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Day 16

Friday 19 August 2005
Coach House Hotel, Tzaneen - Cresta Thaparma Hotel, Francistown

Today was the first of two long fast runs northwards on good, straight two-lane blacktop roads clocking up the kilometres through the Limpopo province and up the eastern side of Botswana.

An early start was had by all as we started with a short loop around the attractive hills of the Tzaneen area. This included a visit to the pretty little community of Haenertsburg before dropping down to the scenic Magoebaskloof pass. We then cut across country, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, to join the main highway that sliced through the Soutpansberg mountains by way of the Hendrik Verwoed Tunnels.

The route then turned dry and dusty over less used, semi-desert roads, giving us a challenging change of driving technique to the small town of Alldays, for a lunch halt, before the short run to the border crossing at Pontdrif.

Immediately after the South African border post we drove across the bed of the Limpopo River (which was completely dry this time of year - although there is a cable car in place for the wet seasons) and into Botswana. Instantly the landscape change to 'true Africa', with wide, grey-red gravel roads side lined with wild bushes and unspoilt traditional villages, complete with friendly people. This part of Botswana is fabulous and completely untainted by tourism.

The roads then turned into asphalt once more and after 275km took us to our overnight halt in Francistown, Botswana's second city, where Terry-Lynn Weening handed out the party hats that she herself had made to celebrate her 8th birthday.