There is a place called Kazungula, at the intersection of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers, where four countries meet. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and a tiny strip of Namibia all come together in one spot.
(Side note: A point where four borders meet is called a quadripoint. There is some controversy as to whether or not Kazungula is a legitimate quadripoint, for reasons too complicated to explain in this post. Read more here. But if Kazungula is indeed a quadripoint, then it’s the only four-country quadripoint in the world.)
During my recent visit to Victoria Falls, my friend and I took a day trip to Botswana to visit Chobe National Park. The Chobe trip was incredible and I’ll tell you about it in my next post. But first let me tell you about the border crossing.
A group of school kids waiting to cross the border between Zambia and Botswana.
I’ve crossed quite a few borders in Africa — by car, by plane, and by foot — and it always gives me a thrill. But there’s something about crossing a border by boat that I found particularly fascinating.
There is no bridge at Kazungula between Zambia and Botswana. (There is a plan to build one but it won’t be done for several years.) The only way for trucks to cross the border is by ferry, and only one truck can cross at a time. The line of trucks waiting to cross on either side of the border is miles long, literally. Truckdrivers often wait there for days, even weeks.
Trucks waiting to cross from Zambia to Botswana.
Fortunately Michelle and I were not traveling by truck. We bypassed the truck line in our taxi, hopped out at the border post, moved quickly through immigration (no line), and strolled down to the beach.
The public ferry, for people traveling between the two countries without a vehicle, costs about $1 and looked fairly simple to navigate. The line wasn’t long on the day we were there.
A woman walks to the public ferry from Zambia to Botswana.
Tourists traveling to Chobe National Park take a different ferry, organized by the lodges at Chobe. The cost for our crossing was included in the price of our daytrip, which was booked through our guesthouse in Livingstone.
“Ferry” is a generous word for the boats that carry people between borders at Kazalunga. They’re more like motorized dinghies.
Michelle in our “ferry”.
As we waited for our ferry on the Zambia side of the river, I wandered around and took a few pictures.
I saw this guy, Fredson, taking a photo of his daughter, Miniva, along the shoreline. Fredson and his family were also waiting for the ferry — they were moving from Zambia to South Africa and seemed so excited.
After a 10-minute wait, we boarded our ferry-dinghy. Souvenir hawkers clustered around as we got onto the boat. “I am John! Remember me! I will be here when you come back!”
It took about three-and-a-half minutes to sail across to Botswana.
We passed the truck ferry on our way across.
At the end of the day on our way to Zambia, we followed the same route in reverse.
A Chobe safari driver bids us farewell as we ride back to Zambia with some other tourists.
Michelle snapped this shot of the regular ferry line in Botswana as we rode past. I love that there are different pickup points for high water and low water. (Photo: Michelle Stern)
The hawkers were indeed waiting for us when we returned. Note the trucks in line behind them.
I would love to spend a few days hanging out at this border crossing (and the crossings between the other quadripoint countries, which are all in the same general vicinity), chatting to people and watching what goes on. I have a feeling there would be lots of interesting stories to tell. Maybe next trip.
My Chobe safari post is coming up. Here a couple of pics to get things started.
After the next post I will return to my regular Joburg silliness.