Lefatshe La Botswana which means “Republic of Botswana” in Tswana language.

Country No. 7

19th – 26th August 2018 (Day 48 – 55) 

Dumela rra (doo-meh-lah-rah). Dumela mma (Doo-meh-lah-mah) – (saying hello in Botswana)

Because you are definitely coming to Botswana by the time you are done reading this blog.  Lets first get you on the right track.  The border process.  Why? touring in Botswana is best and only best by road. If you choose to fly in, please land in Gabz – (Gaborone), then hire a camper and enjoy this beautiful country.  Otherwise, bring your bike down because the bikers community here is awesomely amazing.

BORDER CROSSING

We crossed the border from Zambia through Kazungula border. We mostly choose to cross borders on Sundays as they are less busy.  This one especially has many trucks crossing to either side of the countries.  The crossing is on river Zambezi and it is the shortest ferry crossing distance you will ever do. Interesting it is also where four countries borders meet. Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The ferry is small and only takes two trucks plus one or two cars depending on their sizes.  The cars may increase by one some times. We had two trucks, one car and two bikes and it was full.

Crossing through this border is better on a less busy time (early morning) or Sunday. Its quite busy.

However, they are building a bridge which will make the border crossing such a cup cake affair.

We cleared with Zambia side first – of cause. To note; don’t throw away your tax payment papers until you exit a country.  At the Zambian side they actually had a good look at those receipts.  May be because we always keep them in the Carnet booklet but we could imagine if they asked for them and we had already shredded them.  They scrutinized the documents more than other exit borders we have passed through.

Crossing the Botswana border once you clear with Zambia is a supper quick and efficient process.

PAYMENT:-

ZAMBIA

City Council Fee exit Zambia – Kshs 400/- for both bikes

Ferry crossing to Botswana – Kshs 1,000 for bikes and us.

BOTSWANA 

Bike permit, Road permit, Road fund – Kshs 6,420 for both bikes.

ROAD TRIP.

We are now in Botswana, woohooo, so excited about all the animals we are going to see by the road sides, the good roads, the sandy ones too and all the places we are visiting. Lets NduThis.  We are also excited about meeting up again with our travel family in Maun. We parted ways with Bahar at the border to reunite in Maun.

Border crossing, border parting.

We started off and on the first day we had the spectacular cat-walking by two elephants.  This ones we even got to take pictures. We enjoyed the road which are a spectacular tarmac. Our first day we rode 310 kilometers and slept at a small town called Nata. Nata is a village located in the Northern part of the central district of Botswana. It lies along the Nata River which carries its seasons flows to Makgadikgadi salt pans. We did not go to the salt pans something we terribly regret. Anyway, the good side of this is that, thats a firmed up trip back to Botswana. Please don’t be us. Don’t miss the salt pans.

The Elephants cross right in front of us.

The following day, we left for Maun.  We were looking forward to the Okavango Delta and meeting up again with our friends. It was another 302 kms. From Nata, there is about 20 kilometers or slightly more of extremely bad road.  It is a tarmac section that has completely been washed off and is now just loose gravel.  After that section, it is all very good tarmac road all the way to Maun.

We had a rare moment when some two ostrich on the road side decided to have a race with us. Unfortunately we were not able to film this. 🙁 . They were either scared or did not like the sound of the bikes and the more we got close, the faster they ran, so we decided, well – its an Ostrich vs BMW race. Epic.

MAUN 

We are notorious for not making any prior bookings for our stay but on this one we already had David and Chris in Maun and since we were going to be camping, we only needed a camping space oh and mattresses. We arrived in Maun early and headed straight to the Old Bridge backpackers. Thanks God the road was tarmac with just a small section of deep sand that we managed to walk the bikes through 😉

We get our camping space at Kshs 1,800 per day for both of us and an extra Kshs 600/- per day for two mattresses since we have never bought mattresses.  We have been lucky to get them at camp sites for free and laxed on the purchase bit. This price was ouch!!!. We settle in the lounge. Bahar has also arrived and we all gather there for a drink and planning for the following day.

Our home finally set up with mattresses well in.

THE OKAVANGO DELTA

We are finally about to tour this long awaited delta.  Chris and David have already booked a package. Bahar has a deal through her host which saves us 50USD each and we go for this one. However, we all meet at the mokoro departure point for our individual packages. Bahar and the tour organizer arrive on time but Dos and I are still not ready (bah!).  We quickly fix some sandwiches and grab some fruits to carry as our snacks and lunch.

The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta that covers about 18,000 square kilometers. It is known for its sprawling grassy plains that flood seasonally becoming a lush animal habitat. Dugout canoes known as “Mokoro” are used to navigate in the delta where wild animals such as hippos, elephants, crocodiles, buffalos oftenly graze.  Domestic animals such as cows, goats, horses and donkeys also graze in the shallow areas of the delta.

While David and Chris took a power boat from the backpackers to the Mokoro area, we drove to the place.  The drive was quite an adventure.  There are no roads.  Where there is a road today could be a flooded area tomorrow.  There is very deep sand in the dry land and some places you have to drive through the swamps.  You therefore need a good 4WD car and a local to take you there.  Otherwise, doing this on your own is a recipe for getting lost and stuck in the swamps.

Some waters just within the dry land we drove through.

It takes about 5 hrs on the waters in the Mokoro with an hour break for lunch and a short hike to stretch your legs.  There are many small islands and that is where you do the hike.  Your guide will chose one island on your ride and stop there for the lunch and hike.  If you take the tourist packages, lunch is included but if you go for an option like ours, you have to bring your own lunch.  If you don’t bring it with you from home/hotel/backpackers, you can always purchase something at the departure point.  There are many vendors with various foods from home cooked to sandwiches, sodas and water available.

We had a really amazing time and we saw quite some animals.

MEETING WITH @CACOULEDESOURCE92

While at the Old Bridge backpackers, we met with Ivan and Jan who are on a world tour using their two Triumph scramblers.  Their world tour is scheduled for two years and at the time of this blog they had already celebrated their first year on the road.  They have been to North America, Latin America, South America, Africa and heading to Australia then Europe.

It was really great exchanging notes on the routes and SIM cards (yes SIM cards 😉 ).  Looking forward to another meet up and a ride. Coz travel buddies paths will always cross again.

The biker family heading different directions.

We had an amazing time in Maun, we even had our laundry done.  For Kshs 500/- we got all our clothes machine washed and had a day to see more. It’s time to hit the road again. Next destination Ghanzi.

GHANZI

It is 277  kms to Ghanzi from Maun.  The distance not one to wake us up early and so we had an easy morning.  The road is pretty good and we had even figured where to sleep courtesy of iOverlander.  We get to Ghanzi and look for the entrance to our camp. We had chosen this particular camp because it was stated they sell game meat and we had planned on a “game meat feast night”. Having had a light breakfast and no meals in the day, we were looking forward to the game meat.

Our first turn to the camp, according to google maps was wrong.  We did not know till we rode on gravel and then got in to really deep sand.  A bukkie pulled right next to us and the family asked us where were going.  We gave them the name of the camp and they told us we were on the wrong road plus its extremely bad for our bikes even if we had wanted to use the long way there. We turn back and use the given directions.  We get to the entrance gate and hardly 500 mtrs in, the sand is as deep. We debate whether to go further and find out if it gets better or to look for an alternative. After consulting with each other, our hunger and time, we decide to get back to the tarmac and look for an alternative.

we don’t even look lost 😉

We head to the town center and get into the Kalahari hotel.Walking in with our dirty gears, sweat, tired faces, we inquire for a room.  The lady at the receptions tells us, they are fully booked and so is every hotel in town because of the annual “Kuru Dance Festivals”. She asks if that is what brings us to town and we say no, we are on transit to Namibia. She is so nice and she start calling everyone she knows to see if she can get us a place.  At this point we tell her. We have a tent and all we need is a camping place. Her face lights up and she says, we have space for one tent left. We tell her we need mattresses as well, she say, we don’t have those unfortunately.  We set up our tent and went to the shopping mall to look for camping mattresses but found none. For two nights, we were to reshape our bodies by sleeping on the hard surface. Wamuyu used to wake up asking if her hips are still there. 😉

This spot was so cool and we survived the hard grounds

Our plan was to spend one night and head to Namibia the following day. However, on this evening, a couple of cruiser bikes pulled in to the hotel parking.  Their sexy loud sounds getting almost everyone in to the parking. Dos was one of them.  He meets with the moto girls on the bikes and calls me.  I reluctantly walk there thinking, well, more guys and no girls but you can imagine my face when I saw three girls. All the screams, dance and begging to stay for another day. After a chat, we get invited to their charity event the following day and my begging to stay another day is sweetly approved.

The cruiser girls and their cruisers

THE EVENTS.

Two events happened on this day. One was the biker’s charity event and because we stayed for an extra day, we got to attend the Kuru dance Festivals.

Two biker clubs Three Chiefs MC and YOLO MC had come together to give prescription glasses to about 50 students of Ghanzi Senior Secondary School under their annual charity ran “RESTORE VISION, SECURE THE FUTURE”. The charity is geared towards ensuring students with vision impairment are not disadvantaged in school.  It was such an honor to see the fruits of a long process that involved getting an optometrist to check the students eyes, diagnose, prepare prescriptions, glasses and eventually have them handed over to the students.  With some of the students scheduled to sit for their high school final exams this year, you could see their faces light up with a ray of hope.

Halfway a sumptuous lunch prepared for us by the school, we were informed that the President was on his way to the town and we needed to meet him immediately at the airport. We had to bolt and leave. On our bikes and off to the airport, we left. His security team was surprisingly easy and we were let it in a few minutes and briefed on how to proceed. It is during the introduction that he asked how the Kenyan traveled to Botswana and he was told we rode our bikes from Kenya. The rest is history, he asked to see our bikes and signed both of them.

The President proceeded to his event and we all went and parked the motorbikes ready for the Kuru dance festival. You can read about the festival here.

 

After Kuru Dance Festival, we woke up to a new neighbor who turned out to be our friend and a travel buddy.  We planned a meet up as well and be sure, we will honor it.

Cynthia is just a Gem

Botswana is very beautiful, the people are very loving, warm and welcoming. We really felt at home. We will be back but not before we bring all those lovely sisters and brothers to Kenya.

 

And now vrooooooom to Namibia.

It was short but very sweet. 

We landed in Zambia from Malawi on 12th August 2018 through the Songwe border. 

Country No. 6

12th – 19th August, 2018 (Day 41 – 48) 

If it’s not called Mosi-oa-Tunya in Zambia, it is called Mosi-oa-Tunya 😉 😉 Just remember that.

BORDER EXPERIENCE

We like to always highlight this as it is very important information for all the travelers.  You will note our blogs will always start with the border experience. In Malawi we paid for road access fee. In Zambia we paid for Tar Levy of Zambia Kwacha 70/- (Kshs 700/-) per bike. Please don’t ask us what is the difference in road levy and Tar levy, we too don’t know but you have to pay it anyway. Whether you understand it or not. Since we had the carnet and the COMESA insurance, that was all we had to pay.  The process was first and efficient.

NOW IN ZAMBIA 

We left the border for our first stop over for the night at Petauke. Having come from Lilongwe on the same day, our mileage for the day was 322 kms.  We had looked at the map and thought the best place to sleep was Petauke, not because we wished to cover that kind of mileage but because we thought Chipata may be a very small center and might not have accommodation. Its very near the border as well which could have given us the impression as other centers close to the border have been small and without accommodation.  To our surprise, Chipata is a well established town with street lights, malls, petrol stations and you can find very good accommodation. If you leave Lilongwe  and cross the border late, you should not worry about driving/riding far to find accommodation. It’s only 107 kms from the border and good tarmac road all the way. We however had enough time to get to Petauke and therefore did not spend any time at Chipata.

Zambian roads from the border to Lusaka.

Our way of finding accommodation is either by using iOverlander, asking from the locals or using referrals from other travelers we meet as we travel. We have been so fortunate not to end up sleeping by the road side because we did not make bookings in advance.  Something we don’t do. Once we arrive at our destination for the day, the first thing we do is top up fuel for the bikes and if we need help with the accommodation, we always ask the people at the petrol station. So we did that at the petrol station at Petauke and they all pointed to a lodge right opposite the station. We were tired and just rode in to the lodge called Chimwemwe lodge. We got ourselves a cottage as they did not have camping option. It’s a very touristic lodge just by the main highway. We are so used to our tent and being in a place that is social. That is why we love backpackers and camp sites.  Everyone talks to everyone. This turned out to be our movie night. Thanks to the TV in the cottage.

Chimwemwe lodge. Our home before Lusaka.

LUSAKA

it took us two days from Lilongwe to Lusaka.  From Petauke to Lusaka it is 403 kms. One thing to note is that the roads are really good.  From the border, for the first time we had a road without pot holes, bumps or cops. In all the other countries, we had at least 2 out of the 3 on each road. It is also a very long stretch with nothing much to see only big farms and  good vegetation. Zambia is very green. We however enjoyed driving through the Lower Zambezi National Park and crossing a very beautiful bridge with an amazing view of river Luanga.

The beautiful bridge
The river Luanga

We arrived in Lusaka and we had already picked our new home from iOverlanders as the Lusaka Backpackers.  We went in and got our beds in the dorm.  We always take a decker. It’s fun whispering to each other like we used to do in high school.  I know, you are wondering how a couple sleeps in a dormitory.  Our best experiences have been in the dormitories. We love them. They are also very pocket friendly but the best of all is making friends.  Our dormitory had 5 beds. This one had no deckers though so we were all on the same level. We were three of us in the dorm and did not meet the third dorm-mate Bahar till later in the evening. She is from Turkey and was traveling solo. We would end up having dinner and drinks together and became travel buddies for the next couple of places.

THINGS TO DO IN LUSAKA

We had a day to spend in Lusaka and all three of us spent it together. We avoid the very touristic activities as they cost more.  For example, you can pay a guide to take you for the Lusaka town tour which will include the museum and the Kabwata cultural village for USD 30. A friend from Lusaka organized transport to take us around Lusaka town.  After some errands at the Levy Mall and one of the best salads we have had since we left home from Living Healthy outlet, we left for the Museum and Kabwata cultural Village.

THE MUSEUM

Entrance fee – Zk-50/- per person for none residents. (Kshs 500/-)

No pictures allowed inside the museum.  The museum covers the history and culture of Zambia.  It has emphasis on the colonization and independence history of Zambia.  Opened in 1996, it has a modern layout.

Outside the Museum. The traveling family. Bahar with us
The only picture we managed to take inside the museum.

THE KABWATA CULTUAL VILLAGE. 

If you have been to Maasai market in Kenya, then, the Kabwata cultural village is similar to Maasai market.  The only difference is that, it is set up as a village.  It was a nice experience being here as they have items that we don’t have in the Maasai market but largely the paintings, carvings and some accessories were similar. They have the gemstones and old money (Zambia and Zimbabwean) which were quite interesting to see. You can also buy it there.

OFF TO LIVING-STONE. 

We left in the morning.  Bahar took the bus because we could not fit her suit-case on the bike, otherwise we really wanted her to seat at the back of one of us (perfect pillion). She had told us how she has never thought she could ride a motorcycle but the more we talked, the more we felt she is going to get one some day.  Destination, Livingstone. We were all looking forward to the Vic Falls experience. We arrived at Jollyboys  backpackers and booked our space in the dormitory. We found Christine and Virginia in the dorm and our traveling family had two more members. The dormitories here are very well designed.  Each bed comes with personalized amenities such as own light, own charging point, own locker and the design gives you the comfort of some privacy in your own little space. Here we were also meeting Chris and David who we have been traveling together from Malawi. It was going to be a big happy reunion.

Our dormitory

As soon as we all linked up and were now happy to be together again, we spent a really amazing evening together.  We were to part ways again the following day as Chris and David were leaving to later link up in the next countries but not without helping them make a tough decision on their next move in their adventure. Their transport out of Zambia was complicated and was going to affect a part of their travel. After a tough deliberation, they sort our help in making the decision. This was made by tossing a coin which Dos would be in-charge of. Turned out to be the best way to make a difficult decision. After hugging each other and Chris and David leaving, the three of us sat by the pool side.

See you soon moment to Chris and David.

We heard the roaring sound of a bike and like little kids, we ran to just see. There was a cute yellow BMW 1150 and a very knackered gentleman. We said hello and welcomed him. Chuchi joined our amazing traveling family and the four of us would spend the day at the Vic Falls the following day. He even named Bahar “Chingololo” (her Africa name now) and got us gifts.

We have met and made friends with the most amazing people in this world.  We have been blessed.

We spent the rest of the day talking and sharing our travel experiences, advices and any information that would be helpful to each other on our different adventures.  Chuchi was really helpful with the roads in Botswana and what to expect. The border crossing and planing as he has traveled this route several times on his motorbike. The best advice was on how to handle the world animals which occasionally cross the road randomly and more especially the elephants.  That was really helpful.

THE REAL MOSI-OA-TUNYA (The smoke which Thunders)

If you are still wondering what “the real Mosi-oa-Tunya” is, don’t worry any more.  This name means “The smoke which Thunders” and refers to the Victoria Falls.

Mosi-oa-Tunya

 

You can view Vic Falls from Zambia and Zimbabwe as well. However, we preferred the Zimbabwean side. It was more epic. You can walk across the border to each country and view the Vic Falls. If you need visas to both countries, you need to factor in the cost of visas as you have to pay it with each entry. However, you can get a multiple entry in to Zambia and only pay extra for Zimbabwe if you would like to view the falls from both countries which is possible in a day.  For countries that don’t need visa into the two countries, you only need to pay for entrance fee.

Kenyans – No visa required in to Zambia and Zimbabwe

Zambia entrance fee – USD 25 P.P

Zimbabwe entrance fee – USD 30 P.P

If doing both countries, give yourself the whole day and a walking distance of about 14 kms in total. If doing only one side, give yourself about 3 hours. You may need to hire a rain coat at the gate if you are afraid of getting wet.  We did not, we loved the showers of Mosi-oa-tunya. Have proper and comfortable shoes for walking otherwise you end up with your legs in the cold pool in a cold night like Wamuyu. Carry some drinking water, there are coffee shops and restaurants for a meal on your way out but you can pack your own lunch.  We packed our own lunch and had a picnic lunch in there which was really lovely. They have places you  can eat with nice benches and dustbins.

If you stay at Jollyboys like us, you get free transport to the Vic Falls and only need to get transport back to the backpackers. Taking a taxi by yourself will cost you Zk 60 but if you take a shared taxi, you pay Zk 10 and get dropped at the museum which is right across the road and walk to the backpackers.

There many shops and vendors where you can buy souvenirs at the Vic Falls. There is even a small shop inside the park where you can buy water and snacks.  There are very clean toilets and will only cost you Zk 2 to use, which ticket is for multiple use. The entire place is really well organized and worth every penny you spend.

Just don’t forget to go through the immigration. Get your stamp please.

We extended our stay in Livingstone with another day and the best decision ever as we linked up with Frank again who we had met in Senga Bay Malawi.

 

See you in Botswana.