Tsumkwe to Dobe
We knew there was a road, and we had heard that it should be possible to cross the border at Dobe. The problem was that we couldn’t find any info about the border crossing on any official web site neither in Namibia nor Botswana. In some maps there was written “opening hours” so we believed that we could get through. We asked other travelers, and several said they had heard that it should be possible, but nobody we talked to had actually driven across. Finally a friend back home in Norway told us he had crossed this border some years ago, so we decided to give it a try.
Dobe and the area around is in our guide book described as the most remote area in the whole of Botswana, and in the Tracks4Africa map we found several interesting things that we wanted to check out. Firstly, the road itself is interesting as there is not much around. Secondly there was supposed to be a 70 meters deep sinkhole not too far from the border, and thirdly, the Drotsky Cave is on one of the ways leading into Botswana from the border. More about these places in the next blog post.
From Tsumkwe in Namibia we drove towards the border just after lunch time. The idea was to arrive at the Botswana border just after the border guard/customs officers had had lunch and not be hungry. Strange strategy? Well, the border to Botswana is probably as strict as the Chilean one when it comes to food. You are not allowed to bring meat or any meat product into Botswana. Same with fresh dairy products, and we had heard stories about customs “shopping” for food. Especially at the quiet borders where only a few vehicles pass per day. Consequently, we finished most of our food before arriving, and we crossed fingers for meeting a nice guard.
Namibia and Botswana are members of the Southern African Customs Union, and there is therefore no paperwork necessary for the vehicle. We know that some travellers insist on having their carnet stamped out and in at every border, but as far as we have understood, this should not be necessary. Anyway, for us this doesn’t really matter as we are going back to South Africa before crossing into Mozambique. We’ll make sure to get an exit and entry stamp at that border.
Namibian customs and immigration.
We pulled in and got our exit stamp in our passports. They wanted us to fill in en “entry/exit-form”. Took about five minutes in total and we were on our way. No costs.
A couple of hundred meters on, we came to a stop at this gate: Botswana! A guy in an overall let us through, and our tires were sprayed with some kind of disinfection liquid. Probably not too good for the paint, so mental note to self about getting a car wash as soon as possible.
And it was not only the tires that needed disinfection. They only wanted us to wash our sandals, though, so not a big deal. Other travellers have had to take out and wash all the shoes they have in the car.
Another guy came over and asked if we had food with us, and wanted to have a look in the car. I showed him our fridge, and asked if I could keep my half liter of milk (about the only thing left). No problem. Long life milk was fine. Same with margarine and cheese, and milk chocolate was also okay. Then I showed him the box in the back with dry food where he lifted up a bag of pasta, put it back down, and that was it. Everything okay!
Through the next gate was the Botswana Immigration. The office is the tiny house on the left.
We were asked to fill in an entry form, and we always make sure to put down more days then what we think we’ll need in the country. Within what we know we can get as Norwegian citizens, that is. For Botswana we should get up to 90 days visa at the border upon arrival. We had planned to be in Botswana for maximum 30 days, but as we want a buffer in case we have problems with the car or get sick or something, we normally double the time we want. At a couple of borders in Central/South America this is also useful for negotiating how many days you can get without paying “extra”. And sure enough, here they only wanted to give us 30 days. After some questioning for our side, we learned that we could extend this in Maun for an additional cost. As we knew that we normally should be able to get 90 days, we didn’t give up, and eventually they let us have our desired 60 days. They stamped the passport, and after registering our entry in a thick book (we saw that we were the second car that day (at 2 pm)) we were ready to go. No costs!
Total time to cross the border was about 30 minutes, and then we drove into Botswana...