Livingstone into Botswana; The worst border-crossing ever; Sunset cruise into Chobe National park; Warthogs as campsite pests

The newly-assembled tour packed up and left Livingstone in the morning after a very wet and uncomfortable night. I myself had hardly slept at all. Normally I enjoy the sound of rain on a tent roof, but everything was very damp and I couldn’t work out if I was cold or hot, and there was a mosquito in the tent biting my ankles, and so on and so forth. I finally slept a bit, but it was with great relief that I greeted the muddy dawn. I must say, though, that after three days of clockwork afternoon thunderstorms and overnight rain, we’re all getting very tired of the mud. I feel like I’m in the trenches at Normandy in World War One.

It wasn’t long after we left that we reached the border between Zambia and Boswana. I’ve seen a lot of dodgy border-crossings in our travels, but I can say that this one was the worst. We pulled up to a tall chain-link fence on one side of which was a crowd of ragged families and vendors selling scrappy food, and on the other was a giant gridlocked traffic-jam of big transport trucks. The border-crossing itself is a ferry that chugs across the Zambezi. On one side is Zambia and on the other, Botswana. The ferry can only take one vehicle at a time, so there was a huge mess on the Zambian side and a huge queue on the Botswana side. None of the trucks were interested in crossing into Botswana, for some reason. Both sides were a giant swamp of mud and deep-gouged tire tracks. It took us ages to find where to go to get our Zambian exit stamps - it turned out to be a smelly rundown building with a window and counter opening onto what looked and smelled like a garbage dump at the back of the traffic jam. The Botswana side was much more obvious, though no cleaner or nicer. The ferry itself was an ancient junkheap, I wasn’t sure it was even going to make it to the other side. On the whole, a border-crossing I could have done without, though it’s always nice to be under way again and to see a new country.

Ferry Crossing into Botswana from Zambia

The highways in Botswana are good, at least - they’ve been getting better and better as we get further south on the continent. Judging from the number of trucks we saw lined up at the border Botswana forms a part of some major transport route from South Africa to points north. We arrived at a little town just after noon for food-shopping and at the campground a couple of hours later. The first thing we noticed at the campsite was a family of warthogs - one wart-sow and four cute little wart-piglets. They wandered around quite fearlessly - we probably could have petted them, if we were inclined to do such things as petting warthogs. The babies, believe it or not, were kind of cute.

That evening there was another sunset cruise on the river, though this one differed substantially in tone from our last drunken escapade at Livingstone. This one was a sedate three-hour drift down the river and back. We saw hippos and elephants, antelopes and crocodiles and many birds. The best were the elephants, of course. I’ve never seen so many in one place. There were four herds - easily a hundred animals altogether. The adults are enchanting to watch, but the babies stole the show. Until they’re a couple of months old they can’t use their trunks to drink with, so they have to plunge their whole head under the water and they come up with their cheeks puffed out like chipmunks. One little guy was old enough to try using his trunk, but he couldn’t quite get the hang of it and could only blow air bubbles into the water like a kid playing with a straw in his drink.

Hippo with Elephants in the background


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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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