Unit at Maun hotel

When we arrived at our hotel in Maun around midday to find lots of activity but also the staff and some security staff almost standing to attention around the Reception area.

We chose Maun as there were no other towns before the SA border thereafter so it seemed to be the obvious decision. It was a beautiful place and we were very comfortable. On arrival we went straight to the Reception desk, walking past all the folk standing formally around and were immediately asked to wait in another area. Then there was a commotion and lots of activity. A government Minister had arrived and it was only once he had been attended to that we were allowed to approach the Reception desk.

 Unit at Maun hotel

Our little unit at the hotel in Maun

We had been allocated a unit to the side of the hotel which was beautifully presented and right next to the swimming pool which was a wonderful extra. It was really hot and dry and a morning’s driving had not been any more pleasant. We spent a quiet afternoon by the pool and either dipped in the cool water or read our books. As far as I know, Kindles did not exist in 2004 but, even now that they do, I still prefer my real book with pages I can turn and a bookmark I can see.

We were to spend just the one night in Maun so there was no intention to self-cater and we were glad of that for more reason than one. The food for both dinner and breakfast was excellent. The same could also be said of the staff in every section. When we checked out the next morning the staff member apologised for the inconvenience of the previous day but explained that the entrance area was to be clear whenever a member of government was arriving. Unfortunately, he was nearly an hour late and that was why the staff were a little on edge. All part of having the privilege to live on this beautiful African continent.

We left Maun and turned south to the newly completed 500km Transkalahari Highway which stretches across Botswana from East to West. It is an almost perfectly straight single lane highway which is considered very dangerous to use at night due to there being no fences and animals roam free. When we came to the T-junction at the highway we were surprised to see that there is a small town, Kang, with a beautiful Lodge where we could have stayed instead of having to travel 30kms up to Maun and then back to the intersection with the A35 to Shakawe. We had a enjoyed wonderful afternoon and evening so were not too distressed at this extra 60kms. Kang is halfway between the Namibia to the West and South Africa to the East and we had a quick stop there.

The journey along the highway once more highlighted how flat and dry this part of Botswana is. It forms part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park which covers an area of 38 000 sq kms (15 000 sq. miles) in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. As we were travelling in the middle of the day we did not see many animals, mainly buck and other small animals but found the journey pleasant due to the excellent condition of the road. We knew that we were approaching the border as the land was becoming a bit more undulating and there were corners and curves in the road.

We got to the border town of Labatso at about 3pm and Trevor was very excited when he saw a Biltong shop owned by a Mr Strydom, good SA name. He could not refrain from stopping and buying some. Biltong is dried and salted meat similar to, but NOT the same as, beef jerky.

Trevor buying biltong before we leave Botswana

Trevor with the biltong in his hand

We went through the Pioneer Gate Border post of Botswana with the usual ease and courtesy but had our first less than wonderful experience on the SA side. The border post is called Skilpadshek (Tortoise Gate) and that described it very well. We still had to travel 180kms to our hotel at Rustenburg but we just had to wait.


Not the most exciting place to be posted I guess

We arrived in Rustenburg early evening to find it very busy and very much a rural town but the hotel was very pleasant. The next morning we left on the final long drive to Durban using the unusual route via Potchefstroom (where Trevor had spent most of his compulsory army training days), Kroonstad, Welkom and Bethlehem as all these little towns were new to us.

African sunset 2

And so the sun set on our first trip to Namibia via Botswana.