With very little sleep and full of excitement we hit the road at about 04:00 on Tuesday morning and set off.
The South African leg of the day was fairly uneventful, although the extortionate toll fees (R71.00) outside Zeerust took all our breaths away as the road was riddled with potholes from there on.
The border crossing, both the South African and Botswana sides were quick and hassle free. We did need to provide the South Africans with the serial numbers
of our digital equipment which meant an extra walk back to the cars. All in all though, I was impressed.
The roads in Botswana were in excellent condition and we just had to keep an eye on the speed as for every village the limit dropped down to 80km/h, and the cops are not lenient at all when it comes to speeding.
Jwaneng was our first stop for fuel, well, fuel for the Pajero Sport as the Amarok was barely on half a tank and we took that opportunity to dump some fuel of our own. When Jenece returned from the loo at the garage she told us it was one Pula for the keys. I saw her walking with a slip and handing that to the attendant as proof of payment so Jason and I went on our way and paid our two Pula. We didn’t get a slip, we got the actual key for the toilet and even the locals walking by laughed at the fact one of us didn’t wait round the corner for the other to arrive with the key in tow. Either way, it was a Pula well spent!
We left Jwaneng and made our way to Kang where we would spend our first night.
The accomodation in Kang was much better than expected, the lodge/resort was very clean and tidy, friendly staff and they had everything we needed, namely a bed and a restaurant. We had a two person room, however, for a small fee they put an extra mattress in the room for a third person. When the mattress arrived we promptly decided to make other sleeping arrangements as there was a large, grumpy, tok-tokkie that had lodged itself between the mattress and it’s plastic covering.
We walked across the parking lot to the restaurant and indulged in a surprisingly delicious meal and some not-so-delicious local beer. After dinner we retired to the room and made use of the large fire pit just outside. Sitting in the dark in the middle of nowhere with a fire and brandy was a spectacular first night of the trip.
The Brandy had the desired effect and added to the confusion when we heard some rather large footsteps on the dirt road behind us. Eventually the truth was revealed and walking down the middle of the road was a donkey. He was casually making his way down to where-ever-he-was-going while we laughed at the sheer randomness of the encounter.
Bed time arrived, sorry the brandy prevents me from remembering what time that was, when idle threats of smothering Jason for snoring were made. I did have to hang my head in shame the next morning when it was my own snoring that woke us up on many occasions.
It was a very early rise the next morning as we had another day of just short of 800km to drive. 4:30 we were up, getting packed and I was refueling the Amarok for the first time on the trip. Jason filled up for the second time and we were off.
The first leg was not easy going. Pitch darkness, even with a sky full of stars, and many animals next to the road. Just some of the things we got to see as our headlights darted across them were: Kudu, Jackal, Donkeys, Cows and a Porcupine!
First stop was Ghanzi, about 270km from Kang for a loo break and some more fuel for Jason. That Pajero Sport is a thirsty beast! Here we encountered our first road block where our vehicles were inspected for road worthiness and to ensure all our documentation was in order.
Leaving Ghanzi and heading towards Maun we picked up a terrible headwind which disagreed with the, so far, excellent fuel consumption I was getting in the Amarok. The roads were still in great condition and apart from the wind, the drive was fairly comfortable. About an hour outside of Ghanzi we had the misfortune of seeing a cow get hit by an oncoming truck. The terror and confusion in her eyes weighs heavily in our hearts still today.
We headed up to Sehithwa before leaving the Maun road and here the road took a massive turn for the worst. It was the road in the worst condition that far on the trip and now looking back, was one of the worst roads of the whole trip. Many potholes and lots of broken sections of road. We pushed on though and were still making very good progress.
We pushed on north around the western side of the Okavango Delta and made another stop in Gumare, again for Jason to refuel. There wasn’t really much of a road there, nor much of a town but the Shell fuel station was a great place to stop and stretch the legs.
We headed up to Shakawe before crossing the border to see if we could A) Get more fuel for Jason and B) Get hold of some bacon, we were craving big time. In Shakawe we found a Choppies supermarket and after navigating around the livestock in the parking lot and the gentleman at the door with a very large, and very bloody hacksaw, went looking for bacon. Sadly, we left without as no one there even seemed to know what bacon was. That was a good indication for us as to how remote we actually were.
The border crossing into Namibia was painless and uneventful. We did have to wait a bit on the Namibian side as the people ahead of us had some sort of passport issue.
What we didn’t realise once we left the border post was that we’d be in a game reserve. So, 10km later we emerged into Namibia proper and were already impressed with the condition of the roads. A few kilometres later we found and took the turn off for Ngepi Camp, where we’d be spending the next three nights.