Today we came very close to entering another country that we didn’t expect while on this trip, as the road from Petauke to Lusaka brushed the border with Mozambique. Unfortunately it only brushed the border and we didn’t enter the country so no passport stamps, but I’ll make it to the country one day.
We’re now at our campsite south of Lusaka after what ended up being a very long travel day, both due to traffic and also other factors that can best be summarised by the well-known saying “This is Africa”.
Driving across Zambia
The journey started in Petauke, where we stayed last night to break up the journey, and after saying goodbye to the lodge’s resident Emu we set off across some amazing scenery. The scenery and buildings are starting to noticeably change as we head further south, with the most obvious changes being the gradual colour change in the soil and the fact that round buildings are becoming more and more common in settlements along the road.
Luangwa Bridge Market
Our first stop on the journey, other than regular stops for bush toilets, was at the Luangwa Bridge Market which was approximately half way between Petauke and Lusaka. This market, which is extremely close to the border with Mozambique, is at a crossroads and sells a wide range of things including hot food, snacks, clothing, and local crafts. We spent a short time here stretching our legs – while some people bought some hot food and souvenirs – and interacting with the locals.
During our time there we were also passed by two other overland trucks heading north towards Malawi. So far we had only seen one other overland vehicle – at Chitimba Camp on Lake Malawi – so it felt strange to see two others during the less than 30 minutes that we were here. Especially with how few overland vehicles are travelling this route at the moment.
Once everybody had finished shopping we got back on the truck to head towards Lusaka.
Stuck in traffic in Lusaka
I’ve seen some ridiculous traffic during my time travelling the world. Until now I think that Cairo and Los Angeles have been the most congested cities that I have ever visited, but after today Lusaka is definitely competing for the top spot.
We were only due to stop in Lusaka for a short time before heading to camp. However, unfortunately Lusaka is one of those cities built on the old model where all traffic going through or past the city is sent into the city centre and this caused chaos. It took us over an hour to travel through the centre, with traffic going so slow at some points that old people who could barely walk going faster than us! They really need to do something to sort this out although, like many parts of Arica, this will unfortunately rely on foreign investment as cities have expanded in recent decades faster than infrastructure has been able to keep up.
After making it through the traffic we stopped at the Makeni Mall, a shopping centre to the south of the city, to give people a chance to change money, grab some food, and stock up on supplies. I didn’t need much but did stock up on snacks at the supermarket, and I also had what may end up being my last Creamy Heaven butterscotch milkshake of the trip since we travel into Zimbabwe tomorrow and I don’t think it has any stores in Zimbabwe.
One thing that Zimbabwe does have, however, is Nando’s and when one of our group came back from the Nando’s across the road with some takeaway chicken we all started craving it so much that we decided that we would definitely go there as a group at some point before the trip ends.
Our stop at the Makeni Mall was a bit longer than anticipated due to a disagreement with another driver that took some time to sort out and we didn’t make it to our camp south of the city until shortly before sunset.
Camping at Eureka Park for the night
We’re staying at the Eureka Camping Park south of the city, which is an ideal location to beat the traffic to the Zimbabwe border in the morning. It’s a huge facility with lots of space for overland vehicles, lots of showers, a bar, and a variety of options for people who may wish to upgrade to a room. Much to our surprise, it also has lots of wildlife in the area and while we were setting up camp a group of Zebra ran straight through the campsite.
The facilities for overland trucks are great, though, with sheltered cooking facilities and plenty of plugs to charge phones. The bar is also frequented by locals with money – several of our group spent some time there tonight while I was doing some washing and they met various people who are staff members in the offices of various government ministers.
We have another early start tomorrow so after dinner I had an early night. Tomorrow we cross into Zimbabwe and need to leave the campsite at 6am in case of delays at the border, but this will be our final border crossing of the trip which is great news.