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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Zambia - 19 March, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start South Luangwa (Flatdogs Campsite) S1306.059' E03146.751' 527 m
Finish Chipata (Zambian Conservation Society Campsite) S1338.374' E03239.009' 1,164 m 125 km

Total:

29,613 km

8,693 km

 

Weather: Mostly cloudy, occasional rain and warm.  Cool at night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

Today is going to be quite a day.  While it did not rain overnight, we are expecting the road to still be very wet and we will get bogged a number of times.  We are up shortly after 5 AM and pack up our tent and stuff.  After breakfast, we need to carry all the cooking and other gear to the truck, which is a couple of hundred meters away (all the progress we made yesterday).  We are ready to head off at 7:15 AM.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit01_Bog1_2525_Web.gif (246279 bytes)

We have gotten a tractor to help us - it is attached to the truck by the hawser and will hopefully give us a bit of extra power to get through the bad spots.  We drive off and within five minutes we get bogged.  Out come the shovels and the sand mats.  We dig and dig and make attempt after attempt to get out.  After a short while the campsite lends us one of their small four wheel drive trucks which is put in front of the tractor.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit08_Bog1_Lars_2533_Web.gif (217952 bytes)

The road here is very narrow, with swampy areas on both side.  We need to be very careful to make sure that the truck does not slide off the road, because then we will be really stuck.  We are using every tool we have to dig out the mud and to get the sand mats under the tires.  At one point, the whole axle is buried in mud and has to be dug out (that means getting under the truck and digging while lying down).  The mud was very heavy and was hard to dig out.  It would stick to the shovels and have to be banged off.  Often it was easier to use our hands to dig out the mud and rocks.  The tractor and the truck were pulling as hard as they could, but their wheels were spinning and the tractor was bouncing around under the strain.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit16_Bog1_Road_2544_Web.gif (280793 bytes)

After about one and half hours of hard and often frustrating work, we get out.  It has been hard work and we are glad that we have gotten this far.  The road is a mess after we are through with it.  We drive on to a spot that is firm and we stop to jack up the truck and take off the broken chain.  It is making a horrible sound as we drive along.  The rear tires are covered with mud and it makes the rear dual tires look like one huge Flintstone tire.  We have to break through the mud to get to the chain to remove it.  We take the chance to go and look back at the stretch of the road that we have just gotten through - it is a mess with huge, deep ruts.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit20_Bog2_2550_Web.gif (250927 bytes)

We get the chain off after about 30 minutes. We slowly make our way to another bed stretch.  The road goes in an "s" curve and there is water on each side of the narrow road.  We stop here and re-attach the tractor and the small four wheel drive truck.  We also go and prepare the road by moving some large rocks and other obstacles (which could block the wheels or hit the axles).

 

We are all ready to go and everyone gets out of the way - once the truck gets moving, it cannot stop otherwise it will get stuck.  The moves off with the tractor and truck pulling and we make it all the way through.  We are all very glad, as we were a bit tired of digging.  

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit22_SophieMud_2553_Web.gif (248256 bytes)

We have a bit of a celebration by throwing Sophie in the mud - her white shirt was just too clean.  A few other people had mud thrown at them.  We reached the paved road at 10 AM and took some time to take the chains off the tires.  They had gotten very tight on the wheels and it took some doing.  They were coated with heavy, wet mud and were therefore very heavy.  It took four people to get them up into the wood rack.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit27_FloodedRoad_2562_Web.gif (204499 bytes)

The paved road only lasted for a short period and then we were back on the dirt road heading back to Chipata. For the first 45 minutes we had no problems, but then we came upon a section of the road that was covered in water.  As we could not be sure how deep the water was, some of us would go and walk in front of the truck to make sure there were no problem areas.  Progress was therefore slow.

 

It was actually difficult to walk in the water as it was often flowing quite fast and in sections was quite deep (mid-thigh level).  At one point, we came upon a small dry stretch, and sent some people ahead to scout out the road.  The flooded patch only seemed to go on for another kilometer or so, so we decided to carry on. Staying here would have been difficult as it had started to rain again, and the water would just get deeper.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit32_Bog3_2570_Web.gif (194115 bytes)

Once we get through the flooded portion, things seemed to be going well. We stopped for lunch and a chance to stretch our legs.  An hour after we headed on from lunch, disaster struck.  We had driven into a pool of water which was deeper than expected and got very stuck.  The left rear wheel was almost submerged.  When we got out of the truck, the bottom step was flush with the ground.  The whole area was one big mud puddle.  Walking around was tough - sometimes our feet would sink up to our knees.  We had to take off our shoes, otherwise they would have been sucked off by the mud and be lost.

 

Zambia01_SLuangwa4_Exit35_Bog3_Gilly_2574_Web.gif (193699 bytes)

It is hard to describe what we went through to get the truck out of this watery and muddy hole.  We worked for about 2 hours to get her out.  We needed to dig and work in two to three feet of water.  We pulled and pushed the truck.  We put in and dug out sand mats, again often putting them in under a couple feet of water.

 

At one point disaster almost struck.  The spinning tires would move the sand mats around and on the left hand side sand mats from both the front and rear tires were forced up against the diesel tank.  The steel plates meant to protect the tank was bent out of shape and the tank itself was bent and damaged.  One of the supports was also broken.  We were lucky to be able to stop before the tank was pierced and the diesel spilled out.

 

The sand mats were now resting up against the tank and had to be removed - the only problem was that the tires were resting on them.  In addition, most of this was happening under water.  In the end, we were able to get them out by digging around the edges and using a rope with 15 people pulling to tug them out.

 

After lots of hard work and just as the sun was setting, we were able to get the truck out.  People were pushing and pulling real hard.  Then came the job of recovering all the sand mats.  Some were easy, but other were buried in the mud under a couple of feet of water.  We needed to feel around with our hands and feet to find them.  Then we had to dig them out and we use the rope to get a number of people to pull them out.  In the end, we were able to recover all of our equipment.  But some of the sand mats were bent all out of shape, so we needed to use the sledgehammer to beat them back into shape.

 

We then needed to wait for Bruce to show up - he had gone looking for a tractor to help pull us out, but we had gotten out on our own, so we did not need that help.  After half an hour he showed up and we headed off.  By now it was dark and we had to drive slowly to make sure we did not get stuck.  We also had to keep an eye out for Kalle, as he had gone ahead to look for a tractor.  We met up with him after about half an hour - and he had found one.  He re-joined us.

 

We finally got to Chipata (and paved roads) at 7:30 PM.  We were supposed to drive on further today, but as it was so late and everyone was so tired, we decided to stop here.  Once we are in the campsite, we set up, have some dinner and then a long shower to wash off all the sweat and mud that has accumulated from today's drive.  We were covered in mud from head to toe and it was good to wash it off.

 

What a day it was!!!

 

 

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