• Trip report Mana Pools and Kariba - June 2016

    My "brief" trip report promised in another thread this morning is turning out to be not so brief! I'll break it up into a couple of sections. This post just with our travel details and the next with some detail of our experience at Mana and Kariba (which will include some photos). Apologies for being a bit long-winded! :-)

    Beaufort West (Teri Moja Game Lodge @ R R545/double - self catering) 1 night
    Vryburg (Lavender Lodge @ R800/double - B&B) 1 night
    Selibi Phikwe (Phokoje Lodge @ R 998/double - bed only) 1 night
    Harare (Family) 3 nights
    Makuti (Makuti Lodge @ $63/double - B&B) 1 night
    Mana Pools (Mucheni #3) 7 nights
    Kariba (Osprey houseboat) 3 nights
    Harare (family) 5 nights
    Louis Trichardt (Lalapanzi Hotel @ R650/double - bed only) 1 night
    Colesburg (Merino Inn @ R850/double - bed only) 1 night

    Total distance travelled was just short of 6500km. Diesel cost was about R 10 000. Ouch!

    There’s nothing major to report on our travelling up to Mana Pools and back. The accommodation at all our over-night stops was comfortable with Lavender Lodge in Vryburg being the stand out stop-over in terms of hospitality and value for money. Makuti Lodge was also very good even though there’s still some work to be done to renovate the furnishings and some of the buildings. Beautiful views from the Lodge and the staff fell over themselves to make us feel welcome …. They deserve more support from travelers to help them get up and running properly again.

    I didn’t enjoy the travelling through Botswana. That section started off badly when we were pulled over at a police road block 10kms from the border. The group of policemen (and woman) were standing about 5 meters beyond their stop sign and as I was about to stop at the sign they gestured for me to move forward to them. Net result ….. I didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign and they wanted to fine me 1000 Pula for not stopping and another 500 Pula for negligent and reckless driving! I of course was very remorseful and apologetic for “misunderstanding” their gestures and told her that we were transiting to Plumtree and so didn’t have enough cash to pay any fines. She wasn’t having anything to do with my apologies. Fortunately during her rant I noticed a local car come through the checkpoint which hardly even slowed down, never mind stop. He was waved on with big smiles. I politely asked why I was pulled over and asked to a pay a fine for not stopping and the local driver was waved through with a smile? This of course elicited a stream of foul tempered abuse and threats but fortunately turned the tide and after listening to her ranting for another 10 minutes we were sullenly told that we could go. Hopefully all her venting released some pent up emotion and the rest of her day was stress free!

    Lobatse through to Gaborone was busy and slow going and the continuous change in speed limits from Gabarone all the way up to turn off to Selibi Phikwe meant a long day on the road. As much as I love Botswana I don’t think I’ll do that route again in a hurry!

    Plumtree border was a breeze although a bit disorganized on the Zimbabwe side. We had no problems and the staff were all very polite and friendly.

    Road blocks on the Zimbabwe road have been well documented on this forum. It is frustrating to have to slow down and stop so often (about 17 between Plumtree and Harare) but we found them to be mostly very courteous and friendly. At one road-block between Harare and Makuiti a policeman tried to fine us for not having honeycomb grade T stickers on our trailer. I showed him the documentation we’d printed showing the various requirements. He insisted that our interpretation was wrong but that he’d only fine us $10 for the one sticker and let us off for the other…… All done very pleasantly I might add! I smiled politely and suggested that I phone one of the numbers on the document to contact a supervisor to check whose interpretation was correct. His response: “oh … you’re tourists! You carry on then, we want you to come back!”. In retrospect the incident was actually a lot of fun although I’m sure I would have been less amused if I’d backed down and paid the fine.

    Road conditions vary in Zimbabwe. Plumtree to Harare is good but Harare to the Mana turnoff is not great ….. from Chinoyi especially it is breaking up quite badly. Harare to Beit Bridge is also not great with stretches where there are severe undulations. Drive with care!

    We left Zimbabwe a few days after the unrest at Beit Bridge and the day before the 1st planned national stay-away. We were a bit apprehensive about having to travel at the time but as it turned out it seems to have been a blessing. Beit Bridge was virtually deserted and we were through both sides in just over half an hour. From there back to Cape Town was plain sailing on the N1.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Trip report Mana Pools and Kariba - June 2016 started by Davesg View original post