We embarked on the long arduous drive from Windhoek to Gaborone before sunrise Friday morning. We had plans to see friends of ours who had recently relocated to the city of Gabs. It is an 11 hour drive between the cities. Two years ago I would have suffered greatly under these great distances but having lived in Namibia, where it is basically a 4 hour drive to get anywhere significant, I am quite used to long hauls. I suppose I could always pursue that career as a truck driver if things don’t work out in education.
At the border post we had a smooth transition between the neighboring counties. While waiting to clear the vehicle with customs I caught site of some interesting critters. In fact there were many interesting creatures roaming around. This seems to be an area of the country that gets a fair bit more rain than we do in Windhoek. We had golf ball sized beetles taking flight around us, and at times smashing into our windshield as we drove along.
The roads for the most part were immaculate between Windhoek and Gaborone. Straight, well kept and utterly beautiful for at least the first 15 minutes! It got tedious after 10 or so hours however. One of the biggest risks on these roads is wildlife. It was not uncommon to see a donkey meandering into the road 2 or 3 kms over the horizon. Upon reaching it a few minutes later the donkey would just extend that tired donkey gaze and trudge off. Thanks donkey, I just lost all my speed for you!!!
About 100km outside of Gaborone we were caught in a speed trap. Well, not officially, the verdict’s still out on this one, we all pledged our innocence. Apparently out of nowhere there was a sign to drop our speed to 80km/h due to ‘crosswinds’. We were quite use to to slowing down as we passed through a village so this speed decrease caught us by surprise.
While Angela tried to explain to the police that we had not seen the sign and there were no indications that we should hit the brakes MaryBeth proceeded to get to know the police officer working the radar gun. She actually had an inside look at how the speed gun works and even got to gage a couple driver’s speed. She wanted to pull a guy over for doing 5 over but the police said we could let it slide.
85km/h in an 80….you better pull over buddy.
Eventually the police let us go with a stern warning to keep an eye on the signs down the road. The initial proposal was to pay the fine with no written documentation in cold hard cash. Which we were not eager to do for obvious reasons. I believe MaryBeth played a key factor in this decision with her curious nature. Clearly the police got more than they bargained for in stopping our vehicle!
I was quite happy with Gaborone. When I initially visited back in early 2006 I was quite disappointed although I rarely left the hotel where we were conducting a conference. On this visit we got to see a great deal more of the city.
Caught a good old fashioned baseball game at the University of Botswana. UB is growing tremendously. We had a tour conducted by the planning director who forecast amazing growth in the physical campus, including housing for 6000 or so students and many new buildings.
The main part of our game drive was tracking giraffe with a professional tracker. We drove along the dirt roads and as he picked up the scent or spotted some fresh tracks we hiked in to follow. We spotted tracks from the car after about half an hour and head into the bush on foot for about half an hour more. Finally we discovered a large herd of about 15 giraffe.
With the excitement of tracking over we continued along the road for a planned picnic lunch. Never did we imagine to discover three elephants grazing. The elephants were with their main care giver, a man who had come over from Sri Lanka to train local staff on elephant care.
Just when I thought we had already seen it all. We drove to a small fence enclosed area where the Cheetah’s were kept. At first I thought we may not get to see them and then there they were relaxing under a tree. I could not get a good picture from the vehicle so the guides suggested we come down and greet them personally. I was apprehensive. These Cheetah have been raised from birth by human beings and were entirely tamed. They have never had to hunt in the wild and would not know to attack a living being.
We ended our day with a light mid day meal at the water reserve on site. This water is home to two hippopotamus and one crocodile but unfortunatly (or maybe not) they did not make an appearance. No swimming.
Roadtrip to Gaborone, Botswana by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.