Jhbg / Botswana / Zimbabwe trip





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  1. #1
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    Default Jhbg / Botswana / Zimbabwe trip

    Recent trip to Zimbabwe - Jhbg / Botswana / Plumtree / Bulawayo



    As many of you may be heading off across the border I thought I would cover a recent trip to Bulawayo from Johannesburg via Botswana (27 November 2009). We had to rush up on Friday and came back Monday on urgent family business. Not a lot of planning, but time was of the essence.


    The first debate was to go through Beit Bridge or Botswana, I was warned by family and through this forum that a. Beit Bridge can be a nightmare b. the road from Beit Bridge to Bulawayo is very bad. Some reports I saw, people were stuck at BB for 4 hours some over 6 hours, one person I met said he paid R1900.00 to be "fast forwarded" to get through but it still took him a couple of hours. Other stories of finding errors in your "paper work" / passport etc to solicit bribes and then if you do not pay they held back with all sorts of excuses. Along with the bad road report I decided to go through Botswana


    The route we took was N1 North past Bela Bela (Warm Baths), Turn off at Modimimole (Nylstroom) through to Vaalwater then Lephalale (Ellisrus). There is a choice of 2 border posts Groblersbrug (Martins Drift) or Stockpoort (Parr's Halt) I chose Stockpoort.
    This is a very small border post and we were through both sides in 15 minutes. The downside is that there is 60 km of dirt, on the Botswana side, but in reasonable condition as it is a wide open district road, the other point is that this route maybe a little longer in distance. The road comes out at Mahalapye which is on the main road to Francistown, we then went through the border into Zimbabwe at Plumtree.


    I drive a Landrover Disco II V8 Petrol, 4 people and loaded. As a note my wife drove back in her mothers small Fiat (I think 1100) and it handled the dirt road and the whole trip just fine.


    Approx Times and Distances left Friday 27 Nov 2009
    Left Jhbg 5:50 am stopped at Kranskop 1 Stop (on the N1) - 189km - Refueled and Coffee - left at 8:00 am
    Border Stockpoort / Parr's Halt left at 11:00am
    Mahalapye 11:50am (From Kranskop to here 312 km)
    Palapye (From Kranskop to here 376 km) refueled and lunch at Wimpy (good service and food)
    Palapye - left at 12:50 pm
    Francistown - through by 4:00pm
    (Directions drive straight through the center of town and out the other side - 15 mins) Distance Palapye to Francistown 160km but slow with trucks/ speed limits/road blocks.
    Francistown to Ramakgwebane (Border) 87km some road works but road in good condition but slow, in the near future it will be double carriageway (refueled here so had full tank petrol much cheaper in Botswana than Zim where it varies in price and availability it was US$1.25 per liter)
    Border time arrived 5:11pm out both sides by 6:28pm (Border open till 10:00pm)
    Arrived Bulawayo - 8:00 pm


    JHBG to Bulawayo 950km
    Total Distance Jhbg to Jhbg = 1,991km including driving around Bulawayo.(+- 950km each way)
    Total Travel time 26 hours i.e approx 13 hours each way including fuel/food stops and borders
    Fuel costs SA R7:48/ltr Botswana Pula R5.45/ltr (exchange rate approx 1.21)


    Points to note
    SA Roads Vaalwater / Ellisrus lots of potholes
    Botswana border post staff very pleasant and helpful
    Palapye has a clean Wimpy with a great chicken salads, all day breakfast. It is part of Desert Sands Motel which looked ok rates P245.00 / Double room website www.palapye.com/desertsandsmotel (We did not stay there, just checked it out it also has another restaurant) There is a Woolworths and Spar type shops in town.
    Palapye is approx the half way mark for this trip.
    All shops and garages on this route (Including Bulawayo accept Rands and US$)
    The exchange rate has a tendency to vary between garages and shops and sometimes some confusion on how to work it out. So work it out before you go with a simple rule of thumb should be P100.00 = R121.00 (Which is what I paid at a Bureau de Change)
    This route is a also a good way to go to Maun and Nata
    Borders - (always entertaining if you do not lose your cool as there is very little signage telling you where to go or what to do, at any of the border posts)
    Leaving SA is simple but you must have your vehicle registration papers and letter from the registered owner or/ and a letter from the bank that you can take the vehicle out (This is also important when going into Botswana and especially Zimbabwe where they make an issue of it)
    Entering Botswana have to have an address or state you are in Transit.
    (I suggest you take Pula with you, but you can change it at the Bureau de Change at the borders and just another delay)
    You will purchase:
    Road safety Levy P20.00 (Valid 30 days)
    Import permit P50.00 (Valid for 90 days)
    Road Permit (*Including return trip)P90.00
    Total P160.00
    *(Including return trip - Each time you enter Botswana you have to purchase a Road Permit which I think is about P60.00 but as we were going to Zim it would mean when we came back I would have to purchase another one, so they have a "Return trip" P90.00 which is cheaper.
    Leaving Botswana - Ramokgwebane
    (No signs) As you drive through the gate I went straight (to a small building) and was made to stand for 10 minutes until I found out this was the "commercial section"!!
    So, when you arrive go to the right and you will see normal cars parked there and a big building, you have to fill in a departure form and an export form for the vehicle.


    Entering Zimbabwe - Plumtree
    Although born in Zim I travel on a British passport and had to pay for a visa US$45.00 at 10 to 1 so it was R450.00.
    You must fill in a TIP form - Temporary Import Permit for your Vehicle, laptops and cameras etc.
    You pay Road Tax R100.00 and Carbon Tax (depends on size of engine) I paid R140.00 (Valid 30days)
    Total R690.00


    You will be accosted by guys selling 3rd party which you must have but if you have your insurance documentation from SA you do not need to buy this.


    Entering Zim and leaving Zim, pimps will come and offer to get you through for a "fee" I ignored them and did not use them as entering and leaving were both easy and reasonably fast. They will also try and sell you Pula, I did not use them.
    The immigration and customs were friendly enough, I was polite and smiled. I think I got taken on the exchange rate of 10 to 1 and the lady doing the Road tax "did not have change" when I gave her R250.00 but I just let it go.

    Plumtree to Bulawayo is 123 km and the road is in good condition and a pleasant drive. 2 police road blocks where they ask for your TIP form, drivers license and vehicle papers. We were only stopped once there and back, and they were polite.


    There is 1 toll stop which is US$1.00 I gave him R10.00 and he said it should only be R7.00 I gave him the R3.00 for his honesty. (again the variations in the exchange rate)


    There is a great lodge just near Figtree called Shashani Valley Lodge (8 km off the main road) US$60.00 pp for Dinner bed and Breakfast, well worth the visit. Contact Annmarie [email protected] or Zim 011 71054 or PM me for details (We stayed there on our return trip)


    Leaving Zimbabwe
    Border was busy as early on Monday morning and buses got there before us, but it was quick.
    I made a mistake and drove out and was sent back to get my gate pass stamped again.
    So when you get your passport stamped by immigration in the main building, you then have to go to another building 300 meters away and get your gate pass stamped again.


    Entering Botswana
    This line was miles long (right out to the main gate) and moved very slowly, I had my wife's parents with us both over 70 and a young guy in the line said you can go to the front because you are old (59) I then went to the front and spoke to the military guy in charge and said I had 2 old people with me and he politely moved us to the front of the queue, so what would have take 2 hours took 30 minutes. (Apparently this is the norm to let old people go through first)
    I again made a mistake and once we all had our passports stamped I drove to the gate and was sent back as I needed to have my gate pass stamped twice, once by immigration and the other by Vehicle Import. I had a double entry from the first time but you have to show it and get stamped. All very quick but no signs explaining any of these things.


    We came home the same way as we went up with the same fuel and food stops and the trip was uneventful. It was very hot both ways, take lots of water and juice.
    Beware of cows and donkeys on all these roads, if you look at the map it might be 120 km in distance but you are not going to average 120km/hour so allow for this as often your speed is reduced to 60km/hour


    All food, drinks, petrol, diesel were available in Zimbabwe although more expensive than SA.



    Conclusion - If I am going to drive to Bulawayo I would use this route above
    If I was driving to Hwange I would go through Botswana up the Nata/Kazane Road and through Pandametenga border post. (Done this before - we were the first car in 5 days through this border)
    If I was going to Vic Falls I would go through Botswana and out through the Kazungula border post directly into Zimbabwe (Done this before)
    If I was going to Harare / Kariba / anywhere North or east, not sure


    I think I have covered everything please let me know if you have any questions and I would be interested to hear any other comments about Beit Bridge.
    Last edited by Chakarinet; 2009/12/05 at 01:15 PM. Reason: spelling
    Chris
    Love the bush and wildlife photography

    Landrover Disco II V8
    National Luna dual Battery system
    Waeco Fridge
    Large Tent and all the camping toys
    Cannon 350D and Lenses
    And a SWAMBO who loves the bush

    Admin removed

  2. #2
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    Well done Chris !!! A wealth of info !! No travelling agent can do better. And its for free. Nobody got any excuses now.
    " IF THE GIANT BEASTS ARE GONE, MAN WILL SURELY DIE FROM A GREAT LONLINESS OF SPIRIT "

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  3. #3
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    ..... nice, very nice - and you are still developing the pics ?
    We still need do go to Vic Falls (I like that Devil Pool bit a lot, wonder what the costs are to do that ?), and Kaokoland, and Van Zyl's, and Ruacana falls, and Epupa falls, and Marienfluss, and .. and ..
    Johan Mitchell, .... r.i.v. Swambo Marthie

    My beste kennis is dié oor my eie onkunde

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  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Hi Izzy Thanks well I always get so much info from the forum it was time to pay back a little, and as Beit Bridge is such an issue I thought this might help.
    Gaitshi Gubib yes so much to see and so many good places I dream about travel.

    Photos will get some up soon

    Chris
    Love the bush and wildlife photography

    Landrover Disco II V8
    National Luna dual Battery system
    Waeco Fridge
    Large Tent and all the camping toys
    Cannon 350D and Lenses
    And a SWAMBO who loves the bush

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  5. #5
    Join Date
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    This was in the news today which is interesting
    "Zambia and Zimbabwe's new one-stop border post would help to facilitate trade between the two countries and save about $486 million (R3.5 billion) a year in logistical costs, the agency in charge of the project has said. Trucks using the Chirundu post would take two hours to clear the post instead of the two to five days it used to take, Juma Mwapachu, the secretary general of the Eastern African Commission, said on Saturday when the border post was opened"
    Chris
    Love the bush and wildlife photography

    Landrover Disco II V8
    National Luna dual Battery system
    Waeco Fridge
    Large Tent and all the camping toys
    Cannon 350D and Lenses
    And a SWAMBO who loves the bush

    Admin removed

  6. #6
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    Sean McSweeney, Johannesburg
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    Thanks. I'm doing this trip (Pandametenga, Hwange, Bulawayo, Plumtree, Johannesburg in August). Very useful info.

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