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Traveling The Roads Of Zimbabwe

From Kariba, homeward bound

Gill Staden, eTN  Jun 03, 2010

(eTN) KARIBA, Zimbabwe - There are several harbors in target="_blank">Kariba Town, Zimbabwe. Two I will mention because I visited them. Firstly, Andorra Harbour is the place where the Kariba Ferry starts. Kariba Ferry takes people and vehicles from Kariba Town to Mlibizi far up the Lake towards Victoria Falls. The journey takes 22 hours, I am told, and it is a stress-free way of getting vehicles and people from one end of the lake to the other. I also found Kariba Houseboats at Andorra. This company is just revitalizing its boats, which are large houseboats used for groups, usually overlanders.

While visiting Caribbea Bay Hotel, I found Marineland, at their harbor. Marineland hires out boats – speed boats and houseboats. The houseboats are family-sized to large-sized. All houseboats can come along with crew – for driving the thing and for cooking and cleaning. Marineland also does the transfers from Kariba Town to Spurwing Island, Bumi Hills Lodge, and to Musango Lodge.

I then decided it was time to head home. The border crossing was easy. The dam has three gates open at the wall and the water was pouring out into the gorge below, sending up sprays and making rainbows. Very pretty. I just feel sorry for Lower Zambezi and Mana Pools National Parks downstream – they must be quite flooded now. I wonder, too, what effect this is having far downstream in Mozambique.

Now I was in Zambia and heading to Siavonga. First, I went to some absolutely awful lodges – the first one had the TV blaring; the second one had Zambian music booming. The music-blaring one had a rather unfortunate swimming pool – the waves were lapping all around and into it.

I then went to Lake Kariba Inns and Manchinchi Bay. Both hotels cater to the conference market. At Kariba Inns, I walked into the reception and the lady was on the phone; I walked around for a while to take a look and came back to the reception. The lady was still on the phone. She looked very smart, but I felt she liked her phone too much so I left her to get on with it. I didn’t even take one photograph.

Manchinchi Bay was further around the Lake shore, and there I found John who took me on a tour. Both Kariba Inn and Manchinchi Bay are clean, big, and dull. I thought they would be.

I didn’t go to Eagles Rest, just around from Manchinchi Bay. I have been to Eagles Rest before, and that is where I always stay when I am in Siavonga. It is also the only place I would recommend for the tourist market.

I wanted to get home to Livingstone that day and it was about 550 km from Siavonga – a long drive. I headed out onto the road up the Escarpment towards the main Chirundu-Lusaka Road. It had windy bits, but was in fairly good condition. After about 60 km, I came onto the main road and joined the trucks as they plied their way up the escarpment to their destinations of Lusaka, Copperbelt, and further afield into the Congo.

The road has been fixed, even that gaping gash that suddenly appeared a few months ago. It is wide in places to allow for overtaking, which was definitely needed when I came up behind three abnormal loads bearing equipment, I assume, for the mines. What scared me most were all the rocks, which litter the road. Trucks often break down going up the steep hills and they use rocks to put behind the wheels. Of course, when the truck gets going again, the rocks remain.

Anyway, all went well and I turned south on the road to Livingstone. Between the turnoff and Mazabuka the road was rather potholed – could do with a bit of repair, but from Mazabuka to Zimba it was good. At Zimba, of course I met up with our new Chinese road to Livingstone. I think about 10 km, of the 80 km, was useable and fast. And then I came upon deviation, bad road, deviation, bad road, deviation... How long has this company been working on this road? Two years, I think, and it is still nowhere near complete. I think we will have to put this road nearer Lusaka and then Lusaka-ites can experience what it is like to have road access in such a state... maybe then something will be done.

From Kariba, homeward bound
Zimba Road / Photo by Gill Staden

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