Zambia Tanzania

April 5, 2013

Small challenge this morning; Mother Nature encouraged Terence to stop and share with the greater universe and when he got back in to drive off the dash lights came on but the start button didn’t work! No worries, I know cars; off I beetle to the engine bay and cranked up the engine via the solenoid! Problem solved!!! NO, PROBLEM CAUSED! You see the ignition start button is wired up to the same circuit as the electric water pump!!! So within a few short meters the engine temp climbed and was going only one way. This of course brought an immediate halt to the day’s proceedings and thank to Geoff’s calm and deductive manner he spotted the problem within a few short minutes; the connection to the start button and the electric fan had just come undone. Connection restored and we were back on the road again.


Geoff is now driving and I am updating our blogsite as he dodges the massive cratelike potholes in the main road from Zambia to Tanzania!!!  The 26 wheelers that literally fly down this road have absolutely no regard for other drivers, it’s no wonder there are so many huge truck and bus accidents on these roads.


Since day one our petrol tank setup has been a little problematic to say the lease. The first problem is the fact that I had the tanks linked to each other and breathing into each other, this resulted in the tanks swelling up when they got hot and HOT they got! With the Fiat Uno radiator blasting boiling air onto them from early morning for 10 to 12 hours a day! In fact it took us about four days to concoct a plan to try to overcome this and that plan was to utilise the empty 5 litre oil container to act as the breather and overflow o the tanks. It seems we lost at least 4 litters or so each time we filled up. However now it seems like we have the breathing and overflowing sorted if only in a fashion! Add to this the fact that we have had a gammy electric fuel pump since day one; we thought it was due to it becoming too hot so we relocated it last night to be next to the other fuel pump and we discovered today that it was nought to do with heat as it failed again. Luckily we managed all our trips today with the other tank.

We were warned about taking the Great North Road, massive potholes that have been known to rip entire rear axles off massive trucks which we listened to but were not entirely sure how true this might have been. Well the road to Mpika had some serious potholes that we had to avoid to prevent our little Imp being wrecked. We were stunned by the condition of the road north of Mpika…. It had massive potholes in some places and some sections of road were just a solid rocky outcrop with craters bigger than our car on one side and deep trenches on the other. A rear wheel hub repaid mid-section was necessary and we consider ourselves super lucky to have escaped with such a minor repair.  

So in spite of a sparrows start to our day from the Forest Inn campsite we had to negotiate about 80 kilometres of the most treacherous road in darkness although we had previously vowed never to drive at night again because our Brights do not work properly, only the dips work which restrict our vision big time.

Probably the most disconcerting aspect of this Great North Road is that for long stretched the road, albeit narrow, is near perfect surface, then without warning, a huge unavoidable craters or series of potholes.

Add to the worst conceivable road surface at least 10 serious truck and bus accidents and the most selfish roadhog truck and bus drivers you could imagine.


Got in to Mpika on the smell of oil rag and again at the border, seems like our good fortune was certainly holding out! Thanks to those of you who were praying for us!


One bright moment of the day was a fuel and coffee stop en route where we enjoyed top hot coffee and a pie similar to the pies of the home of the chicken pie north of Joburg.

Another plus was our faithful chariot since in spite of Geoff’s top defensive driving we did manage to climb into a pothole or three and this is where the strength of the little Imp stood up for itself top of the class.


Nonetheless through Geoff’s top driving we safely arrived at a guesthouse where we were offered a rough gravel patch for our campsite amid numerous parked cars of the local drunks and ladies of questionable repute. We opted to spend a few bucks and took a room that locked! Well the toilet had no seat on, the shower was near useless; it only wet the wall near where you were standing!!! Nor were we alone in the room!!! There were hundreds of cockroaches up and down the walls and on our bedside tables and inside, around and ON the kettle. However we enjoyed the coffee! Well the exhausting and super stressful drive ensure that in spite of the little wildlife and very suspect but comfortable bedding we managed a great night sleep. A great night’s sleep until……… ok G, up u get, its five o clock and we need to get up, do cockcroach coffee, pack our kit, buy fuel and get to the border for 06h00! Geoff duly complied. We sorted out the room, of course woke up the reception manager who was sleeping soundly bedding his desk, ON THE FLOOR WITH A MATRESS AND BALNKET! And off out to the parking lot where we should have been camping and duly woke up the SECURITY guards who were looking after our cars!!! As we packed our cars the security chaps were saying; ‘but the petrol station and the border only open at 06h00!!! Well since it was now 05h50 I felt that this was like perfect time for us to get slowly out of the guest house and into the petrol station just in time for them to serve us as their very first customer.  Yeah right! This would have been all fine and dandy if my cellphone clock and subsequently my wake-up alarm had not auto reset to Nairobi timezone making it a 04h00 wake-up call and therefore now a full 60 minute wait for the gas station to open IF they in fact opened on time!!!  Which in fact they did!

So even though we only got to sleep at 22h30 wee were cheated of one superb hours of \zeds!!! Sorry Geoff!

Of Geoff, gas tanks full. Let’s off to the border and try and be through within let’s say one hour so we can make it to Iringa this arvie and have a good night sleep. Well the road out of the guest house was clearly NOT the road to the border, we must have got our directions mixed up in the darkness last evening because the road we found ourselves on led us directly into a massively potholed, dusty and crowded truckyard!

You need some Tanzanian Schillings??? One of dozens of currency traders quizzed us. “no were fine thank you” to which he quickly replied; you know you can’t change back your Kwatcha once you cross the border, I can do it for you here. To out shock and dismay we realised that in fact this was the actual border crossing. The International gateway between Tanzania and Zambia. Not much to be proud of if we may say!


To be done with the myriad of hassle hagglers we took on the services of one official looking insurance broker who at least had a security namebadge on. We agreed the procedure that needed to be followed and told him we would need him to settle all our accounts on both sides of the borders and we would pay him on the other side.


Well Terence opted for the easy route, “I’ll go with Obed – our agent – offered Terence” and off he trotted leaving poor old Geoff to deal with the throngs of inquisitive, interfering hoardes. He was for most of the time stuck inside the car with no way of even opening his door for the weight of people surrounding the little Imp.  


Ok so we knew this was not going to be an easy trip just go with the flow here, the slow flow albeit and soon we will be on our bright and early way. The bombshell from Obed; oh the car clearance office opens only at 08h00!!! SO WE COULD HAVE CARRIED ON SLEEPING UNTIL 08H00 INSTEAD OF 04H00? THAT’S 4 FULL HOURS!!! I bet Geoff was not happy about the 04h00 start!

So into to one office around to another, wait for this guy, explain to that guy and pay this amount here and that amount there and ever closer we crept to our target of getting on to the good road from the border to Iringa hoping to make up good time that the horrible road through Zambia had caused us to lose the day before.

All the time Geoff was the centre of attraction to hundreds of TazZambians, at least four deep all around the car explaining over and over the various facts about the car and or trip.



We are now at Arusha and will head for Nairobi tomorrow, we just need to rebuild the front suspension tonight as the sleeping policemen roadbumps of Tanzania and the horrible surface of the Zambian roads have made this necessary. More about that later.


Photos to follow.



  1. Great update , keep the updates coming. Impressed with the Imp and the heart shown under difficult driving conditions. Cheers Howard

    • will do some c for serious updating over the weekend as we have to wait till monday to do visas.

  2. Sound very stressfull but exciting. Keep at it and all the best to you all for this trip. Yay yay.

    • yep now we are relaxing in Nairobbery while we wait for the Sudan embassy to grant us our visas whih we hope to grab on Monday. then it will be off to the dirt road to Moyale and on up north from there.

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