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.