We have been told that in Africa every man wants a BMW – Beer, Meat, Woman. In Chipata we found a Spar so were able to get hold of some Beer and Meat. With my BMW I headed to South Luangwa. My Woman had found out that the campsite was renowned for a couple of rogue elephants that equate four wheels with food, so hoping for a story – and hoping that the story would involve somebody else’s car we drove to Croc Valley Camp.
(Un)fortunately we had missed the elephants by a day, where they had ripped the fridge out the back of a car. The campsite owner warned us to put all our food in the communal kitchen because they can smell food even with doors and windows closed. This was easier said than done as not only did we have to remove our food, we also had to look for several lost peanuts that had fallen between the seats and gear lever – some embarrassingly still from Sudan.
South Luangwa is a lovely game reserve with plenty of elephant, other game and incredible birds. I was finally able to tell my Woman to pipe down about what a waste of money and how unnecessary the Maxtrax sand ladders were because we got to use them to climb out of a river bed. “I told you so” awarded to Chris.
Imagine minding your own business when without warning a complete stranger jabs a pin into your ankle. Enter the Tsetse fly. In 40 degree temperatures with no air-conditioning there is no way to escape the tsetse as the windows remain fully open as per the orders of a loving Woman. We even had a fight because I kept slamming on brakes or jumping whenever I got bitten on my ankle. Jules told me to suck it up and ignore them. I told her I didn’t want to catch sleeping sickness. She told me to pipe down etc etc. When we next had access to the internet Jules did some quick sleeping sickness research and in typical online self-diagnosis fashion found out that sleeping sickness equals DEATH. Two “I told you so’s” – the closest I’ll ever get to scoring a try for South Africa. I leave you with a Tsongue Tswister -Terrible tsetse taste-testing a tsesebe’s testes.
We went on a night game drive, seeing a pride of lions and a leopard. Stopping for sun-downers we met a game ranger with a pith helmet covered in bird feathers. He said he was going to use some “Juju” to get the lions to go down to the river for some water so we could watch them. I tried to use some Juju of my own, but it is obviously about as useful as another South African Juju because instead of gin and tonic on ice with fresh lemon and big chunks of fatty biltong our sun-downers consisted of orange squash and popcorn.
Instead of back-tracking to leave the game reserve, we followed a track alongside it with amazing animals and scenery, and a feeling of remoteness we haven’t had for a while. I marvelled at how we had travelled thousands of kilometres on horrendous roads down Africa without getting a puncture thanks to BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres. Unbeknownst to me at the same time my father was telling a guy at a tyre shop how we had travelled thousands of kilometres on horrendous roads down Africa without getting a puncture thanks to BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres. Sinister forces are clearly at work. Like using a vacuum cleaner and handkerchief to find a small lost screw for a pair of spectacles we used a bloody expensive BF Goodrich tyre to find a large lost bolt for a pair of widgets, on perfect tarmac, about 10km away from the place we were staying that night.
We stayed at a place called Bridge camp, a stopover on the way to Lusaka. Lusaka is probably the nicest African city we have been to. There is good infrastructure, it is relatively clean, and the people we met were all incredibly friendly. It is also full of South African shops and restaurants and we treated ourselves to a Mike’s Kitchen monkey gland burger. Mike’s Kitchen has always been a family birthday dinner affair and this was the first time I’ve been to the restaurant without my father there to tell me where the monkey gland sauce comes from. We stayed at Pioneer Camp for a few nights and then at Eureka – both really nice places to stay for a few days, although Eureka is maybe a bit better as it has animals walking around the campsite.
After Lusaka we drove down to Kariba to go Tiger fishing. Having caught 2 fish already, Jules has also caught the fishing bug. She even tells people that she caught a Nile Perch that was “Thiiiiis big”. I bitterly correct her by saying it was “This big”. Actual size is probably closer to “Thiiis big”. We stayed at Kariba Bush Camp, a great place on the shore of the lake, with impala and bush buck, and vervet monkeys that run around on their hind legs like people. Fishing involved being near an island full of animals, including the odd elephant that swims across from Zimbabwe. While I admired the animals as I tried to undo the bird’s nest in Jules’ reel (amateur!) she used my rod to hook a tiger fish that without any exaggeration was “Thiiiis big”. Unfortunately it jumped out of the water and spat the hook out, although as a newbie, Jules thinks it still counts.
From Kariba we went on to Livingstone to have a look at Victoria Falls. We walked over the bridge into Zimbabwe as the falls on the Zambia side have all but dried up, passing the idiots about to go bunjee jumping and nimbly navigating the gauntlet of curio sellers. The falls are spectacular. More than spectacular. Bucket list item – tick.
Other activities on offer include helicopter rides over the falls for a hefty fee, microlight flight over the falls for a hefty fee, safari on the back of an elephant for a hefty fee, volunteering in the local community for a hefty fee. You read that correctly. I am going to pay a large amount of money to teach somebody how to use “Betty Eats Cakes And Uncle Sells Eggs” to spell BECAUSE (or Uses Soft Eggs – whichever you prefer, both work). If I am really rich and have opted for a “FULL DAY” of volunteering, rather than the cheaper “HALF DAY” and I can remember what it stands for there might be time to teach you BODMAS. Who came up with the concept of making somebody PAY MONEY TO VOLUNTEER? You my friend are a genius! Can you come and work for me in my sales department. I need a guy who can sell useful things like male nipples to patronising idiots on their Gap Yahs on their relentless quest to slay members of the opposite sex with their selflessness.
The next day Jules and I decided to tick another item off the bucket list. We played a serious game of rock paper scissors to see who would go first and off we went to join the other idiots on the bridge. I would like to say that I nonchalantly dived out into the open like James Bond and used the grappling hook attachment on my watch to repel myself towards the hordes of swimsuit models waiting to have their breasts signed with permanent marker. I can’t. Think Mr Bean when he tries to jump off the diving board and loses his swimming trunks.
Bungee Jump over, soiled undies thrown away etc, I casually walked back to Jules, smiled weakly and said the equivalent of “like totally awesome dude”. While Jules got ready for her jump I took a couple of photos and tried not to vomit. To me Jules had the air of the sort of person who does this for a living – bungee jumping as a warm up before base jumping into a tea cup – smiling and laughing with the guys setting up her harness etc. The video footage shows an entirely different story. Heroes hop to the edge before launching into the great unknown. Jules shuffled her feet slowly like the hungry caterpillar after he has eaten his full, but feels compelled to meander slowly over to the gooseberry bush next door for another bite. Bucket List Bunjee – TICK, and thank God it isn’t on the list twice!