Julian and I thought it would be a good idea to hitchhike all the way from Windhoek in Namibia to Cape Town in South Africa. As the distace was approximately 1500 km, we estimated that we need about 3 days for the whole trip. 500 km per day.
According to a hitch hikers guide found online we started by taking a taxi to the best spot to leave Windhoek towards southwards. This was at 10 am. As we thought that we would be able to make about 500 km, our goal was Keetmanshoop. After a long time waiting a truck driver, Marten, stopped and offered us a lift. However, only to Mariental, which is about half the way. For the lift he wanted 100 N$ from each of us. The bargaining started and in the end we could reduce the price to a total of 100 N$. Marten was an awesome guy and so was the ride. In his truck he only had one extra seat, but there as a bed in the back. So while Julian set next to Marten, I sat on the bed.
Mariental is not exactly a place you would like to call home. Well, at least not the area, where Marten let us out. Upon arrival, we saw a large group of street kids outside of the gas station, where Marten had to deliver his payload to. As we weren’t successful to get a lift to Keetmanshop at the gas station, we walk out on the road, only to find ourselves immediately surrounded by those kids. They asked us about the direction we were travelling. After telling them, they found a driver who was willing to take us to Keetmanshoop. But only for a transportation fee of 100 N$, each. Apparently those kids earn some money by filling up cars with travel companions that pay for the ride.
We actually didn’t want to accept the offer as we didn’t like the driver. But as there was no other car around and there was already a girl sitting in the car, we felt safe enough to take this lift. When departing, the driver told us about another guy he has to pick up, before leaving for our destination. So instead of heading on the highway south, he turned the other way and drove into the slums of Mariental. The car stopped in front of a small hut and a boy jumped in.
So we can go now?
No, but this boy knows where the guy lives who will come with us.
Then he drove deeper into the slums. After moving through the slum for some time we had enough. We argued with the driver to let us out and give us our money back. Although he wasn’t very happy about it, he did as we told him. So we rushed back to the gas station. By now it was already 4 pm and we were quite discouraged. Such a good start of our journey has turned bad so quickly.
Instead of asking for a lift at the gas station, our new plan was to walk on the highway southwards and try to catch a car there. We did this for about half an hour until a car stopped. A rancher from the area of Keetmanshoop picked us up.
Going home from some cattle markets, he dropped us off at a gas station outside of Keetmanshoop. While Marten went 60 km/h on average with his truck, this crazy guy had an average speed of 160 km/h. Only because of that we were able to reach Keetmanshoop at 6 pm.
Close to this gas station was a lodge. As it still was so early we faced two options. Either staying here overnight, or looking for another ride that will take us up to the border, which is about another 300 km away. Talking to other travelers and looking for a lift we met Atti. And let me tell you, Atti is one of a kind.
Excuse me sir, we are two backpackers who look for a ride towards Cape Town.
You want to go to Cape Town. You come with me. I go to Cape Town
Oh this is great. Will you reach the border until tonight?
The border?! F*** that. I go to Cape Town. I come from Swakopmund. I already drive for f***ing 19 hours. These few more hours to Cape Town I will make until tonight. You can come with me.
Julian and me couldn’t realize how lucky we were. We found a driver who would go to Cape Town! And soon we understood why he was so confident about reaching Cape Town by tonight. Atti was a steel worker. But I think racing is his true passion. In average we were going 180 km/h! Atti truly loved the limit. Two hours later, we reached the border. Atti was very hectic and rushed through the emigration process in Namibia. But then something exceptional happened. Looking back, I simply call it Atti being Atti! Immigrating to South Africa, Julian and me filled out the forms to immigrate to South Africa as usual. However, Atti had something else in mind. Probably already thinking himself in South Africa, he wanted to change his Namibian sim card for his South African one. But when he encountered serious trouble to exchange the sim card, he simply gave his phone to the border officer, instead of his passport.
Change it for me. You have hands like a woman. You can do it!
While the truly cooperative officer tried to follow Atti’s hectic instructions, another officer finally got hold of Atti’s passport. Suddenly he shouted:
The police is looking for you! You cannot enter South Africa under these circumstances.
F*** this shit!
After bellowing these words, Atti stormed into the office. I mean, this door shoud be locked, right? Well, it wasn’t. Shortly afterwards, Atti was discussing with the two officers eagerly in Africans. Sometime after, Atti again rushed out of the office. I seriously don’t know what happened, but when looking back I saw the two officers giving the thumbs up. But did it end here? Nope, not yet. Atti of course had nothing to declare.
F*** this shit, only idiots declare something.
But when departing from the immigration bureau, we were stopped at the border.
Good evening sir, do you have something to declare?
No, I deliver drugs!
The officer probably did not except this kind of response. A bit insecure he replied:
Sir, would you please open the back of your car?
Mumbling F*** this shit, Atti got out of his car and did as asked. Now, besides of our backpacks there were some salt crystals for Atti’s wife. But the police officers did not recognized it. While he pulled over some latex gloves he asked:
What is this? Amphetamine?
This shit. F*** no, my wife wants this shit. These are shitty salt crystals.
How can you prove it?
Are you f***ing kidding me?! Just lick it! Why are you wearing gloves? Is my car dirty?!
Sir … it’s the regulation on how to inspect suspicious goods …
Ah f*** this shit!
Apparently by now the officer believed Atti and continued his inspection. He felt Julian and mine backpacks and asked a now bit insecure
Are there any iligal items inside?
No, only shit!
This came of course from Atti.
Ok … I will believe you.
With this the young police officer let us go. Raising his pointing finger, Atti educated us.
Never be calm and nice while crossing the border. The officers will only f*** you.
This was the border crossing. The by far weirdest crossing I have ever experienced. But all in all Atti is a nice guy. As we arrived in the middle of the night, he didn’t want us to look for a hostel as the streets of Cape Town can be quite dangerous at night. So he simply let us stay at his family’s house. The next morning we said farewell to Atti and his family. But we were only allowed to leave if his nephew would take us to the city center!
Overall we departed from Windhoek at 10 am and arrived in Malmesbury, Atti’s den, at 1 am the next morning. Although we had this critical point in Mariental, we made all the 1500 km in about 15 hours. And all in all for 70 N$, which is roughly 5 euro! My conclusion: hitchhiking is worth it!