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What do you think about this (South Luangwa related)...

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Jan 1st, 2005, 01:44 AM
  #1
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What do you think about this (South Luangwa related)...

(HAPPY NEW YEAR!)

One of the more interesting things about visiting South Luangwa, is that instead of flying directly into game lodges private airstrips, as is often the case with South African and Botswanan game lodges, in South Luangwa, for the first 30 minutes or so, you are going through the town of Mfuwe.

While going through Mfuwe, you are able to see the locals going about their daily routines...harvesting their crops, selling fruits and vegetables alongside the road, riding their bikes (sometimes two or three persons on a single bike), women carrying various items on their heads, etc.

I would imagine that it is about 25 miles from the airport to the entrance of the South Luangwa National Park.

In, this, my third visit to South Luangwa National Park, I am trying to do everything possible to make it a rewarding trip...visiting both the Nsefu (northern) part of the park and the Mfuwe (central) part of the park, each with their own different attributes...staying at Tafika (www.remoteafrica.com) while in the Nsefu part of the park, since this is the only game lodge I know of in all of Africa that offers microlighting as an activity...ending my South Luangwa stay (after visiting Tafika and Kutandala in North Luangwa) with a luxurious new lodge, Luangwa River Lodge, so on and so forth.

One of the things that I would like to do on this upcoming trips includes a bit more interaction with the local culture. So, of course, I had planned a cultural visit while at each Tafika and Luangwa River Lodge. However, I want to do something more than a simple visit.

It came to me last week, that I would love to be like a local and ride a bicycle through the town of Mfuwe, starting at the airport, and making my way as close to the National Park as possible without risking my life to wildlife. Fortunately, I will be arriving in Mfuwe (from North Luangwa) at about 10AM, so hopefully it will not be TOO hot by then.

I enquired about the feasability of riding a bike from the airport to the entrance of the park to one of the owners of Luangwa River Lodge. I figured that he would be able to get bikes from the village, or something, and that one of his guides could accompany us for our safety (although I have no fear, whatsoever, of the lovely local HUMANS in Mfuwe...it is just the four legged locals that worry me).

Instead, what the owner of LRL proposed was an EXCELLENT idea. In telling me that they didn't really have any bikes at LRL (why would they?), he proposed that I purchase the bikes (about $120 each) and that the following day after our little journey, we make a cultural visit and donate the bikes to one of the schools or other local organizations.

While the cost of this trip is already out of control, I think this would be a wonderful gesture to show my gratitude to the good people of Zambia.

More than likely, it would be my wife and I, and possibly my sister, along with one of the guides from Luangwa River Lodge, meaning that there would be possibly four new bicycles to donate.

This could start a trend! What do you think???
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Jan 1st, 2005, 06:11 AM
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Rocco,

Brilliant! What a great new cultural activity that could be for the area. You already have me thinking about doing it on a futue trip. Maybe you could write in to some biking mags about the experience and send photos. Who knows, even National Geographic? Worth a try!

Driving along that route from Mfuwe, the same thought had occurred to me, "wouldn't it be an interesting experience to ride a bike along here with everyone else?" Now you've come up with a way that would make that ride a win-win situation.

As far as being safe from animals, as I recall there were quite a few other bikes on that road and you'd be going at a good/safe time of day. I have only seen one bicyclist-animal encounter. It was between about 4 lions and 2 men on bikes in the Mara. The lions were frightened and ran from the bikes. If you take a Luangwa River guide, I think you would be safe--probably as safe as our freeways in rush hour!

One question: What will you do with your luggage?

You'll have to let us know how your "Tour de Mfuwe" bike trip went when you get back.

Were you still up from your New Year's Eve celebrations at 5:44 a.m or are you an early riser?

Lynn
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Jan 1st, 2005, 07:36 AM
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atravellynn,

There are four of us going, in all. Three of us (my wife, my sister and I) are in our early 30's and would do the biking, while the fourth is my mother (64 years old) whom would go the conventional route, in the Land Cruiser, along with our luggage.

So, we would be met at the Mfuwe Airport by two guides from Luangwa River Lodge. One would ride with us on the bikes, and the other would drive my mom and the luggage back to the lodge.

As far as being up at 5:44AM, for me, here in Los Angeles, it was actually 2:44, right before I turned in for the night, yet here I am, less than six hours later up and at it again! One of my New Years Resolutions was to get more sleep than the 5 hours that I average, but I am still working on that one!
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Jan 1st, 2005, 12:32 PM
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Happy New Year! Sounds like a great idea to me too. I think it is important to figure out creative ways to give back. Following my recent trip to Namibia we have arranged to pay the annual tuition for one childs boarding school (only comes to $500 USD/year). I am also looking into running a sneaker donation drive to help the Children in the Wilderness Program (operated by Wilderness Safaris).

I think you will see an amazing appreciation if you are able to donate 4 bikes like that. While the wild specatacles are really my thing I can imagine that will be the greatest moment of your trip. If each traveler can become a participant in a community rather than just a tourist I think it can make a huge impact.
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Jan 1st, 2005, 03:35 PM
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Sounds like a really great idea - fun and generous at the same time!
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Jan 6th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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I will always rembember the ride from the Mfuwe airport to the park entrance and also wish I would have had more opportunties to learn about the life of the local people.

What a great idea of being able to interact with people along the way and also give back something to the kids in the area. It appeared to me be fairly well populated the entire route and I did not see any wildlife until we reached the park entrance, so I would think dangers from animal interactions would be minimal.
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Jan 6th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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Great idea. I did see a hyena running along the road around dusk, so animals do venture outside the park. But its a terrific idea.

Are you going to buy the bikes in the US and bring them or arrange to have them waiting for you at Mfuwe?
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