October 14th – Day Twenty
Today was very long. The early start was achieved with the truck on the road by 6am. The five hour drive back to Lilongwe was completed with no problems, most people asleep or resting for the majority of the trip. We were stopped at a police roadblock and Jacques had to pay a road toll of around $50 US because we had travelled the Zomba road and not paid the toll when we had entered the country. Toll paid we were all dropped off by the Shoprite complex we had visited a few days previous. With K500 in hand we spent an hour buying more supplies and having lunch. Keryn and I ate at Nandos which was OK but not as good as the same food in the UK or NZ. Charles picked us all up after 12pm and we drove on to the dental centre to pick up Jacques who had been dropped off earlier. He had actually been waiting for about 45 minutes, the tooth had been clear of infection and the new filling had gone in quickly with no problems. All done in Lilongwe it was time to leave Malawi and head to Zambia, the border a two hour drive away.
Another uneventful drive bought us to the Malawi exit border. The leaving process was simple, we filed in, filled out the exit forms and had our passports stamped, it was all done very quickly. Back in the truck we made our way through a very wide no-mans land to the Zambia border. Here we had a few more problems but nothing major. Jacques had hoped he would be able to take the passports and the truck manifest in and get them all stamped but in the end we had to go in individually with our entry forms and have them looked at by the passport control people. We all also had to fill in the Zambia entry book which was like a giant guestbook, something different but not onerous. All done we boarded the truck and made our way into Zambia.
The days campsite was called Mama Rula’s and was situated on the outskirts of the town Chipata. We passed through Chipata about thirty minutes after leaving the border and turned off towards the campsite. We were all quite surprised by Mama Rula’s, the campsite was very nice indeed. There was a nice grassy area in front of a very good ablution block. The showers were warm and there was a shower curtain, floor mat and raised wooden drying block to stand on, all luxuries. The bar was nice and open and there was also Internet and a swimming pool. When we arrived we were the only truck at the site, there were a few other people but it was all very peaceful and idyllic. After setting up tents and greeting one of the local camp dogs (which was something like a Jack Russell and very friendly) a few off us went off for a swim. Swimming and resting in the pool was very relaxing, the water just cool enough so we weren’t cold. Unfortunately upon leaving the pool and heading for a shower I found that another truck had arrived, so much for peace and quiet.
The next day we were heading to the Wildlife Camp just outside the South Luangwa National Park, being a four hour drive away on a mainly bumpy dirt road. Being only a short drive meant we had a comparatively late start the next day with us due to head off at 8am so this meant people were less inclined to head off to bed early. After dinner Jacques gave a talk on the use of flash and in particular flash units for SLR’s. Afterwards people sat in the bar or used the Internet before the inevitable walk to tents for sleep.