Hello, my name is Dietmar, I’m German and married to Claudia, a Mozambique borne South African. We are retired, live half of the year in the South of France, the other half in Africa, based in South Africa, from where we love to go on trips to other African countries. As my passion is collecting butterflies, we usually have Nature Reserves as our targets where everything is about butterflies.
Or latest trip started end of January 2012 from Nelspruit, it took 4 weeks and 7.000 km through 5 different countries. Birgit, the manager of Les Magnolias, our hotel in France had just arrived, and we wanted to treat her to something special.
We were well prepared with Malaria and Yellow Fever prophylaxes, enough US$ (that’s what we thought), lots of internet research about the different places to visit and a flexible schedule, when to be where, so no fixed bookings. Our car is a proper 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser with long range tank and fully “off road equipped”. As bribing currency we took 12 cans of Coke, that’s what Zimbabwean police liked to ask for 2 years ago, when we spent some time there. Very important, we had a full comprehensive insurance, covering all 3rd party damages for whole Sub Saharan Africa from OUTsurance.
We started heading north to Beitbridge, the border post to Zimbawe. We slept over in Mussina (still SA) to be at the border early enough, as queuing there can easily take 10 hours. Leaving a country normally is fast, after 15 minutes we were at the Zim side. This time everything looked to be easy, 6:30am, not many people waiting, but already 5 guys approaching us to be “helpful” with the formalities, which means, selling 3rd party insurances, getting visas, exchanging money on the black market and mainly being paid for standing in the queues for you. We didn’t want any support, as there were anyway no queues. It takes you many border crossings to be finally firm enough to get rid of these guys. Claudia is perfect in filling in forms and knows all Passport and car details by heart. South Africans don’t need a visa, Birgit and I needed a double entry one as a German, which cost 80 US$ each ! The discussion about being properly insured was not too difficult, after 15 minutes they simply accepted, that we don’t want a local one for 50US$. But now the TIP (temporary import permission) for our car. We had a perfect color copy of the car registration paper, nicely laminated. They wanted to see the original one, which we always keep at home for security reasons. It was immediately understood, that we didn’t want to go back, so we were offered to compensate the police officer with 20US$ to forget about not having seen the originals. After one hour we had our TIP including carbon emission fees of about 25US$. Less than 2 hours at this border was clearly our personal record. However a rough forecast of the total costs for crossing borders proved, that we wouldn’t have enough US$ in cash for the whole trip.
Stay tuned for Chapter 2 – Masvingo to Chipinge to be posted soon….