Buitepos to Johannesburg

As I write this, we’ve just started the second day of the second decade in this century, and I can still remember very well how we all worried about the various disasters that would erupt with Y2K, and then didn’t, 20 years ago… Just an indication of how fast time flows, or actually, rushes by. That is also my excuse for only writing this last instalment from our trip from Zambia to South Africa, during January 2019. And I really need to get it done before I should write more about our travels and other activities since then!

We left Namibia on the 22nd January, entering Botswana at the Buitepos border post and hit the very good roads in that country. The roads tend to be quite straight for kilometres on end, and from time to time we saw cattle wandering alongside or across the road. Also a number of animal carcasses that resulted when trucks could not stop for them in time.

Typical road in Botswana seen through the scratched windscreen of our old Prado

Whoever is responsible for the roads in Botswana, is clearly doing a good job. The roads are well-maintained and there are frequent opportunities to stop and rest.

Our overnight stop was in a tiny place called Kang, where the the Ultra Lodge (http://www.kangultralodge.com/) is a welcome oasis surrounded by chalets, all behind the Kang Ultrastop filling station and shop.

Fantastic pool to lounge in after a long, hot ride

Other than the pool, the quite comfortable rooms and the nearby restaurant and take-away, Kang does not have much to offer in the way of tourism, so we departed early the next morning, towards the border with South Africa.

Riding into the sunrise

After another long drive past Jwaneng, Kanye and Lobatse, and the problem-free border crossing at Pioneer Gate / Skilpadshek, we were in South Africa and on our way past Zeerust and Rustenburg, to stay with friends near Brits. They are horticulturists and produce cut flowers for the local and export markets, so their own garden is another oasis.

If you have “green fingers” and enough water, as well as love for plants, then this what your garden looks like

We left the Brits area the next morning, driving towards our families in Krugersdorp and Johannesburg. We had noticed that the Prado was starting to behave like a ship, and so a new set of shock absorbers was indicated. In the following days, we had all four shock absorbers replaced and had planned some other maintenance work, but then, on the very next day, while parked outside a camping goods shop, the vehicle was stolen…

It’s difficult to describe how you feel when you realise that the space where your vehicle was parked, is empty, and that someone else is now driving around with your property. Not only the vehicle itself, but also quite a bit of stuff that we had in the back. Very fortunately, I had taken my rucksack with our passports and bank cards, etc., into the shop. It pays to be paranoid, sometimes…

Anyway, the police came and did their thing, we realised that there had been a “spotter” in the parking area, or otherwise we had been followed there, since the security cameras indicated that the vehicle bearing the thieves had entered the parking area and drove directly to our Prado, which they proceeded to break into and drive away within about 30 seconds. People are apparently aware that Zambian-registered vehicles do not come with all the alarms and tracing systems that South African ones do.

There are some positives to this depressing event, though. The South African Police Service officers were very helpful and efficient in dealing with us (though the vehicle was probably already in Mozambique, or dismembered into parts, within a day or so). And through a family member we managed to locate another second-hand Prado, about 10 years younger, and we purchased this one. As a result, our travel back (and other trips in Zambia and Botswana) were done in a newer vehicle. Watch this space for news and pictures from these adventures!

A last image of our old Prado during a roadside stop in Botswana

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