It was a very interesting day on the General Tyre 4×4 African Adventure. Originally intended as a relaxed affair, it took over 10 hours from our departure to our arrival, across the border, in Livingstone, Zambia – a mere 130 km later.
The crew enjoyed a superb breakfast at the Chobe Safari Lodge, on the bank of the beautiful Chobe River, in Kasane. Rynhardt Stander, the Adventure Junkies logistics co-ordinator, went ahead to the Kazungula border post to arrange all the vehicle documentation, but soon reported back that there would be a long delay due to two of the three ferries across the Zambezi River being out of order.
This provided the perfect opportunity for most of the crew to relax, and for the kids to revel in the lodge’s sparkling pool. In the meantime, David van der Merwe, Continental Tyre SA’s Product Marketing Manager, conducted the first community outreach of the expedition.
During their recce in January, the team met Pilot Gaolathe, a friendly and very helpful local police official from Kasane, who is working on a wide variety of community projects. David used the Adventure to fulfil a promise made during the recce of delivering Continental caps, shirts and soccer balls to assist Pilot’s various projects that include local schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and the establishment of a desperately needed community day-care centre.
Finally the convoy received the go-ahead for the border departure at 13:30, and the processing through the Botswana side of Kazungula Ferry started off well … until it emerged that two passports had not actually been stamped by the officials on entry into Botswana at the Martin’s Drift border post. After several tense moments the passports were stamped and we were sent on our way – but it provided a stark reminder of how important it is for each person to ensure the formalities are properly completed. It could easily have ended in disaster …
Eventually the 10 vehicles were driven onto the ferry, and it was a spectacular, but brief, 8-minute ride across the Zambezi and onto Zambian soil. Once again the passports were stamped with little fuss … and then came the painful vehicle documentation. It took nearly two hours in punishing 37 deg C heat for the pedantic border officials to process the vehicle permits.
This left our fly-in journalist Jess Fogarty, from SA 4×4 magazine in Cape Town, languishing on her own at Livingstone Airport for five long and lonely hours. But it was ultimately great to see the airport’s bronze statues of Sir David Livingstone flanked by his faithful guides Susi and Chuma, who helped this legendary explorer discover and make the Victoria Falls famous.
We were too late to visit the falls this evening, so that was delayed for an early start tomorrow. Instead we headed straight for the Waterfront campsite as the sun descended. It was still a sticky 31 deg C at 7 pm, but that guaranteed a pleasant atmosphere around the campfire late into the night.