“When you see a well, fill your stomachs.” Or: Why Africa is getting smaller
That was the Zambia-Malawi tour 2010
On October 30th 2010, 5 “Musungus” again decided to put their fate in the hands of Klingetours and set off for Africa. After the train journey, a flight of several hours with stops in Addis Ababa and Harare, we finally landed in Lusaka on October 31, 15:00 hours sharp. The entry formalities were “quickly” completed – with some additional financial expenditure for the Immigration Officer – and Burkard was finally able to leave the long-awaited “first hiss” of the cold “Castle” beer to us.
So now we were in Africa.
The journey from Lusaka to Kabwe was not particularly spectacular over a wide and well-constructed tar road. When we arrived in Kabwe, we were amazed at Burkards Lodge – everything new, everything clean, first-class rooms and chalets, good food and cold beer.
The real adventure begins on November 2nd. After a one and a half hour drive with the mopeds on tar roads we reach the train station in Kapiri Mposhi. After muscling the dirtbikes, we climbed onto our first class sleeping compartment of the TAZARA train. (TAnzania-ZAmbia-RAilway).
Not much seems to have changed since the Chinese builders completed the line in 1976. One or the other handcrafted, not necessarily skilled, but durable weld seam, synthetic leather folding beds and sticks as a replacement for the now inoperative locking of the train windows have their own charm. But in the style of its socialist past, the “MITROPA car” is just a few cars away. There was really good food for a little money, cold cola and cold beer.
About 1000 kilometres and 20 hours later we reach the border town of Nakonde on November 3rd, 2010 after a relatively quiet train ride. The thunderstorm we exprienced during the night has passed and should remain the only one of the whole tour.
After unloading our bikes (again by hand) and fixing a small technical defect on the support vehicle, the gravel track is easy and fast to drive to the Zambian-Malawian border. Here you could finally “make friends” with your hot seat – or not in the case of Gunter.
In the approx. eight kilometre wide strip of no man’s land between the borders of the two states, we set up our night camp in a dry river bed and have really earned a cold castle beer.
The 04.11.10 starts sunny and after about 8 kilometres of gravel road the “Checkpoint Cola” is reached at the Malawian border. It is always amazing how friendly and helpful the locals are and where they always conjure up drinks that freeze when they are opened. And all that at 35 degrees Celsius in the shade! Two hours and 2 liters of coke (per head) later, the escort vehicle comes into view and the border can be crossed together.
The route towards Karonga is long. It is easy to drive but dreary because we have to drive over tens of kilometers through a Chinese road construction site. We later find out the reason for the diligent widening – the Chinese are operating a uranium mine in the mountains of Malawi.
We spend the night very comfortably on a river that is still slightly off the road and still carries water. Thomas tries to be a hunter with the knife from his “survival pack”. However, he had to realize very quickly that a wild boar is faster and is not particularly impressed by the approx. 15 cm blade length from old GDR stocks.
At the campfire, Klinge also realizes that 40 percent whiskey is not suitable for breathing fire.
On November 5th, the journey continues over another less spectacular 60 km “Chinese slope” to Karonga on Lake Malawi. Here in the “Mufwa Lakeside Lodge”, located directly on the shore of Lake Malawi, we sleep another night in a normal bed.
The 06.11.10 starts with 30 degrees in the shade and 37 degrees in the sun – and that at 8:00 in the morning!
At the gas station we are suddenly surrounded by a large number of loudly screaming and waving locals. At first it is not clear what that is all about. It is striking, however, that almost each of them holds 5 to 10 liters of fuel in bottles or canisters in their hands. The sobering realization quickly follows that there is no fuel in all of Malawi, the accumulation of locals is the black market for smuggled Tanzanian fuel and the market dictates the price. 2.50 Euros is the price for a liter, which we grudgingly have to accept. Everybody fills up with 5 to 7.5 liters and is out of the worst.
The plan going to the Nyika plateau with the Livingstonia Mission has now been scrapped, about 120 km are saved and the direct route continues towards the Luangwa Valley.
After 80 kilometers of tar road we reach the “Chitimba Beach Camp”, which is also located directly on the shores of Lake Malawi. On the driveway, I have to find out that deep sand can also make a dirtbike to do its own thing. This leads to the Yamaha Teneré ending shortly before a tree in the ditch and the tank now having the same dents on the right and left.
It’s 7:40 in the morning on November 7th and there are already 37 degrees in the shade and 50 degrees in the sun. We continue over 80 kilometres of tar road and 40 kilometres of “decent” enduro road towards the Zambian border.
On the last kilometers, Gunter acquires the battle name “Freestyler” because he tries a “Three-sixty” and bends the ignition key and luggage rack of his motorcycle. The taillight bulb somehow falls by the wayside.
In Katumbi we set up our night camp in the middle of the village and in front of the hospital, very much for the entertainment of the villagers. Since the hospital is in a catastrophic state, we throw our remaining Malawi kwacha (that is the currency in Malawi) together and buy soap, toilet paper, disinfectants and wash bowls for the hospital in the supermarket opposite.
On November 8th, we will reach Chama after 145 km of hot, violent gravel road and crossing a national park (there are the first elephants and big cat tracks).
Here the “freestyler” is quickly x-rayed in the hospital and found to be still roadworthy.
My Teneré runs out of fuel in between and we have to tap Inge and his “supply tanker”. Thomas makes it to the pub with the last drop. It’s unbelievable how good ice-cold beer can taste…
November 9th is characterized by lots of heat and 110 kilometres of sometimes annoying gravel road. Kilometers of routes through dry moor with rows of holes the size of a child’s head. It’s always fascinating what the motorbikes can endure.
With the entry into the Luangwa Valley the temperatures continue to rise. Here Burkard shapes the “motto” of the tour: “If you see a well, fill up your stomachs.”
This will be the first “bush night”. The hunter camp next to the Luangwa River has already been abandoned and the huts are only available as skeletons.
At night lions roar, hyenas shout and the musungus sleep in the tent.
On November 10th, we start at 13:00, at over 40 degrees and we have 80 kilometres to go. The first deep sand passages are coming up and here, too, the Teneré doesn’t want to go where I want to. After dismounting three times without having opened the side stand beforehand, I’m really tired of it. The route also has its beautiful sides and the first animals can be seen from the motorcycle. Antelopes and monkeys cross our path. Does insurance pay here?
In the early evening we reach the “Wildcamp” in Chifunda and the river is said to be full of crocodiles. Everyone is now sitting on the river bank and trying to discover something.
November 11th is our day off and we stay in the wild camp. We sit at 37 degrees in the shade and 47 degrees in the sun on the river, drinking more or less cold beer and watching animals. A smaller herd of elephants crosses at some distance and a baboon herd comes to drink on the sparingly flowing river. A hippo appears in the distance. Homemade donuts, also called Vitumbua, are served for lunch.
On November 12th, 116 kilometres of bush road will be torn down at 40 degrees in the shade. The route again has a lot of deep sand passages to offer. The Teneré and I have entered a mutual agreement by now.
The route to the well is blocked by a small truck stuck in a small dry river passage. At first it seems as if all 3 occupants are busy with the rescue. However, it turns out that another six are crouching on the bed and seem to be waiting for a miracle. After a short whistle everyone is involved. After about 45 minutes, the truck is free and we continue to the “Luambe Wilderness Lodge” in the Luambe National Park. Here we find a river full of hippos and crocodiles. We enjoy a wonderful sundowner on the river during a grunt concert by the Hippos.
Thomas made it to the camp again with the last drop in his tank. The fuel is running out again.
November 13th takes us to Mfuwe to the “Wildlife Camp”. After five and a half hours of driving and 105 kilometres with little sand, we have reached our destination. In between everyone can enjoy the beautiful landscape and wildlife while driving through the Nsefu Sector National Park. Thomas makes it to the camp with the last drop for the third time. Here a thieving gang of monkeys is in charge and steals food from our jeep. Two elephants walk past 5 meters away from us. In Mfuwe we can finally fill up again at the gas station.
We will spend November 14th again as a day off. Giraffes, antelopes and elephants appear in the largely dry river bed. In the camp: monkeys, elephants and other small creatures. In the evening there is some trouble with three elephants right next to Klinge’s tent. Massive groans and menace force Klinge out of his tent. Nobody can say what the exact problem is. Camp security takes 30 minutes and a large number of empty bottles and stones as projectiles to drive the elephants away.
On November 15th we cover 50 to 60 kilometres of partly very stony and deep sandy gravel road and reach the game keeper training camp around 3 p.m. Here it looks like we are in a GDR holiday resort on the Baltic Sea. But it is not and was not built with the help of the GDR, but in 1966 by the British Empire. So far there is no drinking water and from the tap comes brown broth from the river. This night will be the warmest of the entire tour.
From November 16th we will return from the valley and over 725 km to Kabwe. From November 20, 2010 we will stay in Kabwe until we return home, go out in the evening and lay the foundation stone for a new school (both in real terms and financially) and hand over the footballs we brought with us.
With African greetings
Musungus on tour: Klinge, Thomas, Inge, Gunter and Dirk
10/30/10 to 10/31/10 – Outward journey from Leipzig, Frankfurt / Main, Addis Ababa, Harare to Lusaka
11/01/10 to 02/11/10 – Stay at Burkard’s place in Kabwe
02.11.10 – Riding to the train station in Kapiri Mposhi
03.11.10 – Arrival after 20 hours drive and approx. 1000 km in Nakonde on the Tanzanian border, 82 km drive to the Zambia / Malawi border
11/04/10 – Crossing the border to Malawi, approx. 100 km to the camp on the river
05.11.10 – 60 km to Karonga near the Lake Malawi
11/06/10 – 80 km to Chitimba Beach Camp on Lake Malawi, no fuel in Malawi
07.11.10 – 120 km towards the Zambian border in Katumbi
08.11.10 – 145 km towards Chama
09.11.10 – 110 km into the Luangwa Valley (crossing the valley from north to south, following the course of the river)
10.11.10 – 80 km Chifunda
11.11.10 – Day off in the camp
12.11.10 – 116 km Luambe National Park.
13.11.10 – 105 km Mfuwe
14.11.10 – Day off in the Camp
15.11.10 – 60 km Gamekeeper camp
11/16/10 – 160 km out of the valley towards Petauke
17.11. 10 – 170 km tar road towards Luangwa, „Bridge Camp“
18.11.10 – 230 km tar towards Lusaka, “Pioneer Camp”
19.11.10 – 165 km tar towards Kabwe where we started off
11/20/10 to 11/24/10 Kabwe laying the foundation stone of a school project, distribution of the footballs brought along
24.11.10 to 26.11.10 return journey from Kabwe, Lusaka, Addis Ababa, Frankfurt / Main to Leipzig