30th August – Lusaka to the Bridge Camp
30th August – The Bridge Campsite
We have a bit of a lie in this morning and wake up at around 7:30am. The Eureka campsite is very peaceful and the ablution facilities are spotlessly clean with plenty of warm water.
More time is spent at the embassy today but finally the paperwork is done, the new picture is accepted and the passport is promised in a few days. I half expected that it would be teleported to us there and then for what it cost us! We return to Manda Hill for some shopping for the next section of our trip, and thankfully the ATMs there seem to like us and we manage to get some cash. We refuel and at 1pm leave on the great East road hoping to make it to Petauke. But the dark cloud of bad luck is still looming on us. At some point while still in Lusaka, near Eureka, we are stopped by the police. A female policewoman tells us we have been speeding. What’s the speed limit we ask? 80 she says. But we were doing 75? You were doing 87 barks a male police officer. With a sinking feeling I realize this is a brush with corruption, our only crime being the very conspicuous rooftop tent and foreign registered vehicle. The fine is 240000kwachas. We decide there is no point to argue against three police officers when we are already quite pissed off with the passport incident, so we reluctantly agree to pay. Will we be provided with a receipt we ask? Of course but then the fine goes up to 530000kwachas! Now there is no doubt in my mind this is a request for a bribe. We are caught in a moment of weakness where we just want to get away from all officials and back into the bush and give up and pay the bribe – horrible I know. But how do you argue when there are three policemen swearing we were speeding? We have no idea anyway how much a real fine costs, and what would have happened if we insisted on the receipt. So our wallets lighter, and our Zambian outlook somewhat soured we continue along the Great East Road.
The road is narrow with lots of oncoming trucks and slow trucks in front of us and there is all sort of people and animals on the road, and speed bumps! Seems like the villages are competing with each other as to how many speed bumps they have and how big they are – we decide that speed bumps must be a village status symbol. It is a feat of concentration to try to keep up a steady 100km/h pace. We notice we are never in any danger of being caught without a working simcard or airtime, literally everyone is selling them in their little colourful stalls.
At 4pm we are near the Bridge Campsite and contemplate our plan to reach Petauke. We decide it’s cutting it too close as we want to avoid driving in the dark so we reluctantly drive to the Bridge Campsite instead. There is only one other car. We have a couple of beers to chill out and go to the bar to enjoy the view over the Luangwa river and Mozambique – the pool and the view are very nice.
The ablutions look very run down but they are reasonably clean and there is hot water and flushing toilets. It is a perfectly acceptable stopover point in our opinion, no complaints. There are also three guards patrolling the campsite at night. We give them some leftover sausages from our hotdog dinner and they are delighted. After some chilling out it is time to go to sleep but it is very very hot and humid at night here and we have trouble sleeping.