It’s hard to imagine a more majestic and awe-inspiring way of starting your day than visiting the mighty Victoria Falls. We set off from the campsite at 6 am, and were the only early-morning visitors to the site made famous by legendary explorer Sir David Livingstone.
Having visited the Zimbabwe side of the falls during last year’s African Adventure, it was interesting to see it from the opposite side, in Zambia, of what is renowned as the largest sheet of falling water in the world, with a width of 1,7 km and height of 108 m. It ranks amongst the highest flow rates of the world’s waterfalls. For first-time and returning visitors alike, it is a simply breathtaking experience witnessing the “Smoke that Thunders”, or Mosi-oa-Tunya as it’s known locally, in full force.
By 9 am the convoy set off again travelling back through Livingstone –which is impressively clean and neat. It was also an interesting point of discussion that the country has retained and embraced its colonial history which has contributed towards making it a popular tourist destination – and a crucial contributor to the local economy. It provides an interesting counterpoint to South Africa, where the trend is to relegate the country’s history to dark, hidden archives.
The route took the group up the T1 main road through Koloma to Choma where we collected Chairman Cliff Siachibweka, the local councillor for Maamba Ward. Then it was onto a rutted and extremely bumpy gravel road heading towards the mountains. We stopped at a small village and donated a selection of school materials, clothing and food to the community leader.
Soon thereafter, we arrived at the entrance to the impressive, yet hauntingly quiet western side of the Maamba Coal Mine that is not currently in operation. The area is defined by the impressive cableway that spans the entire length of the mountainous mine area, with the coco pans hanging in eerie silence over (and in places rusting in heaps on the ground) what was clearly once a thriving operation.
Through Cliff, and the arduous negotiations of the Adventure Junkies and Continental Tyre SA team during the recce in January, the group had been granted exclusive access to this area for the trip – and it turned out to be a fantastic and challenging 4×4 trail along the dilapidated maintenance route for the cableway. Although it was only 18 km long, the arduous drive – which included the General Tyre 4×4 African Adventure’s community project at the local school – took over four hours to complete.
The trail included a fantastic mix of rocky and very steep ascents and descents, slippery slopes, tall elephant grass … and so much more. It was a thrilling ride for the adventure participants, a good test for the sponsored Toyotas, Fords and Isuzus and, more so, for the General Grabbers.
Everyone was thoroughly impressed with the performance of the tyres, which provided sure-footed grip and composure even in the face of treacherous lean angles and totally unforgiving surfaces. In particular, it was simply astonishing that not a single puncture or sidewall penetration was experienced – despite the tyres being absolutely tortured at times.
The new hard-core Grabber MTs shone as expected in the conditions – and have thoroughly impressed all-round so far, even on the high-speed tar sections with great comfort and very little noise. And once again the Grabber ATs continued to defy their all-terrain designation and were once again nothing short of exceptional, never putting a foot wrong even under extreme punishment.
The main community beneficiary for the 2013 African Adventure is Lubwe school in the Maamba Coal Mine area. Located at the top of a mountain, the school comprises one small and dark mud classroom that accommodates no less than 215 children, between 7 and 15 years old, from the surrounding hills. Indicative of the challenges they face, the school principal, Venter Mweene, has to walk no less than three hours to school every day, and three hours back again in the evening – on the same taxing 4×4 trail we drove.
It didn’t take long for the group to kick up a friendly and spirited soccer game between the school kids and the more energetic members of the African Adventure in searing 37 deg C heat – with little concern for actual goals scored.
The formalities were then completed with the hand-over of a large donation of desperately needed stationery, Stop Hunger Now food parcels, General Tyre shirts and caps, as well as greatly appreciated new soccer balls.
With much reluctance we said farewell to the enthusiastic locals, and completed the remaining and even more taxing section of the 4×4 trail as the sun descended over the distant valley – with the spectacular Lake Kariba coming into view for the first time.
After dropping Cliff off in his hometown of Maamba, and receiving heartfelt thanks for the donation and support, we completed the last stint to the superb Lakeview Lodge at Lake Kariba, arriving just after 8:30 pm. After quickly setting up camp, everyone tucked into a hearty meal before heading off to bed for some much-needed rest. It was a truly great and thoroughly rewarding day on the African Adventure – one everyone will fondly remember for a very long time!