Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia

Riding a motorcycle from Jo’Burg to Livingstone, Vic Falls – EPISODE 3


These are just a few experiences, tips, venues and advice from our trip to help you plan your own adventure.

Accommodation along our trip. Some of it was really very good…. In fact No, it was all good, just some of the owners/managers could have handled some situations better, particularly at our first port of call.

Words & Pics:  Séan Hendley and friends

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia
After weaving our way through a multitude of idling lined up trucks at the border in 40 degree plus heat, any little bit of shade was a 5 star relief

Night 1, We stayed at Woodlake on the outskirts of Francistown, Botswana. 

It’s a very nice venue with lovely air conditioned rooms. Two of our riders had to pull out at the last minute, we explained this to the manager who initially agreed to help us a bit with the pricing but then inflated the price per person by 50% to cover for the two cancellations, we went up from around R600.00 per person sharing, to around R900.00 per person sharing. When we expressed our surprise at this development, things turned decidedly sour. Then we were informed the meals were not included in that cost and we now had to pay an extra 65 pula per person for what for intents and purposes was a 250 gram or less frozen snack. 

Some opted for the paltry frozen pre packed meal, but I decided I was adequately nourished. Then we had to cough up around R30.00 for a R10.00 bottle of water…. I didn’t even enquire about the beer prices at this point. We muttered and grumbled our way to our respective rooms and were just settling in when the owner presented himself and threatened us with the police, which led to another round of arguing and grumbling and more threats from the owner instead of diffusing the situation. Not a great advert for the Botswana hospitality industry. No breakfast was on offer, so we went into the local Golden Hills Spur in Francistown for brekkie which wasn’t badly priced and the staff were super friendly and efficient, which renewed our hope for the rest of the trip.

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia
Woodlands, just outside Francistown is a really nice venue, but there was a misunderstanding that was not handled or sorted out amicably by the owner, who even threatened us with the police, which resulted in much unhappiness in general. After that we would recommend rather staying anywhere else in and around Francistown

Night 2, and things got a lot bit better. Kwalape Lodge in Kasane Botswana is a fantastic resort, we stayed in permanent tents with twin beds at a cost of about R450.00 per person sharing, and had a ceiling fan and an en-suite shower and toilet. That evening we were entertained by a traditional dance group and served a barbecue dinner at the side of the pool. 220.00 pula, about R310.00 got you a small piece of Minute steak, a chicken drumstick and a piece of Boerewors, a scoop of pap and or sorghum with accompanying sauces, a salad, some butternut and sweet potato mix and a little bit of pudding. I managed to sneak in a second helping of pap and sauce and another piece of boerie before they ran out of food. Once again, breakfast was not included in the price.

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia
Kwalape Lodge in Kasane is really very nice with super friendly staff, great facilities, but goodness, our currency is quite weak against the Pula, and most of Botswana charges in Pula's what we get charged in Rands - in other words what is priced at R10.00 in SA is priced at P10.00 in Botswana (around R14.50), as a SA traveller just be cognisant of that

Nights 3, 4 & 5 were in Livingstone, Zambia at Fawlty Towers at a cost of $32.50 per person sharing or around R1,900.00 per person for the three nights and it did include breakfast every morning which was easily enough to sustain us through most of the day. Dinners were eaten at local restaurants or takeaways and the prices, quality and portion sizes were as good as our favourite places back in SA. I had a debonairs pizza on night 2 and Hungry Lion chicken on the third night. The first night I supplemented my R1,400.00 cruise and light dinner with a couple of sandwiches from the Shoprite across the road from the hotel. Pizza’s were on offer from the hotel at around R150.00 or so and we had a couple for lunch on day one.

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia
Fawlty Towers is an absolute gem and excellent value for money. Super friendly and helpful staff and management. This is by far the nicest experience and the best memories from this trip. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND STAYING HERE, in fact, it is worth the trip on its own

Night 6 we were back in Francistown and chose the Cresta Thapama hotel in town. One of our party had stayed there on the first night and had paid 1,100.00 pula, (about R1,600.00) which included a 150 pula, (R220.00) breakfast. This hotel is very, very nice and they had a few twin rooms available for us…. at a cost of 1,586.00 pula, (R2,300.00) per room sans breakfast which I very politely thanked them for their efforts and kindness before declining and leaving. As we were about to exit the clerk was on the phone and quickly came back with a price of 1,200.00 pula, (R1,750.00) per room which worked out at about R4.00 less per person sharing than our first night at Woodlake. We had dinner across the road at the Golden Hills Spur, and quite frankly the quality and service was far better than any Spur I have been to in S.A. Breakfast the next morning was enjoyed at the local Wimpy as you head south out of town and once again the food, the quality and the service was infallible. From there it was a hard push to be back home in Jo’burg around 17H00.


Food: When it comes to food and drink along the road you need to make provision for that, other than in the big towns and cities there is very little on offer and if and when you do find it the quality, the hygiene and the price are more often than not quite questionable. For instance a 1.5lt of bottled water that costs an average of R15.00 in South Africa will set you back 20.00 pula in Botswana which is the equivalent of R29.00 or so, even in the bigger towns and cities. I found places like ‘Choppies’ and Shoprite were a lot more reasonable and pricing was more comparative to S.A. pricing.

It is oppressively hot in Botswana this time of year, we saw a daily average of between 39 and 44 degrees celsius everyday, riding with my visor open felt like a hot hair dryer roasting my eyeballs, so you need to hydrate every opportunity you get. And don’t be silly here and drink a beer or fizzy cold drinks, they actually dehydrate you quicker and you will regret your choice very shortly in that kind of heat. We grabbed water wherever we could, no matter the price and carried peanuts, cashew nuts, keto bars which got us from civilisation to civilisation where we could find food to match our palettes.

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia
We would advise that you carry your own snacks and packed lunch with you, as finding fresh food not still 'on the hoof' can be quite challenging - especially for western tastes and niceties


Border crossings: Here you need to remember you are in Africa and understand African time. Get stroppy with the officials and you will suffer thier ire. Be pleasant, friendly and understanding of their workload as well as the processes and be chatty about inane things like the weather, etcetera and be sincere…. There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of, “You catch more ants with honey than with vinegar”, and it is true. At all border crossings you have to stomp your boots/shoes etc in an antiseptic bath as well as drive your vehicle through a similar bath, and they are very strict and do insist that you do it – no exceptions.

Motorcycle over landing in Africa - Suzuki DL 1050 DE - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg - Botswana - Zambia

Groblersbrug/Martin’s Drift from SA to Botswana used to be a quiet little border. I remember crossing for a trip with The Adventure Company years ago. Now  it’s an exceptionally busy border crossing. We hit it at about lunchtime or so on Saturday and the big lorries were already queuing from the Weighing Station near Tom Burke, a queue of about 5 or 6 km. Those guys, the drivers, are also frustrated and have been waiting longer than you for days already, so be nice to them as well and they will let you jump ahead in the queue most of the time. The border post is dirty, overrun by trucks and ablutions are sketchy at best and the whole place is generally choked with frustrated long haul truck drivers. If you are friendly and courteous to the officials on both sides it will just make your life that much easier, but be prepared for a long, hot, sweaty, crowded wait and make sure you have all your documentation – and make sure it is all correct.

The Kazungula Border between Botswana and Zambia will blow your mind. We were told stories of a tin shack down on the river by the ferry landing on either, which we were quite looking forward to. What we found was a huge, very newly built, modern and air conditioned terminal building housing both the Botswana and Zambia border control offices. Parking is aplenty, the truck and bus traffic is controlled better, there is a Bureau De Change as well as informal money changers, and it all works very well and is quite pleasant. It takes around 2 hours to clear through both sides, it is quite a complex process of health checks,immigration, customs, road taxes, road insurance, (our Third Party/R.A.F.), bridge tolls, (which have to be paid in both directions), Interpol clearances and again – get stroppy and it will take longer. Tourists do seem to get preferential treatment at this border, but don’t demand it or expect it. 

And that is it pretty much, all in a nutshell – travelling through our neighbouring states is as easy or as difficult as you would like to make – no real mystery to it. It is hugely interesting and you will get to see and experience the magnificence of our continent.

Keep and eye out for the fourth and final episode coming soon.

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