Tag Archives: Botswana

Our Transafrican Adventure in numbers: four nomads, one Land Rover …. aaaand …

37,521

kilometres alltogether

This might sound a lot ... Actually the distance northern Germany - Cape Town as the crow flies is way shorter than those 37.521 kilometres. But as we zig-zagged through the Balkans and Africa according to our daily feelings and never followed a fixed route, it was of course way longer.

A bridge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

At Cape Agulhas in South Africa.

"There are no roads in Sudan", somebody said to us ... they were actually quite good in most places!

Above Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

34,600

kilometres in the Land Rover

And we still love driving in the Landy. From our point of view it was quite comfortable and we enjoyed driving quite a lot as we spent most of the time talking, singing, listening to audiobooks together and at the same time interesting people and landscapes passed by our windows. Sometimes the road traffic was challenging - before we started the trip we had imagined the road conditions being more challenging.

Driving a Land Rover is great fun!

And there's a lot to see next to the roads!

 
 

2,921

kilometres in rental cars

It was strange to drive a "small" rental car after having driven so many kilometres in the Land Rover. It felt like our bums were scratching on the tar actually! Still, if you ship home your Landy, you will definitely  either have to wait without a car or use a rental.

Is it a CAR?

Really!?

905

likes for our Facebook site during the trip

We have never been too much after "Likes" on Facebook but still they were a way people could tell us that they were interested in what we wrote and pictured. This made us happy, we have to admit!

384

days on the road

... and we could have gone on!

290

days spent in Africa

... were definitely NOT enough! Africa is absolutely gripping! It is like a virus you cannot be cured from!

160    

nights spent on campsites

Campsites in Africa vary a lot. You can get everything from being in the absolute wilderness (Okavango Delta) and having a private ablution block, barbeque et cetera in Namibia or South Africa. You will almost never have a German-style campsite (GOOD!). Sometimes we also camped next to restaurants, lodges, in the courtyard of hotels.

Our camp on a farm-campsite in Namibia ("Mesosaurus Camp"). A bit like in the wilderness.

But you do have campsites with your own "house" with all kinds of personal facilities ...

... like a kitchen ...

... and a veranda with a view.

 

Our camp in the Okavango Delta ... no fences and loads of animals. So, elephants, hippos, gazelle, lions and whatever else pass through the camp, mostly at night! Never go to the toilet at night! At least we didn't!

 

127

nights spent in private households (in 21 different households ranging from a 1500 year-old mountain-village-farmhouse in Ethiopia to a big house directly below Table Mountain in South Africa or a Beach House directly at the Indian Ocean)

This we had not imagined. Completely unknown people contacted us before and during the trip to invite us into their homes, just because they found our blog on the internet and somehow must have liked us or at least found us interesting enough to invite us. This actually shows the immense support, blogs and Facebook can provide for any traveller. We also feel that it was a good decision to blog in English, as that way we could reach more and international people. The friendliness and hospitality we were approached with was unimaginably touching. We wish that Europeans and Germans especially were as nice to strangers as Africans and people on the Balkans were to us.

In most cases we felt like being family members from abroad.

Especially with the van der Merwes in Namibia on their small farm "Eisgaubib".

In the Tigrinyan mountain village Zik'allay - Anouk's favorite place in Ethiopia.

In here - the kitchen - people from the same family have lived for the last 1500 years. For now, it is our bedroom.

106,36

Euros spent per day

This sounds a lot and probably it is. We had saved up for years for the trip and had 125€ per day. Still, we did not wild camp too often (as we could probably have done) ... and we have to admit that we did give us treats with good food and restaurants quite often. For sure, this sum could be way cheaper. Also, from what we have heard and read, East Africa is not the cheapest overland destination. So, also the area of the world you travel in definitely affects the daily budget a lot.

Yes, we do spend quite a lot money on good food. Here it is fresh Barracuda for Christmas in Kenya.

Lobster in Tanzania ... 8€ for 1,5 kilograms!

97,71

kilometres per day on average

Nearly one hundred kilometres per day might sound a lot on average, but it actually is not. This includes all the autobahn-kilometres and those on very good roads we easily put behind us in Europe and southern Africa ... It also includes the stretches, we just drove through non-stop (like from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border to Nairobi). We had many lazy days during our trip where we did not move a wheel at all!

94

days spent in Europe

Europe is wonderful and there is so much to discover. Period!

The old monks' rooms and monasteries in the cliffs at Meteora in Greece - an absolutely magical place!

Lake Koman ferry in Albania.

71

nights in hotels, B&Bs, hostels and holiday flats

As I said, this could easily be reduced. We just needed that every now and then to relax, recover and enjoy.

A family room at a lodge in Namibia.

And a hostel room (yes, this is no mistake ... this really is a room in a hostel) in Girokastër in Albania. The kids thought the house was haunted!

18

foreign countries visited

The original plan was to visit more countries on the way, but we did not want to "tick" countries but wanted to travel. This is where our route(s) took us.

16

nights spent wild camping

We love wild camping and we were surprised how easy and wonderful wild camping can be. Absolute highlights in this sense were Greece and Sudan. Still, there are countries, where camping in the wilderness for us was not an option, such as Ethiopia, where nearly every square meter is inhabited and we didn't like the feeling of being openly watched by tens of persons all the time.

A wildcamp in the Sahara desert in Sudan ... absolutely safe but (nice) people (and camels) will find you in the morning and try to trade with you.

Our wild camp at the (nudist) beach in Lefkhada in Greece. A wonderful place!

15,15

€ per night on average

Prices for accomodation vary considerably from country to country and region to region. The Balkans were cheap and good, whereas East Africa was quite expensive. Some campsites in southern Africa were completely for free for people driving a car licensed from overseas.

12,8

average fuel consumption in liters

Not much different compared to the consumtion we have recorded during other overland trips in Europe.

7

nights spent at family member's houses

... at the beginning and end of the trip.

6

things that broke (both water pumps, front prop shaft, central locking right rear passenger door, double shocker keep, Foxwing awning)

We had expected more things to break. And due to heat, dust and road conditions, we constantly expected more to happen. Maybe the small number of things that broke was due to using a relatively new, well maintenanced car and constant maintenance on the road (i.e. service every 5000 to 10000 km and directly before the trip). We think it is worth buying quality products intead of going for cheap options.

When the front propshaft started making funny noises, we used it for educational purposes immediately. We got it fixed within 48 hrs! In Africa!

On the way to Ol Doinyo Lengai in Kenya, the keep of the double shock absorbers broke. The village blacksmith easily fixed it at a very considerably price.

6

malaria tests

Malaria felt like a constant threat, especially thinking of the kids. We now think that we might have overrated Malaria, but are also 100% sure that being on the safe side healthwise never is a bad thing to do. Malaria tests and medication in Africa is relatively cheap (for us Europeans with hard currency at least) and doctors know more how to treat Malaria than our doctors sometimes as they are constantly exposed to the problem.

3

uncomfortable situations

Actually, two of these happened in northern Africa. Juliane had two situations where she felt uncomfortably approached by men, in Egypt and Sudan. But there is a big difference between cities like Cairo and Khartoum and small villages. We felt absolutely safe and extremely politely treated in the villages. Mischa would have had no problem of leaving Juliane and the two girls behind there for a while. The third incident was a misunderstanding with customs officials at a checkpoint in Ethiopia about 200km away from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. We drove on without being allowed to (which we could not figure out because of unclear signs), people stopped us, came running at us in uniforms waving weapons and made us go back behind a piece of rope across the street . While reversing, Mischa bumped into a concrete pillar on the road and went mad.

 

This barber stole a kiss from Juliane while Mischa and the girls were in the same room. Juliane didn't want to tell Mischa right away as she feared he would go wild ...

 

3

times servicing the Land Rover

As we said before, service is the key to everything staying in good shape car-wise!

 

First service at "JBK" in Athens - the Greek Land Rover "horse whisperers".

 

2

speeding tickets

Mischa got his first two speeding tickets in Africa. His first two EVER! ... on two successive days. And he was speeding!

Quite beautiful actually! BUT I DON'T drive a LANDCRUISER!

1

car breakdown

Only one time our car broke down completely ... on a major crossroads in Arusha, Tanzania, when the president was visiting the city. ... 2 km away from a Land Rover garage ... It took 45 minutes from the time the Landy broke down to have the car towed to the garage. ... And the manager of the garage took us home with him for the night. The next day everything was fixed again.

1

visitor from Germany

Mischa's mother visited us in Ethiopia, which was absolutely great. It was a brave thing to do for a lady of 67 who had never been to Africa before!

Bajaj outing with Oma Babs.

And she brought Swiss cheese - a rare thing in southern Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia ... worth its weight in gold almost!

0

bribes

We never pay bribes as the next travellers have to pay even higher prices. Also, we never give "gifts" for services that are not special. Whenever people really do things for us, we pay a fair price, though! We don't want to support a "bribe and beg" mentality, but want to make people start their own initiatives to make a living and support their families. When people are ill and sick, we sometimes go and buy food for them or give some medication.

0

punctures

... good tyres pay off! BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2! Never change a winning team!

 
 

0

robberies

... even though people could have robbed us easily. Was it luck? We don't know! We nearly always felt safe!

0

abductions

... see above!

0

days in prison

... see above! Although we were absolutely happy to be out of Ethiopia, as the traffic there is an absolute mess (Mischa would love to drive again in Cairo and Khartoum, but NOT in Ethiopia) and pedestrians don't know how to cope with modern road traffic. There are hundreds of people on the road, cattle, sheep and goats everywhere ... at night, people even sleep on the road. If you injure or kill somebody in an accident, you have to expect being lynched by the mob or will be put into prison for seven years. Even the embassies advise people to leave the country immediately after a fatal accident with a local person.

...

countless

new friends, experiences, things we learned

That's why we love traveling so much! There is nothing more to say!

Our kids make friends easily everywhere. Here in Namibia with Max and Irmgard.

The Calders in South Africa.

At the friday prayer in Omdurman in Sudan.

In "Anouk's mountain village" Zik'allay in Ethiopia.

Games in Kenya ...

... and in Ethiopia.

Farm friends in Namibia.

... with their wonderful parents.

Juliane and Zeinab in Cairo.

With Sam Watson in Cairo.

With Mohammed ("Mo") of "Adam Home Overland Camp" in Aswan.

... more friends in Khartoum, Sudan.

With Tyseer on a boat trip in Khartoum.

And with Sheikh Mohammad Mubarak and Tyseer in Khartoum.

With Chief Mkwawa and his family in Iringa, Tanzania.

With Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha.

With our travel friends "Six en Piste" from France who are now travelling in South America.

Lars - a wonderful family father, friend and Land Rover mechanic with a most wonderful family - in Nairobi.

... and so many many more! We miss you guys! Dearly!

Why many people don’t go on extended travel

Why actually do so few people from the "western World" travel the world overland long term?

During a long "kitchen party" together with another German overland-family we discussed this question.

 

We love long kitchen parties ... not just before a long day of traveling!

 

Especially in industrial nations many people are extremely focused on consumerism and competition. Long term travel is nearly always connected to a long-term withdrawal from the competition with colleagues at work, which can even lead to a jobwise "powerloss". The jobwise position can most surely not be kept during a long term travel. Earning money in the "normal" way most of the times also doesn't work, so people can't consume the products advertisements make us believe we need as life-essentials.

Fearing these two aspects deeply combined with a general and all-embracing angst concerning the "dangerous world out there" is the basic reason why so many of the citizens of the so-called "Western World" do not go out to take a personal look at the rest of our globe.

But it is also the simple fear of "being singled out because of being different" that stops people from going on a long term travel, as everybody knows that every single bit of "differentness" from the "norms" can lead to social isolation - in spite of the fact that we base our governments, cultures, job-culture and circle of friends on democratic systems stating that everybody is appreciated, approved and recognized in their otherness.

By many members of the so-called "upper classes" and the "educated classes", for example, the overland traveller is being looked down upon from the safari-cars as being somewhat inferior and being some kind of "left-wing-progressive camper rucksack tourist" who is not able to afford "proper travel".

 

This is real luxury: a warm night, a blazing fire, good food and drink, nice company ... and all "homemade".

 

From the perspective of the so-called "lower classes" long term travelers are viewed as "posh tourists who can afford constant vacation" ... We have met members of all occupational groups on our travels: from bus driver to university professor and from nurse to medical doctor or teacher.

People who do long term travel have to accept that for the "system", they have now thoroughly become "strange" and even "suspicious" persons.

Fundamentalists? ...

Terrorists? ...

... or just culturally interested, aware and respectful?!

To just give one example here from entering the USA, please read the following conversation between a traveler and US-customs: "Why did you travel to the Middle East?" ... "I didn't!" ... "Your passport states that you have recently been to Egypt!" ... "Ah, but that is Africa, isn't it!?" ... For government bodies and system followers it is unimaginable that people travel to Egypt or Sudan out of pure personal cultural interest, so everybody suggests terrorist motives these days.

When in Rome do as the Romans do!

Deep in conversation without a shared language!

For families with young children the situation with long-term travel is even more difficult, because everybody assumes that because their kids have been out of the school system, they will miss out on subject matters and thus will have less good starting positions on the jobwise competition-sprint.

 

Travel school can look quite "traditional"

 

Because schools have been "invented" by countries to recruit young talents for industry and economy, caring parents assume that their offspring will become disadvantaged because of long-term travel. Educational failure as the result of long-term travel! We are clear that schools have always been and today especially are very intensively controlled by the industry and do not focus on education from and for the child - why else still subjects such as music, arts and P.E. are the "Cinderellas" of school subjects at ALL schools from state to private!? In this context it by the way is quite enthralling that the internationally famous "PISA-study", which compares different school systems in different countries, is being financed and controlled by the international industry and economy.

Alongside the educational aspect quite a few people assume that "travel-children" might become "asocial monsters" because they allegedly lack contact to peers.

There are many opportunities for social interactions when traveling!

Everybody loves playing games!

One of our former colleagues postulated before we left home that all travel-children she had met until then had social adaptive difficulties and were eventually unhappy because of that.

Additionally, parents fear illnesses and diseases and because of that don't travel. Africa in itself is life-endangering! But with the help of good means of communication when traveling, vaccinations, medication, intensive planning, good travel-insurance and consulting specialist medical doctors it is possible to reduce those risks considerably. The long-term-traveler from industrial nations is anyway privileged, as he can always "pull out the trump-card" of a hard currency in the case of any medical problem and immediately be treated in a good private hospital ... even in Africa ... and in opposition to the local population which is not able to afford any good medical care of this kind!

When hearing of our travel plans, people accused us of being egoistic because we decided on traveling long-term instead of asking our kids (which, by the way we did and thus they were the major force to change the continent we planned to travel to).

 

Our kids just love Africa ... and decided to come back here because in Germany they missed the warmth of the people!

 

Everybody reading this might be ask themselves who exactly is the most egoistic, the parent who goes to work nine to five seven days a week to earn enough money for consumerism and then when they are traveling stay at a club for two weeks and send their children to the club's child care for most of the day to be able to play tennis, go running et cetera ... or the parents who invest time in family and children and "even" do without earning a wage for a long period of time.

Time with their parents is what young kids really need!

Child labor or sharing responsibilities?!

One thing that includes all the aspects described above for parents and their children alike are the media, the true "opium of the people", which are used to create a fear that makes people seek refuge in investing and saving money, over-insurance, travel-reluctance and at the same time is soothing, tranquilizing and satisfying addictions. The media-reports are the "modern sea monsters" that once used to be painted on maps at Columbus' times to instil fear in the too adventurous and restrict trade and navigatory knowledge to a small circle of insiders. People are not supposed to go out and explore on their own because they then would start to question the reports, prejudices and news and would realize that the all-encompassing fear homespun by bestseller-negative-news, half-truths and lies is completely made-up and unnecessary. People would maybe then discover that Muslims can be quite nice or African policemen not always corrupt ... the power to control and navigate people using fear would be gone then! Fairly dangerous!

It is intended and piloted by economy, politics and media that the Germans, Europeans, "Westerners" do not travel to far away lands because of this fear and in case they travel abroad in spite of that, then at a max they should travel to "safe trade partners". The "precious Euros or Dollars" are please to be spent in the domestic economy zone and rather not travel as a form of private foreign aid to Africa! And if Africa is the destination, please only book via overpriced European travel agencies so that a substantial part of that money can be skimmed at home instead of traveling individually without any pree-bookings!

...

But what is the real situation like during a long term travel concerning the aspects and concepts above?

Traveling definitely is an absolute "eye opener"! Apart from many learning experiences on the more intellectual side the most essential new experience caused by travel is to learn how to get rid of your fears. These fears eliminate themselves in any case when people realize that the "world outside" is not as bad as the media make us think it is.

For us it was for example quite scary at the beginning to wild-camp somewhere in the Sudanese desert because due to one-sided media cover, Sudan is considered an "absolutely dangerous country".

 

A wild camp in the Sudanese Sahara ... very relaxing and deeply touching instead of being dangerous!

 

We have finally camped wild regularly in Sudan and have felt very very safe, safer actually than in other places in Africa or even Europe!

An intensive openness concerning new situations is something that "just happens anyway" when you are traveling outside of your comfort zone and cultural sphere.

At the same time one learns to restrain oneself on the bare essentials.

 

Everything has to fit into the "small" Land Rover ... bare necessities of life!

 

With that, you automatically leave the consumerist-competition and instead of consuming "things" one indulges in deep, intensive human encounters ... traveling definitely also is making a move to a more social being. Once people asked us whether it is not boring not to build, create, construct something for one complete year ... our answer was and still is, "We do exactly that: we establish new ties and relations and stabilize those within the family, with the partner and with our children.

...

But what about the problem areas concerning children and education as stated above?

While traveling we have witnessed how our children "naturally" learned a foreign language, English, without any teacher in the traditional sense and without any learning material.

Natural learning: hatching turtles (science)

... zoology ...

... geology, mineralogy ...

... and gardening.

Furthermore, our two daughters were allowed to find out about their limits, could test themselves and by that find a different "inner ease of mind". Definitely, our children have become more culturally aware and also more cosmopolitan and open minded.

 
 

Life in the open in combination with more attention by the parents (who don't have to go to work) and simply more time gives the chance to include the children in many ways in travel planning, navigation, cooking, car-maintenance et cetera.

Mechanics and car maintenance ...

... help is always needed!

The great majority of contacts kids establish to other traveling children, adults and Africans of all ages are not rational but highly flexible and creative, especially when it comes to language(s)! At the same time even very young children learn a natural media competence by communicating with family and friends at home using emails, Facebook, Skype and the such.

 

Even "old school letters" reach us sometimes!

 

Believe it or not: our kids so far have not become "asocial monsters" - quite the contrary is true!

 
 

Ill or sick our kids were probaly not more than they would have been had we stayed at home. It is only more inconvenient when you are traveling! Our two daughters had gastro-intestinal problems (Anouk once and Sóley twice), tonsillitis (Anouk once and Sóley twice) and an ear infection (Anouk once). That was "it"! Still, we nearly always had the fear for malaria at the back of our necks even though all of us were on antimalarials.

...

Still, extended travel is not a "universal remedy" just as any "prenatal musical character coining" of all children using Mozart without taking into account the mother's favourite music is! Certainly, we don't want to persuade anybody and we also don't want to be fundamentalist in this direction! Those who love traveling will love long term travel and will profit from that and will experience great benefits in their children. Even the people you meet on the road will benefit from these encounters! On the long run travel will establish more mutual understanding! In addition to that long-term travel enables you to spend relaxed and intensive, sometimes challenging time together as a family and escape the competition about power and consumerism for a while! Certainly, after such a travel one has changed many points of view in many different fields!

For sure, we don't want to give the impression here that everybody HAS TO TRAVEL! There are many ways of living and what we do is just one of them! With this blog post we try to discuss why the majority of people in "our world" might fear long term travel! ... and we want to provide "food for thought"!

 
 

Illegal in South Africa!

Listening to and reading other people's experiences, we actually feared entering South Africa a bit. From what we heard, people have been rejected because their passports didn't look "proper" anymore, some people did not have international birth certificates for their children (which we have), some had to show a flight ticket back home (which we didn't have) ...

In our case everything went extremely well. ... But before telling the story, you must know that when we arrived at the planned accomodation on the Botswanean side, we discovered that Anouk had quite a high fever (again!) and we were quite worried that it might be Malaria and decided to rather move on to South Africa because of the availability of a better medical service just in case than staying in Botswana.

So, in a way, we were quite stressed because of Anouk's state of health. The border though was the easiest border experience we had in Africa in months. Everybody was relaxed, nobody wanted to see our car and everybody wanted to talk about us having traveled through Africa ... in a Land Rover ... with two children. The passports were stamped, we got our border passes and off we went!

...

When we reached the newly planned accommodation though, Mischa checked the stamps in the passports - something he normally does right at the border, but this time was just too relaxed! ... He did not succeed in finding a South African stamp in Juliane's passport ... simply because there was NONE! JULIANE WAS AN ILLEGAL PERSON! We didn't know that human trafficking was SO EASY!

Again, bearing in mind the many stories of other overlanders who got into severe problems at the South African border, we quite nervously went back the roundabout 45 km to the border post.

But, by now, everybody there had heard of our story of having traveled from our home in Germany to South Africa in a Land Rover ... and ... it was just a matter of two minutes and the passport stamp was in Juliane's passport and we could - now completely legal - move on to find a decent place to stay for the night and take care of Anouk's fever.

...

What a day!

The Okavango Delta, the largest oasis in the world … and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary

 

The Okavango Delta - what a wonderfully beautiful landscape!

 

The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world, 15.000 square kilometres large. The strange thing about Okavango is that the Okavango River does not end in the sea, but seeps away in the sand of the Kalahari thus forming the largest oasis in the world.

 

A young giraffe

 

The Okavango Delta apparently is one of the last great nature paradises in Africa with hippos, crocodiles, aquatic antelopes, elephants, giraffe, zebras, lions, leopards, a multitude of birds and many many more interesting animals and plants set in a beautiful landscape. What an impressive ecosystem!

 

Wooden bridge ... adventurous driving with sand tracks, water crossings and the such!

 

Even the way to the Moremi Game Reserve where we are going to stay for the next couple of days is a bit of an adventure, as the gravel roads outside the park are full of potholes and before reaching the reserve, the roads are full of elephant-sh**, and gazelle and other animals are a common sight.

After entering the game reserve, the roads become more farm roads from a European point of view than "proper roads". But this makes traveling here even more adventurous and "real"! We are so impressed and enjoy traveling here so very much that indeed we forget to take photos. Anouk doesn't like driving here and gets "seasick" as the Land Rover is rolling like a ship while Sóley enjoys it so much that she starts singing her favourite pirates' songs. We drive through a nearly untouched nature ... more or less alone ... and behind every corner, you simply don't know what to expect, an agressive elephant, grazing gazelle or a roaring lion. Wonderful!

We stay there for three nights at "Xakanaxa" campsite. As the campsites are not fenced, as soon as it is dark, the animals take over that territory as well and elephants or hippos might wander through your camp as well as lions or leopards might. That's why you should not leave the car or tent at night and all night long the sounds of the animals are around you: a munching elephant, a howling hyena, roaring lions in the distance and a multitude of more or less silent footsteps. Especially with young children this can become quite stressful, as they should not be allowed to play alone and only near the car at all times. As soon as the sun sets, they have to be in the tent or car as they perfectly well fit into the predator-prey system of the big cats and hyena.

Still, during daytime we relax in the camp and enjoy the great view into the delta and visiting gazelle. We also really enjoy the game drives in our Land Rover and especially so the evenings around the campfire in the middle of the wilderness.

 

New friends: Marit and Jan from the Netherlands

 

An important highlight for all of us is the boat trip we do on the delta together with our new friends Jan and Marit whom we ment at "Audi Camp" in Maun" and planned our stay in Moremi with.

 
 

The African Jacana ...

... or "Jesus Bird" because it's "walking on water"

 

A Cormorant

 
 

A majestic Fish Eagle

 
 

Hippos, Hippos, Hippos! ... hiding Hippos

 
 

Aquatic gazelle

 
 

Wonderful landscape!

 
 

Beautiful water lilly ...

 

African wilderness, a boat trip, game drives, a campfire and great company ... what more does one need!?

 

The stars here simply are impressive! We stand in absolute awe!

 
 

The morning sun on a hippo-made waterway

 

Only the baboons are really a pain in the ***, as they don't fear humans or fire anymore. We are lucky to be able to chase them away and prepare the camp in a way so that the baboons couldn't steal anything from us. South African neighbors were not so lucky and their camp was raided completely. Apparently, baboons can even open tents using the zipper! And they do like South African red wine, too!

...

After Moremi we continue on our way down south and stop to spend some time at the "Khama Rhino Sanctuary" near Serowe.

The reception we recieve is not so very promising: a bored and uncommunicative lady behind the counter is rather unfriendly and we can't really understand why we have to pay an entry fee for the park for the day we arrive even though we cannot drive into the park AND have to leave the next morning BEFORE TEN! No 24h rule applies here which would have been more than fine for us. The manager understands the problems we have with this policy and we pay for 24hours ... Apart from the lady at the reception everybody here is exceptionally friendly and interested.

 

Our camp in the evening ... just great!

 

The campsite under a big tree is beautiful and on the next day we see a multitude of animals.

 

Water hole ...

 

A large Kudu ...

... not really sure if he likes us!

 

Warthog waterhole

 
 
 
 
 
 

I guess I know what these guys think of us!

 

So many animals at the waterhole: vultures, Hartebeest, Zebra, ...

... more vultures ...

... Zebra and vultures ...

... Eland ...

 

... and more Hartebeest.

 
 

Some Rhinos in the distance ...

 
 
 
 
 

The "Khama Rhino Sanctuary" definitely is worth visiting!

Border Crossing: Namibia – Botswana at Dobe (M74)

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.

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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!