Days 31 and 32

September 20, 2012 - Grootfontein, Namibia

Early on the day we left Livingstone Sue’s kind workers gave our car a good wash.  Couldn’t believe how bright and shiney it was after weeks of being covered in dust.  And we had a lovely breakfast prepared by Eunice, her delightful cook.  So we dragged ourselves away a bit later than intended with many promises to come back and stay longer next time.

The road to Katima Mulilo, where we crossed the border into Namibia is a long straight tar road, but sorely in need of repair in some places with huge potholes, so not an easy drive as one has to be on the lookout all the time.  At the border on the Zambian side, the customs and immigration office is a little old house in a dusty car park with crumbling steps.  As you park, you are accosted by moneychangers offering to change Kwatcha to dollars and vice versa.  The office itself is a single counter and rather rudimentary queue and you have to be pretty firm with locals who push past with various bits of paper, etc that need stamps.  After filling in various tatty looking books and having pour passports stamped we drove to the gate and over the other side to the Namibian offices.  Quite a contrast as they have a large hall with air-conditioning and separate counters for immigration, road clearance and customs.  Again, getting our passports stamped was no problem, but the customs officer seemed a little confused when we showed him the list of our cameras, electronic equipment, etc that we had to draw up on leaving SA.  He asked us what we were doing with the cameras and had to check with his superior, but eventually just stamped our list with an official-looking stamp and told us to move on.  As we had no Namibian money, we couldn’t pay the road tax, but that is no problem in Namibia.  You just drive into town, change some money into the local currency at a bank and then there is an office at the local Total garage where you pay the road tax.  What a change from the entry into Zambia at Kariba!

Then  a quick stop at Pick n Pay in Katima Mulilo in Namibia.  Everything here seems far more organised, and what a pleasure to shop in Namibian Dollars which have the same value as the Rand.  After that the long straight road (220km) to the Popa Falls (no formal settlements at all) which is in excellent condition, although one does have to look out  for livestock which does tend to wander into and across the road, and although we didn‘t see them, elephants can be a problem as well, we gather.  The rural settlements in Namibia seem to be much larger and  better organised and neater than those in Zambia, and there isn’t the same amount of degradation due to fire here.  There are still stalls along the road selling produce, but not as much as it is much drier so vegetable farming is minimal.  There are, however, lots of stalls with thatching grass as well as pottery and some wooden statues and crafts.

The Popa Falls are on the Okavango River where it crosses the Caprivi Strip (Namibia) and runs into the Okavango Delta.  It is very dry at this time of year, but will be in full spate in November when the Delta fills up.  At Popa Falls we stayed at the Popa falls Resort and our campsite was next to a side stream of the Okavango River  and a short walk from the Popa Falls themselves.  The Falls aren’t really a waterfall at all, but a series of rapids.  Very beautiful, but not in the same class as Vic Falls.  But then we didn’t have to pay US$10 per person to see them.  Nice campsite, good ablutions, and the sound of rushing water to sooth us to sleep.  Lovely evening!

Today has been a long drive again on a looooong straight road with very little besides rural settlements.  220 km from Popa Falls to Rundu (also on the river)  where we stopped for coffee and a bite to eat at the local Safari Lodge and then another 250km or so to Grootfontein, where we are camped for the night.  It is their annual show here so we were lucky to get accommodation.  Thinking of hitting the nightlife tonight - perhaps there’s a disco in town!!!


elephant scratching croc valley
goodbye Zambia

1 Comment

September 21, 2012
It's been wondeful reading you news every day nut it seems as if nothing much has changed in central africa since I was there 40 years ago. Poor services, poor people, poor roads !!!
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