Let’s go to Zambia!
Today is the day of our first border crossing! We woke up and finally Devon was coming around. The heat exhaustion was almost entirely behind him, luckily because we had to cross our first border today. We skipped showering because the bathrooms were open air and a ton of bugs and random small animals were skittering about. Another breakfast of leftover rice and scrambled eggs, and we hit the road.
It didn’t take long before we got near the border where Namibia meets Botswana and Zambia. At home, Devon insisted we had to go to Botswana first and then into Zambia. Now faced with the choice he impulsively decided to use the other border and go straight into Zambia.
Crossing Borders in Southern Africa
We can only speak from our experience with border crossings however here are some things we recommend preparing for.
1. Be polite! Smile, ask each official how they are doing, and do not lose patience with the process.
2. Have all your documents together as you enter the building. People may try to push you out of the way so get your bearings and gently nudge your way forward to the official window/desk. Bringing a rental vehicle? Bring all rental documents and make sure you have forms from the rental agency advising border officials that you are authorized to import the vehicle.
3. There will most likely be a heat gun scanner set up near the entrance. This is to see if you are sick and have a fever. You may get a health certificate after your scan that you need to pass into the border officials.
4. There will many different fees to pay, we recommend travelling with American money as a back up and try to exchange some before getting to the border if possible. Alternatively, some border crossings have small exchange bureaus where you can exchange for the new currency you will need. Last resort, there are always people around selling currency. Ensure you have a good handle on what the exchange is before you arrive to make sure you get a fair price.
5. Be confident and trust the process. Even if you don’t know what you are doing, look confident and ask officials for assistance on what to do and where to go next. There will be people milling around offering to help you and it can be very overwhelming. Be polite but firm if you don’t want the help and always be aware of your surroundings. If you do want help, set the terms ahead of time and make sure to keep your passport with you.
Once we got through the border we realized why we were supposed to go into Botswana first. In order to get to Livingston we needed to take a road that was literally called the M10 Potholes on our GPS. We experienced our fair share of poor road conditions but this took it to another level.
The road looked like it had been bombed and never repaired. Some of the holes were much larger than our Toyota Hilux truck. We averaged around 30 kilometres an hour and were often driving in the ditch.
We experienced more poverty than we had seen in Namibia, with kids and teens waiting around the large potholes running at our truck with their hands to their mouths looking for food. They waited in areas where we had to slow down due to road conditions and would run at us. It was very emotional for us. We wanted to stop but were advised many times to avoid this for safety reasons so we felt stuck.
Livingstone, I Presume…
When we made it to Livingstone we drove straight to the The Victoria Falls Waterfront Lodge where we had a reservation for a tenting site. As we pulled in we were greeted by a troop of Vervet Monkeys! The first monkeys we’d seen! After such a tough and draining day I convinced Devon to upgrade to a room when we realized the “tent” area was filled with loads of 20 something year old partiers. Not quite our crowd and would’ve been hard to sleep!
Our room wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, the shower and toilet didn’t work and overall smelled very strongly of gasoline. At least there was a bed net to help with the massive mosquito area.
We went to the restaurant and had a delicious meal before calling it a night. The chase to Devil’s Pool starts tomorrow!