Cougs in Africa
James McIntosh, March 1 2013
Saturday – Kafue
By 9 a.m. on Saturday we were back on board Sabie and on the road again headed east.
A majority of our group ended their trip in Livingstone, because apparently they aren’t cut out for 41 days of camping, so from this point on we are a group of nine.
The trip from Livingstone to the Kafue River is about 450 kms and took us nearly six hours. During this journey we made the transition from Southern Africa to East Africa, or as Prosper likes to call it “real Africa.” In other words we say goodbye to all the amenities we are used to such as consistent running water and electricity.
Looking out the window of the truck the transition was clear. The streets in this region are not filled with cars, but instead with overloaded bicycles teetering on the side of the roads, hauling goods from one village to the next.
The few concrete structures along the roads are tattered and falling apart, the tin roofs rusted and sometimes caving in. The rest of the buildings are mud huts with straw roofs.
It is amazing how in less than 150 kms the fairly robust infrastructure of Southern Africa deteriorates and the developing aspects of East Africa emerge.
To be honest, I feel sorry for the people who ended their trip in Livingstone because the next 20 days will be a very different experience than the previous 20 days.
It was about 3 p.m. when we pulled off the main road onto a dirt track and drive a few hundred meters into a small village.
From the village we were shuttled in cars down bumpy dirt tracks to the bank of the Kafue River where the Kafue Queen awaited us.
Each of us packed our tents on board the boat and brought small packs with supplies for one night. We then set sail down the river toward our riverside camp.
We chugged slowly down the river as the sun slipped gracefully behind the jungle covered hills that rose from the banks of the Kafue River.
It was nearly two hours later that the Queen Kafue pulled into the reeds on the side of the river and we climbed ashore into camp.
By the time we had set up camp the sun had set and we gathered around the fire to watch a local traditional dance and drumming group perform.
After the performance a dinner of chicken, sausage and nyshima was served by the crew of the boat. With our stomachs full we stayed awake on the boat for only a few more minutes before heading back to ours tents and to bed.
Sunday – Kafue Village
On Sunday we were awake at 5 a.m. and had our tents packed up and on the boat by 6 a.m. Soon after the Queen Kafue set sail, continuing down the river toward a small quaint village nestled in the hills on the side of the river.
When we pulled into the dock on the side of the river just outside the village, we were met with by far the best African welcome yet.
The man standing on the dock who pulled our boat up onto the river bank was proudly donning a crimson tee shirt with the WSU logo right smack in the center of his chest.
That’s right. There are Cougs in Zambia.
Well, sort of.
Yeah sure, this guy had no idea what he was wearing, but I quickly informed him he was wearing the badge of the greatest university in the United States and he is now officially the biggest Coug fan in the entire continent of Africa.
From the dock we walked up the hill through the lush foliage and into the small village.
We were greeted by a man 54-year-old named Christopher who is a local farmer. He primarily grows corn and bananas, which he sells in town at the local market.
His entire family lives in the village with him, including his mother, wife, children and grandchildren.
There are some concrete and brick buildings in the village, but most of the buildings are made of mud and wood.
We spent about 45 minutes chatting with Christopher and playing with his grandkids before making the trek back down to the boat.
Once back on the Queen Kafue we were served a hot breakfast of beans, sausage, scrambled egg and toast. After breakfast Tarynne and I headed to the upper deck to take in the scenery during the two hour ride back to the truck.
After a few minutes of relaxing, we grabbed a couple of tent mattresses and Tarynne gave me a one-on-one yoga lesson.
I think my first ever yoga class is going to be hard to beat – cruising down the Kafue River in the middle Zambia taking in the scenery as I workout my broken body.
We arrived back at the truck at midday and made the short 80 km drive to campsite just outside Lusaka, the Capitol city of Zambia.
We spent the afternoon swimming in the campsite pool before eating dinner and heading to bed early.
Monday – 680 Kilometers
On Monday we had nearly 700 kms to cover, so we were up at five in the morning and on the road by six.
At 1 p.m. we pulled over to the side of the road for a quick pit stop to make sandwiches for lunch. Twenty minutes later we were on the road again headed toward the Zambia – Malawi border.
We arrived at Mama Rula’s Camp at about 3:30 in the afternoon. Tarynne and I had a quick dip in the pool before my second career yoga class. This time it hurt. Apparently this yoga thing is significantly harder than it looks.
After dinner we relaxed around a fire pit and drank a few beers before retiring early to our tent once again. We have another early start on Tuesday morning since we are crossing the border into Malawi.