Lusaka, Lake Kariba and Lusaka (again)
After Kafue National Park we went to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia where 1.4 million people live. It is situated on an elevation of 1300 meters above sea level…meaning a cool night for the first time in weeks !!! Our campsite (Pioneer camp) is on the outskirts of Lusaka, 5 km on a dirt road. We were driving on the dirt road at dusk and suddenly Wilfred hit the breaks…we almost catapulted over a huge speed hump…yes…even for our truck an incredibly high speed hump !!! When we arrived at the campsite the manger said it is because they fixed the road so well that every one was speeding instead of driving 50km per hour. As a result, the people living next to the road were in dust for the entire day, hence speed humps were introduced every 100 metres (to be removed when rainy season starts in November).
For us Lusaka was nothing more than a stop over on our way to Lake Kariba and Mana Pools NP (in Zimbabwe). We stock up on food supplies that will last for about a week.
The drive to Lake Kariba turned out to be very scenic through a mountain pass with nice views over the valley below. Lake Kariba is one the largest artificial lakes in Africa. From Victoria Falls the Zambezi River flows through Batoka Gorge to this lake, formed behind the massive Kariba dam. It is used to generate power, but for years the water levels were so low that is wasn’t possible to generate power. There is a nice story (or history of the dam) called ‘the Curse of the Kariba dam’ . The dam is constructed at the head of the Kariba Gorge and both were named after a huge rock buttress called Kariba, which the local Tonga people believe is the home of their river God, fish headed and serpent tailed called Nyaminyami. When the Tonga learned that the built of the new dam would flood their God’s residence they were (understandingly) angry, but when they learned that also their houses would be submerged by the construction of the dam, it was the last straw…they asked Nyaminyami to step in and destroy the white men’s interference. And did God deliver…oh yes he did ! In 1957 a year into the construction of the dam a torrential storm of the Upper Zambezi sent a huge flood roaring through the work site, destroying all equipment and breaching the temporary dam. The next year a flood roared through the site again. Despite these floods the construction of the Kariba dam was finalised in 1960. Meanwhile disgruntled Tonga people were forced to leave their homeland.
When we arrived at our campsite just outside the small town of Siavonga Wilfred parked the car as normal, however, after looking at the pitches Wilfred tried to start the car again… the result; nothing but a loud clicking noise… Our first analysis of the problem; it would either be the ‘start blocker’ (start onderbreker) or a flat battery. It turned out to be the latter…we had no worries as we had purchased a ‘power boozt battery pack’, right before we left. This small battery pack is supposed to let you start your car at least six times, before needing to be reloaded…but after connecting the cables to the battery and trying to start the engine a lot of smoke came from the cable. Fortunately we met someone in the bar that owned a Land cruiser Prado and the next morning we jump started the car using his battery and drove back to Lusaka (200km) to buy a new battery.
We decided our best bet to get a proper battery for the truck would be at the Toyota dealer. However, we could only get an old technology battery for the ridiculously amount of €260,-. So we started calling different companies and finally got in touch with a shop that sells Varta and Deltec batteries (which are made by the same producer as our optima battery). We decided to go for the Deltec, a stronger battery based on AGM technology at less than half price of the battery at the Toyota dealer.
We arrived late in the afternoon/early evening at Pioneer Camp due to the traffic jams getting out of the city… On top we had to wait almost an extra 30 minutes at a roundabout to let an escort of police through…later we heard that the president just arrived at the airport from his trip to New York where he met with the IMF and was driven home...
The next day Wilfred installed the new battery, in the process needing to change some of the electrical wiring of the truck. And yes…the truck started immediately. As neither one of us wanted to do a long day of driving to Mana Pools (Zimbabwe), we spent the rest of the day doing laundry, cleaning the truck and relaxing at the campsite.