We learnt many lessons crossing the Kazangula border the next morning. For anyone crossing this border:
- Keep some Pula on you – you’ll pay about 4 times as much for the ferry if you only have dollars on you.
- As a passenger, stay close to your car – I ended up staying in Botswana watching James and Huberta cruise off across to Zambia without me!
- Buy your third party insurance for the same period as what you need your Comesa. We’ve ended up paying for our Zambian third party insurance twice.
- Fill your tank before you leave Botswana. Fuel is about 30% cheaper there.
- Arrive well fed and in a good mood with bucket loads of patience, you might be there a while!
We found a fantastic campsite right on the river at Maramba River Lodge outside Livingstone and Huberta got comfortable for a few days’ rest while we cruised around on our bikes exploring. Being on the bikes gave us a great opportunity to take in all around us and chat to the people along the way.
We decided to go across the border to view the falls from the Zimbabwean side. We couldn’t believe how easy it was to cross this border without a car – less than 5min in total. We were joined by a peloton of traders with bikes heavily loaded and started chatting to one of the guys about what was going on around us.
Turns out, there are significant price differences between the towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls and these entrepreneurs are making decent money by taking advantage of this. Rice and oil need to be bought in Zim and sold in Zambia while beer and mealie meal need to be bought in Zambia and sold in Zim. Beer carries a high import tax. So if you can sneak it across the border (or pay a reduced tax directly to an official!), there’s a lot of money to be made there. None of the people we spoke to did this, but told us in great detail about others who did!
The other interesting commodity being traded was charcoal. In Zim, it’s illegal to cut down trees to make charcoal. However, in Zambia there is a roaring charcoal making industry. Many of the bikes are packed so heavily with charcoal, they can hardly push them.
James had a long chat with Shingirai, who was turning a profit of US$22 per trip across the border, which is massive in comparison to most local salaries. He’s put his 3 children through school by doing multiple trips each day across the border.
We also took advantage of the price differences after learning that rafting was US$50 cheaper in Zimbabwe than what we were offered in Zambia.
On the Vic Falls bridge, we asked a policeman to take a photo of us. He laughed when he heard we were from SA and chirped something about Julius Malema. We were completely out of touch with news from back home and knew nothing about the State of the Nation address the week before. This policeman, his name was Calvin(like every other Zambian!), went on to give us a 20min lecture on what was happening in our politics back home. It was great getting some news from home and it was so interesting hearing the Zambian’s perspectives on it. They cannot believe that people can have such little respect for parliament and the law. They all agree that there would never be any sort of fight in their parliament and that anyone breaking the law, no matter what position they’re in, would be sent to jail or have some sort of recourse. We’ve had similar conversations with barmen. Most of which find South African politics most humorous.
We’ve been very happy to have the bikes. It’s allowed us to see the area at less than 80km/h and given us far more opportunities to get to know the people.