From Zimbabwe into Zambia
As we came towards the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia this afternoon, we made the long, steep and twisting descent from the high plains down to the Zambezi river that marks the border between the countries. Crossing the giant river over an old single-lane suspension bridge felt like an important landmark on our travels through Africa. The Chirundu border control is right at the end of the bridge, and thankfully the paperwork went smoothly with the help of our local fixers.
Entering Zambia, the roads presented the new hazard of nasty holes at the edge of the carriageway - the deeper ones are up to 30cm deep. On these narrow roads, there is a real risk of being forced into these great potholes by the trucks coming the other way. Drop one wheel into one of these holes, and we'll wreck a tyre, a rim or worse; and that could be the end of the World Record attempt right there. So we are having to keep the speeds down through this part of the journey.
Of course, the animals are still a challenge to us, with a few heavy stops being needed today as a cow, a monkey, or even a whole herd of goats decide to make a leisurely crossing in front of us.
As we headed towards the capital city of Lusaka as the sun set, we were on one of the many newer, Chinese-funded roads that sweep fast through the dry, hilly Zambian scenery. This meant we could confidently get our average speeds back up and relax a little after some slow sections today.
Our arrival in Lusaka is my first experience of a big African city. It is an intense experience; people, traffic, dust, noise everywhere. We stopped for our second fuel stop of the trip and met up with some of the team from Volkswagen Zambia at the fill-up point along with one of our helpers Hiten and his team. They then provided us with a security escort across Lusaka's heavily congested streets which was an exciting ride, following a Volkswagen Amarok through red traffic lights, across busy junctions and along the dust verges of the road - anything to beat the traffic. Thanks to our Zambian friends for making us so welcome and helping us get across the city so quickly.
Our progress overall is going very well through day 2 of the Challenge; at the moment, we are a full hour ahead of our expected schedule. Zambia feels like a really friendly and welcoming country, with all the locals excited and curious to see us passing through in the Touareg and very welcoming whenever we stop at the roadside.
A final note to everyone who is following our progress on the satellite tracker on the website. Unfortunately one of our two on-board devices, the Yellowbrick which provides the route logging had some connection problems at the start of our journey. It's now fixed, but the mapping incorrectly shows us starting in the town of Hanover in South Africa.
We will spend the whole night crossing Zambia, before reaching the Tanzanian border at around 05:30 tomorrow morning. Goodnight, and we look forward to updating you all with our progress from our next country then.