Diamond Dealing, Ak-47 Wielding, Prince of Lake Kariba
Since leaving the Greenpop festival we have experienced a fair deal which has reiterated to us why we love adventuring and love Africa. Running out of daylight we pulled off the main road into a village down a bumpy dirt road, expecting to ask a local if we could pitch our tents in their Kraal. Tucked away in this seemingly average little village, we stumbled upon this oasis of a farm. Lush green grass surrounded this beautiful old farm house. Sprinklers were on full tilt and the farm was bustling with workers maintaining this gem of a place. The manager, Reece allowed us to pitch our tents overlooking the dam at the bottom of the farm, gave us a beer and allowed us to cook food on his fire so once again when trying to rough it we stumbled upon generosity and a bit of luxury.
Leaving early, we continued making our way to Chisekesi where we would turn off down the D375 past Gwembe to a small village on the lakeside. Along the drive we pulled over a man cycling his bike, whom we found out was riding from Cape Town to Tanzania and back. Derek is an epic dude and we respect his drive to do something adventurous so we offered him a lift to join us to the lake which he promptly accepted. Strapping the bike to the roof of the Tuk Tuk we sped off with excitement to catch a glimpse of the lake. The D375 towards the lake, is high on our list of some of the most beautiful scenery we have taken the Tuk Tuk through, with the rolling hills and lush vegetation it was a stunning site despite some of the steep dirt hills we passed over. We were approached by the headmaster of the school who asked us if we could take a photo with all the kids because no one here had ever seen such a strange vehicle before. Unlike the kids in Botswana, the kids in these small villages are initially frightened by the Mzungu (white man) and the Tuk Tuk but warm up to us relatively quickly where smiles and laughter flow.
We managed to talk to a lovely lady called Maggi who allowed us to pitch our tent next to her house and even cooked us Nshima (Pap). Walking around the village this is where we met a man far to overdressed for the village life style. Suit pants, crisp white shirt and a bow tie he was already an intriguing fellow that stood out from the common village atire. He introduced himself and we noticed immediately this guy was pissed as a parrot, with bloodshot eyes and a slur so bad we weren’t quite sure if he was speaking English or not. He kept going on about being the village police officer, marine diver and a Prince, leading us to only assume he was full of it. Going on for quite a while, we managed to convince him to take us out on the boat with some scuba gear to go diving, however with no full air tanks we settled for a cruise on the lake with this interesting character. Equipped with his Ak-47 which had no shoulder brace or handle, we boarded this little 45cc boat and positioned ourselves somewhat comfortably ready for departure when the Prince cocked his rifle and fired off a few rounds into the air whilst sitting in right in front of us. This is cowboy country and we were thrilled!
Still worried about his level of intoxication and the fact he was wielding an extremely dangerous weapon we kept our eyes on him and the gun at all times. As the sun beat down on this drunk prince you could see his condition getting worse as he started to sway out of motion with the boat and with the Ak-47 following his lead we found ourselves dipping and dodging to avoid looking down the barrel of this feared weapon. We had however made sure that the safety was on after he fired his rounds off so this gave us a bit of closure but still didn’t feel one hundred percent safe as we cruised out on the lake. Passing through a small gorge, the hills opened up exposing the magnitude and beauty of Lake Kariba, and ever so faintly in the distance the lands of Zimbabwe could be seen. With the Prince’s condition deteriorating and the locals on the boat sharing similar emotions to us, we turned around making our way back to the village, where later the prince showed us some of his diamonds. Seriously impressed by the lake and slightly relieved we hadn’t been torn up by a Kalashnikov we began making a fire to cook some of the fish given to us.
Leaving the village early the next morning we were extremely satisfied with our experience so far on Lake Kariba so we decided to go check out the lake side town of Siavonga. Taking the D500, running almost parallel with the lake we proceeded along this blessing of a tar road considering the amount of dirt we had been doing over the last couple of days. Another stunning road as we meandered our way through the hills approaching the fork that lead to Siavonga. The road we now proceeded on was certainly one of the most hectic roads we have driven through, going at less than 5km/h and on two occasions having to get out and push the beast up a hill while the engine roared trying to heave itself up. It took us a long time but once we arrived at Siavonga we were very lucky to be shouted two night’s accommodation at Lake Safari Lodge with buffet breakfasts! We were spoilt again as this epic location looked out across the lake blowing our minds with its beauty. We settled well and arrived just in time for the quarter-final clash between the Chiefs and the Stormer’s where the Chiefs were victorious!
Whilst updating the blogs and social media we were approached by another man who has offered us to stay two nights at his lodge, Eagle’s Rest. Fearing leaving the beauty of the lake we took no time in accepting his offer and proceeded to his lodge only a twenty-minute drive away. The location was another one of incredible beauty with a concave beachfront, boats and several small islands dotted just off the coastline. We took time to canoe out to some of these islands, mindful of crocodiles and hippos whilst exploring the coastal region of this area. We were told about a problem lion ‘terrorizing’ local communities in the region so a few soldiers joined Willie and lodge manager Pete, on a tracking mission to dart and relocate the lion to avoid further conflict. The conflict between humans and animals is worsened by several factors. As settlements expand they encroach on wild areas containing animals such as Lions, and with humans come cattle and other animals. Lions hunt and kill the livestock, angering the villagers who retaliate by usually killing the predator to stop further attacks. It is an unfortunate way of thinking in some of these areas as the lion is going by instinct whilst the village people seek revenge as they are losing valuable livestock. To solve this problem, the locals poisoned carcases of the livestock to hopefully nab the lion when he returns to eat. However, with the lion being on the run he is unlikely to return to an old carcass and instead the poised carcass has collateral effects as other animals such as vultures and eagles feast on the carcass and as a result drop from the skies. Wildlife organizations are working to not only educate locals on the issue but get involved by sending units to sort the problem out humanely without having to slaughter these beautiful animals. This is just one example of many conservation issues that are affecting a variety of animals and that’s why the work being done on the ground is extremely important to maintain all the beautiful creatures that roam our continent.