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Entry 19 // A Long Detour

Update by: Nick | February 19th 2011

We woke up early excited for our drive through Chobe. We were even more excited to find out the roads were more of a two track. 200 miles of two track and wild animals sounded awesome.The sand was tough to drive through with all out gear. It was going to be a long day. After 10 miles or so we reached to entrance to Chobe. Apparently this was not the section of Chobe you drive motorcycles through. The guards woudn't let us through. This meant we had to back track and add roughly 300 miles onto our day. I guess there was nothing to do but turn around. Lucky for us there was an different road to take back to the village we spent the night at; and this one had wildlife along the way. It's so amazing to be cruising down the road and look over and see an elephant. Naturally we had to get off the bikes and investigate.We kept driving along the road with our eyes peeled for animals. The road was tough, but still better than the sandy two track. This was the muddy two track with dried up elephant tracks making 1 foot deep holes in the ground. It was rough, but better than sand. After a few miles of that we saw our first ever giraffe (not counting zoos). We almost missed them. How do you miss a 20 ft tall animal on the side of the road? Of course we stopped and took some pictures. Man, do those things run goofy.We spotted a few more elephants along the way. This time we didn't investigate.On our way back to the city we needed to turn at to start the detour, we ran into the guard at the road block from the night before. He laughed at us and we had a good time cracking jokes. He was pretty excited to sit on our bikes.The turn to start our detour was pretty large, so we decided to fill up and eat before our 200 mile drive to the next city. We ate at a restraunt a local mentioned, Bimbo Burger. We would not recommend it. Luke got the size large pita thingy for about $10.Yeah, that's we thought too. It wasn't very large. We hauled the mail for the next 100 miles without stopping (an accomplishment for us) untill we came to a gas station. Typically we like to get gas every 100 miles since we only have roughly a 200 mile range when we are driving fast. Luke decided to fill up, I didn't. FYI I only have a mastercard and I found out that in Namibia and Botswana some ATMs will only accept Visa (sucks to be me) so I have to be very carefull about how much money I have and know where to get cash out next. I decide to wait for the larger city to gas up. Luke had his tank topped off which added up to 90 Pula (about $15). The funny part (for me) was Luke didn't have enough money to pay and there was no ATM to get any money out. Together we had 60 Pula, not enough for the gas. Luke suggested using a can to give them the gas back, but they didn't understand much of what we were saying. Luke gave the guy $10 on top of our 60 Pula to cover the cost. He accepted, but seemed pretty confused to what was going on.We arrived at the larger city around dusk and bought some gas. We still wanted to make it to the Botswana/Zambian border night so we decided to eat since it would probably be our last chance. This time the food was a decent price. It was about $3 each for rice, beef stew and a coke. Plus we figured the food must have been fresh. They keep meat running around instead of in a freezer. This meal put the size large Bimbo pita to shame.Now we only had 200 miles left to drive for the day. The good news is it was now getting dark out. The better news is that out of that 200 miles about 150 were through a game park. The ladies at the gate thought we were nuts for driving through at night on motorcycles, they thought for sure we would be eaten or hit an elephant. They refused to get on the back of our bikes and ride through it with us. They may have been on to something. about a half a mile past the road the block we saw an elephant 10 feet off the road. We decide to drive side by side at 50 mph the whole time, it's a good thing we have communication systems so we can talk to each other. After a few more miles we run into some more elephants. Let me tell you, trying to spot elephants in the road is hard. They are harder to see than the deer in Michigan. You wouild think a walking toolshed would be easy to spot.We spent the next 4 hours dodging elephants and hyenas. I know, we are doing really bad with our rule of no driving at night. No only are we doing bad, but we are doing it on the worst possible roads. We pull up to the boarder town around midnight. And we are tired! Before town though we almost hit a heard of buffalo.We couldn't find anyplace to sleep so we pitched our tent next to the gate of a hotel. The guards were cool with it, and woke us up as soon as it was light outside.
Exiting Botswana was easy. Even with trying to get the correct papers stampted so we could get our money back from customs in South Africa. I think it only took us 20 minutes. Then we got to ride a sweet ferry to Zambia. They could only take one truck at a time and the trucks were backed up for miles. Good thing about motorcycles is they can weasel us on pretty easy. The ferries were top notch too. They were powered by two desiel motors on the side and never raised their gate.Getting out of Botswana was easy, but getting into Zambia sucked. First you were surrounded by people trying to con you, or help you out for a fee. Some wanted to watch our bikes, others wanted to be our customs agent. We went to immigration to get our passport stamed and was welcomed with a $50 visa fee. We didn't have any Kwatcha (Zambian currency) but they accepted US dollars. We didn't have enough money for both of us. We then found out they didn't have an ATM on this side of the boarder. We did some thinking and decided to see if we had enough money for one of us to get through, the other could run to an ATM and get money out for the other. We start that process and found out the boarder was pain. We needed 6 things: Visa, Temporary Import, Carbon Tax, Counsil Levy, Road Tax, and Insurance. We got the visa with no problem. Then we got the Temporary import without a problem, and it didn't even cost any money. Then it was time to get the Carbon Tax, which you could only pay in Kwatcha, which we didn't have. It didn't help that the money exchange place was closed. This meant we had to see about exchanging money with the people on the street. We've heard stories of this not working out very well, but we check it out anyway. A customs agent take us to a guy he says is legit. We try changing money and of course they try to short change us, which we don't let happen. But they decided they didn't like our US dollars because they had rips in them. That plan didn't work.
We decide to go back across the ferry to Botswana. We don't bother with customs and Luke drives through customs to go to an ATM while I wait at the boarder. Luke comes back with enough money for both of us in US dollars. We cross on the ferry again and are lucky enough that the real money exchange building is open. We exchange some money to Kwatcha so we can pay our Carbon tax. It makes no sence to me why some stations only accept US dollars and some only accept Kwatcha. We get everything we need except the insureance. We bought insurance out of a cargo box next to the road. I mean, that has to be legit.By now we were exausted and stopped caring as long as we could get past this boarder. Now that we had insurance we could leave. All we had to was show all our paper work to the guard at the gate. We checked out, everything was ok. We hopped on our bikes and got ready to leave. Some guys decided to try and con us one last time. They said we needed to buy registration stickers for our bikes or the police checkpoints up the road would fine us. Their con didn't work. We drove 20 miles down the road and stopped on the shoulder to take a breather where no one would bother us. Then on to Victoria Falls.

 

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