Lake Banguela – in the remote parts of Zambia
Luckily we got up early, because although it was just 40 km to the junction where the tar road started, the road was in bad condition. We drove through forests and had to cross a small river, which at first glance, did not look too difficult, steep but shallow.
I did not check it first, relying on the Land Rover as the best off road vehicle but when we hit the water the bonnet suddenly was under the water, but we had enough momentum and 4×4 engaged that we could climb the other side and luckily we had no damage.
We arrived at the junction and due to our high fuel consumption (about 25 liter per 100 km and no fuel station since Mpika) we were 214 km away from the next petrol station on our way to Mansa. The other option would have been to go 90 km in the other direction to Serenje, which would have been a detour of about 180 km just for petrol. At the junction there were a few huts, so we inquired for petrol. We still had 20 liters in the jerrycan and a few liters in the tank, which would not bring us to Mansa. So a guy told us that we could buy petrol here in jerrycans from a guy, who asked 15 ZMK per liter, instead of the regular price of 10,63 ZMK per liter. A quick calculation told us that it was more expensive to make the detour for just petrol, and no bargaining helped so we paid the price. The guy brought the jerrycan on his bicycle and soon we had filled it in our tank. The fuel looked all right, although it is always risky to buy fuel along the street, you never know if they dilute it with water. The guy looked trustworthy and anyway the Land Rover is not very fuzzy when it comes to quality of fuel. We headed on and after a few kilometer it was clear that the fuel was good.
We passed across a bridge over Lake Banguela wetlands beautiful scenery. At the roadside fisher men sold their catch. They were living in the swamps, poorly built huts, often covered by sheets of plastic to protect them against the wind and the rain.
The tar road was very good and we could go on quite fast, which means in Africa about 80 km/h. The villages were set back from the road, so the risk of having kids and goats on the road was not very high. At the occasional villages you could see houses where there was a pole at the street on which was either an empty milk pack, or flour bag or fuel can. That was an indication what was sold there. So it was common practice along this road to buy fuel at the roadside. Nevertheless 15 km before Samfya we ran out of fuel, so we refilled with our jerrycan and reached Samfya Beach Hotel directly at the shore of Lake Banguela. We got in, bargained the price 35 ZMK per person and as we would stay longer, electricity included, hot showers and toilet in a room which they opened for us. The site was great, we camped only 5 meters from the beach in the soft sand.
We connected the electricity but it did not work, we got power only up to a certain connection of our cables. As they have different systems in Africa, we already had a lot of different plugs and sockets, but we could not find the failure. We enjoyed the place, had internet 3G, but were too tired to do anything, so we just relaxed.
It was time to develop our business, but without power not possible. So we examined our electrical problem again and found that the Chinese adapter was the issue, so we could plug in directly not using this crap. Now we had to work – all day. In the evening we paid for accommodation, as usual they want the money in advance and as usual they had no change. I insisted on the change, as by experience, they easily forget about it, and he sent a guy to get it. Perfect dinner, chicken with wine sauce inside the Land Rover, as the wind was blowing heavily and although during day it got 30 degrees centigrades, in the evening it drops down to about 10 degrees which is too cold to sit outside.
In the morning some fish monger women came to our car. They offered Tilapia for 35 ZMK. Some bargaining reduced the price to 25 ZMK. Wonderful fish. Zambia belongs to the poorer countries, quite often people have no change. Also there are quite a lot of power cuts.
Food supplies finished. So we had to walk into the village of Samfya to get some food. From Samfya Beach Hotel it is quite a long way, about 5 km to town. While walking, we realized that there was hardly any traffic which might be due to the economical situation Zambia is in. In town we bought some mandasi at a roadside stall. The girl had no change, but somehow managed to get us 2 ZMK back (0.30 US cents). The next customer wanted to buy as well, but she could not make business, because she had no change. It seemed as as soon as they get some money they have to spend it immediately for necessary things. We walked on to some shops, the offer is not bad, but can not be compared to the variety in the Western world. There is no coffee available to buy, in whole Zambia, except for Shoprite, that is only available in major cities. They have a kind of coffee blend with chicory, which is instant „coffee“ and tastes really awful. Everywhere on the huge market people were very friendly. Goods are very cheap compared to neighboring countries. We get some vegetables, flour, basic stuff. Everywhere the problem with the change. Finally we try to get Kerosene for our stove. They told us at the end of the town there is a petrol station. We walk there about two kilometers, but nobody was there. All the pumps had a cover on top. So we asked what has happened and where we could get Kerosene. We learned from a guy that Kerosene, Petrol or Diesel can be bought in jerrycans on the market. So we walked back. Indeed we found a shop where they sold Kerosene by pint. You have to bring your own bottle. We bought one liter for 12 ZMK (1.80 Us$). We asked for petrol out of curiosity, yes it was sold where the taxis wait. Next step getting meat. There was one butchery, but they had only little pieces of beef and pork, nothing you could make something out of it. In another shop, they had a deep freezer. We bought a whole chicken for 35 ZMK (about 4 US$). With our shopping we walked back. Total walk 9 km, time spent 3 hours. When we arrived at the campsite I started my internet but after a few minutes my credit was finished. I needed at least 1 GB for 132 ZMK (about 22 US$). I tried at the neighboring bar nothing, but they directed me to a private house close to the camp. I asked there, but they had only credit for 3 ZMK, so I had to walk back to town. I asked at two guest houses, but they did not have. At a phone repair shop, they had a machine where I could buy. They enter the amount and you get a receipt with the voucher number to load. I gave him first 100 ZMK, than 20 ZMK, than 10 ZMK and 5 ZMK. They could not enter the whole amount. After the 100 ZMK receipt came out of the machine, there was no print on it, because there is no ink in the machine. So the guy wrote the voucher number with a pen on the empty sheet, which he read from the display of the machine. As I had no glasses with me I could not check. Finally I got all 4 vouchers. I promised the guy to twist his neck, if there was something fishy with this vouchers. He laughed. I trusted him because the Zambians are really honest people. Back at the campsite I charged the credits and they worked. Sometimes you must trust in people.