Caprivi Strip and Border crossing into Botswana
From Ngepi camp we drove towards the eastern part of the Caprivi Strip, just south of Kongola. Our campsite lies on the banks of the Kwango river and the next morning we were greated by a herd of buffelo’s on the other side of the river.
We spent our morning cleaning the car, updating the weblog and our photo book. Judith also called with her brother and Mom & Joop to discuss plans to spend Christmas and New Years together in Tanzania. Even though we really don’t like deadlines on our trip, as we unfortunately had for Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Etosha National Park due to high season, this is a deadline we look forward to. They will arrive in Tanzania on December 17th for a safari around the Serengeti and a nice relaxing beach holiday on the coast of Tanzania.
Late afternoon we drove to Bwabwata National Park for a game drive. Wilfred is reluctant to reduce the pressure in the tyres as he saw a good gravel road leading into the park, but the lady of the reception was very persistent…reduce your tyres!! We soon find out why… After a couple of hundred meters we were driving in loose sand. The road is very bumpy and the car shakes from the left to the right as the bumps are uneven. We decided to call this the ‘trampoline effect’ as we were moving up and down in our seats while driving in the park (wondering how this would have been, had we not changed our shocks last minute J). Some of the tracks were tricky as you could suddenly drive into very deep sand. Whilst Wilfred kept his eyes closely on the road, he manages to spot the largest hornbill in the south, not just one but three of them!
The next morning we woke up a bit later than usual and enjoyed our breakfast whilst overlooking the river. After breakfast we drove back to Ngepi camp and set up camp on the same spot as two nights before… and yes, our view is exactly the same… many hippo’s swimming in front of our campsite.
On September 27 we drove to the Mahango-Mohembe border crossing. When we walked in to the offices in Namibia it is around 10.00AM and nobody is at the immigration desk. After 5 minutes or so Wilfred asked the police officer two counter down from immigration if he knows where the immigration officer might be… after another 5 minutes he came back and said they would be with us in 10 minutes or so…never interfere with a immigration officer and his coffee/cigarette break! When he finally takes place behind his desk the formalities only take a few minutes.
Next stop the immigration offices of Botswana. The formalities are straightforward; fill in our arrival cards, have our carnet de passage for the car stamped, and pay the road tax and insurance. We were told this could be paid in Namibian Dollars (as there is no ATM or change office at the Botswana border post), but since July 2016 you are only allowed to pay in BWP (pula) or USD. The amount for road tax and third party insurance for 30 days is 150 pula (about US$14,-) which we don’t have or US$25 if we pay in dollars. Judith mentioned’ but that is twice as high as the amount in pula, after which the customs lady just laughs and said ‘oh, not three times as much’? Our last option is to pay by card in pula, but she mentioned the machine didn’t work this morning due to bad mobile reception. Wilfred is persistent and said ‘let’s try it anyway’. He is led into a small room and made a joke that if they keep their fingers crossed it will work… after a few minutes the transaction is declined… the customs lady stated that this is because he didn’t have his fingers crossed… So they tried one more time… after some very long minutes of waiting for the machine to establish a connection the payment is finally approved. After our payment we got all the stamps for our car and we can cross the border into Botswana !