As morning dawned we settled into the car, girded ourselves for one hell of a ride, and started out on the bush path that would take us to the main road. We high centered a few times, scraped here and there, and finally burst out of the bush on clean and clear tarmac. Now I’ll call it a road, because once a long time ago it must’ve been one but now it’s more like a half-paved track full of partially mended potholes that could swallow a VW bug. Over 200km of that and we were all ready for a break! On the positive – not white knuckled, terrifying, tensed muscles side- the folks got to see the amazing transformation of the Zambian countryside as we progressed farther north toward the equator and higher up on the plateaus. As the vegetation changed and the communities themselves began to reflect different cultural and economic history, we got to stop and glance across the river several times into the Congo. At our nearest point we were just 1.5km from the DRCs border posts.
We kept on trucking along until we pulled through Mbereshi, passed the massive and half-terrifying mission hospital there (scary place) and turned at the fork toward Kawambwa. About 5k before the town we pulled a sharp right and went down a long gravel track 1 km into the bush. We parked, paid the park fees, and headed out to explore. After we spent a few hours walking, swimming in the falls and the pristine clear river waters, took some funny pictures and made great memories, we started back. We’d only had time to glimpse a fraction of the true beauty, but from previous visits I tried to highlight the best spots. The rugged and eerie beauty instilled in our hearts a sense of wonder and tragic sadness. Now I say eerie & tragic because of a very disturbing phenomenon. In the larger, unprotected (understaffed) parks there are almost no living animals. We heard a single bird call in three hours! I’ve not seen any wildlife in my visits. Here’s a gorgeous savannah area filled with clear, fresh running water, a ton of fodder, good terrain and forests and no animal life… It’s all been poached and eaten. A perfect habitat devoid of life. Terribly terribly sad.
Our adventures in the falls complete, it was time to go and visit our third volunteer of the trip – Ms. Perry.
We packed up, strapped on our adventurous spirits and launched ourselves back on track. We visited the neat and nicely kept town of Kawambwa, bought some veggies for dinner, turned around and headed for Kashikishi. Halfway there we found Ms. Perry’s site and settled in for the evening – or so we thought.
As it so happens, we managed to get a slow puncture in the middle of the African bush – 30km from the nearest town and our donut (that’s right a donut on the roads I described above … harrowing) was also low. Alex and I changed the tire, hopped back in, and nursed the car 30km to Kashikishi. There we found a young man, who with a steel cutting blade mounted in an old black and decker grinder with a repeatedly patched cord managed to grind out the inside of the tire, and patch it. Spectacular.
Back on the road we made it to Ms. Perry’s in time for a fantastic dinner and more great Peace Corps company. The next morning we bundled up, packed in and made the long hard drive back to Chisunka.
Our next destination after a day of recovery in Chisunka was Lake Bengweulu – Samfya!
Leave a Reply