Year 2_Week 10 – 11
We had to go round four ATM’s this morning before we found one that either worked, had money in it, or accepted a foreign VISA card. But at least we now had enough cash for fuel and for the border crossing. At most crossings there are a few shady characters hanging around to change your currencies for you – usually they’re appalling exchange rates, and today was no exception. But with no large towns on the horizon we felt we had no choice. So, we eventually got into Zambia, which didn’t look much different from the last 4 countries, but which was very lovely nonetheless.
Had a long’ish day to get to the capital, Lusaka – the roads are occasionally pot-holed and bumpy, so we couldn’t really get any decent speed up. And rather than get lost in the middle of the city decided to stay on the outskirts. But we found a quiet motel-cum-lodge which had an OK restaurant, so we were happy. The temperatures have certainly reduced now, so it’s fairly pleasant riding at about 22 degrees, and OK when we stop too.
We decided to stay a few days in Livingstone, so found ourselves a reasonable campsite with a bar right on the Zambezi River. But this wasn’t the highlight – we caught a taxi, and lo and behold we were at Victoria Falls. What an incredible sight – we got thoroughly soaked but it was just amazing. Definitely “the thunder that roars”.
Victoria Falls, Zambia side.
We had a few miles to do to get to the next border. And this one also involved a pontoon ferry crossing, to get into Botswana. The roads were pretty good, and one of the first things we saw was three large elephants crossing – not surprisingly we gave way to them. Yet another incredible sight.
No barriers in sight.
There seems to have been an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in South Africa, so every so often there are police barriers and agriculture inspectors making you drive through sheep-dips and asking you to get out any other shoes, so that they can be swabbed as well. And dance on a piece of soaked sacking.
The road was OK to begin with, and then it was “under construction” - for the next 160km. So that was a lot of fun. But the biggest surprise was how many Mercedes, Audi and BMW cars there are – I hadn’t expected to see luxury cars until we got to South Africa. Botswana is definitely more affluent than the other countries we’ve seen so far.
Some people at the campsite came over and invited us for coffee before we left this morning. They were originally from North Rhodesia but were forced to leave when there was a ‘redistribution of wealth’. They were lovely people, and forced us to take some of their homemade rusks for breakfast, which were very welcome.
Guess where, Botswana.
And to our final border crossing – to South Africa. The place was almost deserted, but still took around an hour to sort out our paperwork. The roads were excellent (apart from the detour in Mafeking where the detour signs ran out and we couldn’t get back to the main road). The most surprising thing is that the rural areas resemble outback Australia – even the colonial-style single storey houses are the same. This is their winter, and the temperature has definitely dropped – we even had to put back in our Goretex liners.
Different scenery and skies, SA.
Stopped at a place called Jeffrey’s Bay, which is a well-known surfing spot apparently. We found a motel opposite the beach, and decided to stay a few days, since it’s got Internet access, and we need to try and arrange our shipping back to England. The original plan was to ride back up the west side of Africa, but we’ve curtailed the trip to stop at Cape Town now, just because it seems the right thing to do. It seems like ages since we last saw the sea – this one is the Indian Ocean, and it means we’ve travelled from the north of the continent to the south, which is good enough for us.
The Indian Ocean.
Posted by Sheila Oldfield at May 13, 2011 09:28 AM GMT