Day 297, Saturday 27 October 2012 – Mama Rulas camp, Chibata, Zambia
It was another hot start to the night and even though I had a cold shower just before hitting the sack I was still soaked in sweat after half an hour. Though I did appear have slept as I woke around 1:00 and almost to schedule at 1:40 am I heard munching outside the tent, we unzipped the bottom and stuck our heads out and about ten metres away was the large black wall of a hippo side, munching on the grass in the campground. it ate for a few minutes before turning its back and wandering off into the dark. A great experience, Africa’s most dangerous killer, that close and eating grass.
There was no hippo about when we got up, but there were a few vervet monkeys.
We had all agreed to skip tonight overnight stop in LLongwe, it was only to break up a long drive and apparently had no features worth mentioning. The intent was to head through the Zambia/Malawi border and shoot for Kande Beach on Lake Malawi a day early over one really long drive day. This meant a really early start, 5:00am for breakfast and on the road for 6:00.
We left on time and made good progress through the nightmare section of road by the camp and on to the sealed section into the main village at Mfewe. We were passing through the town, when I guy on the road side started waving us down – it was too late for our driver Will and we plowed into some low hanging power lines. It was too late too stop before doing damage and possibly an issue to stop after the damage was done, so Will floored it and we passed through town, ripping down two or three power lines on the way through.
The truck was abuzz with post danger excitement until we got too the airport end of the tar-sealed road and were stopped by the police!
Will the driver was asked out of the truck by the police, there was no drama, it was all very civilised, very British. There was a bit of hanging around waiting for the power company guys to turn up and go back to the village to look at the damage and prepare a report. Two hours later they returned, with good news. The power pole had earlier been hit by a truck belonging to a bore hole drilling company. They had damaged the pole and caused the lines to droop. Fortunately, the evidence was clear so the guys were allowed to leave without any fines, bribes or hassles. While they were gone we waited under trees or at the nearby airport cafe.
It was almost 11:00 am before we were under way again, this left nowhere near enough time to make it up to Kande Beach in Malawi so the guys decided we would stay just up the road at Mama Rulas camp outside Chipata, still in Zambia. We had to drive back along the terrible temporary road back to Chipata, though at one stage we were lucky enough to be allowed to drive on a section of the new road, but mostly we drove on the narrow section to the left in this picture.
The new road will of course bring more traffic and more tourists to this quite secluded national park – a shame in some ways.
We stopped in a small village outside Chipata to get some fresh fruit and vegetables. I got out to stretch and saw this cool shop name. I just love the & hardware.
We arrived in time for lunch, the campsite is great, a lot of tree cover, a pool and a bar. I set up the tent as far away as possible from all the snorers and early morning talkers and then we went into Chipata for a quick supermarket shop. The rest of the day was spent lounging around the campsite until dinner and drinks before bed at 9:30ish.