A Botswana Appetizer: Part 3

Our trip, taking our friends to see a touch of Botswana had started well: a caracal at Lekhubu Island and we had the best campsite in Kasane. What more could one ask for – maybe a hassle free trip to Zimbabwe and Zambia would have been one that comes to mind.

On paper Sue had a brilliant plan: go to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, then on to The Royal Livingstone, in Zambia for lunch, then to finish off the day, catch the ferry at Kazungula back into Botswana. So 3 countries in one day.

I had also contacted somebody I know who lives in Livingstone for all the in’s and out’s of doing such. Her response was very informative, accurate and positive. The only thing she didn’t mention was DO NOT DO IT.

It might be the right time to mention that I do not like border posts, and generally will avoid them at all costs. I was, however, given no option about doing the trip and after all it did sound good.

We passed through the Botswana side of the Bots/Zim border with no problems, but were met with huge crowds on the Zim side. Passport control, even though it took some time, was hassle free. To get our car into Zim was another story.

I was taken by a very helpful man, who seemed to be part of the staff, through a door marked “Buses Only”. He took my car papers and was very busy writing out forms and then got into the long queue. This was looking promising.

Other tourists got into a screaming match with my guy’s friends about the forms and procedures, etc. It got so heated into almost became a fist fight. I just stood in the corner, where I was told to wait, and minded my own business. Sue and our friends kept looking through the door to make sure I was ok.

Eventually my guy was next in line at the counter. He asked me in what currency I was going to pay in and when I responded Pula, he said it was P800. So I gave him the money. When he was at the counter he said I should join him. The official behind the counter told me in no uncertain terms that I was being procedurally incorrect and that “my guy” should not be there and only I  should be present.

I apologised profusely and when he had relaxed I asked him I much I needed to pay. The response was P700. I took my P800 from “my guy” and very nicely I told him he should remove himself from my presence. After and hour and a half we got through the border and were heading to Victoria Falls. Did I mention that I do not like border posts.

For me it doesn’t really matter how many times you see the Falls, it is always an amazing experience.

I have seen Victoria Falls on 4 occasions before this trip, once when there was basically no water coming over, once when there was so much water, the spray made it very difficult to actually see the falls themselves. The other 2 occasions were somewhere in between.

For our friends this was their first visit and they just stood amazed at the sight. Water was flowing at a reasonable rate on the Zimbabwe side, but pretty much dry on the Zambian side.

The Falls had refreshed our spirits and it was now just to cross the river for lunch at The Royal Livingstone. Yeah right.

Leaving Zimbabwe was pretty plain sailing, we crossed the Victoria Falls Bridge and went straight into the Zambian Border post. Like earlier there were many “friendly people” around to help, but having learnt a lesson at the Zimbabwe border pos,t I politely mentioned that I could do it myself. They followed anyway.

Passport control was very straight forward, however the car once again proved to be the stumbling block. The first step was to get a temporary importation permit, this took about an hour and a half and included a physical check of the vehicle. This permit had to be paid in cash in Zambian Kwacha. Which of course I didn’t have.

One of the “friendly people” took me around the side of the building to an ATM – but of course it didn’t work and of course he would exchange money for me. He also mentioned that I had to pay a Toll fee in US$ and road tax in Kwacha. So I had no choice but to make a deal.

Looking back at the whole ordeal the most classic part of the whole thing was the purchasing of the road tax disc. The friendly person called a man, who came across with a briefcase, sat down under a tree and pulled out some papers and started writing, this just blew my mind. But I got the road tax disc.

It was well over 2 hours that we finally had the necessary paperwork to get into Zambia. However I still had a problem – that being paying back the friendly man. He only wanted Kwacha. He told me that there was an ATM at the hotel around the corner, but as we were packed full, we didn’t have room for him to sit. I mentioned he must catch a taxi, which did not please him.

As I approached the final border gate I could see him talking to the official. I was crossed questioned by the official about what I wanted to do in Zambia and my story about just going for lunch was not working so well as it was already 3.30. Finally he was satisfied and then asked me what problems I was having with the locals. I explained the whole story and he said I could go.

Friendly man, seeing he was not getting any luck ran off and when I turned the corner there he was with somebody with a rifle. Lucky enough rifle man had a big smile on his face. We squashed friendly man into the car – who wasn’t that friendly any more.

Of course the ATM wasn’t working at the hotel and they wouldn’t exchange money. The only place would be in the city of Livingstone, some 20km away.

Now approaching 16h00 I was not going to cheated to at least a lemonade at The Royal Livingstone. What an absolutely stunning hotel and right on the banks of the Zambezi a meer 100m above the Falls. With all going on none of our party even took a photo – so I refer you to google images of the hotel: Google Images.

With the Kazungula ferry closing at 18h00 we found ourselves in a mad rush. We found money for friendly man and sped to the border which was over a 100km away. At the border there was another friendly man helped us get on the last ferry of the day. What a pleasure being on that ferry knowing that next time we were back on dry land it would be Botswana.

Did I mention that I do not like border posts?

For me the highlight of the whole trip was going to be exploring Chobe National Park, by car and boat. That’s all to come in Part 4……

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A Botswana Appetizer: Part 2

Well it is almost becoming a trend; if it is the end of September and Independence Weekend here in Bots there is a good chance to find Sue and I in Chobe National Park and more specifically close to the Chobe River.

So with our trailer packed it was off to show our South African friends our favourite city in Botswana, Kasane. It is situated right on the doorstep of Chobe National Park, on the Chobe River and often animals are seen in town or very close to it.

Kasane is Botswana’s most northerly city and right in the corner where Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe almost meet. The Zambia/Botswana border is the world’s shortest at a mere 150m.

We were very fortunate to get the only campsite, in Kasane, that looks over the park, it was also right on the river.

From camp, we saw plenty of buffalo, elephant, crocs and hippo on the banks, islands and in the river itself. We were also visited by unwanted baboons, monkeys and the more wanted bushbuck (with baby), warthog and banded mongoose.

It almost goes without saying that the sunsets were just magnificent, something that the Chobe River is famous for.

And undoubtedly the food was all restaurant standard.

Kasane camping

A caracal at Lekhubu Island and the best campsite in Kasane – this was turning into an amazing trip.

Well we didn’t just drive all the way to Kasane to sit around camp – there was the Chobe National Park to explore, Victoria Falls to see and a sunset boat cruise to do.

Sue had this great idea that we would leave Botswana and go into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, then cross into Zambia for lunch at the Royal Livingstone, then return back to Botswana. So 3 countries in one day. On paper it sounded amazing.

Have you ever heard of a SABENA? I was asked way back if I knew what Sabena Airways stood for and told that it was Such A Bloody Experience Never Again. Well this word stuck for Sue and I and what a SABENA that tour turned out to be.

More next time….

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A Botswana Appetizer

With good friends of ours coming to visit us for the first time, since we have lived in Botswana, we needed to give them a brief introduction to this amazing country.

They spent their first two nights at our home in Letlhakane, just to see where and how we lived. The comprehensive tour of our village probably took about 20 minutes, which was longer than normal as we had to stop and wait for a herd of goats to cross the road.

The main attraction of our area is undoubtedly Lekhubu Island (or simply Kubu Island).  Even so close to us, we haven’t been for at least a year, so it was going to be a pleasure for me to see it again. And this time we were going to see something I haven’t seen out there and in fact very few times in my lifetime.

We set out just after sunrise and still by the time we got to the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans there was a murkiness in the air. This obstructed the beautiful view over the pans, but this soon dissipated and the vast white pans opened up for miles all around us.

In the distance we could see Lekhubu Island towering above the pans and as we drew closer the massive baobabs and star chestnut trees came into view. It doesn’t matter how many times you have visited  the island – it is always spectacular. It’s starkness, at this time of year, with its massive rocks and trees in the middle of nowhere is just incredible.

After telling our friends that Sue and I have only once ever seen any animals en-route to or from the island we were in for an amazing treat.

Early one morning returning from Lekhubu after camping there for a blue moon , Sue and I saw a herd of springbuck just off the edge of the pans. But on this trip we had already seen jackal and a steenbuck.

As we returned to Letlhakane, I noticed something different in the road just a head of us. As we neared we saw it was a Caracal – some people incorrectly call it a linx. The incredible thing was that it was not even perturbed about us and just carried on walking at the same pace. Unfortunately I didn’t have our “wildlife camera” with we, but I did manage to capture it with our “aim and shoot” camera. Sorry for the poor picture below, but you can make out a caracal.

Caracal Makgadikgadi salt Pans

If this was the start of our friends trip – I couldn’t wait for the rest and what a great holiday it turned out to be.

To be continued….

 

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Interesting snake seen on road to The Plot

On the way to The Plot I saw a snake crossing the road, it moved into a patch of grass and stopped. I assumed that I wouldn’t have time to get my camera out, but it just sat there (well lay there). I even had time to open the door and get out to take a photo.

As I didn’t know which snake it was, I searched through our snake book to no avail. Thank goodness for Google as I tracked down the author of the book, Johan Marais. He was quick to respond and said it was a juvenile mole snake.

In his book, The complete guide to the snakes of Southern Africa, he says that they are harmless, but adults can give a very painful bite. They (adults) eat rats, moles, birds, nestlings and eggs – I hope that is not the reason why we have chicken eggs, but no babies.

The young guy I saw, at this stage, would feed mainly on lizards, according to Johan’s book.

 

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Plastic Bags banned in Botswana

06 June 2018

PRESS RELEASE

PLASTIC CARRIER BAG BAN TO EFFECT ON 1ST NOVEMBER 2018

The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism would like to inform the public, business sector and other stakeholders that the Waste Management (Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Prohibition) Regulations, 2018 will come into operation on the 1st November 2018. This means that from the 1st of November 2018 the use of plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags will no longer be allowed in Botswana. The time in between until the 1st of November is to allow for the public and affected industries to put in place environmentally friendly packaging systems or alternatives to the plastic bag.

According to the regulations, any person who manufactures, trades, imports, possesses, or for commercial purposes distributes a plastic carrier bag or plastic flat bag for use in Botswana will be committing an offence.

The ban will however not apply to the following for health and hygiene purposes:
a. Bread bag- this refers to plastic bags used for packaging bread
b. Plastic bin liner- refers to plastic bags used for lining refuse bins or refuse receptacles
c. Barrier bag-thin or flimsy plastic bag used to separate products at final point of sale      d. Plastic refuse bag- plastic bag designed for carrying waste
e. Primary packaging- refers to plastic packaging that is in direct contact with the product for purposes of containing the product during transportation or handling to the point of distribution or point of use.

The public is further informed that any person contravening the regulations on the prohibition of the plastic carrier bag and plastic flat bag will be committing an offence and will be liable to the following:

a. For a first offender, the plastic carrier bag or the flat bag will be confiscated.
b. For a second or subsequent offence the person will be liable to a fine not exceeding P5, 000.00 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or both.

Several attempts have been made in the past to manage or control the proliferation of plastic carrier bags in the environment through various strategies such as public education and awareness on its proper use, recycling and minimisation of its use. Furthermore, compulsory standards were developed to regulate the thickness of the carrier bag. Despite all these initiatives the plastic bag continues to be an environmental nuisance with negative impact on the environs and domestic animals, thus eventually the decision to ban or prohibit its use in Botswana by Cabinet. The move to implement the ban of plastic carrier/flat bag follows long consultations (over a number of years) with stakeholders both Government and private sector.

Negative impacts of the plastic carrier/flat bags in the environment
a) Plastic is not biodegradable hence once deposited in the soil it persists in the environment for a long period of time.
b) Plastics reduce the aesthetic value of the environment as they hang on trees and generally are widespread in the environment.
c) Plastic have adverse impacts on human and animal health, for example, due to their impervious characteristic, they serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vermin. Animals, for instance die from choking when they eat plastic bags. Moreover plastics are harmful to livestock when digested as they disrupt the digestive process causing bloating and ultimately death of the animal.
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Snippets

A Day at Orapa Game Park

We are so fortunate to have a lovely game park less than half an hour from us. It is a park you can go to at any time of the year and day and still see plenty and a wide diversity of game.

We don’t utilize it enough, but a one Sunday recently we decided to venture from our norm and visit the park. Of course our comment at the end of the day was “I don’t know why we don’t come here more often.

Below are some of our photo’s

Autumn Colours at The Plot

I was reading a gardening magazine and an author was talking about autumn in Southern Africa being like a second spring – so it was at The Plot.

Weather Update

Winter has started to creep in as morning and evening temperatures are bitterly chilly. The last two mornings have been a freezing 9C.

Last month we had surprisingly a bit of unseasonal rain which was very welcome. I have updated our weather page at https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

 

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Quick Update

I have been clearly told that I haven’t updated this blog for awhile. Life has been a bit hectic recently and revolved more around The Plot than traveling around Bots.

Weather

Well 2 months behind – disgusting 🙂 This page is now updated, see https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

After a good rainy season (roughly 400mm) the rain seems a thing of the past and winter is creeping in. Days are warm at around 30C, evenings are getting chilly and the mornings FREEZING – 16C this morning.

From The Farmyard

The goats and sheep are all well, but with the bush turning we are needing to supplement their food more and more. We have even had to build a shed to keep up with supplies.

We have our first chicken eggs (6), first lemons and mealies (corn on the cob).

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