After two days of leisure on the General Tyre 4×4 African Adventure, the convoy set off from Lakeview Lodge on Lake Kariba at 7 am after witnessing yet another of Kariba’s spectacular sunrises. The 10 vehicles had to negotiate an exceptionally bumpy and rutted gravel route to the main tar road. This mountainous region offers spectacular views and an involving drive – or make that downright challenging and dangerous.
What would once have been a pristine and thoroughly engaging ribbon of tarmac is now characterised by treacherous potholes, mostly commonly found smack-bang in the middle of the mountain pass corners. Combine that with kamikaze-style truck drivers and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
We made it through unscathed and rolled into The Moorings farm, and its Malambu Middle Basic School at around 10 am – with the aim of following up on the progress and work done after the African Adventure’s visit and donation of funds and supplies last year.
It was very encouraging to find that the school was close to completing a new block with three brand new classrooms. This was made possible after combining the R34 200 donated by the African Adventure during the first visit in March 2012 with other funds generated the school’s charity organisation.
According to the school’s headmaster, Polycarp Mweeta, the new facilities will include a computer centre, a science laboratory and a library – thus addressing the main educational deficiencies experienced by the school, its farm community and 235 pupils. After lengthy negotiations, the government had also finally agreed to install electricity at the school, which is set to be completed in the next few weeks. All of this, he stated, would give the children a much better education, and a far brighter future – for which they all expressed their sincere gratitude.
It was also great to see a far greater dash of colour and vibrance to the school’s existing classrooms, confirming that the stationery supplied last year was being put to good use. The ever-enthusiastic Mweeta also confirmed that the school had formalised its HIV/AIDS programme in the education curriculum, and this had contributed to a small but meaningful drop in infections over the past year.
In order to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the project, the 2013 General Tyre 4×4 African Adventure team handed over a new batch of writing materials, food supplies in the form of Stop Hunger Now boxes, General Tyre caps and shirts, and the enthusiastically received soccer balls.
After energetic dancing and singing by the pupils, the African Adventure waved goodbye once again and set off for the Lake Kariba wall, travelling through Mazabuka towards Chirundu. Yet again the lush mountain ranges and snaking road had the makings of a driver’s delight, but the roads are being decimated by the never-ending trucks ferrying copper and coal out of the country. Along with the ever-present gaping potholes, you have to watch out for trucks and trailers stranded and often undergoing makeshift repairs literally in the middle of the road.
By 3 pm we arrived at the Lake Kariba wall – an amazing feat of engineering that is the focal point of this impressive 250 km-long man-made dam, with some equally astonishing numbers (see the facts and figures panel below). We were greeted by two fish eagles circling above on arrival, along with a large double rainbow stretching over the powerful torrent of water gushing through the open sluice gates.
After a brief visit to the nearby town of Siavonga to purchase some piping-hot bread rolls and pies from the local bakery, we eventually took the narrow and bumpy track to our overnight stop. It seemed that we were heading nowhere, only to find that Eagle’s Rest is a true adventure paradise. Located on an outcrop on Lake Kariba, it boasts its own sandy beach, an island-style bar and play area … and is THE watersports destination in Zambia (abundant crocodile and hippo warnings included).
While camp was set up and dinner prepared, the crews had the opportunity to make the most of the pool, relax at the bar or simply explore the beautiful lakeside area. Later that evening, the youngsters also got around to playing an enthusiastic game of beach rugby – with a coconut of all things! Another great day overall …
Lake Kariba facts and figures
- March 1955 – Decision to build Lake Kariba
- July 1957 – Construction commenced, diversion of Zambezi River into cofferdam
- December 1958 – Impounding of water in Lake Kariba begins
- May 1960 – Officially opened by the Queen Mother
- August 1963 – Lake filled to level of 486 m, 1 m below maximum retention level. This was expected to take at least six years!
- Dam wall – 128 m high
- Crest length – 617 m
- Width at crest – 13 m
- Width at base – 24 m
- Volume of concrete – 1 032 000 m3
- 6 flood gates at 9 m x 8,8 m each
- Flow through gate at max retention level – 1 574 m per sec, or 136 000 000 000 litres per day
- Dam length – 280 km, 32 km wide (at widest point)
- Surface area – 5 580 km2
- Catchment area – 663 880 km2
- Volume at maximum retention level – 180 600 000 000 m3
- Volume at minimum operating level – 115 800 00 000 m3
- Mean daily evaporation at max retention level – 23 000 000 000 litres