Despite advice to the contrary from some we decided to tackle the trip from Lusaka to South Luangwa in one day. Two reasons really; the absence of somewhere meaningful to stay on the way. (Bridge Camp is apparently even more of a disaster than in the past, Mama Rula’s in Chipata is really close enough to push through to South Luangwa National Park [SLNP]). Secondly we counted on the fairly recently completed tar road from Chipata to Mfuwe to make things easier, which it did. However we grossly underestimated the effect that the rehabilitation and diversions on the Great East Road would have on the time and strain of this day’s travel. Ultimately we were glad to have done it in 1 push but this will not be suitable for all. Further details are where details belong, with geeks!
Suffice to say this 770km stretch took us the 10 - 11 hours predicted. There were no stops so you can see how slow the progress was because of the road repairs and diversions over this road after the Luangwa Bridge.
As we drove along we slowly but steadily descended down into the Luangwa Valley, our first contact with the African Great Rift Valley, a real landmark. The scenery along the way is just so much more varied and visually appealing than the section from Livingstone. After all the trials of the second half of the trip it was a real pleasure to hit the fairly newly tarred section from Chipata to Mfuwe and the Park. When the entire route is finished the Great East Road is going to be close to world standard. The construction is being done by European and British engineering firms, under the sponsorship of the EU it appears. Not a Chinese face in sight! After the Luangwa Bridge there appear to be more diversions than road and this makes for slow going indeed. This is compounded by the fact that most of the diversions have large speed humps every 50-100m, I kid you not. Each of these are signposted. Some sign maker selling these hump signs is humping all the way to the bank!