Now its not often you get an offer to illegally cross into another country and in most parts of the world its pretty impossible, but in parts of Africa where the borders were carved up by the European powers in the 20th Century, it becomes a little easier as there are lots of natural boundaries such as rivers used to demarcate the borders.
So when we arrived in Namibia for the second time at a campsite on the Okavango river there was the offer of a tourist trip with a difference, a trip illegally to Angola! Now on hearing this Steph and I were in no questions asked, then slowly but surely a few more signed up and for the 5.30pm trip 13 of us signed up.
Now we knew that there was obviously not going to be much where we entered the country so we had to make the most of it! Steph put together a sign and I donned my NYC Football teams top (Jossy’s Giants). At 5.30pm we walked to the dock where the ‘boat’ was waiting! Now as you can see below ‘boat’ is used very loosely to describe the river craft that we were to travel on, which was basically 2 canoes with a large bit of wood connecting them. To top it off the ‘seating’ on the ‘boat’ was taken from the restaurant at the campsite!
The ‘Captain’ (also the campsite barman) welcomed us aboard, introduced himself and the well stocked bar, excellent! With that we were off, this was a no frills ride up the river, we passed locals who were naked and washing/bathing in the river without a care in the world and passing kids in the river playing and waving at us. Before long we were approaching the spot we were going to land, I was expecting D-Day-esque fear of landing our ‘boat’ and storming up the beach into Angola, but what I got was very different.
As we approached the landing we were greeted by 4 girls singing a welcome song (So much for the Secret landing), these were girls from a village on the Namibian side, and it would appear one can pretty much walk across the river in the dry season! They seem to also know the times of the illegal border crossings everyday!
Once the welcome was done with we landed in Angola and did the entire list of what one should do when illegally entering a country. First thing was to crack open a beer, second thing was to get our photographs taken with Steph’s “illegally in Angola” sign and thirdly Bush pee (for definition see an earlier blog from Steph). An added bonus was a quick jump into the Okavango from the banks with the local girls! Job done our smash and grab illegal visit to Angola was complete, no stamp but a great memory!