Victoria Falls, Zambia to Thebe: River Safari Lodge, Kasane, Botswana – 94 kilometers
We say an early morning farewell to Chesa, the tall mustached proprietor at the Livingstone Safari Lodge; everyone enjoyed his terrace restaurant and bar-grill, and warm hospitality, not to mention the Falls. The cycle journey is an easy ride down to the Kazengula River Crossing, where we board a ferry to cross over into Botswana — a trip that takes a mere 5 minutes. The ferry crossing is a dusty, but colorful jumble of shanties serving cokes, bureaucrats stamping papers, waiting trucks, waiting African families, and our group of cyclists, which stands out in any crowd.
On the Botswana side of the border, about 300 trucks are lined up waiting to cross over for points headed north, through Zambia. At the present pace, a single 18 wheeler truck per ferry crossing, one driver estimates that it will take him three days to get through the border. The long line of trucks headed north, meanwhile, is testimony to the growing economic prowess of South Africa in the African economy as a whole which supplies many critical manufactured goods, processed foods and pharmaceuticals to neighboring countries northwards. So here in Africa, it is the “south” that is the economic powerhouse, as compared to the poorer “north”. Waiting endlessly under the hot sun, some truck drivers spread out their mats under their trucks to sleep; cook food; make repairs, and chat with the local girls. AIDs transmission is a well known problem among long distance truckers in Africa, who are often separated from their homes and families for interminable periods of time – including days of waiting at border points like this one.
Our campground and safari lodge is only another 20 kilometers or so past the border. It is along the banks of the Chobe River wetlands area, which is downstream of Victoria Falls, and is famous for its wildlife sightings. A cruise along the river at dusk is a popular attraction for tourists, including our cyclists, and indeed, we get our fill of hippos emerging and elephants coming down to the water in the evening, against a colorful African sunset.