Leaving Etosha National Park, we drove to Gobabis. A town that bordered Botswana and this is where we would stay the night. While all of us were sitting outside waiting to order food, we pulled out the map and started planning out the next day of travel. We didn’t have accommodation lined up in Botswana yet and were trying to figure out where to stay. I was also going to get dropped off because I wanted to spend some time traveling through Zimbabwe. As we discussed and looked over the map, a guy overheard us and came over to help out. He had just been through the area and was an escort driver for wide loads on the road.
After talking to him, we found out there wasn’t much accommodation in Botswana and would have to drive all the way through to South Africa. As I sat there and talked to him, I found out he was heading to Zimbabwe after escorting his load. I jumped on this opportunity and asked if I could join him since I was trying to get to Zimbabwe myself. Antony said he would love to have me and we would be leaving tomorrow. With that all wrapped up we headed to bed for the night.
In the morning I saw Allan, Paddy, and Jesse off and waited for Antony. Late morning came around and we were off on our way to the border to pick up and escort the truck. It was carrying two large cylinders with a diameter of 7 meters (23ft) and require two lanes. With a police escort and our escort vehicles we drove down the two lane highway 70 kilometers to a dirt road and pulled off. The truck driver didn’t check too well and ended up getting stuck and high centering on the dirt road trying to make a U-turn. Spending about 7 hours trying to get him unstuck the police showed up and called a tow company to help get him out. The tow company showed up with a Toyota Land Cruiser to look at the situation. Instead of spending the time to go get a tractor we decided to try and use the land Cruiser to pull him out. Surprisingly it worked! With the truck unstuck, we spent the night in Gobabis again.
Waking up in the morning, we escorted the truck to the scales where it would sit for the rest of the month. Supposedly wide loads were not allowed to be on the roads during this time and the truck had to wait until January to continue the journey. This meant that Antony was done working and we crossed the bordered into Botswana, headed northeast through the Kalahari desert, and into Maun.
Spending two days in Maun was great. Antony and I spent the days relaxing by the pool and one of the days we went on a mokoro trip in the Okavango Delta. This was a dugout canoe where the driver would use a long stick to push us along through the shallow water. It was my first time in one of these and at first it seemed very unstable but after enjoying some scenery, it started to feel natural. We glided along silently through the delta looking at the beautiful scenery and seeing all the different birds that were around. Although the trip was supposed to last only 2 hours, we were out for 3. It was a really cool experience.
Leaving Maun early in the morning, we made the trek to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Boy was this a long drive and there was nothing to look at. Trees lined both sided of the road the whole time so you couldn’t see anything. The worst part was all the donkeys and cows just roaming around. Not only did we have to dodge potholes but the cattle on the road as well! They would walk onto the road and just sit there. Donkeys, unlike cows are sporadic when they get scared and are unpredictable which way they might run. Then it hit us….we were almost out of gas!! Pulling into a little town off the highway, we expected a gas station to be there but it had long been abandoned. Luckily, we found a local that took us to a house where we bought a jerry can full of gas. After this we were on our way again and across the border into Zimbabwe.
I thanked Antony for giving me a ride and he dropped me off in Bulawayo. We had a good time together and I was very thankful for his kindness and generosity. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going to stay the night and found an internet cafe where I looked up a backpackers in the area. It was only 8km away and I decided to walk the distance. About half way there, a very nice lady pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride and took me the rest of the way. That night I slept in my tent at Burke’s Backpackers. It was a very nice property that had been converted to house backpackers. There was room to camp, dorms, and single rooms depending on your preference. The owners were super friendly and lived with their two kids in the house at the top of the property. This was definitely a different and fun experience hitchhiking through Botswana. One I will never forget especially with it being the first time.