Sad to leave Zambia, but also excited to know that we had found a camp site in Livingstone that really delivers. We will be using The Bushfront Lodge again in December 2017 when we plan to visit Bangweulu Wetlands and North Luanda.
Because we were not staying over at Kubu Lodge in Kasane (Botswana) we had to get a move on early – cross over with the ferry and make our way to Nata.
Just before we turned into the road leading up to the border and ferry crossing, a Zambian police officer pulled us over – we were apparently speeding. Pieter asked how much was he speeding and he was informed 55 in a 50 zone. Wow … that’s driving recklessly for you (not).
At this point, we had pretty much used up all of our Zambian Kwachas as South Africa does not exchange any Kwachas for Rands. Needless to say, we could not pay the officer and had to drive to the border to exchange dollars. The police officer kept Pieter’s driver’s license as leverage until he returned and paid the fine.
The border crossing was an absolute mess with trucks standing in queues waiting to cross into Botswana via the ferry. As we stopped at the border, we had at least 10 “runners” come up to the Landy wanting to know if we needed cash to pay the police officer. Now here’s my question – how did they know we were fined? From the border you are not able to even see the police officer. And here’s the tricky part – they even knew with how much we were fined (300 Zambian Kwachas). I’m pretty sure the police officer and the runners at the border are working together …
We exchanged the money and left to pay the police officer. In the meantime he had flagged down another South African couple on their way to the border – but did nothing when a Zambian car sped past – definitely defying the speed limit.
After we paid the fine, I asked the police officer if he knew how come the runners at the border knew about the fine and the amount. He just shrugged he’s shoulders and ignored me as I waited for an answer.
It puts a bit of a damper on your holiday – especially because this was our first Zambian fine ever … but you have to wonder if we were really exceeding the speed limit?
We parked the Landy near the entrance gates of the border post – guarded by an armed army officer. With our Carnet de Passage and passports, we entered the post and got our passports stamped. Getting the Carnet de Passage stamped was also done and then we were routed to the office where we had to pay the Councilor fees (which we paid upon entering Zambia in December). After a long discussion – and Pieter walking back to the Landy to get the proof of payment, we were allowed onto the ferry to cross. With us, we had three other vehicles, a fairly small truck and a front-end loader on the ferry. When the front-end loader drove onto the platform, my heart sunk as you could feel the ferry sinking lower into the water. Just absolutely amazes me how much weight these ferries can take.
It took us less than an hour to exit the border and cross over to Botswana with the ferry. The border post on the Botswana side was also efficient and quick and we were on our way quicker than we thought we would be.
On the Botswana side we had a very enthusiastic border official that wanted to check our vehicle and also check for any meats and other foods not allowed into the country. We had six frozen Chambo fish in the fridge – and we desperately wanted for them not to be confiscated as we wanted family back home to taste them. This took some smooth talk on our side (more me than Pieter) where I told the official that we KNOW Botswana (and in the process flicking open my passport and showing him the many pages that have been stamped) and that we also knew that taking meat from north to south was not allowed … and “why do you do this to us” … etc. It worked. He ordered us to take our shoes and dip them in the “foot and mouth disease” control chemicals – and also dip our extra shoes we had in the Landy as well. We did this without winking – as long as he kept he’s hands off our Chambo.
We filled up with diesel just outside Kasane – and we could already see that truck traffic were starting to pick up heading towards Nata. Pieter got us some cold drinks and we were on our way.
Seventy kilometers from Nata, there is another “foot and mouth” vet gate where proper inspections are conducted. We initially thought (from previous trips) that the control gate was closer to Pandamatenga – and when we did not see it, we assumed that it was no longer in use. Surprise!!
Again, the Chambo was under siege and again I convinced the official not to look through our content as “we had JUST come through the border post at Kasane, and how many times do you guys NEED to take a look”. Pieter just had to open the back of the Landy that had the drawers for our clothes – the official was happy – and again we had to do the “dip shoes in chemicals” and we were off to Nata.
Nata had some lovely rains and we were very hopeful that the flamingo’s had in the meantime come into the pans.
We stopped at the newly erected “Choppies” for some fresh bread and drinks – and booked into Nata Lodge. The guide that is responsible for game drives into the Nata Bird Sanctuary was not there, but the receptionist promised to tell him to come to our Camping site as we wanted to know if the flamingo’s had arrived yet.
We set up camp – whilst the humidity tore us down … and then the rain started. Apart from two other campers, we were the only people in the camping site.
We retreated to the tent and had a good afternoon nap. We were woken by the guard looking for us – and also telling us that the rains that Botswana recently had were slowly but surely moving into the pans hindering the flamingo’s to properly nest. He also – much to our surprise – told us that the flamingo’s usually only come through during August and September after much of the water in the pans have dried up.
Somewhat disappointed at not seeing the flamingo’s, we made dinner, showered and went to bed. Afterwards we sat and watched the stars and for the first time ever, I saw a bush baby up in the trees above us.
Our trip the next day was only over a 100km’s to Woodlands Stop Over and Lodge on the way to Francistown. With this in mind, Pieter made a suggestion that we skip Woodlands and push through and stay over at Itumela in Palapye. I agreed as this would really cut the trip back home shorter and more bearable. Pieter also checked the GPS for an alternative route through Francistown avoiding the chaos of the new bridge and road being built.
After I showered, I met an elderly lady from Zambia – she complained that the showers were built in such a way making it almost impossible to get dressed without getting your clothes wet from water on the floor. She also told me that they had been living (farming) in Zambia for well over 40 years – and that they stay very near Bangweulu (where we plan to go December 2017). I could first hand hear that we were in for a treat and it would be a great trip. They were on their way to South Africa to visit their son.
Back at the tent, Pieter was getting ready for bed – and it started dripping again.