The left sided traffic was quite complicated at the beginning. We are taught in a driving school that on an intersection you have to the first thing is to look to the left. Here, you must look to the right. I couldn’t understand the importance of it back home. You have to look to the left and to the right anyway, but now I understand it. I have heard quite a lot of cars coming from the right breaking suddenly. So far so good 🙂 . I’m now getting used to the traffic. Local traffic rules are also helpful. Beginning from the RSA, most intersections have stop signs, so everyone has to stop. There are no right or left hand rules. The first to stop is the first to move. And it works. Now that I have driven through RSA, Namibia and Botswana, I can say that the traffic is much calmer than in Estonia. No honking or waving of fists. When they see you coming from behind, they take to the side and let you pass. When there are animals or obstacles on the road they immediately switch on warning lights. There isn’t much traffic of course. Especially outside of towns.
Local peculiarities include all kinds of animals on the roads. Cows and goats are common. There’s a corpse of a donkey next to the road about every 5 kilometers. There are a lot of donkeys here and they’ve probably just gotten hit by a car in the dark. Some wild animals are also seen on the roads occasionally but the national parks have pretty high fences. The fences won’t hold the warthogs and there are lot of them. They are pretty shy though. If there’s something they don’t like they just run away.
The asphalt is very slippery. You have to be very careful when putting your foot down. If the bike is tilted too much you may slip and fall.
People are cool. If you avoid the drunk colored ones (some kind of new race – the offsprings of two mulattoes) then the rest are very ok. The country’s economy is stable. There are no wars and the overall situation is also stable. It has had a calming effect on the people. I don’t actually know all the nuances but there has been no reason to feel anxious so far.
We had our very first camping in the real wilderness a couple of days ago. We’ve been near the official camping spots so far. It was very quiet and we slept peacefully. On the other hand, you have to find a place if you want to wash yourself. It’s the dry season and the rivers away from the delta are dry. Which is actually good because there are also no mosquitoes. The food situation also complicates camping in the wild. It’s hot. You don’t want to eat only dry food. You can’t carry food to long distances, it will go bad. Canned beans and ramen noodles aren’t always good enough. That’s why we’ve decided to stay at official camping spots. They usually offer a decent breakfast. And also dinner. Sometimes we grab ready to eat meals form supermarkets at evenings, the choice is pretty good here. If you stay at a campground you have access to grills and campfires so grilling is quite simple.
We’ve managed to get cash from ATMs if needed. And we haven’t needed it much. We’ve been able to pay by card almost everywhere. The general price level is rather favorable. The camping costs about 6-8 € per person per night. Dinner about 10-15 € per person depending where you are and what you order. That includes a couple of drinks. The food is good, haven’t had anything really bad yet. You have to get used to the fact that pig meat is rear (which suits me). Chicken and beef are always available and sometimes you can find things more exotic.
The service quality is good. The customer is generally well cared for. The waiters re polite and if you are also you will have a pleasant experience.
As for the equipment taken from home. The only complain I have is about Keen’s sandals. The last pair wore too quickly and the current ones are going the same way. It doesn’t matter if they have waterproof written on them or not, the “straps” are coming off the sole. Keen used to be the equivalent of a hiking boot, unfortunately they seem to be going too well and the quality has dropped significantly. Too bad. The decision to take the tent has turned out to be a good one. In the future I would also consider taking a kerosene stove with us. It requires a slightly different approach and more food management, but will give some freedom.
There aren’t many fences next to roads in Botswana which gives plenty of opportunities for camping in the wild. The’re aren’t many people around so if you have the equipment you could actually camp in the wild. Don’t expect thick forest, you can mostly find brush. There are some willows at some places that offer more shade. The vegetation is usually two-three meters high. If you don’t want to put up a tent or aren’t traveling on a small budget then you can travel light in RSA, Namibia and in Botswana. There are lodge-type accommodations available that offer a bed and meals. You have to be prepared that they are full if you haven’t booked a place in advance. We’ve even struggled to find a camping spot in some lodges.
The fuel quality in Botswana is the worst so far. Of the tree refuelings we’ve had, two have proved to be complete crap. It’s the first time during the three years I’ve had the bike, that the engine stopped working properly. I got to try out the so called bad fuel switch which helped. The bike has a cable connection under the saddle that you have to disconnect after refueling bad fuel. The revolutions on idle, which fluctuated between 3000 and 0, normalized. Cold start started to work. The last refueling took place at a Shell’s station and there hasn’t been a problem since.
These are the thoughts at the moment. We are currently in Francistown and would like to move on to Zimbabwe. Because there is no virtual currency there, you need to find dollars. We haven’t found a currency exchange in the city yet. But we will.