Today is the first travel day for a long time where we haven’t arrived at our destination close to, or after, sunset and it made a nice change. We’re at the Chimwemwe Lodge near Petauke which is around half way between the South Luangwa National Park and Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
It was another early start this morning, however, leaving Croc Valley Camp at 0730 before arriving at our first stop – Mulberry Mongoose – less than 15 minutes later.
A visit to Mulberry Mongoose
Mulberry Mongoose is a collective owned and operated by women from the local area which makes jewellery to raise money for conservation and anti-poaching patrols in the local area. The jewellery is all hand made, and most of it integrates material from snares that were removed from the countryside. This is a great initiative which not only provides jobs to people from the local area but which also generates much needed anti-poaching patrols across the region.
We were given a tour of the facility, seeing some of the people at work, before being taken outside and set a challenge to coil some snare wire to see how strong it is. It was fairly easy to coil once, but doing it all day every day would require strength so I have respect for the workers.
The challenge involved racing each other to see who could coil some wire the fastest and our driver, Jackson, managed to do it in by far the fastest time.
After the challenge we had some time to explore the site on our own and I spent some time walking around, watching the people at work and taking some photos and video, before making my way to the shop to see if there was anything that I wanted to buy. I was away for my Mum’s birthday so decided to buy her an orange bracelet, as this is her favourite colour, that includes some hammered snare wire embossed with “Zambia”.
The prices were quite expensive but the quality was great and some of the proceeds go towards essential conservation work.
We were at Mulberry Mongoose for around an hour before making our way back to Chipata, where we stopped the other day, to pick up some food and refuel the truck before the journey ahead.
Milkshakes and Shawarma in Chipata
Some people went shopping while we were in Chipata but I went straight back to Creamy Heaven for another one of their amazing Butterscotch Milkshakes, which didn’t disappoint. Confusingly enough, Creamy Heaven also sells Shawarma kebabs and a few people bought those for lunch although the wait was rather long. They were also made extra spicy this time!
The journey from Chipata to Petauke was fairly uneventful. It had been a long couple of days so most of us used the time to relax and watch the world go by. Some people also caught up on sleep, watched movies, or read a book which is a routine that we’re all used to now after over a week on the road.
Overnight in Petauke
We’re only in Petauke for the one night, stopping at the Chimwemwe Lodge to break up two long travel days. However, arriving early gave us a chance to make use of the great showers here, have a nice lunch, to set up camp nice and early and to just relax in the nice grounds. Some of us also took the opportunity to wander up to the main building, where there is a small bar, and relax with a couple of drinks in the courtyard outside.
Dinner tonight was around an open camp fire in the grounds of the campsite and it was a great opportunity to chat about the last few days, and to swap travel stories, although no matter where I sat I seemed to always be in the direction of the smoke.
We’ve got one more night in Zambia tomorrow and then we’re crossing into Zimbabwe. Tomorrow is expected to be another long travel day, both due to distance and due to traffic in Lusaka, so it’s another early night tonight ready for the early start tomorrow.
Once we cross into Zimbabwe the travel days will be a lot shorter and, while I’ve really enjoyed watching the world go by in parts of Africa that aren’t on the major tourist trails, I am definitely looking forward to the shorter drives.