Day 22 – Back in SA

Overlanding in Africa involves a lot of parking under trees, a baobab in this case.

There’s a tree in Botswana that the locals call the rain tree. If you stand under it, you might think it’s starting to rain.

It isn’t.

There is a certain type of insect that lives in the rain tree, feasting on the leaves and then, um, let’s say excreting.

The locals do not stand under the rain tree…

Strong progress today on surprisingly good roads, some of them seemingly brand new smooth tarmac. With Botswana’s flat landscape offering little reason to stop, I find myself already back in SA and almost a day ahead of schedule.

Overlanding frequently leads to the stick or twist game. When you haven’t prebooked somewhere desirable because you’re just in transit to the next point of interest, then you probably have some possible overnight accommodation options planned. If you pass them all much earlier than expected, you can decide to stick, knowing that there is a place to stay but that you will be killing time in an unexciting place, or you twist. 

Keep on moving, get ahead of the plan, gain some flexibility for the next day, but at the risk of not finding any campsite or motel with space available before it gets dark, and all of them unknown and unresearched.

Sometimes, twisting fails and you end up sleeping on a pile of gravel at the side of the road still wearing your motorcycle helmet like a mini tent just for your head (Black Sea, Turkey, 2009).

Sometimes, like today, you win, and after a remarkably brief passage through the border back into SA, then past a 2 mile queue of trucks waiting for their turn to head north into Botswana, you happen upon what you think will be a campsite but turns out to be a very cosy little chalet with a fridge, air-con, and satellite TV, for little more than £20.

After the overlanders favourite dinner of pasta slop, cooked on the gas burner on the tailgate of The Beast, all I have to do now is study the map and replan tomorrow’s drive looking for a more scenic route to the campsite in Swaziland that is booked for the day after.

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