Luangwa River: Unique Wilderness in Africa, by Ilona Hupe and Manfred Vachal
Fine balance in the flux of continual changes is one of the greatest wonders of the Zambezian Luangwa River. With their outstanding nature guide, Ilona Hupe and Manfred Vachal introduce to this unique wilderness in Africa.
A journey into the Luangwa Valley in the first decades of the 20th century meant an arduous and often adventurous affair: Steep marches on foot on the Escarpment, plagues of tsetse flies, dangerous encounters with lions, loneliness and lack of water. At times access to the valley was even officially barred, so that sleeping sickness and nagana disease, carried by the tsetse flies, could not get out of the valley and into the uplands. Consequently the Luangwa valley remained for decades spared from European influences, untouched and authentic. While at the Luangwa River, as ever, time seemed to stand still, around it a modern colony rapidly developed. Everywhere stocks of wild animals diminished, and people were forcing their way into hitherto unsettled rural regions. Construction of roads propelled under high pressure to shorten the long transport routes and make travelling more convenient. In the first years of colonisation European women would travel exclusively in the machila, a hammock on one or two wooden poles, carefully transported by African bearers. Behind these machila-bearers the native porters would walk, balancing the Europeans‘ worldly goods on their heads. In the hierarchy these were lower than the machila- bearers. European men by contrast travelled by bicycle, accompanied by a ‘bicycle boy’, whose job it was to carry the bicycle over bad sections of the route or through marshes. A stretch of more than 50 km could be covered by such a baggage team in a day. A new innovation was the so-called bush- cart or gareta, preferred by the ladies for riding out to High Tea. It consisted of a wooden seat with a sunshade and curtains, on top of a bicycle wheel, and was pushed and pulled along by two bearers. Donkey carts and rickshaws were also tried out. In Fort Jimmy (an abbreviation for Fort Jameson, today Chipata) an attempt was made to tame four zebras, in order to yoke them to an ox-cart, but the animals remained unpredictably snappy; nor were they able to be ridden because their backbones are too soft for such loads. At this time the North Charterland Explo- ration Company (NCEC) built up a successful transport business. It took hundreds of bearers under contract and organised the exchange of goods between the young colony and the motherland. From Chinde in the Zambezi Delta on the Indian Ocean a steamer transported the required import goods such as fabrics and household articles to the transhipment point at Tete. From there treks with 200 to 300 bearers started, each of whom hauling a load of approximately 20 kg. To reach Fort Jameson they would be underway for up to ten weeks. On the return journey, after a long palaver, they would carry the colonists’ export goods to Tete: cotton, beeswax, tobacco, red chillies and ivory. Nobody wanted to carry chillies, because they would pulverise on the way, covering the bearer and his belongings with dust. There was as certain romantic idealism surrounding the weeks-long treks, and it is said that they were often conducted in cheerful mood. Around 1918 however this form of transport came to an end when rapid economic development made the orders from Northern Rhodesia more and more complex. Billiard tables, pianos and agricultural motors could no longer be divided into portable 20-kg loads, and so the NCEC was forced to replace the bearers with ox-carts. [...]
This is an excerpt from the nature guide Luangwa River: Unique Wilderness in Africa, by Ilona Hupe and Manfred Vachal.
Title: Luangwa River
Dubtitle: Unique Wilderness in Africa
Authors: Ilona Hupe; Manfred Vachal
Publisher: Ilona Hupe Verlag
München, Germany 2016
ISBN 9783932084706 / ISBN 978-3-932084-70-6
Soft cover, 17 x 25 cm, 240 pages, 8 maps, 390 colour photos
Hupe, Ilona und Vachal, Manfred im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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