Day 19 – 22/08/2017 Gobabis, Namibia to Maun, Botswana
With a long drive and border crossing ahead of us we made another early start. East of Windhoek there were trees, shrubs and evidence of blossoms starting on the trees. But east of Gobabis there was no sign of any greenery.
“Open road and a full tank of petrol”
We took a wrong turn and started heading south towards Keitsas. We must have travelled about 10kms along a dirt road when we suddenly remembered being told it was a sealed road all the way to the border!
On this road we spotted a pale chanting goshawk perched on the electric pole. There were also a few cows but not many. After stopping to take photos of a large owl also perched on top of an electrical post, we turned around and headed back to Gobabis. After locating the correct road, by 7:30am we were on the N2 heading towards the Mamuno border.
Finally found the correct road and now heading to the Mamuno border post
It was pretty much scrub all the way to the border post.
When we arrived at the Namibian border post there didn’t seem to be anyone around. A bit confused we kept driving through until we reached some parking bays. It looked like there might be some activity inside this building. The next moment a bakkie (ute) came rushing up behind us hooting vigorously. He parked his vehicle next to us. A flustered man hopped out and rushed towards us to tell us that we had driven kleen through the Namibian border without going through customs. We told him that it looked closed. He instructed us to follow him back to the Namibian side where he took us through the arrival side. The officials wanted to know why we hadn’t stopped? We told them that the building looked like it was locked up and apart from no signage there wasn’t another soul in sight! They burst out laughing and ushered us through their office to get our passports stamped on the exit side then we were ushered back through the entrance side where we were directed back to the Botswana border post. We were through in about 20 mins as there were no other cars at this time of the day. When we got to the Botswana side we told them what had happened and we all had a good chuckle.
Boi’s Tuck Shop spotted on our journey
We spotted some unusual art works along the way, placed at various entrances. The one below was by far the most ingenious. Clevely perched on top of an anthill, which not only provided good height it also blended well into the environment. Not quite sure how they got it to the top and how it was secured, but it looked pretty solid.
Local artist making use of the natural resources
I have never seen so many dead cars on the side of the road!
Donkeys used for local transport
Our journey so far had been pretty straight forward to Ghanzi where we encountered a veterinary disease control check point. There was a stop sign, but on seeing an official standing 10 feet away with clipboard in hand waving us forward we edged slowly towards him and stopped. There were no other cars at this time. As soon as I looked at the officials face I knew there was going to be trouble.
Although we greeted him courteously he was extremely aggressive and snarled “Didnt you see the stop sign”, to which David replied, “Yes we did but you waved us forward”. On hearing this he vehemently denied waving us forward and said we were going to incur a $1000 fine. Interestingly not long before reaching the checkpoint we had seen a sign with a hotline number to report any corruption as Botswana had zero tolerance!
David dug his heels in, turning to me he asked if I had seen the official waving us forward, to which I replied I had. He became even more aggressive and told us that if we argued with him the fine would be $3000. To this I replied that we most definitely were not arguing with him but that it had appeared to both of us that he was waving us forward. As there was also a boom gate I am not sure why he was so angry. I think he just thought he was going to make an easy bribe.
At this point another car pulled up behind us and he reluctantly waved us on. I think he realised that he wasn’t going to win this one.
Donkeys grazing close to the road
Happily the 700klm trip from Gobabis to Maun was mostly uneventful other than dodging potholes, goats, horses, donkeys and more donkeys.
When we had to stop for some cattle crossing the road this calf curiously came to the window to say hello. Such a sweet little fellow.
A curious calf
Sadly many of the donkeys had been tethered together in pairs. Keeping them hobbled stopped them from wandering too far off. These poor animals all looked so sad and dejected as the graze right on the edge of the road as cars whiz by. It’s amazing that we didn’t see many dead donkeys, victims of hit and runs.
Throughout our journey we saw the occasional ‘Willy, willy’ also known as a ‘Cock eyed bob’ otherwise known as a whirlwind! As there was not much else to see these whirl winds caused us great excitement! It was very much a case of lets see who can spot the whirlwind or dead car first!
We stopped on the side of the road for lunch under an acacia tree with pretty yellow flowers. By now it was getting quite hot but not unpleasant. Unfortunately the heat also brought the flies so it was a very quick lunch, a quick photo and back on the road.
Maun, now a familiar town
Having booked into the same backpackers in Maun, now a familiar town, we knew exactly where to go on arrival at 4pm. We received a warm welcome from Katie and quickly unpacked all our gear.
We decided to go into town to do a bit of shopping at the Spar then David dropped me back at the backpackers before going to a local car wash to remove the now caked on salty Namibian dust.
The car was detailed in about 40 mins flat by three enthusiastic men who took great pride in providing an excellent service. The car came back restored to its former glory ready to once again hit the open road.
We prepared a light dinner in the backpackers kitchen of cold meat, salad, beetroot, crackers, bread cheese and tomato. It was delicious.
The electrical outlets and wires going in all directions in the kitchen would never have passed Australian standards but in Africa it seems anything goes!
Early to bed for another early rise tomorrow for a long trip to Kasangula, Kasane via Nata. Fell asleep to the sounds of roosters crowing, dogs barking, trucks churning past and a cacophony of frog sounds. During the night I woke up feeling the evening chill but luckily there was an extra rug at the bottom of the bed. In no time I was snug as a bug in a rug.
Originally we planned to go through the National reserve via Savuti but after getting bogged in the sand in Moremi we decided against this as we were told that the road conditions would be pretty much the same.
Day 20 23/08/2017 Maun to Kasangula, Botswana
Woke up at 5:30am to the sound of roosters crowing and birds twittering. It was a beautiful crisp morning and I looked forward to what this day would bring. After packing the car we had a light breakfast before leaving on our 7 hour road trip to Kasangula. We were hoping to see more wildlife on this leg of the journey.
We left Maun at 7am and the journey was once again pretty uneventful. Although the roads were sealed most of the way there were still many potholes to keep us alert.
Luckily this gravel road wasn’t too bad. Either that or we were just getting used to them?
An unexpected detour onto a gravel road near Pandamatenga revealed a lovely surprise. Out of the blue we came upon a marshy dam filled with white flamingos. So unexpected! Of course we had to stop for a photo session. It was such a pleasant sight with quite a variety of birds in the middle of extremely dry terrain. Egrets, stilts, glossy ibis all enjoying this little oasis. In the distance cows were grazing in a fenced paddock.
It was quite a long detour but luckily we came back to the sealed main road. It was such a relief after having our stomachs churned like a milkshaker.
Flamingo’s galore and so much more, a little oasis
We had to go through another veterinary disease control point where we had to drive the car through a dip for foot and mouth as well as dipping our shoes (all of them) in a tray of liquid for the same reason. No incidents with officials this time, actually this chap was very pleasant and relaxed.
On the next stretch we spotted giraffe, blesbok, wildebeest, vultures, fish eagle, rollers and hornbills. This day proved to be much more fruitful as far as wildlife is concerned.
Kudu crossing – wildlife crossing make the roads very dangerous to travel on at night
A dainty little blesbokA galloping Wildebeest who had just crossed the main road
We passed through many small towns. As we got close to Kasangula there were more and more tucks on the road. As we neared the town there were many trucks lining both sides of the road. We later discovered that these trucks were waiting to cross the Botswana, Zambia border on the ferry. The ferry could only take two trucks at a time and only operated from 6am – 6pm. Many of these trucks are stranded for up to three weeks at a time awaiting their turn to cross over.
I think the food outlets here must be doing a roaring trade. Some of the trucks now choose to go via Zimbabwe cross the bridge over into Zambia as an alternative, as this seems to be a much quicker alternative. At this particular point three countries meet, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It turned out our accommodation in Kasangula was located very close to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Once again poor ‘Lady Jane’ took us on the scenic tour and nearly got us bogged in sand again. We stopped near a small village and asked them if they knew where to find the Guest House. Luckily a woman knew where to go and gave us directions. We weren’t far from the entrance, we had just taken the right fork instead of the left.
As it turned out the gps accordinates provided were in fact incorrect. On arrival we informed them of the error.
The Guest House was very well hidden, the signs were dirty, crooked and sometimes faced the wrong way or were absent altogether which is why it was pretty hard to find. We arrived at about 4:30pm. The owner was quite aware of the state of the signboards but it didn’t seem to bother him. He just laughed and told us that he had been meaning to fix them.
Although the accommodation was very rustic it was clean and quiet. Even though it was still relatively early it had been a very long day so we decided to just chill after unpacking. We had a short rest before going to the kitchen area for an early dinner of pretty much the same as the night before, ham, lettuce, zucchini,tomato, cheese, crackers and bread.
The owner David came to ask us if we would like to go with the other guests to another Lodge for drinks and to watch animals at their waterhole. They also had a hide that we could walk down and view the animals at very close quarters to the waterhole. Although pretty tired we couldn’t resist the opportunity to observe elephants up close and personal. It was a very special evening but unfortunately there weren’t many animals that night.
By this time the fatigue was setting in and I couldn’t wait to get back, have a hot shower and into bed! Another wonderful day in Africa.