27-Apr-2009 -- We began our excursion to find the confluence of 17 degrees South and 26 degrees East on Monday, 27 April 2009.
Our confluence party of ten consisted of:
At about 8:30 a.m. we left from Zimba (where we have been working at the hospital). We started off heading northeast toward Kalomo, then turned off onto a Zambian Railways maintenance road, eventually turning west toward Kauwe. Unsure of our path, our trusty friend, Mike, jumped out to ask some cattle-herders for directions to Kauwe: "Taga Pwonyana!" - "Straight, Straight!"
In Kauwe we stopped again to ask about any roads heading northwest, and to play in the Kauwe River. We left Kauwe heading north on a very nice road that quickly deteriorated into a cattle trail. We veered off to the West and reconnected with a small and bumpy, but quite passable trail (only occasionally driving directly through the forest to bypass bad sections of road.)
We circled the Confluence on trails barely negotiable in the Prado. The cattle trail we were driving on came within 200 meters of the Confluence and we were all ready to make the short walk but our driver, Langton, would have none of it. He turned off the trail, driving north into a field and actually drove right on top of the Confluence itself. The Confluence lies in the middle of a grassy field just south of a large termite mound (at the base of a tree) and north of a small muddy pool of water quickly drying up now that the rains are over.
While Mike circled around the field, GPS in hand, searching for the exact location of the Confluence, we strung up some hammocks and had lunch in the shade just north of the Confluence. There were several children nearby who were watching over a herd of cattle. When their curiosity finally overcame their shyness, they came up to introduce themselves. We learned that they were cousins to our friend Alfred in Zimba! They were soon playing with our children and ran with them down to the very muddy pond to catch frogs (and succeeded in catching more than one, including some kind of white tree frog). We also brought some face-paint and adorned our new friends' faces with brightly colored dinosaurs, hearts, and dolphins.
After taking a few more pictures at the Confluence, we bid farewell to our new cattle-herding friends, and began our long, dusty, bumpy ride back home to Zimba.
Along the way we stopped at the bridge over the Ngweze River, chased some lizards, tried a little fishing (unsuccessfully) and enjoyed a tasty snack of Nchingachinga (picked from a tree that Paul and Langton found.)
Continuing on toward Zimba, we spotted a few baboons on the railroad tracks. We stopped to get a closer look, but they hastily and quite noisily retreated into the forest.
At about 6 p.m., after 9 hours and a 160-kilometer drive over grass, mud, dust, and pot-holes, we finally made it home to Zimba. We were all quite tired but in good spirits, congratulating each-other on our successful confluence visit.
(For more pictures of our visit to 17S 26E, go to: 17S 26E Picasa Web Album)