We left the Caprivi and headed to the border of Botswana. We knew that the road was bad since we took the same road two years ago but it turned out to be much worse. There were more potholes than actual road. Sometimes it was better to drive next to the road in stead of on the road. The road signs still say that you’re allowed to go 120 km/h but you’re a real bad ass if you can pull that off. Luckily we managed to get to Maun without hitting that many potholes.
Okavango River Lodge
We slept at the Okavango River Lodge campsite in Maun. This is where we stayed in 2016 and we liked it. It’s a rather simple camping but it has got a swimming pool, wifi, bar and restaurant and it is situated along the river. Cows are crossing the river throughout the day and you hear some donkeys now and then. While it isn’t their dog there is one that’s always around, some people call him Campsite. At night we heard something near our tent. It turned out to be Campsite chilling in my camping chair. After we relaxed a bit from the 500 kilometers of potholes the day before we went to Maun the next day to stock up on supplies and arrange a couple of things.
Campsites in Chobe en Moremi
DWNP was our first destination. This National Park association is the place where you have to pay conservation fees for the two game parks in the Okavango delta: Chobe and Moremi. In Botswana you first have to book your campsites. These campsites are run by private companies and charge ridiculous rates for foreigners. We had to pay 100USD per night to stay on a piece of their land. You first have to mail, call or visit them. You’re lucky if they actually mail you back. If you’ve managed to book a campsite you need to pay the fee at DWNP’s office (or do a bank transfer).
The “lovely” DWNP lady
When we arrived at DWNP we were ‘welcomed’ by a lady sitting behind a desk with bars between us and her. We showed her our voucher for the campsites on our phone. We immediately got a lecture on why we didn’t print the voucher. After we explained we were travelling for a bit already she kind of agreed with it. Then we needed to ‘defend’ our route to her. She thought it was weird and asked if we were here before and how we would get to the park. She then questioned how we were going to keep our phone on to show the voucher at the gate. After we gave all the correct answers she calculated the amount we needed to pay and we were literally done.
Opposite to the DWNP office was the SKL office where we got the (digital) camping voucher from. We thought we would ask them to print the voucher to prevent the same conversation at the gate. Two men sitting behind a small desk then sent us back to the DWNP lady…
The next stop was the Khwai Community office. Between Chobe en Moremi there is a piece of land that belongs to the Khwai Community. Since there aren’t any fences between the two parks the game roams freely between the two and thus on the Khwai Community as well. The two campsites they have are even more back to basic. There’s basically nothing: no ablutions, no running water etc. Nevertheless you’ll pay 52 euro to stay here for one night. We managed to book campsite number 14 for two nights.
The search for crocodile clamps
The Solar Zone was our next destination in Maun. We had thought of buying a solar panel before but were misinformed or the options were way to expensive. With a solar panel we can truly live ‘off grid’ and charge our devices, the fridge and the second car battery. Lennart got in touch with them through WhatsApp and within a couple of messages we got the proper information from an expert.
The owner, Stuart, explained the proposed setup in detail and we decided to go for a 100 watt solar panel. The only thing we needed to buy were some small parts to connect the panel to the car. A cigarette/car charger to connect the inverter and crocodile clamps or Andersen plugs to connect the panel to the car battery. In the first shop they only had the cigarette/car charger. The second and third shop didn’t have anything. After visiting The Solar Zone again he said this is living in Botswana. You’ve got a shopping list and need to go to 5 different shops to get more or less the same items. In the fourth shop we then found everything we needed.
A solar panel within a day
By that time it was noon already and we decided to go for lunch at the French Connection. The owner of this really nice place immediately gave us some cool tips for Zambia. After lunch we did some grocery shopping but only found half of our list. We decided to go back the next day. The Solar Zone then called us to ask if we could come by to install everything to our car. With the solar panel in the back of our car we decided to call it a day.
Getting a piece of wood
The last day in Maun we had to find something to store our solar panel. We decided the roof rack would be the best spot and thought of wrapping the panel in some cloth and then top it off with two pieces of masonite. The idea was one thing, now we needed to get the materials. The previous day we passed a place called ‘Builders World’. Inside it looked nothing like the organised DIY shops back home but an employee told Lennart that we could find some masonite outside.
We did manage to find a piece of masonite outside and then asked if they could cut it to size. We drew a line on the hardboard and then the guy came with a small handsaw. Since sawing on the ground doesn’t work we proposed to lift the hardboard a bit. This went better but everyone started to discuss how he should use a saw. In the end there were five employees and Lennart standing around the piece of wood. We got a perfect African sawed piece of masonite to protect our solar panel! We were ready for the bush!