For the entry to Tanzania we wanted to do everything right and have applied for an e-visa in the assumption that this should be approved at lightning speed, since everything is an automated process. Yes, that was probably nothing, because after 5 days we still have not heard anything and the status on the homepage shows that it is still in progress. Unfortunately, we also read the fine print too late, because it says that the processing process can take 10 days or longer. After 6 days we don't feel like waiting anymore and drive to the border. On the way there we get the message that the visa has been approved. We are happy, but unfortunately too early. The friendly lady at the counter tells us that we will get an email with the details and without that we can't do anything. We decide to wait one hour. Our helper takes care of the insurance, road fees, SIM card and whatever else is needed. After an hour of waiting, of course, there is still no mail. The helper says that this can take weeks. Great. So we buy a visa on arrival for $50 per person, which we should have done better. A short time later everything is done and we are inside. By the way, the visa e-mail arrives after exactly 10 days. With it we can enter as much as we want within one year. Let's see if we really want that....
In Kasane we cross the border into Zambia. Thanks to a detailed travel sheet from our travel friends Susa & Pit we know what to expect and in which order we have to go to which counter. After about two hours everything is done and we are about $200 poorer, which has to be paid in various fees for road use, insurance, bridge tolls and other small things. Everything is very civilized and extremely friendly and courteous. We had not expected that. A funny anecdote at the conclusion of the obligatory insurance is still worth mentioning. After the boss has filled out a completely incomprehensible note for a good 10 minutes without a word, he wants $50. Wait a minute, let's say, two days ago our friends went through here with a similar car and only paid $40, how so? He smiles and says, then just $40. Welcome to Zambia, where, by the way, at all official payment points you are told in big letters, say no to corruption.
Our first stop is Livingstone. Here we want to have another look at the Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River plunges more than 100 meters into the depths in its 2.5 kilometer width, from the other side. And it was really worth it. In September 2022, we were able to see it from Zimbabwe, including a helicopter flight. The view from the Zambian side is completely different. In addition, there is much more water and we are wet to the skin after the two-hour tour. That was really fun.
We are looking forward to Etosha National Park, which is highly praised for its wildlife. We take the entrance through the north gate and drive a good three hours over dusty tracks with many springbok, wildebeest, zebra, elephant and giraffe. The big cats are still hiding, at least for us. In the afternoon we drive to our campground in Namatoni. At the entrance we experience an extraordinary surprise. Jörg and Dirk from Stuttgart come to meet us. We spent a few beautiful days with them on Easter Island in 2014. We are completely speechless in view of this incredible coincidence. We spend the evening together in the restaurant and have a lot to tell each other.
After almost 4 months of home leave, during which we were also able to welcome two new grandchildren, we are finally going on tour again in mid-April. Qatar Airways brings us relaxed to Windhoek where MOMO waits patiently for us. After some service work and a few days in the Urban Camp we leave Windhoek for Swakopmund. We spend our first night at Uitkyk Lodge surrounded by giraffes, springboks and ostriches. Unfortunately, we did not see the two rhinos that also hang around on the farm.
On roads that are drawn with a ruler over hundreds of kilometers we drive to Aus. There we stop for the night at the Klein Aus Vista Campground and make a beautiful hike to a viewpoint in the rocks with a view of the endless expanse of the Namib-Naukluft NP. Here there is actually still a herd of wild horses of about 100 animals that live here in this inhospitable area and have come to terms with the adverse conditions. In the sand someone has drawn a horse with stones that you can see very well from above from 600m height.
On the Trans Kalahari Highway, we quickly reach Namibia, together with Mongolia, the most sparsely populated country in the world. Until the First World War, the former South West Africa was a German colony and in many places one encounters German cultural heritage, be it the naming, the architecture, or the cuisine. Today, about 30,000 ethnic Germans live in Namibia in the fourth or fifth generation and surprisingly, most of them speak accent-free High German, which is strongly encouraged by many German schools. For us it is a bit unusual to hear German almost everywhere or to be addressed in German.
In Windhoek we go to the Urban Campground which almost every traveler knows, and where one can drink in the good restaurant a freshly tapped Hansa beer, brewed after German purity law. There we also meet Ivonne & Rene again with whom we have already spent a few nice days in South Africa at the beginning of the year.
But now our MOMO has to be serviced in the workshop. Unfortunately, it turns out that the bearings of the rear axle were made only provisionally in South Africa, which means that the complete rear axle is no longer usable. After the first shock is digested we take it easy and book ourselves into a guesthouse for a few days. There we spend our time at the pool or in one of the numerous good restaurants nearby. In between, we take a look at the city and stroll through the pedestrian zone.
The border crossing to Botswana near Kasane goes smoothly. Because of the foot and mouth disease we have to undergo a disinfection procedure for us and the tires of our car. The soles of our shoes are bathed in a puddle, then the nice lady wants to have a look into our refrigerator, but she can't get up the stairs because of its considerable volume. Without further ado she looks at the whole thing from below and Karin shows her some ice cubes from the freezer. She is satisfied and we are allowed to pass.
After a few kilometers there is already a supermarket that finally has an offer without asking horrendous prices. Then we get a new SIM card with 15GB data and we are ready for everything that may come.
When Botswana became independent in 1966, it was one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. But then diamonds were discovered in the Kalahari in 1967 and that boosted the economy. Just 20 years later, the country boasted the world's second-highest economic growth rate. However, diamond reserves will be depleted in less than half a century and already the global economic crisis shows how devastatingly dependent Botswana is on its diamond exports. Already today, one in four people of working age is unemployed, and among young people as many as one in three. Due to the natural beauty of the country, such as the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari and the huge salt pans, it is obvious that tourism is of great importance as a foreign exchange-generating economic factor. However, the focus is on luxury tourism with prices of 500 euros/person/day and more. The country has little interest in individual travelers and makes traveling difficult with extremely high park entrance fees, which were increased again by 100% in April of this year. So it is no wonder that the average tourist spends just 5 days in the country. We are now faced with the challenge of finding the best way to visit this country.
In Kasane, we settle in at the campground of Thebe Lodge and take a very nice 3-hour boat trip on the Chobe River.
After a relaxing 10 days in the Forever Resort with hot pool and all other amenities of civilization, we make our way to Zimbabwe at the end of August. Shortly before the border we have to wait two days because of a general strike and spend them with Arno & Carmen who run a butchery here on a huge farm area. In the season, the hunters deliver freshly shot game almost daily, which Arno then processes directly with his helpers. We fill our fridge with fresh Oryx steaks and sausages from Kudu and Impala and thank them again very much for their hospitality.
Today we go again into the Kruger Park. We take the Orpen Gate, about in the middle of the park. Already after a few kilometers we discover a bird of prey sitting on a branch fork and eating its prey. A little further on we see two cheetahs, but unfortunately they are quite far away. Only with a lot of imagination one recognizes their outlines on the pictures. Otherwise not much happens on the 70 kilometers and around eleven o'clock we arrive at Satara Camp and settle in for two days. In the late afternoon we go for a sunset drive and see elephants, giraffes, hyenas and an ostrich, but unfortunately no big cats. Well, it can't always work out.
For Manfred's birthday we want to spoil ourselves and book two days in a safari lodge. The private game reserve Balule with the Pondoro Game Lodge lies in the area of the so-called Greater Kruger Park and is no longer delimited by fences for some years, so that an unhindered migration of the animals is possible. On the day before the birthday we arrive at the lodge around noon and are given a very warm welcome. Our suite is much larger than MOMO and from the terrace we have a beautiful view of the Olifants River.