Joined: Jul 2007
10/8 Ride to Zimbabwe (or maybe Zambia?)
Having not slept very much in anticipation of our safari the previous day, we were both very tired and slept really well. The sun finally kicked us out of bed around 7 am. Today's ride was going to be a short one, so we weren't in any particular hurry to get on the road. The Zimbabwe border was only about 10 miles away, and Victoria Falls 35 miles beyond that. We had coffee and some breakfast and chatted with some of our fellow campers. One of them had some potentially worrying news. They had taken a minibus from the campground to Victoria Falls the previous day, and when they were in immigrations had seen a sign that said, “effective November 2010, no more foreign vehicles would be allowed across the border.” Huh?!? She seemed pretty sure of it, but this was news to us. I asked at reception if they knew anything about it, and they said as far as they knew, foreign vehicles could cross the border, but I should check with one of the drivers of the many safari trucks. As I walked out of reception, I saw what turned out to be the last of the safari trucks pulling out the front gate. We decided to head for the Zimbabwe border anyway, knowing that the ferry to Zambia is less than 10km from the Zimbabwe border crossing.
During the short ride to Kazungula, I spotted a big adventure bike heading our way. I flagged down the couple on it and asked them if they knew anything about the border situation. They had been to the border and were under the impression that they could get through but were heading into Kasane, Botswana, to find a bank and the requisite USD. Feeling more positive, we continued to the border, where I was assured at Botswana Customs that everything would be fine on the Zim side. Again, the Botswana side was very professional and efficient, the Zim side... not so much. The issue with no foreign vehicles turned out to be a prohibition on simply transiting vehicles through the country, they now have to be loaded on a truck - tourists are still OK. Once it was finally our turn at the immigration window, we had some good laughs with the guys working there. For some reason, they were “suspicious” that Re might be a spy and that I was a criminal of some sort. I assured them that no, I was not a criminal, I was in fact, an attorney. This elicited even bigger laughs, as they assured me that attorneys are the biggest criminals of all, but they still let us in. Then to the Customs line. After waiting for 3 commercial truckers to get their loads cleared, I handed our Carnet paperwork to the rather sullen looking Customs official. He did not appear very happy to see all the paperwork that we would be creating for him. He finally cracked a smile when we got to discussing the bikes. He was filling out the liability insurance screen on his computer when he asked me for the engine size. “100cc,” I said. “1000cc,” he said. “No, 100cc.” He said, “100cc?!?” I pointed to the bikes out the window, and he smiled and kind of chuckled. As he continued to work on our paperwork, he also asked why the small bikes? I explained that on big bikes it would be too easy. He thought it was very funny that I would want to make it harder. We both left with a smile, and I then encountered the big bike riders from across the border. They were a couple from Germany, who were riding a DR800 with a way too loud exhaust. I let them know how much things should cost and was on my way.
Back at the bikes, I found Re chatting with a commercial truck driver who also was sure that some day Re would tire of her bike and want to sell it to him at a good price. Shades of our grocery store encounter in Mariental. We were waved around the queue of trucks and headed for the final gate, where we spent another 10 minutes chatting about the bikes, the cost and fuel economy, and our trip. The gate then went up, and we were through. It was about an hour's ride into Victoria Falls and our accommodations for the night.
We arrived at about 1:30pm, set up our tent, and got to work changing the rear tires. After 3350 miles, I could still, if I held my tongue just right, hook a fingernail in the center groove of both rear tires, but they had to go. So we found a concrete pad, got out the tarp, and got to work. Start to finish, it took us about an hour and a half to change both rear tires, and it probably would have taken less time without the “help” from a local. For one reason or another, Re and I have had the rear wheels off enough times to know the drill, and the extra hands always seem to be in the way. From here we have about 3000 miles to Mombasa, so hopefully, these Gazelles will make it all the way. As we were finishing the tire change, we ran into a fellow traveler, Sue, from Darwin, Australia, and she invited us for a beer and a chat once we were finished. Never ones to turn down beverages and a chat, we got cleaned up and met her at the bar. We spent much of the rest of the evening chatting over pizza and beers before heading to bed.
56 miles in about 3 hours, including and international border crossing. Single entry visas were 30USD p/p, and 46USD for fees and liability insurance for each bike.
Underboning screwed with this post 10-13-2011 at 12:39 PM