Day 2 – 4: Mapungubwe NP to Katima Mulilo via Nata Lodge

993 km from Mapungubwe to Katima Mulilo
2 091 km Total trip to date

Now we are entering new territories, as we have been to some of these towns and areas, but many years ago, and via different routes.

Border post nearest Mapungubwe NP between South Africa and Botswana: Pont Drift.

Easy border, it took us 20 minutes in total going through both sides. The border crossing was special to us, as you can only cross this border when the Limpopo river is dry. When the Limpopo river is flowing, the visitors to the Mashatu and Tuli Game Reserves from South Africa leave their vehicles at the South African side and cross the river by cable car.


Border crossing at Pont Drift through a dry Limpopo river

Border processes

Just beyond the border we passed the Mashatu and Tuli Game Reserve entrances – both reserves we would have liked to visit but due to time constraints we gave it a mis.

We took a 2-spoor road through the northern Tuli Game reserve (we discovered later that T4A directed us there as it is the shortest route) which was nice to drive as we saw lots of impala, baboons and some giraffe and zebra. The veld is VERY dry. It rained on Wednesday and the water pooled along the road and in the veld, but there is no sign of green anywhere yet.

Tuli Game Reserve – extremely dry
Dam en route to Selebi Pikwe

Once on the A1 road from the south to Francistown, it is a double road with excellent road surface and very busy. The landscape is still Mopani bush and very dry.

Firewood for sale next to the road

Francistown: – Lesson for driving in Africa:

UPDATE Tracks4Africa maps to the latest version. Lady Garmin made us miss the interchange bridge to Nata and took us wrong side down a one-way in Francistown. And she persisted. We had to totally ignore her to get out. We visited Francistown more than 30 years ago, and Francistown is a modern city now compared to then.

We camped at Nata Lodge, which is a beautiful overnight stop. Lots of campsites, filled with overland trucks and tents and a group of 16 motorhomes, numerous individual campers. Nice ablutions, hot water, campsites not crowded, therefore the many campers around did not bother us. The hordes of mosquitos attacked us throughout the night, trying to kill us. We were not ready for them, despite our preparations.

Nata Lodge
Nata Lodge

From Nata to the north via the A3 the scenery changes completely. For 200 km no small towns where you have to go at 60km, no more donkeys, cattle or goats grazing almost in the road. North of Nata is a 200 km stretch of wildlife area. A wide public main road to the north with 120km/hr speed limit and wildlife grazing in the open area next to the road – Elephant (5 times), kudu (twice), impala and steenbuck(multiple times).

Elephant along the highway towards Kasane
Kudu along the highway

Just before Pandamatenga there are some fences and around the town some agricultural activities.

At Pandamatenga we got our first speed fine. 98km/hr in a 60km/hr zone. 520 Pula. The camera is set up to catch you when you pass the 60 sign. Straight forward payment via credit card right next to the road with proper receipt. Bottom line – do not reduce speed when passing the sign, but reduce speed way before the sign, so that you are within the limit when passing the sign.

The wildlife area starts again at around 20 km north of Pandamatenga all the way to Kazungula.

Filled up with diesel in Kasane (more than R5/liter cheaper than RSA). Nice Shoprite store in Kasane.

Ngoma Border post is 65 km west from Kasane and we entered the Chobe National Park 15km outside Kasane. The veld is beautiful and there were some zebra and steenbuck next to the road.

Chobe National Park – on road from Kasane to Ngoma Bridge

The Ngoma border post between Botswana and Namibia is also an easy crossing – 25 minutes in total for both sides.

Crossing the Chobe river between the border posts there were elephant from the Botswana side and cattle from the Namibia side grazing and drinking water in the same river.

A herd of more than 1 000 buffalo was chased into the Chobe river from the Namibia side during this week and sadly more than 400 of the buffalo drowned.

Elephant and cattle in the Chobe river – Ngoma Bridge
Cattle in the Chobe river

We camped at the Caprivi Houseboat Safari camp outside Katima Mulilo on the banks of the Zambesi – beautiful with only 2 campsites with power points, some cabins, houseboats to rent and a huge deck with Wifi overlooking the Zambesi.

Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge
Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge

No more vet fence control points! We passed 6 control points and only at the first one after the RSA/Botswana border they wanted to see our cooler boxes with meat. Quite literally we showed them our cooler boxes and kept quiet about the 40kg frozen meat in the freezer. So our meat is safe.

Where we are now….

Next: into Zambia towards Kabula Lodge for some tiger fishing in the Zambesi.


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