Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Elephants, crocs, hippos, buffaloes, birds, baboons, deer and antelopes
Fortunately, nothing bad happened last night. I left the hostel at 8am. The security and his friend were nowhere in sight. I rode to Ngoma Bridge, a quiet border post. Border crossing was easy but I was scammed by the Botswanan customs officer. From my reading, I knew that I need to pay 110 Pula (Botswanan currency) + 50 Pula (insurance) for a double entry, which equals to USD17. But to my surprise, I was charged way too much by the officer, USD71. She sternly showed me the “take it or leave it” attitude. I was very disappointed but I had no choice. This is Africa. It’s not uncommon for such a thing to happen in this part of the world.
I continued riding on a very deserted road to Kasane, a small town at the edge of Chobe National Park. Kasane is the place where you can see water and land wildlife and people come here to experience its infamous cruise along Chobe River. I took a boat tour which was amazing. I managed to see some crocs, hippos, African water buffaloes, birds, baboons, deer and lots of antelopes during the 3 hours tour. The closest the boat get to a croc lazing on the grass was about 3 meters.
The tour was really fun except that I felt a bit frustrated as I didn’t see any elephants. I was told that you can see hundreds of elephants in this river, but I wonder where did the elephants go that day?
The sun was setting by the time I reached my campsite. I hurriedly pitched my tent, prayed and had a really delicious Sharifah Foods Gam Briyani for dinner.
I rode about 11 km to Kazungula which is a very small town bordering Botswana with Zimbabwe and Zambia. Most over landers will opt for the ferry ride from this border into Zambia, but its costly and not worth it if you only spend little time in the country. So I chose to enter ZIM instead. A decision which many warned me against and advised me not to, due to corrupt authorities. Well, if you don’t try, how would you know how your luck going to be, right?
The next day I rode to Kazungula border. The road was under construction, so it was potholes and sandy for approximately 5 km. Border crossing was straightforward. The ZIM immigration officer is a biker, so he was happy to see a female advrider. I had to entertain lots of his questions until I became the centre of attraction that even the tourists at the border took pics with me. It was a proud moment to tell all of them that I’m from Malaysia ?Then it was a quiet ride to Victoria Falls town. It’s just me, and the jungle dwellers. Again, I noticed some giraffes, but only after the ‘trees’ moving. HAHAHA. The giraffes are disguised very well in the trees. They were very fast too and I didn’t get the chance to take any pics. Victoria Falls was located in between of Zimbabwe and Zambia. I rode to the border and parked my bike at the parking lot. After stamping my passport, I walked 2 km into Zambia. I stopped by at the famous Victoria Falls Bridge to witness the falls. Only a bit of it could be seen from here.Then I entered Zambia. I went to the ticket office to purchase Victoria Falls ticket but was surprised to learn that the ticket was only USD20, not USD30 as my internet research had said. But very soon afterward, I knew why that was so.
I walked into the park and saw a tiny fall. Where was the supposedly half a million-litre gushing water per minute? Where was the mist and rainbow as it should be? NOTHING!!! Then only I found out that I came in the wrong season. Its dry season now. No wonder the entrance fee was only USD20. Haihhh… A mind note, the best time to come here is April – June.
I stayed one night in Victoria Falls town and then rode back into Botswana. It was crazily hot and I was soooo tired. There are lots of warning signs to alert road users to beware of wildlife.
For the first time since my African Ride, it was only on my way to Francistown that I managed to see wild elephants. Not once but three times!!! The first time, I spotted the elephant from about 150 meters away. The elephant was enjoying the green leaves just by the roadside. I waited for 15 mins but there’s no sign that the elephant will leave the place. The road was as usual, deserted. I waited until a car came to my rescue. I rode side by side with the car to pass the elephant. This was my first experience riding on a road shared with a wild elephant.
The second time, I saw the elephant eating grass about 80 meters from the road. I stopped my bike, switched off the engine and observed the animal for about 10 minutes. Elephants are territorial animal. They won’t attack you if you keep a safe distance from them.I was caught off guard for the third time. I didn’t notice the elephant at all as the side of the road was filled with tall bushes. It was only when I arrived, I saw it – only about 15 meters from me. It was BIG, STRONG AND NOT FRIENDLY AT ALL!!! This is my first time to encounter a wild elephant this close. I was hesitating, should I stop my bike or not? It’s an opportunity cum danger. When I saw the elephant started to shake his head and ears, I knew very well that the elephant was ready to charge me. So I pressed the throttle and rode as fast as my bike could take me. Phewwww…..
In Botswana, I spent the night in Francistown and Gaborone and later ride all the way south to South Africa.