Date: 23 to 28.12.16
Blog entry date: 26.12.16
Odometer: 4 288km
Avg speed: 21.8km/hr
Time on bike: 4h05min
Flat tyre counter: 2 (Days 5&46)
Max speed of tour (Day 14): 65.8km/hr
Transfered from Chipata to Marula Lodge close to Mfuwe with taxi. Staying in a chalet at the lodge which is located immediately outside the South Luangwa National Park.
We were on the bikes at 05:30, motivated by the expectation to get to the lodge at the South Luangwa Park. It was one of a few days in Zambia without a cloud in the sky. Accordingly the sun made its presence felt and at 09:00 it was hot. We made good time and arrived in Chipata around 10:00. We planned to take the bus to the lodge at 14:00 so we had enough time for some admin.
Marula lodge very generously offer free accommodation for touring cyclists. They also brought us in contact with Dean’s View Lodge in Chipata where we could leave our bicycles. After shopping we cycled to Dean’s View. It is run by a young Italian couple. We had a delicous lunch there. The wife of the owner makes all food herself. To be expected from Italians, this may well have been our best food in Zambia. We enjoyed this in a relaxed atmosphere with a great view of Chipata and the hills on the opposite side of town. A perfect start for our Christmas break.
A taxi was arranged to take us to the bus stop for the commute to the lodge. Upon arrival at the terminus we were told that the bus has been cancelled. Quickly we had an offer of taking a taxi to the lodge, at a higher price of course. After enquiry we were informed that the Toyota-hatch will transport another 4 persons besides us. We objected and said this is not an acceptable. The taxi driver said the only option is for us to buy-out the other seats. We finally did this as we were desperate to get to the lodge for Christmas. It was a ride we will not forget, for all the wrong reasons. At one point he picked up another passenger along route. As if the most normal thing in the world he climbed in at the front, sharing a seat with the driver! It was not the whole way, and after he alighted I told the driver he shall not perform this stunt again. I also observed that he will drive fast then switch off the ignition and free the car. In an attempt to voice our disapproval I told him he drives very irresponsible, to which his response was “thank you”! I very firmly made him understand that that was the wrong response. Better to stay on the bicycles and out of the cars 😁.
The lodge is on the south bank of the Luangwa river, the same river we camped next to at the Luangwa bridge camp (day 66). The Luangwa flows into the Zambesi a few kilometers further south of the bridge camp.
Late afternoon at the lodge a hippo was grazing lazily on the grass at the lodge. I have never seen such a site and found it amazing! We were very tired though and went to bed shortly after dinner.
On the 24th we attended Christmas carols on a beautiful green open field. A local choir did the singing and all the lodges in the area attended. We enjoyed this although the atmosphere was not really Christmas like. It was also the most white people we have seen together since Namibia 😱.
Most of the singing was in the local language. I guess the majority of whites could not understand the words but enjoyed the occasion. Unfortunately this is what happened to the real meaning of Christmas. People enjoy the occasion but are disconnected from the real meaning of Christmas: celebrating God’s greatest gift to humanity, to be reconciled with Him through Jesus.
On the 25th we enjoyed 2 game drives. The park is very green and the scenery stunning. During the evening drive we saw hyena, lion and giraffe.
We will stay until the 28th before returning to Chipata and then continue into Malawi.
Thanks for following.
Willem & Eva