This is the fourth posting in our series about crossing borders in Africa. The information and tips shared are based on own experience and we hope that sharing it with you might make your next border crossing a more pleasant experience.
Botswana/Caprivi/Zimbabwe Border Posts
We crossed from Botswana to the Caprivi (Please note that the name of the Caprivi has changed to the Zambezi Region) at the Ngoma Bridge Border Post (S17.92563 E24.72074) and retuned to Botswana via the Mohembo Border Post (S18.25935 E21.76140) during one of our December breakaways.
Take the A33, Sedudu/Ngoma transit road from Kasane in Botswana and enter the Chobe National Park at Ngoma Gate (S17.84306 E24.14426) and proceed with the A33 to the Ngoma Border Post. The A33 is a tar road. You don’t need to pay any Park fees unless you are planning to stay over at one of the camps in the park. We recommend Ihaha campsite should you wish to stay over. Make sure to allow for sufficient travel time if you leave the tar road as the roads in the Chobe is mostly deep sand.
Ngoma Bridge is a quiet border post and procedures were handled efficiently and quickly on both the Botswana and the Namibian side. You cross the Chobe river from Botswana into Namibia.
On the Namibian side they wave you through after clearing customs and immigration without telling you that you need to stop in Katimo Mulilo to purchase your vehicle permits. If you are stopped anywhere else but on the direct route (B8) to Katimo Mulilo you will receive a fine and will be directed back to Katimo Mulilo for the permits. The Cross Border Permit Office is housed in a small building next to the Total Fuel Station in Katimo Mulilo (S17.49590 E24.26908). The cost of the permits at the time of our visit were N$ 180.00 per vehicle and N$ 115.00 for a trailer. You can either pay in Namibian Dollar or Rand for anything anywhere in Namibia and the currencies are equal. N$ 1.00 = R 1.00).
The Mohembo Border post is on the western side of the Okavango river where it flows into the upper part of panhandle of the Okavango Delta.
You have to drive through the Mahango Game Reserve on the Namibian side to get to the border post. If you don’t take any detours from the main road en-route to the border you don’t need to pay any park entry fees.
During our last visit to this border post it was very quiet and it took us a couple of minutes to complete border procedures and pass through. They did search our vehicle very thoroughly though.
Botswana/Zimbabwe Border Post
We found this to be a “no hassle” Border Post without long queues (or in our case, no queues at all). In fact, we only encounter other tourist at this post once. The customs procedures was dealt with swiftly on both the Botswana and Zimbabwean side of the border. Very friendly staff, very helpful and always in good spirits.
On one occasion, when we came back from Zimbabwe, we were stopped by a Vetenary Official at the Botswana Border Post who checked our vehicles for fresh meat – which we had. We were given the option of throwing the meat into a bin or to braai it. We tried to rescue most of it by pretending the fridges were empty – she was a bit too short to look into the fridges that were in the Landy. We sadly misjudged her – she just climbed onto the rims of the Landy and looked into the fridges. And this is where it got tricky. You don’t want to upset a border official. Lesson learnt. We won’t do that again. She was upset and warned us that we were in violation of border regulations – we are risking being deported. We ended cooking the meat right there and then in front of the Border Post – in full view of all the officials and other tourists. We set up two gas braai’s and just lightly toasted the meat on the outside. The official was happy and we were allowed to continue our journey.
Tip of the day
Remember to buy a dual entry permit at the port of entry to Botswana if you are going to travel through Botswana to your destination and returning through Botswana again. This works out cheaper than buying entry permits again upon returning.
Don’t judge an official by the way he/she looks. The officials at the Pandamatenga Border Post looked like locals – with no uniforms. But they were officially in duty of the Zimbabwean government. And they were proud of it. The welcome they gave us made up for lack for proper Border Post buildings, pens and ablution facilities. Even when they searched our vehicle they were super professional and friendly.
We all know that meat in the rest of Africa is not the same standard as what we are used to in South Africa – in some instances, the meat is of a better quality – true story – I kid you not. Try not to upset officials … If you are busted for not disclosing your meat rations, rather play it safe and confess. They will allow you to braai it there and then – rather than stuffing it into a bin. Contrary to popular believe, we have never come across any of the border officials on our trips that confiscated our food and took it for themselves. It was also discarded in the correct manner.