Girondo Border crossing in the Kruger – Limpopo National Parks We decided
to cross the border at Girondo in the Kruger NP. This is supposed to be a quiet
and easy crossing, and we also wanted to spend time in both Kruger and the
Limpopo NP. As the crossing is inside the park you do of course have to pay the
park entrance fees to both parks to use this border. And in order to cross the
border from RSA to Mozambique, you need to have a booking for a campsite in the
Limpopo NP (Mozambique)????. If you cross to Mozambique without having an
overnight stay in the Kruger you need to produce proof of booking of the site
in Mozambique. This is to prevent this border crossing being used for heavy
traffic and smuggling. Be aware that Kruger NP does not allow day visitors to bring
alcohol into the park, so if you want to bring alcohol to take with you into
Mozambique, you need a stamp from the park office at the gate to prove you are
staying overnight. First surprise of the day: This proved to be a challenge as
we planned to cross the border with our friends from Norway in a rental car,
and they were at a different campsite inside the park. We didn’t have a copy of
the printout from the confirmation that was sent to us by email. We were
however able to talk our way in with our red wine, but it took us quite a
while. The day visitor permit for Kruger is 395 Rand for two people and the
Border post entrance on the South Africa side
border we met our friends, went to the park office for our stamps (to check out
of the Kruger part of the park). Normally you get this stamp as you enter
Kruger (based on the booking of a campsite in Limpopo (see above…)), but both
our friends coming from the south (they checked into Kruger the day before for
an overnight stay on a camp in Kruger), and us that couldn’t get the stamp
because of the missing booking, got the stamp at the park office at the Girondo
border crossing after showing the booking for a campsite in Limpopo.
Park office first door on the right (up the “ramp”), Immigration bahind in the corner, and the Carnet was processed with the police officewr in the booth on the left hand side by the gate (in front of the white car).
Then to the
second surprise. When we had the park entrance papers stamped, we proceeded to
the Immigration office with our passports to get a South African exit stamp.
The four of us, Malin and I and our friends from Norway, all entered South
Africa from Botswana on the same day. Our friends were in front of us at the
counter, they got their exit stamps, and the passports were handed back. Our
turn. We gave the immigration officer our passports, and expected the
formalities to be quick and easy. Not so. “There is a problem”. What? This is
supposed to be South Africa, and not some banana republic. The comment came as
a total surprise. We looked at each other and replied to the officer that there
was absolutely no problem. We had been in the country for five – 5 – days, and
our passports should be exactly as the passports of our friends in front of us.
No, no. We
had overstayed our visa with two days, and for that we needed to pay a fine of
1000 Rand (about 130 USD) each. So what the he## happened here??? According to
the immigration officer this is common knowledge and completely normal when you
get a visa to South Africa: If you leave the country they do not cancel the
visa. This means that when you reenter the country, as we did after spending
six weeks in Namibia and Botswana, we still had three – 3 – days left on our
visa from when we first came to South Africa. When we arrived at the border
between Botswana and South Africa five days earlier, the immigration officer
took the passports, stamped them, and gave them back, without saying a word.
Yes, I know it is our responsibility to check the stamps carefully. I will do
that next time. But the thought that something should be wrong didn’t even
occur to us.
to the immigration officer at the Girondo border the visa rules would have been
explained to us carefully when we entered the second time. It was not. We would
normally be offered a transit visa for seven days. We were not. This
information should be all over the immigration offices. It was not. Nobody I’ve
talked to have ever heard about this rule. Before crossing a border we always
check the Norwegian Foreign ministry’s info pages about visas and requirements.
There was no info about this. We argued for a long time that this was a mistake
made by the South African Immigration, and that we should not have to pay a
fine for this. If we had been made aware of the rules, we could easily have
made it through in the three days we had left. There was nothing they could do,
of course, so we accepted the fine. The condition was however, a bit different
than we expected. It has to be paid before we can get a new visa to South
Africa. So if we don’t plan on going back to South Africa, we can just forget
about the whole thing. The down side is that if we have a medical emergency of
any kind south of Sahara, South Africa is probably our best chance.
we found internet, Malin set out to find this information on the webpages of
the South African “Homeland Security”. We have still not found it. A complaint
is on its way to the embassy in Oslo. I do not feel like paying that fine.
we had signed that we accepted the fine, everything went smooth. We got the
exit stamp (with a “must pay 1000 R” on it), and we proceeded to the gate with
the cars. There the police were waiting for the last check, and to stamp our
Carnet. Not the fastest guys in the world, but we were eventually waved through
and drove 30 meters to the parking on the Mozambique side.
Drive past the building and park on the right (South Africa border in the background to the right of the building. Pic is taken out of the door after we parked).
the little incident on the South African side we were now quite late. It was around
0230 in the afternoon, and the border closes at 0300. And here they did not
speak much English. Fortunately, Portuguese is a kind of similar to Spanish,
but it still was a pretty slow process.
started with our passports (as usual). The normal tourist visa is valid for 30
days and costs 80-85 USD per person. At this border crossing it was 85 USD. From
here we split up. Malin go for the park office to purchase the entry permits,
and I move to the next guy behind the counter for the vehicle permit. Here I
also made a small mistake. As I was in line with my friend from Norway with a
rental car from South Africa, the guy behind the counter prepared a Temporary
Vehicle Permit for both our vehicles, also the Patrol. I should have understood
that this would not be necessary for a vehicle traveling with a Carnet de Passage.
Anyway, the TVP was only 10 Rand (1.3 USD), and I also chose to process my
Carnet. The senior officer wanted to have a look at the vehicles, and we went
with him to check out the cars. He looked in, but didn’t really seem to care.
As he was just about to return to the office a younger officer with some
knowledge of English showed up, and started asking about my jerry cans and if
there were fuel in them. I told him that I had fuel only in one, and that was
apparently okay. Not sure if it would have been different if I had all full,
but it could be worth checking if anyone else is crossing into Mozambique
anytime soon. Inspection passed.
sorted out the Limpopo National Park entrance fees, 195 Rand for two days, and
we were ready to go. The time was 0315, and we hurried out the gates as fast as
we could after a final check by another officer of our paperwork.
noting is that there were no third party / liability insurance (for vehicles)
available at the border as it says in some info. It is, according to the guys
at the border okay to drive in the park without, and it can be purchased at the
park office in Messingir (where you normally will exit the park). We got our
Mozambique insurance there. The park office is to the right just after the Limpopo entrance/exit gate. The insurance can also be purchased in most larger towns in
Mozambique, but then you risk ending up in a police checkpoint before you get
there and can buy one. I think it can also be arranged from some insurance
companies in South Africa, but we did not look into this as we knew we could
get one at this border crossing.
the two park entrance fees this border crossing is more expensive, but it is
also considered to be relatively easy and hassle free. And on the road from the
park and out to the coast we only saw a couple of police checkpoints. None
showed any interest in us.
NP entrance (day visitor pass): 395 Rand
85 USD per person
de Pasage: Free (or Temporary Vehicle Permit: 10 Rand)
Insurance: 150 Rand
NP entrance (2 days, camping not included): 195 Rand