Safari is what everyone seems to think about as soon as you tell someone you are going to be in Africa, and really who can blame them? Some of the coolest animals in the world are found here in Africa. So this past weekend we set out to go on our first ever safari adventure.
The planned destination was South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. It turned out just getting there was going to be an adventure all in itself. The roads from Lilongwe to the Zambian border was paved and we made good time to the border. Such good time in fact that I was wondering why everyone said this was such a long, rough drive. Ha! From there on out everything became a struggle.
Crossing the border takes time. The crossing point is crowded, chaotic and mostly not staffed. David actually had to track down a worker to look at his paperwork so we could get on with our trip. It took us a bit over an hour to finally make it across the border. The boys had to go to the toilet while David was off dealing with paperwork so I sent them with Dakota who came back and reported there was no toilet but rather a deep smelly hole in the ground. At which point I decided I could hold it! Thank goodness I never got to have a cup of coffee that morning.
Once we were finally on our way again we stopped at a Shoprite to grab some last minute supplies. On the way out we were following the other family going on safari with us. As we hit a bump their roof rack swayed alarmingly. Pit stop number one had us stopped at a place that sold gas canisters. The owner, Mohammed, kindly helped us find some wood to brace the roof rack. An hour later the load was redistributed between the two cars and we were on the road again. About twenty minutes later the road changed from blacktop to dirt. For the next 140 kilometers this was the view.
DUST! We spent most of the trip following so we could keep eye on the roof rack. We saw a lot of dust. The other car is somewhere in that cloud of dust up ahead. That pile of dirt on the left is from construction, they are in the process of paving stretches of the road. Given that I have been told they have been at it for years, and rainy season will be starting in December turning all of this dust into mud, I don't have much hope that it will be any better next time we make this trip.
Pit stop number 6 to adjust the braces on the roof rack. I quit counting sometime after the 10th pit stop. Below is the road on a stretch where we were in the lead and could see something besides dust.
The road, if you want to call it a road, was very bumpy. Over and over we stopped to adjust the load on the roof rack as the bumps knocked loose the wood we used to brace the load. It took an eternity, OK not an eternity, closer to 4 hours, but it sure felt like and eternity. Eventually we hit blacktop again once we were near the park area.
Just as we turned off the main road towards our campsite I looked out the window and saw elephants. ELEPHANTS! Elephants and we hadn't even made it into the park or to the campsite yet. Imagine what else we would see. Suddenly the whole trip was worth it.