14th September – Mana Pools to Monze
14th September – Mana Pools to Monze. The Long Way Back …
In the morning we enjoy one last glorious Mana Pools sunrise over the Zambezi and then we set off to look for the lions, which we briefly catch a glimpse of moving off into the bush. We have no time to follow them on foot though so we just bid them farewell.
We start our long journey to Monze in Zambia and head towards Kariba – we decide against using the Chirundu border crossing again as it was a weekday, and we figure out it will be nice to see something different, and we have plenty of time.
The road is pretty good, it looks worn but is still very smooth. The first glimpse at Lake Kariba surprises us – it is huge, it looks more like the sea. We stop for a drink and cake at the Harbour Cafe, and then go to the viewpoint to admire the lake and buy some curios which we hadn’t done during our trip yet.
After that we are off to the border. The Zim side is very straightforward and friendly but they still insisted to see the Interpol Police Clearance Certificate there as well, along with all the other papers. We drive out of the border post and after a while we see the Kariba Dam, an awesome sight. Though it is huge it is still quite unbelievable that it has created a lake so large and changed the landscape, livelihoods and ecosystems so much. We also ponder about the dead workers buried in the cement within the dam wall. We stop for some pictures and then drive on the dam to reach the Zambian boder.
Things aren’t as easy and smooth here as we were led to believe it will be. The new passport issue in Chirundu comes back to haunt us as my boyfriend does not have an entry stamp for Zambia in his new passport. So the official refuses to stamp it, despite the visa being a multiple entry one. Some calls later and we get the stamp and move on to the interpol desk. They want to check the papers against the chassis of the actual car so off we go in the burning mid day sun. Then, after the official is satisfied that our rental car is not stolen, we go to another desk where we hand them a ton of papers to check but the carbon tax paper mysteriously disappears at their desk. We ask the official again and again to recheck the papers on his desk as we are sure it must be there. After about 15 minutes (probably they realise we are not about to pay a bribe) the paper magically reappears. Then it takes an eternity to get the new TIP. The bottom line is that Kariba is not the short cut we were led to believe it was – so if ever we are again travelling from Lusaka to Mana Pools we will probably stick to the direct route which is Chirundu.
We still have a long drive ahead after we clear the border, and the road is again narrow with many trucks but not too scary. We are surprised at the amount of trucks stopped due some malfuntion. A few hours later we arrive in Monze and stay at a campsite called Moorings which is very pleasant and relaxing. The small road to access it which is like a tunnel of trees which looks quite pictoresque in the evening light – a sight one might imagine in France!
At the campsite we quickly make friends with the local black cat, a real velcro cat as he wouldn’t leave our side. Somehow wherever I go I invariably end up wandering off by myself and coming back to my boyfriend with a cat or a dog in tow. The friendship paid off really well for the cat as he dines with us on chicken (especially grilled for him), crisps and sliced cheese. There is nothing we offer him that he didn’t eat including licking our disposable plates still oozing with hot mexican salsa we used to make quesadillas. During the night, he slept a bit on our laps for a while while we were relaxing in the camp chairs and then when we went to our rooftop tent to sleep he slept on top of the car by then tent in the tent’s cover. We would hear him purring every now and then. If I have one regret from this trip is that I didn’t bring my new furry friend back home with me!