at our last stop on the trip, The Mutinondo Wilderness area. This by far was our most favorite place of the trip and quite lucky that we all got to be there together. We spent our days hiking, watching the sunsets, sharing our breakfast with the horses and feasting on some culinary delicacies in the evenings at the lodge by candlelight.

My camera died at this point but the lodge website has lovely pictures of the area.

Ann's tent overlooking the escarpment.

Our outdoor kitchen where the horses liked to visit.

evening time

This is definitely a place to travel to, return to and experience.

Our trip was a lot of driving. I think we all came to understand the grandness of the African continent better. It was a great close to my time in Zambia. I can now say I have been to all corners of the country and have driven on the four paved roads that exist there.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where have we been, what have we been doing?????

 We seem to have forgotten about our calendar of who is posting to the blog when.  Apologies to those who have looked the past two months and found nothing new.  Yes, we are busy, yes, the Internet connection is often non-functional and yes, we have had visitors.

My sister Ann came for 5 weeks. During that time she and Nora took a trip to the island of Mayotte off the east coast of Africa. It is a Departement of France and Nora was especially interested since Ann was going to visit friends, both social workers from France now working in Mayotte, and she wanted to speak French.  They had a good time and I think Nora is working on getting the pictures and stories posted.

Ann left and our friends Mike Eckhardt and daughter Kate arrived.  They stayed a only a short time in Lusaka and then traveled with Bill to Victoria Falls where everyone got thoroughly drenched.  Mike and Kate continued on to Chobe Park and the Okavonga Delta in Botswana.  Mike's younger daughter Rose arrived a week later. Rose had a longer stay and able to experience more of Zambian culture and our lives here in Lusaka. And of course, she and I made a trip to Victoria Falls.  In addition to becoming thoroughly drenched we spent some time watching a troupe of baboons at play, rest and child-minding.

As in the U.S., the 4th of July is a holiday here - Hero's Day which recognizes all those who participated in the struggles for independence from colonial powers.  In addition, July 5th is also a holiday - Unity Day.  Nora and I decided to venture to the Eastern Province and to South Luanga National Park for the long weekend.  We took the inter-city bus to Chipata, a 7 hour ride.  Once in Chipata we hired a taxi for a three hour drive to the Park on a mostly non-existent road.  We were relieved to arrive and spent the evening standing up!  During the night we heard hippos and elephants grunting, snorting and trumpeting.  In the morning there was an elephant outside our room stuffing himself with tree branches and the long grasses.  Later the owner of the camp showed us where the hippos had come up, out of the river, to graze on the camp's grasses. During the day the hippos laze in the river but still snort and grunt quite loudly.

Faced with the three hour ride to town and another 7 on the bus, we opted to fly standby from the local airport.  Luckily we were able to get on the flight for the $60 standby cost as opposed to the $250 regular fare.  Given we didn't need to stay another night in order to make taxi and bus connections, and pay the taxi/bus, the cost was a wash and we were home in 1 hour flying time.

The following week I worked in the Copperbelt region of Zambia along side two colleagues from the University.  We were supervising second and third year students doing their required 5 week practical experience in various libraries and documentation centres. It was a wonderful experience to see how many and varied the libraries are in Zambia.  Unfortunately, when asked about how their collections are supported and acquired, everyone responded that they relied on book donations, primarily those sent through International Book Aid, a British NGO. It was also an opportunity to step foot in the Democratic Republic of Congo and buy the wonderfully bright and patterned Chitenge cloth that is as much a clothing staple here as maize mealie meal is for eating.

As I write, Bill and Nora are on a bus heading for the Copperbelt to visit a woman, Jan, we met on the trip to Northern Province - also an adventure when  my sister was visiting. ( Lebo is working on that posting but since she is now in Peru, it's very uncertain when that story might be told). Jan and her family have a cattle farm. Jan is starting a goat dairy and wants to make/sell goat cheese.  I opted to stay in Lusaka as the Library Studies program is offering three workshops this coming week as continuing education for practicing librarians.  I am working with the group presenting on developing skills for marketing libraries.

Once Bill and Nora return from Copperbelt, they will be getting ready to leave at the end of the month.  They plan to visit friends in Cape Town and East London, both in South Africa and then home to St. Paul on the 9th of August. Lebo left Lusaka in early June for 6 weeks in Peru before she heads back to the States.

The new academic year opens at the end of July, so I plan to stay until the middle of the term and then leave 10 September for home.  Meanwhile, there are two conferences I hope to attend and present papers at.  The first is the annual conference of the Zambia Library Association and the second is the International Board for Books for Youth (IBBY) Africa conference hosted by South Africa in Polokwane.

Enough! Now, if the Internet which goes from Lusaka, to Cape Town, to Italy before being sent out to other servers works, you should see this posting.