On the way to Okaukuejo in the Etosha NP, somehow it suddenly came to my mind that my passport might not be valid long enough to enter Botswana ... It was only a matter of minutes to find out that I was completely right and that
a) a passport has to be valid for another 6 months and
b) that my passport was only valid for another 5 months and two weeks!
Big Problem! Especially so as we have heard that bureaucracy in Botswana is supposed to be even worse than in Germany ...
Unexpectedly, a visit at the immigration office in Grootfontein made me relax again as the officer there told me that I could use my second passport (which we took for all of us just in case - with the kids this actually already had helped us a lot in Zambia) and that he would advise the border officials at Dobe to stamp out both the old and the new passport so that I could enter Botswana with the new passport which is valid for another four years. He wrote all that on a Post-It paper, stamped it ... and off we went to the border. Very nice and helpful, indeed!
In northern Namibia there are actually two possibilities to cross into Botswana (if you're not in the Caprivi already), Dobe or Mahembo/Shakawe. We chose Dobe, because it is off the tarmac. Dobe is about 315 km away to the east from Grootfontein (the first 50km are on tarmac on the B8 and the rest is on the C44/M74).
The border post at Dobe really is an isolated place ... they have about five cars (!) crossing the border there daily ... sometimes even less! So, all that customs and police wanted to do on both sides in our case was to chat with us for a while because their job there simply is extremely boring. Very easy! No problems! Passports stamped, carnet stamped ... and off we went. It seemed to be the easiest border crossing in Africa!
The only minimal downside was that the officials on the Botswanean side are allowed to give foreigners a 14 days visitors permit only (instead of the 90 days most tourists can get). If you want to extend, you'll have to go to the immigration office in any of the bigger cities just like Maun, they told us. As we planned to go to Maun anyway, we did not worry and went on.
The road on the Botswanean side which is marked a simple 4x4 track in many maps, actually is quite a good dirt road with some sandy stretches (no really deep sand though!) - in parts under construction, but no problem at all.
Extending the 14 days visitor permit and doing the customs clearance of the Land Rover in Maun turned out to be quite a difficult thing! First of all, it is not easy to find out where exactly in Maun the places you have to go to are. Immigration is at "Maun Administrative Services" (GPS: 19°59'08.78'' S 23°25'34,23'' E) and if you want to extend the 14 days, you have got to write a letter to the office explaining why you want to stay longer (which is obvious as the country is beautiful, so I listed all the places we wanted to visit). Then, they might give you up to 90 days alltogether (we got 30!).
Finding out where customs is was more difficult as nobody, not even most of the officials we asked, knew where exactly we could find that place. After a lot of asking around, we finally found out that we'd have to go to the "Burs" office in town ("Botswana Unified Revenue Services", Rath Tower Maun; sorry, I could not find the GPS data for that one). Checking our Carnet they discovered that the Namibian police made a mistake in stamping us out of Namibia as Namibia, Botswana and South Africa are all members of one single tax and customs union. So, if ever Namibian officials tell you they have to stamp your Carnet OUT when proceeding to Botswana or South Africa, stop them doing so! Well, so I now had to persuade the lady at the office to stamp us in again into the customs union just to be on the safe side ... After roundabout 1,5 hours I had managed to do so, paid road tax and got a receipt ...
The easiest and nicest border crossing on this trip so far, but not easy from a bureaucratic point of view!