Day 53-55 Still Kapishya Hot Springs

|, Trip Report, Zambia|Day 53-55 Still Kapishya Hot Springs

7 April 2017

Day 53-55 Still Kapishya Hot Springs

It’s already a week later as I’m writing this so a lot of the emotion has subsided a bit. Looking back we could have done a lot of things differently, but the way it evolved it put a lot of strain on us. On Day 51 and 52, I still tried to stay positive and ‘hid’ most of the negative aspects from the blog.

Starting again from yesterday we basically heard a bad sound and stopped to check. At first you just think, let’s just quickly check and be on our way again. We then saw the oil leak and decided to take the wheel off to better see the drumbrake. We messaged Francois from 4xLux and he told us to open the axle. When pieces of metal fell out we were obviously a bit more worried, but still didn’t even think of having to leave the vehicle next to the road.

As per yesterday’s post we then got help from Kapishya and after realising we cannot take the bearing off we decided to leave the vehicle next to the road. At the time it felt like a quick escalation from just stopping for a small problem to having to leave the vehicle next to the road.

We were, however, ‘invited’ for dinner and in our state didn’t even think to ask about prices or to take our tent and food from the vehicle. We thought we would be back on the road before lunch the next day. The dinner and chalet which set us back R3000 for 1 night was shocking. Just thinking about it makes us furious. Even if the insurance ends up paying for it, it still feels criminal that people can charge that much for such appalling quality. As plenty of reviews on different sites mention, the owners are very negative and treats their workers badly, while trying to claim their whole existence being their generous doing. We literally woke up with Mark shouting at one of the workers and 10 minutes later found Mel in reception also shouting at another worker.

At various times when they thought no-one was around we heard them telling workers to basically ‘extort’ more money from guests. “You need to charge more for that”, “We need to make more money”, etc.

Anyway back to the vehicle. So when we heard that we will have to stay another night, we had to yet again recondition ourselves. We obviously couldn’t stay for another night in the chalet and have dinner again, so we had to go get our things from the vehicle. But they charged us $40 again to go there. On top of the 3200 Kwacha that we had to fork out for the side axle.

We accepted that we will need to camp for 2 nights. While waiting for the part our moods improved a bit, but then on they day we were told we would get the part and put it in the vehicle they just decided to rather do it the next day. The next morning we were informed that the axle had the wrong back plate and we won’t have any handbrake or ABS. We had to pay $40 again for the ‘transfer’ to the vehicle, even though they delivered and picked up items along the way. At the vehicle Felix realised that the Axle is too long. Luckily (and unfortunately) they could grind it shorter at the village 1km away. Finally the axle fitted and I could drive, but the back-plate scraped against the drum of the brake, as the axle was slightly bent. It also leaked diff oil as it didn’t have any collars on so the seal meant nothing. So for R5000 we got an axle which was too long, had the wrong back-plate, no collars and it was bent.

Thursday night we sorted out the payment and got charged for 7 hours at $30 per hour and another 3 hours at $15 per hour. As well as the 3 transfers at $40 each, etc. We had to fork out all our emergency money and dollars to cover the mechanical and accommodation invoices. $470 plus 3000 Kwacha. The worst part was they took all the dollar amounts (like $15 for camping and $33 dinner) and multiplied it by 10 for the Kwacha amount, but when we wanted to pay with dollars they said the buying exchange rate is 9.3 so effectively we paid a lot more.

We were happy to just finally have Kapishya out of our lives.

Non-vehicle/money related matters
If we could take away all of the above, our stay would have been quite pleasant. We met the wonderful Swiss couple with their overland truck. They invited us for dinner on the 3rd night and then on the 4th night we made dinner for them. Both times in their mobile home. They made us Risotto and served overland-home baked bread and 1.5 year old self-matured cheese. They have a special fridge just for cheese, where they monitor the temperature and humidity. The truck has everything from an induction stove, oven, fridge and freezer to even a washing machine. Both nights they also took out wine and we had Italian coffee after dinner.

Other South Africans also camped for two nights and two German girls. Everyone was friendly had we had nice conversations. Caro also went rafting with the Swiss on the day they Hugo thought he had to wait to go to the car to it the part.

We also went to the Hot Spring at least twice per day, Carp up to four times a day.

So all in all the camping side was good (albeit way too expensive), but the whole vibe at the lodge area just left such a bad taste in our mouth.

For those who are reading this and thinking we are overly critical, that may well be the case. But if one compares our experience of only one day later, it’s hard not to feel even more negative about Kapishya. We stayed at the Thorn Tree Lodge again with foreigners who has been in Zambia for a long time, who probably have a lot of the same struggles, but who are so friendly and relaxed and welcoming, treating their workers properly (some of the workers are even from Kapishya), makes amazing food for 1/5th of the price, etc. Maybe we were just there during a ‘difficult’ time, but if you are in the hospitality industry you don’t get to take it out on guests.

2017-04-11T22:31:03+02:00 April 7th, 2017|Categories: Africa, Trip Report, Zambia|


  1. Michal Lament 23 June 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Hello Two Monkeys

    Got here as my friend recommend I read this. Indeed your post makes very interesting read and I feel like I need to respond to it as perhaps it will make you think a little bit more critically about yourselves. First of all, I would like to mention that I have travelled good part of this beautiful planet of ours in many different modes of transportation including bicycle, car, train, boat, plane. I have also hitchhiked over 20000km meeting strangers – some of them more and some less friendly. During these trips, I would occasionally be stuck somewhere in quite similar fashion to yours – by encountering a seemingly small issue that would later escalate into a total disaster – life. In moments like this I would sing to myself the Sawmill Joe song that goes ‘I ain’t Nobody’s Problem but My Own’, rolled my sleeves and work my way out of the ditch. But here’s what you did…

    Your car broke down on the side of the road and you decided to call for help. Did you really expect 32km drive to the lodge, all on the quite bumpy dirt road, would be free? The website of Shiwa Safaris clearly states that transfer from the turnoff to the lodge costs $60 – you were charged only $40. Perhaps you should have asked one of the local guys to give you the lift so you’d end up in their Corolla instead of Land Cruiser and save $5 while sitting on your luggage or fridge. Finally you arrive at THE LODGE, not a mechanical workshop(!), yet they still decide to help you with fixing your car. What they surely didn’t realize was that for the whole duration of your stay you’d be sitting back and waiting for them to organize literary everything for you. That alone included a number of phone calls to different mechanics both local as well as those based in Lusaka. Finally the part was found and you were told that it is slightly different but there was no initiative from your side to find out what is the problem. While enjoying the hot springs and sipping on ‘overpriced’ cider you just waited for people, who did have other tasks to do, to be fully concentrated on your issue. The owner of the lodge decided to pay for your spare part from his own pocket as you were unable to organize money transfer yourselves. To have the part delivered, again it was the Kapishya staff that phoned bus operator and asked for taking it on board and have it delivered – this way you saved some serious money too. Finally part arrives, you still do your own things, go to the hot springs at least twice a day (yes, I know they’re great) while others covered in dirt work on your vehicle. At last you have your car fixed, you paid your bill and off you went – not a single attempt to try bargain to get a better price. Not like you were likely to get it but if that was me I would have at least try just to show a little bit more interest. What you would definitely have achieved is better exchange rate as I simply messed it up as you were paying your bill in kwacha as well as usd and even tried diesel (surprised that you thought of that) and it made it quite confusing. Your mind was clearly somewhere else though and it is easier to write that someone ripped you off instead of paying more attention to your own finances.

    You weren’t happy with the ‘appalling quality of the chalets’ yet three days ago Kapishya Hot Springs was awarded Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor for the third time in a row. It is more expensive than Thorn Tree Lodge as it lays 130km away from nearest supply point as opposed being situated in quite large town. The owners do shout at their staff every now and then as they don’t employ educated people from the nearby towns but put enormous effort into training locals. If you were a little bit more adventurous and decided to go up the road to the Kapishya village and asked locals what they think of Mark Harvey you’d hear that he’s ‘one of them’. He was born and raised in Shiwa Ngandu and understands the people’s way way better than you, me or anybody else for that matter.

    I would strongly suggest that in future, before you start whinging about how unfair you were treated you first look at yourselves and try to determine what could you have done better to avoid that bitter feeling of disappointment. If you are ‘on budget’ overlanders I would suggest you try to be a little bit more involved in what is going on with your own vehicle as opposed to leaving it to people who have other responsibilities and expecting they will fix it for you for free(?). Also, before you end up in a lodge that you cannot afford just do your basic google research.

    All the best of luck in future

    Michal form Kapishya Hot Springs

    • Two Monkeys 25 June 2017 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. We thought you were a very nice guy, definitely the most sane one at Kapishya. I don’t know if you’ve thus been forced to write this or whether you’ve just been brainwashed from being there too long, but in what world is it ok to shout at people just because they are unedecated? Everyone should be treated equally. They wouldn’t dare shout at their guests so why should their workers be treated differently?

      We welcome all opinions, but please refrain from spreading lies like: “The owner of the lodge decided to pay for your spare part from his own pocket as you were unable to organize money transfer yourselves.” We in fact had to go through a lot of trouble to organise a friend in Lusaka to take off from work to go to a Bank to do a cash deposit the same day so that the part could be bought. A part that was severely overpriced and then completely wrong and broken. It had to be grinded shorter which potentially caused permanent damage to our differential as it was difficult to fit the correct part later. The part also didn’t come by bus and was sent with a truck going to Charlie’s farm in any way so the ‘delivery fee’ was 100% profit for them. You clearly weren’t involved in any of the mechanical discussions.

      We also did not sit back and do nothing, in fact we were constantly engaging with the mechanic to the point where we became a nuisance and were told to just relax they will handle it.

      I however agree with you that we should never have trusted them and should have rather taken matters into our own hands from the beginning. But the way it happened: Someone giving us the number of Charlie (just a friendly farmer down the road) who then called his brother who has an official workshop (with official rates and invoices, thus not a LODGE like you say who were just willing to help) who sent his mechanic to come help us. There was no way of us knowing what the costs were going to be and it was definitely not communicated to us in advanced. We didn’t even know there was a lodge with chalets, we just wanted to camp. We were ‘invited’ to dinner. Not told: “Hey, we charge $33 per person for a mediocre dinner, would you like to take some food with you? And by the way the chalet costs $75 per person so perhaps you want to take a tent.” How many overlanders arriving with roof top tents can afford the chalets?

      In conclusion, a blog is just one person’s opinion at one point in time. In the end everything worked out OK and we are long ‘over’ it. There’s no denying that Kapishya is a special place and that some people enjoy their time there, but we’re certainly not the only people who left with a bad taste in their mouths. I’m sure you’ve seen those reviews as well.

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