The drive from Kalabo to Mongu is about 52 km, if we don’t follow Garmin GPS and Google Maps!
After our ferry crossing from Liuwa Plains NP to Kalabo it was around 12:30 and we expected to arrive in Mongu about one hour later. When we arrived into town we checked our itinerary information and confirmed the name of the lodge we were staying at and then proceeded to try to find directions using all three of our map apps.
We could not find the name of the lodge on any of our electronic guidance systems!
We pulled the truck over and checked and re-checked our GPS, Google Maps and Maps.me.
The name of our place that was supposedly in Mongu was the Makapayela Lodge. Written beside the name on our itinerary (my hand writing) was Ithteke Lodge.
I recalled when we picked up our truck we were told the lodge had recently changed their name so we searched for Ithteke. Still nothing. We had a phone number on the bottom of our hotel voucher so we called it and spoke with “Max”.
Max was a guy with an intermediary travel company used by Bushlore, the company we rented our truck from. We didn’t know this and it was Max’s company that made the Mongu accommodation arrangements for us.
Max said he would email us directions. We waited and waited so in the mean time we started asking people around us if they knew of the hotel. They all knew the old name, Makapayela and gave us many different directions but all of the directions were not in the town of Mongu where we expected the lodge to be. It seemed it would be much further away.
The lodge was 27 km out of town on terrible sand and gravel roads and would require a 180 degree turn around drive back to Mongu the next day. The road was potholed hell and seemed to be taking us into the absolute middle of nowhere.
When we finally arrived, 2 hours after arriving in Mongu, we were greeted with a sign on the entrance that said “Ithteke Lodge”. The sign looked liked it was a hundred years old. We’re not sure how “recently” they changed their name but certainly not in the last decade!
The lodge had a nice layout but was looking run down. It was located on a lake with a small beach in front and was apparently a weekend party place. The rooms seemed nice.
We were the only guests. There was no hot water, they couldn’t fulfill our dinner order and they shut all the power off at 8:00 pm sharp.
What a disaster considering we thought we were staying in Mongu and our plan was to fuel up and get groceries in the afternoon so we could have an early departure to Kafue the next morning.
It was not going to happen.