Cross over into Zambia
Stage 55 (36): Lilongwe to Chipata
Actually, it’s not Chipata itself but another 8 km of tarmac and then badly rutted dirt road to Mama Rula’s Camp.
All the usual associated with an early start; riders meeting to go over again the protocol involved in leaving Malawi and entering Zambia. Triple-check that I’ve got all my documents in neck wallet; I wouldn’t want to be left behind.
A long day but a very nice ride once we’d cleared Lilongwe. And how nice to have full braking capability as we weave through vehicular and pedestrian traffic on a Saturday morning. By the time we were 20+ km out, the traffic thinned from moderate-light to just plain light to almost nil at times. We’re still riding through this interior plain or plateau in central Malawi; intensive agriculture eventually giving way to small and then subsistence plots. Overcast for first hour or two, I don’t think temperature got into the 20s until after the lunch break.
No climbs of note.
Approaching lunch I could see the throngs of hysterical kids surrounding the Lycra-clad Musungu downing food ravenously. Well, this will be the last such stop in Malawi; maybe Zambia will be a little calmer.
The road on which we’ve been riding along parallels a set of train tracks. I don’t see any evidence of moving stock so wander over to investigate; is this another instance of China’s Belt and Road initiative?
I don’t think so; these tracks look like it’s been years since anything passed down them.
I made the border crossing in good time; exit stamp from Malawi and entry stamp for Zambia, all in the same air-conditioned building. Painless.
Back on the bike and headed for Chipata to hit an ATM and get myself a local Sim for the phone. Afternoon definitely now warm: mid-20s? The road surface hugely improved, and includes a wide shoulder. Make Chipata in very good time and find that they’ve got separated bike lanes! Impressive. The money withdrawal and SIM proves long and a bit frustrating but an hour plus sees it done. A few more kms and we arrive at Mama Rula’s Camp, a little oasis in the hot afternoon. Showers, flush toilets, grassy areas on which to pitch a tent, and cold beer at the bar. Perfect.
The bush babies in the trees about camp are calling in the early evening.