Lusaka —> Chongwe —> Rufunsa —> Nyimba —> Simba —> Ketete —> Msoro —> S. Luangwa National Park
Average milage/day: 56.7 miles
Days on the road this stretch: 7
A huge shout-out to Jac, our new friend in Lusaka for hosting us. We had a blast sharing travel stories and watching the season finale of Game of Thrones! After two rest days with internet (a valuable commodity in Zambia), supermarket splurges, and visiting with family – we got back on the road.
It is ironic how difficult it is, as a touring cyclist, to tear yourself away from a major city when it is full of many things cyclists hope to avoid (ie. truck exhaust, busy roads, small shoulders) – It might have something to do with having a comfortable bed, reliable wifi and delicious food. After a last few errands, we managed to get on the road to South Luangwa National Park by 11:30am on Tuesday August 29th. Our goal would be to get to the park in a week to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with a safari, but we knew from the advice of locals that the road would be long and “hilly”. We thought we knew what “hilly” meant until a couple days on the road when the terrain provided a couple serious climbs! We agreed it was worth it for the change in scenery.
Several observations on the Great East Road stretch:
- There was far less traffic than the road to Vic Falls, but the trucks refuse to give very much room as they passed.
- The further we rode East, the more we received requests for money. One family that allowed us to camp on their property had their daughter ask us for $40 for her education. After a night of sharing food together (we gave them our vegetables and they shared their traditional meal, we were taken aback yet understood the circumstances). We thought $20 was fair for a night of camping and hoped the money would actually go towards “Barbara’s Education Fund”. At the primary school we camped at the following evening, the head teacher also asked for money or “something to remember us by”. Simon gave a cycling top and we agreed we would be thread bare if the trend continued.
- A touring cyclists day is dictated by water stops – especially when relying on village bore holes. They are reportedly safe to drink from, but we take the extra precaution of using our water purifier. Sometimes you can taste the high iron content and a little juice seems to mask the flavor.
- We’re not alone!!! We met two touring cyclists on this stretch who are both cycling around the world – Pascal (Switzerland) on the road five years and Mike (Chicago, IL) on the road two years. We created a convoy for a few days – taking turns blocking the wind for each other – and making great time to S. Luangwa.
Next on the agenda – safari package at Maruna Lodge! They offer free accommodation to touring cyclists, so we’re only paying for game drives and food – what a wonderful way to celebrate our first wedding anniversary ❤
“We’ve jumped into the deep end, and we’re swimming alright.” – Simon