Day Thirty-Five – Three Borders, One Bus

The bus trip from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Windhoek, Namibia was an event.

Details: used InterCape, it cost 612R (61.20CAD), only runs Sundays and Wednesdays, supposedly departs 11:50 and arrives the next day at 10:30.

Notes: InterCape has regular and Sleepliner buses. These are roughly equivalent to regular Greyhound-type busses and the Latin-American Semi-Cama type busses. Translation: you want to be on a Sleepliner. Admittedly you don’t have a lot of control over this, the way you do in South America. But I did notice later in the week when I was booking the bus from Windhoek to Cape Town that the direct bus was a Sleepliner while the two-leg version was a regular bus. Also, InterCape gives you 50mb of data with your ticket BUT I suspect you can only access it at one location, ie if you log in to their internet in Windhoek, you won’t be able to on arrival in Cape Town, even if you haven’t used the whole amount.

There’s no petrol in Victoria Falls, so when a truck comes in to town, the line up is epic.

The bus to Windhoek left an hour or so late because we were waiting for a connector bus. We crossed three borders, two of which took the opportunity to yell at me – in ENGLISH! I’ve decided it’s better to be yelled at by a border guard and understand what they’re saying than not. Still unnerving, but less so.

Zimbabwe: accused of trying to subvert the system by purchasing a Univisa (50USD, can go back and forth bw Zim and Zambia) instead of a single entry visa (75USD, would have to pay for a separate Zambia visa if I crossed the bridge as well as pay another 75 to get back in to Zimbabwe). I knew about all of the above EXCEPT the price of the single entry visa. I had intended to cross the Livingstone Bridge and take in the Falls from the Zambia side, in fact I’d planned on doing the Devil’s Pool; however, I hadn’t counted on how difficult it is to walk around in 35+C heat and I was feeling particularly mortal after watching others in the Pool on my first day. All of this to say that I assumed I’d paid for the more expensive visa (because that sort of price structure would make sense) and was sad that I had not needed or used it. The Border Guard disabused me of this notion, and made me a minor celebrity as many people on the bus came up to me afterwards and asked if everything was okay and what in the sam hell was his problem? They also congratulated me on staying so calm in the face of his towering rage. *curtsies*

Namibia: I’d filled in the “duration of stay” section with 4-7d. WELL – obviously my motivation for doing this was no less than a combined determination to make this Guard’s day a living hell AND overthrow the government. In the end we agreed to say I would be in the country for ten days and he grudgingly wrote “05 Dec 2018” as my ejection date.

Although I had more than my fair share of off-telling, I did not, in fact, have the roughest time at the borders. A lady was travelling with her two year old daughter, without her husband AND without a signed affidavit giving her permission to do this. The angry heavens above rained holy terror on her door step. She didn’t cry, amazingly. Even when we left her at the first border because it didn’t look like she was going to be able to scramble anything together to satisfy the Guard. Someone must have had mercy on her though because 15mins up the road a taxi drove us down and delivered the mother and daughter back to us.

Speaking of driving the bus down, there were a number of road blocks once we crossed the Namibian border. After one of them we were briefly involved in a high speed (well, never more than 80kph as mandated by the size of the bus) chase with the police. After catching up to us, they started yelling at our drivers with a loudspeaker and our drivers yelled back out the window. Eventually we pulled over and the yelling and wild gesticulating continued on both sides while standing on the highway.

The other road blocks were more hum drum, merely rousting us out of our seats at all hours of the night to make us line up, show our stamped passports, and, after we’re all on the other side of a barricade, searching the bus for stowaways and such.

  • All in all an exciting way to travel!

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