The Real Africa: Border Crossing Into Zambia

I couldn’t imagine what was taking so long. I’d passed through more than thirty-five border posts over the last two years and never did it seem to take this long. By now I was regretting giving my passport, carnet and motorcycle documents to Ronnie. We’d crossed the Zambezi on the makeshift ferry more than an hour ago. The muddy patch of Zambia where the ferry dropped its loading ramp was littered by zones of trucks parked haphazardly and blocking access to the offices of customs and immigration. A young boy in tattered jeans, a faded t-shirt and no shoes waved for my attention. By now I’d learn to quickly take notice to such distractions and then ignore them. Whether Africa, South or Central America locals will do anything to capture your attention. Most of the time, once they do victims are subject to any number of harassing schemes. I was wary. But he was trying to direct me through a narrow rocky path that split between two cargo trucks. It didn’t look good: meaning it looked slippery and messy. But I went for it.


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Ferry loading and unloading area at Kazangula, Zambia on the Zambia side of the Zambezi River.

The border post looked like a traffic jam on the 405 in Orange County. Dozens of people milled about, many sporting baskets of cargo balanced on tehir heads. Some men wandered around with clipboards or paperwork. Umbrellas obscured the view into the immigration office as the rain poured. I was sure my carnet and passport were getting soaked. And as the thunder crashed louder and the rain fell faster and harder I took refuge under the only place I could find a dry place to stand: outside the police shack. The one room block house about 3 meters by 4 meters had a single desk and two small benches. A rusted corrugated tin roof with a few centimters of overhang was the best place to stand. I patiently waited for Ronnie to return. I offered to watch the bikes because border posts are notorious for crooks, criminals or anyone looking for an easy grab.

The entrance and exit to the muddy ferry landing area was a narrow gate big enough for only one truck to pass. As I practiced patience and waited for Ronnie the gate became a microcosm of Africa’s generation old conflict. Two truckers from the Congo working for competing transport companies brought the border post to standstill due to their stubborn inability to relax and let one or the other pass. There was yelling in a language I couldn’t understand yet fully understood what they were fighting about. I expected weapons to be pulled out as the guy existing was sure he was in the right while the other trucker just leaned on his horn. I just watched the world go by while Ronnie dealt with the bureaucracy of border business.

At first the whacking sound didn’t register. Then the screams which I first confused for laughter turned out to be moans and cries of pain. I pivoted into the doorway of the small shack and saw a man with a billiard stick swung over his head and smash down on the thighs of a victim sitting on the bench. He fell to his knees onto the concrete floor. Three others were crowded on the bench that could barely seat them. The young man sat back down when another whip of the biliard stick came crashing down on his shoulder. I thought to myself. Now I am in Zambia, the real Africa.

The beating went on for twenty minutes while I waited for Ronnie. At one point the officer stomped his feet down on the bare toes of the victims. They apparantly stole a tent and a battery from the farmer they worked for. The three officers in the shack were determined to get a confession. Until they did, they’d beat the poor kids to submission. I turned away avoiding eye contact with the officer. The next time I looked inside the billiard stick had been broken in half. I learned that one had admitted to stealing the tent. And soon another pointed the finger to his buddy as the battery thief. More kicks, more smacks and soon the officer was filling out forms in triplicate that would amount to a property report for the nearby prison in Livingstone. All of them were going.

I imagined ending up on the wrong side of the law here in Zambia or anywhere else north I’d be going. Diplomatic immunity, international safety in tourism, innocent third-party and other phrases circled my head. Better be careful. Better watch my back, my front and everything else. The fearful eyes of the four thieves locked onto mine the last time I looked into the room. I felt their pain but offered no sign of emotion. I’m in their country. And in Zamiba, I learned, they don’t treat kindly to thieves. Obviously.

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The beating went on for nearly an hour inside this police shack Kazangula, Zambia near the ferry border crossing from Botswana while I stood under the eaves trying to stay dry.

Ronnie had to buy me a visa for $100, carbon tax for another $30 and liability insurance for another $50 – perhaps the most expensive border crossing in my two-year journey. With a handful of soggy papers and rubber stamp ink running in the pouring rain, I packed the papers in my top box and headed toward Livingstone less than an hour’s drive away. Even in the pouring rain to the southeast I notice an oddly shapped cloud rise in an distinct and almost cylindrical fashion. I knew it was created by the might Zambezi River as it dumped down massive amounts of water down the legendary Victoria Falls.

Weary and waterlogged we arrived Arriving at Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone where I confirmed with DHL in Windhoek to send my package for pick up at the local DHL office here. Ronnie and I shared a simple A-Frame chalet with a thatched roof. Bathrooms and showers were just off a simple courtyard fitted with comfortable benches lined with cushions and large futons. A nearby bar, eating area, pool and Jacuzzi made for a perfect place to chill after taking in the falls, kayaking, rafting, bungee jumping or whatever activity the young crowd gathered here takes in. For Ronnie he is on a fast track to get to Lilongwe in Malawi where friends wait for him and they’ll spend the next weekend on Lake Malawi. I will catch up on my writing and wait for DHL to bring my camera.

Chobe River. Chobe National Park. Ichobezi Houseboat.

The next morning with our bikes parked safely at the Chobe Safari Lodge, a small “tender” boat with a 40hp engine met us at the Botswana Immigration office and ushered us ten minutes across the Chobe River where we hiked up a muddy track to a tiny one room shack filled with a collection of scattered documents, carbon paper and rubber stamps. Officially back in Namibia and with two more stamps in our passports we ten boarded the Ichobezi Moli, a houseboat of 18 meters with four large twin cabins, a bar, entertainment deck a small plunge pool and a staff eager to ensure we enjoy our mobile water-based safari adventure.

IMG_3698_2.jpg Chobe National Park could be one of the most rarely visited parks in Africa yet it offers much of the wildlife of the major tourist attractions. As such it’s relatively quiet. A handful of lodges along the Botswana riverfront provide the gamut in accommodation from four-star luxury to backpacker and camping facilities.

Offered a welcome drink we waited for the other passengers who would join us for our river cruise: Chris and Pauline, a couple from Germany traveling with Jeanette, Pauline’s stepmother, a representative from a South African travel association and Christina and Kirsty, two representatives from U.K.-based adventure travel agency. As we cruised up river we were blessed by mild weather and a gentle breeze that swayed the reeds of the lake shore. Behind us four “tenders” were in tow which later when anchored we used to get closer to wildlife grazing in Chobe National Park including elephants, buffalo, impala, fish eagles, herons, crocodile and more.

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As we cruised up river we passed Sududu Island as Ralph painted a dynamic word picture of the battle between Namibia and Botswana as to which of these southern Africa nations should duly rule over this tiny patch of reeds with ambling elephants, impala and temporary home to migratory birds. Narrowly averting war the issue, and perhaps the only of its kind, was handled democratically and judicially by international court in the Hague. Botswana won. And today they proudly fly the flag on a lonely pole in the middle of this swampy grassland.

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Audi – Fish Eagle – goes in for the attack.

Ronnie and the rest of the passengers devised a plan and elected me as chief whereby I would swim pass the crocodiles, hippos and impalas and replace the flag with Namibia’s proud colors. Avoiding an international incident I suggested a Canadian flag would be more appropriate. But with lunch served the idea was quickly shelved.

Bliss on the Chobe River

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Thirsty the hippos go for a drink riverside.

Nothing like seeing these massive creatures drink whilst standing in water.

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This riding around Africa on a motorcycle is just to much for Ronnie B. as he sips his G&T on the deck of the Ichobezi Moli

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The meals and dining experience on the Moli were unlike any I’ve had on a small boat.

Up close and personal with the wildlife.

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Full moon on the Chobe River.

The slow pace of the Ichobez Moli meant that you hardly noticed the drone of the boat’s engine so that it didn’t disturb the wildlife. Quite a contrast to my other “safari” adventures at Addo in South Africa, Etosha in Namibia and Moremi in Botswana, riding on the river brings you closer to the animals and free from gravel, dust, other tourists the seeming isolation creates a sense of awe and a feeling that you are wallowing with the animals. Each of the crew of the Moli are trained as wildlife guides and they are all equally competent in spotting animals an untrained eye would easily miss.

Passing With the distant sound of hyenas, the occasional yelping elephant and the simmering and soothing sound of the river lapping on the hull of the boat, I slept on the Chobe River and in the morning waking to the hectic hustle and bustle of birds fishing for food, crocodiles bathing in the sun and elephants playing “chicken” with impalas. But sadly this experience too had to pass. We took a slow cruise back to the Namibian border post and then through Botswana immigration where we met our bikes and prepared for a short ride across the Zambian border and onto Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

Chobe River. Chobe National Park. Ichobezi Houseboat.

The next morning wiith our bikes parked safely at the Chobe Safari Lodge, a small “tender” boat with a 40hp engine met us at the Botswana Immigration office and ushered us ten minutes across the Chobe River where we hiked up a muddy track to a tiny one room shack filled with a collection of scattered documents, carbon paper and rubber stamps. Officially back in Namibia and with two more stamps in our passports we ten boarded the Ichobezi Moli, a houseboat of 18 meters with four large twin cabins, a bar, entertainment deck a small plunge pool and a staff eager to ensure we enjoy our mobile water-based safari adventure.

IMG_3698_2.jpg Chobe National Park could be one of the most rarely visited parks in Africa yet it offers much of the wildlife of the major tourist attractions. As such it’s relatively quiet. A handful of lodges along the Botswana riverfront provide the gamut in accommodation from four-star luxury to backpacker and camping facilities.

Offered a welcome drink we waited for the other passengers who would join us for our river cruise: Chris and Pauline, a couple from Germany traveling with Jeanette, Pauline’s stepmother, a representative from a South African travel association and Christina and Kirsty, two representatives from U.K.-based adventure travel agency. As we cruised up river we were blessed by mild weather and a gentle breeze that swayed the reeds of the lake shore. Behind us four “tenders” were in tow which later when anchored we used to get closer to wildlife grazing in Chobe National Park including elephants, buffalo, impala, fish eagles, herons, crocodile and more.

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As we cruised up river we passed Sududu Island as Ralph painted a dynamic word picture of the battle between Namibia and Botswana as to which of these southern Africa nations should duly rule over this tiny patch of reeds with ambling elephants, impala and temporary home to migratory birds. Narrowly averting war the issue, and perhaps the only of its kind, was handled democratically and judicially by international court in the Hague. Botswana won. And today they proudly fly the flag on a lonely pole in the middle of this swampy grassland.

IMG_3787_2.jpg

Audi – Fish Eagle – goes in for the attack.

Ronnie and the rest of the passengers devised a plan and elected me as chief whereby I would swim pass the crocodiles, hippos and impalas and replace the flag with Namibia’s proud colors. Avoiding an international incident I suggested a Canadian flag would be more appropriate. But with lunch served the idea was quickly shelved.

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Bliss on the Chobe River

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Thirsty the hippos go for a drink riverside.

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Nothing like seeing these massive creatures drink whilst standing in water.

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This riding around Africa on a motorcycle is just to much for Ronnie B. as he sips his G&T on the deck of the Ichobezi Moli

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The meals and dining experience on the Moli were unlike any I’ve had on a small boat.

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Up close and personal with the wildlife.

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Full moon on the Chobe River.

The slow pace of the Ichobez Moli meant that you hardly noticed the drone of the boat’s engine so that it didn’t disturb the wildlife. Quite a contrast to my other “safari” adventures at Addo in South Africa, Etosha in Namibia and Moremi in Botswana, riding on the river brings you closer to the animals and free from gravel, dust, other tourists the seeming isolation creates a sense of awe and a feeling that you are wallowing with the animals. Each of the crew of the Moli are trained as wildlife guides and they are all equally competent in spotting animals an untrained eye would easily miss.

Passing With the distant sound of hyenas, the occasional yelping elephant and the simmering and soothing sound of the river lapping on the hull of the boat, I slept on the Chobe River and in the morning waking to the hectic hustle and bustle of birds fishing for food, crocodiles bathing in the sun and elephants playing “chicken” with impalas. But sadly this experience too had to pass. We took a slow cruise back to the Namibian border post and then through Botswana immigration where we met our bikes and prepared for a short ride across the Zambian border and onto Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

Riding Through Herds of Elephants.

Botswana, like Namibia, is both blessed and cursed with dry, desolate and inhospitable deserts to the south, a massive swamp to the northwest and lush green forests and fertile greenbelts to the northeast. But getting to many of these areas can be challenging. As such, Botswana could be one of the most expensive tourist destinations in Southern Africa. The prospect of spending a night or two on an exclusive luxury houseboat on the Chobe River was enticing, but how much could this cost? Ronnie had been in touch with his contact but these questions had yet to be addressed.

It would be a long day from Maun to Nata and then North toward through Botswana’s Central District and to the Zambia border to Kasane. Passing just south of Moremi Game Reserve and then just touching the fringe of the Kalahari desert it took about three hours to get to Nata – a major crossroads and the tourist link to either the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans or Chobe National Park to the North. We were warned repeatedly about the road north from Nata to Kasane. The elephant population in Botswana is perhaps one of the most dense in all of Africa. And the elephants here are rather hostile. We heard about a taxi carrying a handful of tourists who found themselves sandwiched between elephants as a heard crossed this road. No one survived. On a motorcycle, I’m a bit vulnerable. But at least, I hope, more maneuverable. The advice on how to handle an elephant confrontation came from all directions. The bottom line: stay away — particularly if there’s an infant or child elephant along.

Riding to Nata we witnessed the destruction of what was once a forest and now more like a desert. Elephants graze on trees. And if they can’t eat what’s on top, they use their brute force and weight to knock the tree down. Once down it’s an easy meal to dine on. And hear an hour outside of Nata there were hardly any trees. The elephants have migrated north. Unlike South Africa and even Etosha in Namibia, the National Parks in Botswana are not fenced. We could be subject to a stampede of elephants at any given point.

The road north out of Nata is fine for the first 60km. Then the curse of potholes sets. Passing through Botswana’s greenbelt, it was the first time in this country did I notice agriculture: maize, tomato and other vegetables. A seed plantation provided an interesting vista. But as the agriculture faded and vegetation grew denser we passed through the forested areas the Sibuyu, Kazuma and Ksane Forest Reserves. It was through here I had my first confrontation with elephants on the road.

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Ronnie was ahead of me by 50 yards. There were no other cars on the road when a massive elephant appeared out of the bush and onto the road. Ronnie brought his GS1200 to a screeching halt. I followed. With our engines idling we watched as about eight elephants crossed the road. They stopped. A not so subtle gaze was tossed our way and as fast as they appeared they disappeared into the bush on the other side. We were told that it would be a good idea to stay close to larger motor vehicles. The larger profile would appear bigger to the biggest land mammals on the planet.

The next time we encountered these massive beasts we were drafting a Land Cruiser. It stopped and we beside it. The herd meandered across the road and this time seemed indifferent, if not clueless that we were there. Several more times during that afternoon did we see elephants. One time I didn’t even notice a massive male grazing on trees just 20 yards off the road. I blew by it at 60mph and didn’t even notice until I passed.IMG_3767_2.jpg

Riding and sharing the road with elephants and outside the known boundaries of national parks or game reserves was something I never imagined before setting out on my motorcycle adventure. But here in Botswana I found myself with elephants. Slightly apprehensive as the horror stories of their aggression perhaps put me at unease more than stories of bandits, looters, kidnappers and robbers. With any of these shady characters, I at least could try to communicate. But a five-ton elephant? Not likely.

We rolled into Kasane around 4pm. Ronnie coordinated with Ralph to meet us at Botswana immigration office in Kasane the next morning. Because the houseboats operated out of the Ichinga Lodge on the other side of the Chobe River in Namibia, we would need to exit Botswana and re-enter Namibia before setting foot aboard The Ichobezi, our floating guest lodge.

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We stayed at the Chobe Safari Lodge the night before embarking on our riverboat journey.

Exploring the Okavango Delta

IMG_3576.jpgStarting in central Angola the Okavango River flows nearly 1,500km through Namibia’s Caprivi strip and into Botswana where it fans out through the open plains until being swallowed by Kalahari Desert. The result is a maze of lagoons, islands and channels that spans over 1,600 sq. km making up the area known as the Okavango Delta. This massive wetlands not only attracts a myriad of wildlife, but tourists and adventurers looking to experience the world’s largest delta and its plethora of flora and fauna.

The town of Maun sits at the southeast corner of the massive delta and just a couple hours from the Moremi Game Reserve. Because there are no “real” roads into the delta, exploring this region requires a four-wheel drive or more likely a fly-in trip to a safari lodge only accessible by air. According to our hosts at Audi Camp, the Maun airport is the second busiest in all of Africa. This is because all the lodges located in the Delta are 100% service by air: supplies, guests, workers and food. So exploring this area by motorcycle is practically impossible. Without the time nor budget for an extensive fly-in safari experience I opted to explore this vast network of water channels, islands and its wildlife by land and by air.

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Rich in wildlife we saw impala, giraffes, elephants and hippos like you see above.

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Water ways like this are likely formed by hippos as they move from one area to another.

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From the air the Okavango Delta is both a network and maze of waterways, islands, inlets and bush – ever changing. A microcosm of life.IMG_3489_2.jpg

First, I took an all day trip to explore the waterways by makoro – a shallow dug out canoe that is piloted by a “poler” – then Ronnie and I along with two German travelers charted a 45 minute scenic flight over the Delta – taking off and returning to Maun. Getting to the launching point of my makoro canoe trip was an adventure itself. As the only person from Audi Camp making the Makoro journey that morning my driver stopped along the way picking up local people standing by the side of the road with bags, packages, food and children. We’d stop, drop people off and pick up more. I noticed plastic resin chairs along the way hanging atop trees, tall shrubs or on sticks planted in the ground. I asked if there was a chair factory nearby. He laughed and told me that these chairs and other things hanging in the trees indicated “bus stops” for the local people. Through the heavy forested bush along the road I noticed some dirt roads and many small foot paths. Soon I’d learn where these led as we got closer to the Moremi Game Reserve.IMG_3583_2.jpg

We took one of the dirt roads and drove nearly two hours through deep sand, mud, crossing rivers and passing through villages, through the gate of the reserve. We passed elephants, monkeys, giraffes and plenty of birds. The dilapidated Toyota Land Cruiser handled the rough terrain easily with the experienced driver behind the wheel. At some of the villages we dropped of passengers while the driver greeted locals in their local language. We crossed rivers, plowed through deep sand and swerved and slivered through dozens of muddy trenches until we came upon a small pond surrounded by tall reeds. A dozen canoes (makoro) sat in the water most of them filled with rain water and in some state of sinking in the small pool.

Tall, dark, slender and with wide set easy eyes, my poler for the day would be Daniel. With his foot and a kinetic jerking motion with his foot he kicked the water out of one of the makoros while another local took a machete to nearby reeds which he then set at the front of mokoro making a soft cushioned area for me to sit. The makoro was made from a local tree, dug out and two feet deep with a semi-flat bottom. To these eyes it didn’t appear stable and I envisioned capsizing and becoming lunch for the crocodiles and hippos that call this delta home. Surprisingly, Daniel took command of his nearly fifteen foot two-inch diameter pole and piloted the makoro through a narrow channel northward through the reeds. The whisper of the hull pushing the green water was muted by the birds who fluttered and took flight from nearby reeds.

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One of the guys used his feat to kick the water out of the makoro (canoe)

A good understanding of the local wildlife and certainly excellent makoro skills I relaxed and nearly sitting at the level of the water gazed through the reeds, into the water and up into the sky spotting herons, egrets, kingfishers, eagles, ducks and more as Daniel called out the names. After more than an hour of poling through the maze of waterways that wind through the tall reeds we came to a landing. Here Daniel led me on a “bush walk” through tall grass, small forested glades and pass nearly a half-dozen hippo pools. With broken english which I strained to hear and understand Daniel continued my wildlife lesson. At one point on the path he used a stick to draw oversize diagrams of paw prints explaining how to identify animals prints and the approximate age of the print.IMG_3660_2.jpg IMG_3592_2.jpg

Sitting almost on the water the makoro is a very shallow draught canoe which made seeing and getting up close to wildlife a personal experience.


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In Africa more deaths are caused by hippos than any other wildlife including lions, elephants, leopards, hyenas — anything

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Water lilies, these open during the daylight.

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Knob billed ducks hanging in the grass – the males are to the right.

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A Squacco Heron patiently awaits the right moment to get his breakfast, then takes off after the intrusion of my makoro.

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If I had more time, I would have opted for a two or three day journey and camped in the bush. But all things must pass and we finished our hike, took the makoro back to the landing area where our Land Cruiser waited to take me back to Audi Camp, three hours passing more monkeys, giraffe, elephant and eagles.

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A Saddle Billed Stork in Flight

Back at Audi Camp I learned that DHL forgot to send my package from Windhoek and it would be three more days before it would arrive. I told them to sit tight until I knew where I would be. I figured Livingstone or Lusaka might be the best place. But before committing I urged them to hold onto my package. Still no word from NamPost on the “Johnny A” package. I’m sure this is lost.

Ronnie decided to stay an extra day. He has a business associate who put us in contact with a guy who runs a lodge and a couple luxury houseboats near Chobe National Park in the northeast of Botswana near the Zambia and Zimbabwe border. There’s an open offer to join him on the river for a night or two. So we’ll head to Kasane tomorrow taking the road to Nata then north to Kasane near the Zambezi River.

Solving Botswana’s Donkey Problem.

After a few nights at Ngepi Camp I would have to bid goodbye to Namibia and cross my fourth African border into Botswana, the least densely populated country in Africa. And while human population density may be minimal, I discovered that meant more room for donkeys. I’ve never seen more donkeys anywhere — including Mexico. They started roaming the highway just after crossing the border and their population seemed to grow by the km after passing through Shakawe.

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Leaving Ngepi Camp and heading for the Botswana Border. Photo by Ronnie Borrageiro.

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Botswana Driving = Donkeys

Riding a motorcycle through Botswana one quickly learns why the term Jack Ass is so apropos. Unlike goats, cows, dogs, pigs and penguins, donkeys just don’t move. You can honk, rev the engine, head right toward them but they won’t move. Actually, they will move. But that’s from the side of the road into the middle of your lane when you have barely enough braking room to stop. If you get them angry enough they’ll start bucking their hind legs. And watch out.

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Ronnie found this chameleon in the middle of the road so we decided to try him out on Doc and my riding jacket.

I rode more than 400km to Maun, a small settlement once the stomping grounds to graziers, hunters and poachers but now serving as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Along the way I must have passed several thousand donkeys. What’s so odd is that they don’t seem to belong to anyone.

“Yes sir. Dawnkees. Yes sir, no I don’t know who own doze dawnkees,” one gas station attendent revealed.

“Okay Big Man,” another driver filled me in, “yes we have much dawnkee problem here.”

I made it my personal goal to learn about the donkeys in Botswana and what the local people thought about it.

“The government must do it,” the parking lot security guard told me. “They must move all the dawnkees somewhere.” And it seems that to most people I chatted with the government was the solution. I heard many stories about these donkeys. They destory motor vehicles, cause fatalaties and are a general nuisance. In downtown Maun on the main drag donkeys criss cross the road in search of fresh grass to graze.IMG_3853_2.jpg

One of the owners of Audi Camp outside of town told me that the easiest way to find a donkey’s owner is to run into one on the road. “You’ll never find the owner of a donkey so fast, and it’s funny the value of a dead donkey seems to be about four times that of a live one.”

Another local speculated that the donkey population got out of hand because during the late 80’s and early 90’s foot and mouth disease infected nearly the entire cattle population of Botswana. He told me that many cows had to be exterminated otherwise the the cattle industry, the second largest export product in the country, could have been crippled. He said that in restitution the government provided donkeys to those who lost their cattle.

At a checkpoint a couple hours outside Maun I had to ride my motorcycle through a pool of muddy water and walk over a soggy mat — all supposedly treated with agents that would stop the spread of foot and mouth disease. I carry a simple pair of sandles strapped to one of my bags. They made me put these through the soggy mat. Even as Ronnie and I went through this seemingly ridiculous exercise I notice Donkeys milling about behind the ad-hoc tent camp that was set up roadside to serve as quarters for the military personnel working this outpost.

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The bugs do a number on my faceshield and the petrol attendants sure get a kick out of how I clean it!

“Whose donkey is that?” I asked. At first I was ignored. But I caught the ear of one of the officers. “Who owns that donkey?”

“Sir?” He looked at me with serious eyes but with several teeth missing and dishelved uniform and horribly broken English and bad grammer he hardly exuded the image and security of a protector of libertiies. “This dawnkee we no know who owns.” I explained the hazards these donkeys posed on the highways. “Maybe no has owner dis dawnkee.” I was getting nowhere.

In Maun at the auto parts store where I was lucky to find a new valve for my portable air compressor, the clerk agreed that the donkey problem causes many problems for people in Maun. “Dee gubbermint must fix problem,” he surmised. “They must take zee dawnkees somewhere and make zee who owns dem come git dem.”

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Often my enquiries about donkeys were met with smiles, giggles, laughs or sighs of desperation. “There too many donkeys,” the clerk at the hardware store agreed. “I don’t know what to do.” Everyone around smiled and laughed. The topic of donkey population must not make the water cooler chatter often. I’m happy I was able to offer some midday thought and entertainment.

One thing is for sure. Botswana’s donkey problem won’t be solved anytime soon. If you find yourself making tracks toward the Okavango Delta, watch out for the donkeys. They can kill you.