We are exchanging our 2 wheel rides for a shared 4×4. We will ride side by side rather than singly for the next seven weeks. We have packed our riding gear away and fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg where we are picked up and whisked off to Bushlore’s offices http://www.bushlore.com where we are acquainted with our Hilux 4×4. Whereas I am a novice at this 4×4 world, Anne has spent 11 years travelling ‘out bush’ in Australia and has a good idea of what to check for when collecting a 4×4 vehicle for bush travel. She tests the air-conditioning and discovers a new filter is needed. The old one is torn and filled with dirt and sand. Always check the air-conditioning is fully functional in hot climates! As we head up the highway towards Pretoria a steering wheel wobble occurs above 90km / 55 ml per hour. Unbalanced tyres! Back we go and leave with five brand new Cooper off road tyres! As it was close to closing time this was their quickest option, a bonus for us. Everything else is fine and we are happy and set to go.
We have decided to stay in Pretoria overnight as we have a number of activities we need to complete before going ‘bush’, and have booked a guest house close to the main N1 highway. Here we encounter something I had only read about, communities that have legally closed off public roads for security purposes. The only entrances are through manned or automatic gates. Either a reflection on the state of security or insecurity here.
Toll roads now abound in Johannesburg and Pretoria, which are part of Guateng Province. The tolls are on freeway infrastructure that has been around for decades. We heard that the Western Cape Province would not accept tolls on existing freeways and this may affect the allocation of funds to them for new roads. In our experience road tolls normally only apply to new infrastructure.
Having completed almost all the tasks and spent another night in Pretoria we are off. Our route takes us north up the N1 toll road to Mopokane, then north west to the Botswana border at Groblersbrug/Martin’s Drift. The crossing was quick and easy with little paperwork and we on our way. We had heard that the police in Botswana are vigilant regarding speeding and regular radar traps confirm the fact. No, we obeyed the signs so no tickets for us.
This region has suffered from drought for the last few years and the fields we pass are devoid of grass for animal feed. This is reflected by the number of animals, mostly domestic but some wild, seeking the small amount grass found by roadside making driving more ‘interesting’ that one would like. If the animal is eating, we are probably ok, if not then slow down.
We cover over 630km and make our planned destination of Francistown. Our Botswana safari begins tomorrow.
PS: Anthony kindly omitted to mention that we returned to the 4×4 hire place a second time as I forgot my iPad in the luggage we left behind until our return. Aarrgghh!! – Anne
PPS: Anne spent six hours uploading a few photos, definitely no more blog entries until next month.