Upington to Botswana
Day 4 (15/06/17)
After leaving the warm room we were so generously given, we made our way to Upington about 170km away. After asking several people if we could stay, they all had similar responses; that they all have vicious dogs and we would have to remain in our tent which barely holds two people. So, with no success we headed to a camp site in Upington town right next to the Orange River, where the owner gave us a pretty decent discount. Below zero that night, it was bloody cold the following morning, and these temperatures were really thrashing our bare feet.
Day 5 (16/06/17)
We got out of Upington quickly in an effort to reach a warmer north which saw us heading up the N14 for 180km till we reached the turn off to the road to the border, the R380. We cruised along this road passing Black Rock Mine where we found a smaller mine and proceeded to find the housing for some of the mine workers, hopefully crack a deal to get some free accommodation. We met a laid-back farmer who offered us a piece of his lawn to pitch our tent on which relieved us significantly as it was getting dark and our headlights had stopped working properly leaving us with no alternative option.
A couple of hearty laughs could be heard at the neighbouring set of houses so we cruised over to check what was going on and to our pleasant surprise we found a bunch of elder Afrikaans mine workers sipping brandy and cooking up a wide variety of meat. We cordially got chatting to them and impressed them with what we were doing so they invited us to sit down and share some of their tasty brandy. Needless to say, the night went swimmingly well and they even gave us a large portion of meat to take with us for the road the following day. A bunch of good lads so if by chance you are reading this, Cheers!
Day 6 (17/06/17)
We now had 108km till we reached the McCarthy’s Rest Border Post into Botswana which we knew was a dirt road but in what condition we had no idea. In an attempt to remain somewhat professional, I will refrain from using what we felt were the appropriate words to describe this road, instead I can tell you it was bloody awful. If our kidneys were not already shot from the R355 from Ceres to Calvinia, they would most likely be buggered now. The corrugation on this road was terrible and didn’t let up for the majority of the 108km, this reduced our speed to 10km/h for large parts of the road.
In an extremely frustrating five hour journey to complete the road we finally arrived at the border to a bunch of confused, yet excited police officers. They couldn’t believe that we had firstly come all the way from Cape Town but also had taken this little vehicle through that rough road. We showed them how the Tuk Tuk works and even blasted some tunes from the speakers to show them it isn’t all bad. They laughed and joked with us, took photos, sat inside and without ever asking about the legality of the vehicle. Police seem to be more interested in finding out what this thing is rather than bothering to check if it is legal or not (It’s a bit of grey area).
Unfortunately, while all this was going on Cal had a bit of a passport issue due to an error made at customs when entering South Africa two weeks earlier. Long story short, Cal was suspended from entering back into South Africa for one year because he had over stayed by 6 days despite having more than a month of days left on the visa. Eish! Eventually after the long process of putting all this on the system they let us through, so we carried on for the last 25km to Tsabong, where we intended to stay.
We had heard of a man named Thomas who would possibly be able to help us out with a place to stay but the number we were given didn’t work. Instead we met a really helpful Pastor who called Thomas and allowed us to explain our story to him. Without ever meeting or hearing about each other, Thomas was more than willing to house us for a night. In the first 6 days of our trip we have encountered some of the most friendliest and helpful people. Everyone we met seems to really want to help us out however they can, it is very humbling to receive such support from people we have never met or pre-arranged with.
Thomas was very welcoming, offering us brandy while we watched the Springboks thump France in the second test match of the tour. We cooked up a mean fillet, played some pool, had a shower and finally resided to each of our proper beds. It was certainly one of the better sleeps on the trip this far, fresh and full it was hard to get out of the bed in morning! But missions we had, so we said thank you and good bye to Thomas who had generously given us biltong and boiled eggs for the road. We were quite spoilt to be very honest.
Day 7 (18/06/17)
We had a big haul in front of us attempting to push some 350km to one of Botswana’s most renowned diamond mine towns, Jwaneng. We cracked on preparing for an extremely long day in the Tuk Tuk, which took a toll on us especially the blokes in the back. Boredom struck hard and with no time to stop besides draining the main vein we were stuck in same position for 10 hours. Along the route and through the villages, every single head turned in shock or laughter as we cruised past, except for an extremely drunk man who was zig zagging across the whole road and didn’t seem to care about much at that point. We were even pulled over by the Police who again, just wanted to find out what this thing we were driving was. They were extremely friendly and agreed to take a photo with us, good chaps!
We arrived in Jwaneng just before dark set in, with a loose plan to stay with a friend but no means to contact her as we were unable to buy a Botswana sim card since we entered the country. Finally purchasing one it was now after hours for the call centre which you have to go through in order to register the sim card, so things were looking pretty dire. However, the Tuk Tuk as it does so brilliantly, attracted a lot of attention in front of the Pick ‘n’ Pay which lead us to meet another helpful man, David. At first, he too was just interested in the beast but after some chats, we told him we were looking for a place to stay on a very low budget. He got on the phone right away and within 10 minutes had organised us a free place to stay in a guest house. Once again, we had been treated wonderfully having a whole house to ourselves with a shower, toilet, cooking facilities and beds.
There is most certainly good in this world, people are kind and generous and happy to help people in a bit of tight one, you just have to venture out and find it!
Our final stretch to the Botswana capital, Gaborone is comparably easier as it is only 160km away from Jwaneng and will mark the end of leg 1 out of 6. We have sponsorship obligations to fulfil as well as doing a bit of work on the beast. We will be chilling in Gaborone for about four days while we organise all this and then we will be making our way up to Khama Rhino Sanctuary followed by the Race For Rhino’s event on Sua Pan in the North eastern side of Botswana, where many more stories will follow.
Stay tuned and keep well
Barefoot Adventurers Club