July 4th 2013: Katima Mulilo, Namibia – Kasane, Botswana
Driven distance on July 4th 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 68’870km (42’790 miles)
Now it was time to say good-bye to the wonderful Namibia. At the departure we tried once again to get back the 15% sales tax from the car repair bills. For every bill we had to fill out a separate form with bank name and account number. Apparently we should receive the tax back in about 2 month… well we are quite curious if this will work out;-). Just before the Botswana border post was a veterinary checkpoint. Here we had to disinfect all of our shoes. In addition we weren’t allowed to bring in any animal products or fruits with us. But the checkpoint lady took it quite easy. When we showed her the fresh milk, she just said “actually this is not permitted, but put it just back in the fridge :-). Also with the car we had to drive through a bath with disinfection stuff. Further on the border procedure was very relaxed and soon we drove on Botswana ground towards Kasane.
July 5th – 7th 2013: Kasane, Botswana
Driven distance on July 5th – 7th 2013: 210km (130 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’080km (42’920 miles)
Kasane is a very popular tourist destination. The main reason is the nearby Chobe National Park. Additionally to this it lies not too far away from the famous Victoria Water Falls. All over Kasane it was packed with tourists and safari tour jeeps. Our Landrover was once again the finest vehicle of all ;-)! There was an invasion of cars with South African license plates since there are school holidays in there:-). Since it was difficult for us to plan earlier about when we would be here, we didn’t have any booking for the Chobe National Park. As we expected, there was no space left at the campgrounds inside the park. For us it is the system that they have completely unexplainable. Besides the tourists there are also many tour companies who are booking spaces on the campgrounds and sometimes cancel them afterwards again. Fact is, that there are always some spaces left, even if they seem to be fully booked. At the booking office in Kasane they always just said, “Fully booked” and since some of the staff was extremely unmotivated and unhelpful we were getting sick and tired after the third trial. In Maun, near the southern entrance of the park lies the main office. We have met tourists who could there get a space for a campground in the park without any problems! At least we could safe some money by not paying the enormous Camping fees of 100$ per night :-).
In Kasane we had to try several campgrounds because most of them were fully booked. The first two nights we spent on a campground where you can see every night elephants. The camping isn’t fenced, so the elephants (or other animals) could walk around a few feet away from you ;-).
A small part of the Chobe National Park lies along the river. This part we covered once by car and then again on a 3 hour boat ride. At many places we could spot elephants, water buffalos, zebras, antelopes, hippos, birds and many more animals. But the highlight was a young leopard that was sitting and waiting besides a death antelope. We could watch him from the car very nicely inside the bushes.
July 8th 2013: Kasane – Elephant Sands Lodge, Botswana
Driven distance on July 8th 2013: 280km (170 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’360km (43’100 miles)
The almost 300km (180 miles) long road from Kasane to Nata lies in a corridor between the Chobe National Park and the Zimbabwean Hwange National Park (both of them aren’t fenced) and is also called „Elephant-Highway“ :-). The landscape isn’t great at all, but we have seen several times elephants that crossed the road or marched along the planes. There were also different antelopes grassing at the edge of the road. In the area are also farming fields where they mainly grow corn and sorghum. Just arrived at the Elephant Sands Lodge, we spotted the first elephant arriving at the water hole. Immediately we were sitting with a cold beer at the sun deck of the lodge and enjoyed the view to the water hole that is just a few meter (yards) away. It is really a fantastic experience to be “eye in eye” with the huge mammals!! Later on there were 10 more elephants gathering.
July 9th 2013: Elephant Sands Lodge, Botswana
Driven distance on July 9th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’360km (43’100 miles)
Since the place had Internet connection we granted us a one-day break. Shortly after lunch the first elephants were arriving and smiled at us ;-). Again just a few meters away we could observe the animals. At one place there is fresh water coming into a pan and most animals are going there to kill their thirst. While we had to take a shower with very salty water, the elephants were getting nicely cleaned and prepared water to drink :-). At this afternoon were always more and more elephants appearing. At the end in the evening there were about 30 elephants present and a little fight for the best water was going on here and there. The stronger once pushed the smaller once away by pushing their tusks into the others but :-). Just an unforgettable experience when 30 elephants are moving around just a few meters away.
July 10th 2013: Elephant Sands Lodge – Nata Bird Sanctuary, Botswana
Driven distance on July 10th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’460km (43’160 miles)
We took a trip to the Nata Bird Sanctuary after we arrived in Nata. We also stayed in the sanctuary overnight. There aren’t too many birds unfortunately during this time of the year, so we were already happy to spot some big pelicans and ducks :-). We’ve also seen some gnus there.
July 11th 2013: Nata Bird Sanctuary – Francistown, Botswana
Driven distance on July 11th 2013: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’650km (43’280 miles)
And the trip went on… :-).
July 12th – 13th 2013: Francistown, Botswana
Driven distance on July 12th – 13th 2013: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 69’680km (43’300 miles)
Francistown is with its 100'000 habitants the second biggest city in Botswana. We could fill up our food stock and were able to complete some other things. We liked the city quite good and it was enjoyable to stroll around in the area, people didn’t ask us for money or other things and almost nobody tried to sell you things. It seemed to us that the standard of living is quite OK and that there is no obvious poverty visible. Besides the few big shopping complexes were also some market stands, where they sell veggies, clothes or other goods.