Reader Trip Report: Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
After cancelling a trip to Scotland because of illness, my wife, Gail, and I decided on a trip into Namibia and Botswana. I have a cousin, Charl, who farms near Livingstone, so that was included; and then an article in the SA4x4 January issue on the Sisheke Chiefdom and Kabula Lodge piqued my interest. Soon the trip was amended to include Etosha, the Sisheke area, Charl, Chobe and back home – via Kimberly to see my father – and then on to George to see Gail’s parents. Kill the whole flock with one stone, so to speak.
The first step was to bring our bakkie up to code – a ’05 Ford Ranger XLT 4X4 with some 74 000 kilometres on the odometer. We decided to change the fibreglass canopy to a more secure windowless aluminium canopy, and install a drawer system and fridge slide, as well as an awning, a snorkel, a dual battery system and a Camil suspension system. Ready to hit the road in April, we left Cape Town and headed for the Namibian border at Vioolsdrift, where we booked into the Vioolsdrift Lodge, and found the chalets to be clean and well-appointed.
Then it was on to Windhoek, where we stayed at a B&B called the Afrika Sun; a really pleasant venue whose owner works very hard to make visitors feel welcome.
Next stop was Etosha, where we stayed at Halali camp for a few enjoyable days. The game viewing was wonderful, despite the fact that it was the end of the wet season when animals are hard to spot in the thick bush and long grass. However, the animals were well fed and in excellent condition. The Pan itself is mind-blowing – you really can see the curvature of the earth if you look out over the vastness of the pan.
We left the park at the Namutoni Gate for the Hoba Meteorite near Grootfontein, as meteorites have long been a fascination of mine. I marvelled at this 66-ton piece of metal that had travelled through time and space to come to rest in this remote corner of the globe some 70,000 years ago. It must have terrified whichever primitive peoples lived in the vicinity when it impacted.
After refuelling and re-provisioning at Rundu, we headed for our next stop on the Okavango River near Divundu in the Caprivi. Mobola Lodge is a gem, tucked away on the banks of the river; we took the day off, watching the kingfishers at work and tawny eagles cavorting in the treetops nearby. Then it was to Kabula in Zambia. After refuelling and re-provisioning at Katima Mulilo, we headed for the border crossing; where things got interesting.
The Namibian side was seamless, but on the Zambian side the wheels fell off royally. The Zambians have constructed a new state-of-the-art facility which stands empty; a lone security guard told us to carry on to the offices ahead on our left, which consist of a motley collection of decrepit buildings, caravans, and trailers, and where we were immediately besieged by “illegal” money traders.