I have just returned from a trip to Liuwa Plain National Park. We had 4 nights in the park, giving us 3 days to drive around and enjoy the sights.
This was my third trip to Liuwa and although it is a long way, taking 2 days, it is well worth it. This bit of my story will be a trip report on getting to Liuwa from Livingstone. I will tell you about the park next issue.
The first part of our journey was to Sesheke. The road as far as Kazungula is fine – just been resurfaced. From Kazungula to Sesheke it is a bit iffy – some good, some bad and some bits being resurfaced. The 200 km (Livingstone-Sesheke) took us 2½ hours. We refueled at Sesheke.
At Sesheke the road goes over the Zambezi River bridge and then turns north-west towards Senanga. This road was done a few years ago and it is magnificent. After 120 km we were at Ngonye Falls.
On the way we found some new signs for elephants. We also saw some of Elephant Sandy’s shiny silver strips hanging on a fence, so I assume the elephants are on the way back through Sioma Ngwezi National Park. But we didn’t see any.
As a note, when you are almost at Ngonye Falls, there is a sign directing vehicles right for Senanga. If you go along this road it ends; it ends at the bridge which is being constructed over the Zambezi River. This is scheduled for completion in 2016.
The campsite at Ngonye is fairly basic and a bit cramped. Our four vehicles cluttered up the place and we squeezed the tents into odd spots. The toilet and shower are adequate; they can do better. I know that this is a community campsite but it doesn’t have to be built in the manner of a village. It was because of this that, on the way back, we did not stay there. We stayed at Kabula Lodge which has an excellent campsite with HOT water …
In the morning we did a tour of Ngonye Falls. The water is low at this time of year so the falls drop quite a long way. Very pretty.
From Ngonye we were told that there is a new pontoon over the river at Sikuka. It was 2 km north from Ngonye. Here we crossed the river (Pontoon cost: K56). And arrived on a brand new road … wow … what a surprise.
This road took us to Senanga; we bombed along. (70 km). From Senanga it was another 100 km of good road to Mongu. Here we refueled, did a quick shop at Shoprite, then headed down the hill to the Barotse Floodplain.
The fl oodplain is having a new causeway constructed. I mentioned in a previous newsletter that there are 25 bridges being constructed across it. I had in my mind that they would be merely culverts but they were not. They are proper bridges. I was totally gob-smacked at the thought of the cost of this road. As far as I am aware, the project is being totally funded by the Zambian Government. Will it be finished? There are still lots of bridges to be done …
Western Province has been a forgotten region of Zambia since Independence, so maybe this is pay-back time. I do, though, wonder how this project got approved when we have been waiting for one bridge over the Zambezi River at Kazungula for many years … Anyhow, getting back to my trip report … The temporary road by the side of the new causeway was fine and we did the 35 km quickly. There was even a temporary bridge over the Zambezi River so there was no need to cross by pontoon.
After another 35 km of a tarred road we arrived at Kalabo and the ZAWA Offi ce. Here we waited for a long time as the officers blundered through the paperwork. I had pre-booked the camp with African Parks many months ago and paid a deposit. Fortunately proof of this was with Charity in the offi ce. But then we had to go through their red tape. We were a group of 12 people in 4 cars. I didn’t get involved with the discussions about who was Zambian and who was not. I was told, though, that the offi cers wanted to see IDs; they didn’t see mine. Finally, all the paperwork was complete and money handed over. For my 4 nights in the park it had cost me around K1,000. Zambians are cheaper – around K800 each.
The ZAWA offi ce is right next to the Luanginga River which is crossed by pontoon (K40 per vehicle). It is a small pontoon and can only take one or two vehicles at a time. The pontoon is hauled over the river by the attendants pulling on a rope.
Finally, over the pontoon, we hit deep sand and the holiday had begun..
By Gill Staden
01 December 2014