Border crossing and Mohembo “Tusk” Bridge – October 2021

After we had our PCR test in Katima Mulilo, we got Trokkie on the road, put pedal to the metal as we wanted to cross the Botswana border that same day!

We only had one short toilet break along the way and we made the border post with about 45 minutes to spare. Crossing the border was a breeze. The Namibian side had all their ducks in a row, checked our PCR QR code on an app and we were medically cleared. To pass through customs, we had to wait a few minutes, because the lady who was supposed to help us, was feeding her baby. It didn’t take long though and she was the epitome of friendliness and helpfulness.

The only little hiccup: … when we wanted to get into Trokkie to drive to the Botswana side of the border post, one of the border guards (don’t know all the functions at a border post) gave the impression he might have wanted a bribe, because he said we needed to pay a certain amount of money because we drove a big vehicle. Granted… coming into Namibia we had indeed paid a road tax for our size vehicle. It was funny though that we should need to pay again when leaving Namibia and in such an informal way: no office, no paperwork! To be 100% sure, Stefaan went back inside and asked the friendly lady if there was anything else we needed to pay for, but she said no. So we left the guy standing and left.

We drove on and arrived at the Botswana border. Our Namibian PCR test was not accepted and we had to do a rapid antigen test on the spot. The guy was very friendly, careful and helpful. After our last bits of formalities, we left the border post.

We were in Botswana! Yeah!

By then it was evening and, accompanied by our first Botswana sunset, we decided to drive to the fist town Shakawe, fill up with diesel and make a deal to sleep at the petrol station. 

The next morning, we drove back to the Namibian border. The previous evening, we had seen the ferry and we wanted to see if we could take a ride over the river. Stefaan knew about the new bridge under construction, that looks like elephant tusks and we wanted to have a closer look.

I can kick myself that something went wrong with the camera when Stefaan drove Trokkie onto the ferry, but maybe we’ll have more “ferry-moments” somewhere in the future. We at least have the footage of Trokkie on the ferry! (keep on checking Youtube). The ferry trip was all about the boat, the bridge and driving a bit inland. But, as we really had no intention to go all the way to the end of that particular road, we returned to the ferry, hitched a ride back and turned back south.

We turned of to the Tsodilo Hills, a Unesco World Heritage site, where we anticipated visiting the museum and go for a walk to view some more rock art. But, just like in some of the Namibian mountain reserves (e.g. White Lady Hike, Twyfelfontein) there is a lot of rock art in the mountains and they don’t allow people to just go wandering around on your own. So we are used to paying an entrance fee and then a guide takes you along for a walk. Here however, we paid an entrance fee and when we arrived at the little museum, we realised we had to pay the guide separately. Fair enough, it was explained on the signs at reception and we didn’t read it. Unfortunately we also arrived quite late in the day and there was not enough time to actually do the shortest hike. We decided to give it a miss.

On our way back to the main road, we stopped for some really cool, bright red pompom flowers beckoning from the bush and dainty white blooms lining the road.

Back on the main road, it was getting late in the afternoon and, at the first opportune tree we saw, we pulled of the road to park for the night. As we got off the road and under the tree, we felt Trokkie sinking into soft sand. I got panicky already, but Stefaan was very relaxed about it: we would sleep on it and tackle the problem in the morning! A short while later a (small) 4×4 truck stopped. He had seen we had sunk into the soft sand and offered to pull us out. Stefaan said we were ok and he moved on. We slept very peacefully that night. We had experienced that the road was very badly potholed and we figured that only a madman would drive over these roads at night at full speed!

While we were having coffee the next morning, another 4×4 truck stopped with the same offer for help. But Stefaan repeated his “we’re ok”!

When it was eventually time to leave, I got a bit nervous and had visions again of him manoevring Trokkie forwards and backwards in the hope of getting traction and digging ourselves deeper in, but low and behold… we had to only do a one time forward and backward and we were out.

We had read that all permits and camp bookings for Moremi must be done in Maun, gateway to the Okavango Delta, so off we went to the start of our Delta adventure!

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