Breakdown in the Kalahari – Race to the Zim Border

Maun, Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe –

We woke up and packed up camp, for we had one and a half days of straight driving to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Had a quick pick me up smoke before getting on the truck then just vegged out for about ninety minutes. Once the truck had entered the Kalahari Desert we pulled over and sat there for about fifteen minutes while Steve tinkered around under the hod. Shortly thereafter Boz came on the truck and told us we’d lost all the oil pressure and that the truck wouldn’t be going to Vic Falls, or anywhere else for that matter for at least a week – it was dead.

This didn’t shock us too much – two tires and one engine later we were standing in the Kalahari Desert with nothing to do. Luckily some dudes driving a pickup truck stopped to help us out, and what do ya know, they were about to drive straight through to Vic Falls – approximately 600 kilometers (375 miles). We talked about it and decided to pile in the back of the pickup to drive the 300 odd miles to the Falls so we’d be in Zim that evening. The pickup was way windy and not that comfortable with all of us smashed in there, but five and a half hours later we arrived at the Botswana/Zimbabwe border.

We arrived at 3:45 p.m. and the Zim border closed at 4:00 p.m. so we were going to have to be bloody quick to get fourteen people and a pickup through the border before it closed. We all cleared Botswanan immigration with no problems – it wasn’t until we got to the customs people that the fun began. They said that the dudes who owned the truck didn’t have the correct paperwork to let the truck out of the country and that they’d have to go back to Maun to get a letter from some official. The guys with the pickup told us to walk across the border and keep the immigration people busy until they could get the truck through.

We walked across the gravely no mans land part of the border and cleared Zim immigration, keeping both the immigration and customs people busy just by the sheer number of people we had in our party. The guys in the truck arrived a few minutes later and we got the truck through no problem. (I never did find out how they appeased the Botswanan customs officer.) back in the truck for the next two hour leg of the journey to Victoria Falls. We had to drive through a section of the Hwange National Park on the way and the driver was forced to keep slamming on his brakes as not to hit the water buck and various other animals that kept running out into the road.

Hit Vic falls and Boz got us a six bed chalet to stay in until our truck arrived. We were all beat, so after a few vodka tonics in the campground bar it was off to bed.

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