We left the Beautiful Country of Botswana yesterday and drove back into South Africa. Border crossings here are a bit confusing – no road signs, very limited signage on the Customs and Immigration buildings and usually long queues of people at the only open desk, with at least 6 other officials sitting around watching proceedings, but not actually doing anything much. The other people queuing have usually been much more helpful in telling us how to do things than the officials behind the desks.
Anyway, after a wrong turn at the Botswana border … 3 roads, 2 dead ends and one that actually crossed into South Africa, we filled in some forms and got on our way. We were heading to the Mapungubwe National Park, on the Limpopo River right at the northern border of Sth Africa with Zimabwe, but the road was absolutely dreadful, the worst I’ve ever been on. Potholes everywhere, edges of the road crumbling away … so bad that Greg got car sick and he was driving! And we drove through a thunderstorm, which slowed us down a bit more. There was no way we’d get to the National Park before dark, so we tried to get a campsite at a private game reserve which advertised camping on their billboard, but after we’d driven through the enormous security gate and found the host … no camping. It wasn’t a completely wasted trip though, we were greeted just inside the gate by a giraffe and 6 zebras!
We headed down the road to Alldays and found Munala Game Lodge, a campground complex with restaurant, bar, swimming pool, cabins and tent sites. Yay! Pieter, the host, drove us around and showed us possible places to pitch our tent. He apologised that the actual caravan park was full …. of miners who work at the local diamond mine, which happens to be the largest in the country. Venetia Diamond Mine is owned by De Beers and you can read about it here. There is no acccommodation on-site, so I guess the locals are doing well out of providing services for the miners. Before we got here, I noticed a group of 3 long tin sheds that looked like workers’ quarters, but now realise it was probably more miners’ accommodation.
Pieter is an aquaculturist, and he assured us that mosquitoes and other insects wouldn’t be a problem here. He visited us this morning and asked if we’d heard the lion during the night – er, no, thank goodness. And he’d just killed a python over on the lawn.
Now we’re heading east to Kruger National Park, with a stop-over at Mapungubwe National Park on the way, to see what’s there.