For some reason the below track doesn’t start from Windhoek, but we started in Windhoek, headed for Maun, Botswana. A cool line, so I cropped it to show the width of Africa down this far south
And that’s our route, Windhoek to Gobabis to Ghanzi to Maun, through the Kalahari. A three day ride
The normal way into Botswana is via the extreme NE corner of Namibia, but we’ve already ridden to Etosha and didn’t want to repeat that much road.
Maun is at the lower corner of the Okavango Delta
Which looks like this. Depending on the season, it’s between 2300 and 5800 square miles.
There’ll be an Okavango post in a week, so we’ll leave more until then
A day and a half to the border. Big roadkill. There are donkeys, goats, horse and cattle beside the road frequently
Leaving Namibia. I set up for the border at a close town, Gobabis, so I was early and alone. Exiting Namibia immigration was virtually instant after filling out the standard short form. Closing the Carnet at customs was just as fast
I was expecting hell at the Botswana half because of the long list of theoretical requirements, all of which I had ready, but few were asked for. So I was through in about 15 minutes
Then the final guys. They check the form that shows you’ve seen immigration and customs, and if they want to, tear down the bike and you for carrying something you shouldn’t. They let me through with no fuss
And into the Kalahari. A few landscapes
I rode along side an ostrich for a surprisingly long time. Long enough to get the camera out of the tank bag and start filming, which with one hand has to be done slowly and carefully, lol
Hot as hell, which is why we start early. Here the sun isn’t directly overhead, which it will be shortly. A donkey and baby
Cattle seem less fussed, but head for shade at about 38C
Big nests of big twigs. Not weavers probably
And into Ghanzi for the night
Sexanana bar looked inviting but dead mid-afternoon
So do laundry instead. Wall fixtures are easier than my micro-clothesline. Looks like I was a day behind on the underpants
Gas up the next morning
And more Kalahari and more heat
There were only a few roadside villages
I don’t know the tribe yet
And a small diversion into the town of Sehithwa. White sand, incredibly hot!
I was curious about whether the lake shown on the OSM GPS map was actually there, or seasonal
The tracks4africa map is more informative. I’ve been switching between the two as I ride along. The OSM has a lot more detail, the T4A is more overland specific
The houses are spaced out generously with random tracks between them
A store. I stopped to have a look. Just a few basic dry goods
Downtown. General store, bar, post office, all that in this building
Other than the cage, the bar looks great. Standing and bullshitting is always best
This is a very big thing, and you can see why. The Botswana Herero fled here from Namibia during what they call the “Hitler war”. Those hats were designed to copy the effect of cows horns. From wiki:
The most distinctive feature of Herero women’s dress is their horizontal horned headdress, the otjikalva, which is a symbol of respect, worn to pay homage to the cows that have historically sustained the Herero. The headdresses can be formed from rolled-up newspaper covered in fabric. They are made to match or coordinate with dresses, and decorative brooches and pins attached to the centre front. Anthropologist Dr Lutz Marten writes: “A correctly worn long dress induces in the wearer a slow and majestic gait.” The overall intended effect is for the woman to resemble a plump, slow-moving cow. In photographs, Herero women adopt the ‘cow pose’, with their arms raised, palms upwards.
More fascinating detail here
But what you immediately notice is the Botswana hats have been pushed forwards into a bill, perhaps for additional shade. The volume of material in the dresses is sometimes huge
Sitting outside the bar, drinking water, and this group walks by
They’re community organizers, hence the vests. Check out the Herero woman gathering up all her material before sitting
I loved her.
Truth be told, to me African women are the most beautiful in the world. I am stunned several times a day
On both maps a road is shown crossing the lake graphic. I ride out
To the ‘coastline’ the GPS shows, but nothing, Dry I suppose for another month or two
A hilariously western looking gas station right in town
Converting from Pula, gas is $1.26 a litre CDN
And on for a few more hours. As we approached Maun the trees grew bigger and the avenue became impressive. It was impossible not to grin about something, undefined
To the first fresh water I’ve seen since the karst collapse near Etosha, and the first river I’ve seen since the flood in Maltahohe. This runs through Maun. It looks miraculous
Now here’s a thing, below, that’s a real problem for moto travellers in Botswana. A typical page from a tourist map book shows great landscapes, none of which are accessible on bike. Every page of this book is like this. Botswana is sand. I have fast learned from others that this is one of the great places in Africa, but you need a 4X4 and to be set up for extended camping. The alternative thing to do is go on guided multi-day safari which is incredibly expensive. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do about this
And we’ll end there for Christmas.