Botswana, here we go !



// Nikon D7200 | 26.12566 : -24.62047 | alt. 1013m

Prior to crossing into Botswana, I’ve got some important shopping to do. You never know what “technology” is available in the next country, and I believe there is more chance to find good quality stuff in South Africa. I need new spanners (despite being from Germany, they broke in 2 after very little use), engine oil and gearbox oil.
This, and a full tank of fuel made up for a very expensive day ! Last thing to buy here, some wine (last country to find it at a normal price !) and some beers, always have a beer for border crossing, you know it’s gonna be a tough day.

Short drive to the border, I get my stamp for the passport, but they don’t want to stamp out my carnet….. that’s a problem. I ask to talk to the supervisor to get more information, and she called the person in charge of the carnets in South Africa to discuss the whole process. So here is the thing, looks like this the only border post where they know what to do with a carnet, I was supposed to fill the importation part in Namibia, and only fill the exportation voucher when leaving the South African Union, which is, from Botswana to Zambia……..

Alright, I have to thrust them, I just hope I won’t have issues later with this. That’s a lot of money at stack, if I don’t get all those stamps, I will never recover my safety deposit for the carnet !
A bridge to cross, and here I am in Botswana.

It already feels less organized, (each border will become more and more complex to cross…..) and I start with my passport. I ended up having an old grumpy lady, which was one of the worst human lifeform I’ve ever met. All started when she asked me if I knew someone in the country. When I met Cecile a few days ago, she gave me the contact of her friend in Gaborone, so I said yes, since I was planning to visit her. She wanted her address, but I didn’t have it at this point. That was a problem, because the system needs an address, then I was like, ok, let’s forget about this, and just pretend I don’t know anyone in Botswana.
Looking at me with her big eyes, she then said she would not allow me in the country……. whu…. whaaaaaaat ???
What’s the problem there ? Since when do you need to know someone in Botswana to get a visa ?
I finally found some more information including a phone number to give her, and after a very long discussion (it was extremely hard to remain smiley and courteous….), she gave me my 90days visa……
Alright, but it’s not over yet….. next counter : cashier…….

There is about 10 people in front of me for one cashier, probably the most ineffective person in the area. The only thing there, is to show a piece of paper, say a couple of things, pay for road tax, and car insurance. Well it took 1 hour to process the 10 gentlemen in front of me…….
So no choice here, you show your documents, 52pulas for road permit, 50pulas for road tax, and 50pulas for car insurance. And this comes as a surprise, you can pay with credit card, amazing !

One hour to go before sunset, I crossed the border……
Giant potholes and cows on the road, no light, everyone driving with high beams, I should not be there, at night….. No where to park for the night, sides of the road are fenced, with many farms or fields.
I made it to the first gas station on my way, this will be my first night here ! There is usually very little activity and not much people after 6pm in Namibia or South Africa, but here for some reason, everything is still open, and there is a lot of traffic going on ! What a difference :O
Whatever, I’m exhausted…… nothing will wake me up.

Eiji and Chizu crossed the border just a few days before me, and it’s time to catch up again ! We set up our meeting point near Gaborone, at the only campground in the area in Modipane.
It’s good to meet again and to have some company on the road 🙂
We are the only one in the campground, and the staff is extremely friendly, a good ice breaker after that dificult border crossing. That day I learned a lot about Botswana while chatting with the staff !
Since the camp was empty, a few things were missing, but the manager quickly came to us from time to time to provide what was missing, and made bonfires for us, bbq every night, yummy !

It is also time to plot our route and to prepare the vehicles. In my case, big job here, I have to change the engine oil and filter, and the transmission as well. Tyre rotation, air filter cleaning, grease on the chassis (and this time I didn’t make a mess !) and for the first time, I washed mister Fox. With all this dust, I almost forgot it had some colour 😀

Botswana looks like a challenging place to overland, with a lot of bad roads, huge potholes, plenty of animals at night (and you cannot see an elephant crossing the road, since they don’t reflect the light, not even their eyes !). The northern part of the country was completely flooded just 2 months ago, and the road network is really small. The bright side is, plenty of opportunities for bushcamping.
I went to Gaborone to catch up with Laetitia, a friend of Cecile I met in South Africa. Her husband is a guide in Botswana, and they told me many important tips to travel in the bush.

Now we are back on the roads, going north-east, with our first stop in Palapye in a very fancy campground. On the way, Eiji got stopped by the police for speeding and overtaking on a continuous line (the 2 at the same time !), but he managed to talk is way out ahah, I cannot believe he’s still using his age to pretend he doesn’t understand anything ! Not much corruption with the police, but they setup speed cameras in every 80kph sections, and you get a lot of them on the highway…..

So the plan will be to visit the salt flats, central Kalahari, then the Okavango delta 🙂

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