Daily Archives: May 6, 2019

Tour d’Afrique: Elephant Highway

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Victoria Falls marks the beginning of “The Elephant Highway,” perhaps the most popular section of the tour, and the first half of the classic Victoria Falls to Cape Town cycling route. After a quick spin to Kazungula, you cross the Zambezi River by ferry and enter the country of Botswana, whose mineral resources and democratic government have made it one of Africa’s biggest success stories. At our 1st campsite in Kasane, the Chobe River boat cruise – where you slowly coast up and down stream past herds of elephant, crocodiles, hippos and lots of other wildlife – is a must-do.

The next week features the longest and flattest cycling days on the tour including six centuries (100 miles) in seven days of riding. Fortunately, you will also be riding through one of the most impressive wildlife habitats on the planet. Botswana is home to some 110,000 elephants that roam through the Kalahari and Chobe National Parks. Don’t be surprised if you have to stop on a highway to allow a family of elephants or a solitary male Bull Elephant to cross at a safe distance!

After camping near the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve you arrive at northern Botswana’s largest town, Maun, for a rest day when you can take a dugout canoe or a small plane ride into the Okavango, the world’s largest inland river delta. The cycling then continues along the Trans-Kalahari Highway, including “the Longest day” at 208 km, towards the border of Namibia, a country whose stunning arid landscapes are one of the world’s best kept secrets.

This section ends in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, a modern, cosmopolitan city that lies in the middle of the country. Here riders can enjoy fabulous beer, great restaurants, a blend of southern African and German cultures, and some amazing shopping.

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14 April: Livingston to Kasane

Today we only have 81 km to ride, which is a really short day in the context of the length of the days we have been having, and only 640 metres of climbing.

We had to check out of hotel at 5:15 am this morning so we could get back to camp in time for the 5:30 am riders meeting. We had to settle the bill this morning because when we got back last night the receptionist said we couldn’t pay then as there were “problems with the system”! Thankfully it was working this morning.

We have 6 new riders joining us here, plus 2 riders returning who had to leave because of injury. Bob who was injured on our first riding day in Nairobi (he had a dislocated elbow) and Mike who had a fractured clavicle who had left before we started.

At the camp on arrival day there was a local who sells customised T-Shirts and I bought one with the TDA logo on. Plus Carl and Fritz had organised T-Shirts for the three of us with the Wild Cat drink logo on. Apparently one of the other riders who also ordered a T-Shirt mistakenly got the wildcat logo on her t-Shirt as well. She was furious and was ranting saying “Why would I want an infantile logo like this, do you think I am like 5?!”.

We had a border crossing on a ferry at 70 km. On the ferry you can see four countries at the same time – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

img_8093-e1557092344400.pngUntitledThe border crossing is crazy busy, as there are only 2 ferries that can only take 2 trucks at a time plus foot passengers, or 6 cars and foot passengers. The line each side of the border of trucks is at least 2 km long. 

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Approaching the border crossing to Botswana

Hours must be wasted each journey. There is a 4 lane bridge currently under construction which will be finished in 2020.

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New bridge under construction

Once across the border we stopped at the first town to get money and SIM cards but power was out, so no money and as it is Sunday the store that sells SIM cards is closed. We rode 5 km past camp to the next town but the shop there is also shut – however, we did get money from the ATM.

The camp site is quite nice and has grass, toilets, showers, and a bar.

Taking advantage of the short day Tallis has organised a river cruise up the Zambezi river which was about three hours long. Was quite interesting, we saw some elephants, crocodiles and hippos. The cost was about $50 NZ and most of the riders took up the opportunity.

Dinner tonight was vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise.

I have just discovered that despite buying numerous bottles of bug spray, I am out of bug spray – will need to get some more tomorrow.

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Waiting for the ferry border crossing into Botswana

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Ferry across Zambezi River into Botswana

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