Day 8 – Lilongwe to Flat Dogs -Malawi – Zambia
Today we ride to the Zambian border for what promises to be another entertaining day.
The ride to the border is fun. Twisty roads, light traffic and beautiful countryside.
On arriving at the border, we exited Malawi without any problem, crossed the border and the chase was on again. I managed to get a woman minder who pushed the men around and got my insurance fixed in minutes. You have to buy insurance because the insurance you have already arranged prior to the trip is “no good”! Immigration was surprisingly quick and the officers pleasant, passport stamped and waved on to customs. Here you fill in a ledger, then fill in exactly the same information onto another form, fill out another random form again with the same information, all forms are vigorously stamped and drawn on, pay money and what the hell the whole process is complete in less than an hour!!!!
Once through the border we put some distance between the gate and ourselves, stopped and thought “we’re through” …amazing. We stopped about 30 kilometres in at a local bar and restaurant for coke and some excellent samosas. Here we were treated to a display of African Dancing by Mama Lilly and Mama Rosie… sadly no photos.
The ride to Flat Dogs was actually really nice, quick flowing corners with little traffic, people waving all the way and taking pictures on their phones. Phones are a must have here on the continent. Phone first then worry about feeding yourself second!!
We arrived at Flat Dogs in good time. By the way Flat Dogs are what the locals call crocodiles. The ride into Flat Dogs is very unique. Elephants abound on either side of the road, it’s surreal.
We were greeted by our hosts, give a refreshing glass of iced tea, dropped our stuff in the room or luxury safari tent in my case (very lucky my name was drawn out of the hat).
Then it was off on our game drive.
I was brought up in Tanzania and Kenya and have seen my share of game parks. I can honestly say there are few places like Flat Dogs when it comes to variety in a relatively small area.
The evening game drive yielded elephant, Impala, Bush Buck, Baboon, 5 lion, a lioness with cubs on a kill, 4 leopard, a leopard in a tree with a fresh kill, hyena, water buffalo, hippo and mores.
Until yesterday I had only seen a couple of leopard and now, I have seen a leopard up a tree on a fresh kill. We were all blown away. By the way there was still time for a sun downer.
This is a very special place.
Day 9 – Flat Dogs - Zambia
Today is a day of R&R. Janice was trapped at the tent because an elephant was outside, probably on 3 meters away and wasn’t moving anywhere in any great hurry.
Finally got a chance to catch up on photo editing and getting my notes up. Went on an evening game drive but just wasn’t feeling it. We’d seen so much the previous drive and hard as it may seem to say, “been there done that”.
In saying that, I am totally fascinated with elephants. I have taken and delete literally hundreds of photographs. They are just such incredible beasts.
Day 10 – Flat Dogs to Chimwemwe - Zambia
It’s nice to be back on the bike. Left Flat Dogs with 137kms range in the tank and 135kms to travel.
Got to the fill-up point with 3kms to spare. One bike registered 0 with 27 kms to go and still made it so there is wiggle room in the R1200GS range.
At the border we met a rather eccentric Brit who is riding his Royal Enfield from Cape Town Back to London... now that's an adventure. After fill-up, stopped at the Protea Hotel in Chipata for lunch.
Straight road but interesting countryside. Arrived at our overnight accommodation and checked in. Power had been out all day so no cold beer. No problem, across the road we went to a local bar, beers 10 dimdams each which is $1! Was great fun.
The locals were frying chip that tasted bloody beautiful. It's been a while since I tasted "Real" potato, the chips were extraordinary.
I hate to admit it, but I doubled Janice to the pub, thongs on and no helmets.
It’s really quite exhilarating riding without a helmet again, reminds me of my youth. Would I do it on the open road…NO!
Day 11 - Chimwemwe to Chaminuka - Zambia
Got away nice and early today. Pretty straight forward ride but the road was chock full or BIG potholes.
A couple of interesting moments when trucks move onto your side of the road to avoid the potholes that they create!! Might is right and you have a choice of ending up in the radiator or move off the road.
Craig, who’s driving a vehicle was pulled over for some reason or other and when asked the lady cop looked into the car and decided the passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt. It’s OK for 10 people to ride in the tray of a ute BUT sit on the back seat of the ute and you must have your belt on…makes sense doesn’t it!
Craig was issued with a very official document called an “Admission of guilt form”, with a gold stamp affixed. We are all very jealous. Last 20kms to the game lodge was dirty which was good fun. Cheetah petting for those who are into that sort of thing this afternoon, then drinks and dinner.
The lodge we’re staying in, is known for its amazing collection of African art and carving.
Day 12 - Chaminuka To Lake Kariba - Zambia
Some nice twisty roads today and the odd pothole to catch you out.
I came very close to being awarded one of those “Admission of guilt forms”, because I crossed a double white line trying to get around a tractor and trailer on the main road. Having had the bone pointed at me I was convinced my fate was sealed. However, after much toing and froing and having saved the officer an enormous amount of unnecessary paperwork we were asked to move on… sans my “Admission of guilt form” … very disappointing!
On our way down the hill into Kariba I bumped into a trio of fellow Uralists!! Would you believe it a Ural Police outfit? They were more interested in the BMW and the fact the speedo goes to 240. Had a nice chat, the Ural was 5 years old and they have no parts. Oil filter is cleaned in petrol and reused... testament to how tough the bikes are!
Fun days ride to Kariba.
Checked into our lodgings and then off onto the lake for a booze cruise.
Clearly someone made a joke about the English!!! Beautiful sunsets all over Africa, probably because of the amount of charcoal being made and burned.
Charcoal is the main source of heat for cooking and heating and it’s sold on the side of the road in huge bags.
Day 13 – Lake Kariba to Livingstone - ZAMBIA
This was a long day ride.
Started with the twisties from yesterday and then out in straight roads.
There was in interesting section of roadworks where the trucks had turned the road into 100 meters of bulldust or fesh-fesh, whatever you like to call it.
There were trucks and cars lying everywhere. John guided us onto a solid stretch of road next to the mayhem clearly marked “DO NOT ENTER”. Weird thing is we rode down the road and everyone waved!!!
The accommodation that evening was absolutely first-class. The Livingstone is a hotel I will go back and visit.
Situated on the shores of the Zambezi there is nothing like it anywhere else.
Sundowners on the deck followed by a beautiful meal. Sadly, our tour is coming to an end BUT we have one more border crossing tomorrow.
Day 14 – Livingstone to Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe
Usual mayhem at the border. “No, not this queue, that queue” then 20 minutes later, “No that queue”. Cash changing hands left right and centre, what a bloody mess. Anyway, we did get through and not long after were back at the beautiful Ilala Lodge where the trip started. Checked in, lunch, quick drink and then on to Botswana to return the bikes back over the border.
Interestingly, trucking the bikes into Zimbabwe would incur massive import duties, but riding them over individually does!! Makes sense to someone!
Botswana border is like another world, fast border crossing, no touts and would you believe it they have card facilities!!!
The essential tools for any self respecting traveller.
That evening, drinks, farewell dinner and I’m sad to say the trip is over.
We have seen so much on this tour it’s almost impossible to process it all. Each tour has been very different and unique.
The highlight of the trip for Janice and I was Flat Dogs in Zambia. If you want to visit Africa and see a variety of game this is the place to go. I have been to many parks since a kid and Flat Dogs is by far and away the best. The accommodation and food is great, the guides are very knowledgable and have a great sense of humour. Lord Byron the guide is not actually a Lord!! The guides will take you off piste and up close, it's a remarkable experience. At the end of your trip spoil yourself with a few days at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge, go see the falls and take a trip on the Zambezi.
Su and John have put an amazing package together and one that I’m sure we will all remember for a very long time.
Bye-Bye Africa until the next tour.