(not) Cape Town update

We have an important update about our trip.

We are not going to Cape Town at this point in time. Yesterday we went to the South African High Commission in Windhoek to apply for a visa for my (Katana) passport, being one of the unlucky few nationalities that require a visa to enter South Africa. The pre-story is that we knew this, of course, and we originally thought it wouldn’t be hard to obtain a visa in any of the capital cities we were going to go through, such as Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Harare or Windhoek. We were told by fellow Russian travelers in Nairobi that a South African visa is hard to come by, because they require a plethora of documents, and the people we talked to got their visas back home, in Europe. This wasn’t really an option for me, but to be safe we went to the SA High Commission in Nairobi, where they told us of many documents that I would have to provide to apply, but also said the visa can be obtained in any SA High Commission in Africa. The same story happened in Dar es Salaam. We were reassured we can definitely get a visa in Windhoek. We also sent an email to the Windhoek SA High Commission, but never got a reply – although their website states that they do visas, and that they should reply to emails. Weeks passed and we found ourselves in Windhoek, fully supplied with all the supporting documents, ready for battle.

We got to the High Commission, got the application papers (they still failed to mention or ask anything…) and only when we waited in line, and finally got to the window to apply for the visa, we were told that actually they don’t do visas for non-Namibians and non-residents, basically they don’t issue SA visas to tourists traveling through Namibia. We tried to explain that we did indeed try to get in contact with them and that their colleagues in other High Commissions led us here, that their website is incorrect, and that the only way to know is to be told when it is too late. At this point the lady actually turned her back to us while I was mid-sentence, and walked away. When she came back, I again tried to explain our situation, looking for either sympathy, understanding, or who knows what, but she cut me mid-sentence again by starting a chat with her colleague. Besides the ridiculousness of this “rule”, the inescapable dread of “what do we do now” and the incompetence of the High Commission to inform travelers of any such information, her rudeness was really the icing on the cake. We left so angry but what is to be done?

We weighed our options: do I fly home for a few days to get the visa, do we waste time and gas driving to Gaborone (again not knowing for sure whether they issue SA visas either) and waiting for 5+ days, do we separate and Jonathan drives to Cape Town alone? This wasn’t really an option because we set out to do the trip together, therefore we will finish it as a team as well.

Our new plan is more simple. We will spend the rest of the trip in Namibia, getting to really know this amazing and beautiful country. We bought tickets from Windhoek to Cape Town for the same day as our flights out of Cape Town. Transiting through the airport I shouldn’t require anything, and might even get a visitor’s permit for the day. This way we don’t waste our tickets out of Cape Town to London. We leave Troopy in Windhoek for a few months, and in the near future will come back (maybe Easter?), having acquired a SA visa in my “home” country, we will then drive down to Cape Town and complete the mission. It is a shame to be treated this way, and a shame to break our plans, but it is exciting to make new plans and to get to see things we weren’t planning on seeing in Namibia, and in the end, what is a trip without complications? A less memorable one!

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