There are many examples of interesting border crossings in the world – piles of stones marking international boundaries, underground borders, borders within the same town, even borders where you walk out of one country through one door and into another country through a different door … But few can be as exciting as gliding between South Africa and Botswana across the legendary Limpopo River by cable car.
The border crossing at Pont Drift stands at a unique point in Africa, very close to the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers where three countries – Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe meet. It is a timeless spot where nature and culture combine in majestic landscapes, fascinating history and fabulous wildlife. It links two off-the-beaten-track tourist destinations: the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site and National Park in South Africa and the Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana.
When the Limpopo River is not flowing – something which varies considerably from year to year depending on the rains, but typically this might be from June to November – it is possible to drive across the dry sandy riverbed. However when the ‘great grey-green greasy Limpopo’ (as immortalised in Kipling’s Just So Stories) is in spate, the cable car comes into play.
Cast all images of ski resorts out of your mind – this cable car is much more rustic and quintessentially African!
After pressing the buzzer to alert the operator on the opposite bank of the Limpopo River that you are ready to depart, the outsized bird cage slowly swings away from its moorings and whisks you through the riverine bush. As you clear the treeline, there is an adrenaline rush as you sway out over the river and your thoughts inevitably turn to what might be lurking beneath you in the murky waters. But a few moments later your suspended safari is over and you have safely completely your journey from one nation to another.
Guests staying at Tuli Safari Lodge are accompanied on the crossing by their guide, who will even hold your hand if you’re nervous! The Pont Drift border post is open from 08.00 to 16.00 and the cable car carries 2-3 people and their luggage at a time.
Do you have other examples of other unusual African border crossings, or a story to tell of crossing at Pont Drift?