13 August 2013
Today was the BIG day leaving South Africa!
We left Nelspruit early morning and made all the last minute phone calls, (some emotional) and crossed the border at Rozano Garcia.
We were amazed at the traffic volumes and all the people crossing both ways middle of the week, but all went smooth and in no time we were through and on our way.
We decided on the Fatima Backpackers where we could sleep in our vehicle in a safe environment as there are no camping facilities in Maputo, and after booking our spot in the drive way we set off to buy a cell card to be able
to be in contact with the family.
The Esplanade road was a hustle and bustle with construction vehicles and building happening. The potholes
are massive as it was an old road and all the extra and heavy traffic adding to the state.
True to our habits as soon as we had a Sim card we headed out for a coffee shop. Rui for his Portuguese toast (skaapwagtersnye).
We went for a drive through the city and realised this city was definitely build for the night light as all looks much better. Then we returned to Fatima’s where we had supper (no photos of this supper). We then planned the things we want to do and see the next day.
We had good fun sitting in the lounge/reception area and watching the fellow guests arriving, eating and interactions.
We enjoyed watching a high and mighty family arriving and by the looks on their faces this was not what they
expected and they looked very out of place.
What a night, the campsite is on the roof of the establishment
with a staircase of about 50cm wide leads up to there.
A lovely shady spot under a huge mango tree with artificial grass. No ways we could get the Cruiser up there so our camp spot was the driveway. The street is a double way with quite a lot of noise, but to credit was the perfect weather, at 04h00 the bus left to Tofo with a huge commotion from right in front of our camping spot.
The next was the early morning call to pray from the nearby mosque. Then the neighbour’s cocks crowing.....
We got up and left to explore the city after chatting to fellow guests. We went to the Cathedral of Maputo, the
Samora Machel Statue in city and the Iron house that was built for the governor but due to the heat was never inhabited. At the botanical gardens we saw what was left of what once must have been beautiful gardens and bunches of bats hanging from a tree. We decided "Maputo is under construction" and there is 4 peak traffic hours in this city as all set off to home for lunch and then the big trek back in again after lunch!
We splashed out on a lunch having “meal of the day" and blew about a week’s entertainment budget on it, so will have to cut down on the eating out at posh restaurants (all best intensions). After a walk on the beach we watched the sunset from the Marginal close to the harbour and decided to attempt the ferry to Katembe the following
After another night with very similar circumstances we set off to the ferry this morning. The park assistant on the ferry manoeuvred Rui into a tight space and we crossed. At Katembe we came across a beautiful little hotel and a few metres from it "the Packers" where we arranged to camp for the night. We took a drive to Bella Vista in the south and could not believe our eyes as there was this huge construction of a cement factory between nowhere and
nothing on the way to Ponta de Ouro. A project worth of $72m, on a terrible gravel road.
We had supper with the lights of Maputo across the bay and the sound of the sea 20 metres from us........ (I haven't seen a mosque close by so let’s hope there is no call tomorrow morning).
We had a good time at Katembe packers lodge and left with the ferry back to Maputo. We stopped at the brand new Pick n Pay on the outskirts and stocked up with familiar brands. The stalls and markets alongside the road were noticeably less and the roadside seemed to be cleaner than what we recalled from a year ago. The stadium seemed to be completed and we headed out to Macaneta. While waiting in the row to cross by ferry a youngster came to Rui and started a conversation.
Him: Delarey Delarey vandag sal ek n boer moet ry. Give me money.
We could only laugh and moved onto the ferry. Also here Chinese the are busy with what will become a bridge across the river.
The first campsite Tan n Biki was what we thought to be too expensive and we moved onto Lugar do Mar
where we spent the weekend. Rui watched rugby, we skyped home and then met up with a couple from South Africa Piet and Mariana and chatted the Sunday away.
We left to move further north on Monday morning and as we got to the ferry crossing there was a crowd of people on the river bank and divers in the water. A sombre atmosphere, an accident happened the previous night as a
vehicle was bumped by another one on the ferry and fell overboard with a family of four inside, they were now busy recovering the vehicle and bodies. Here we realised that all the equipment was from private lodges or individuals as the local authorities have nothing.
Jean was very upset by the incident and we decided to take an alternative route (70km detour) through back roads and driving through a huge Unitrans sugar plantation and sugar Mill to eventually join the En1 pass Magaraga.
Arriving at Bilene only to realise the Palmeiras campsite we have been visiting for years has been so badly neglected we don't want to spend any time here. We headed out to Laguna campsite, about 5km from town and what a pleasant surprise, not only half price (bargain) out of season, but each campsite is well fenced with its own ablution and kitchenette. All spotless clean, after an emotional day we had a good nights sleep and woke up to over casted weather. We headed back to town and at the market we bought fresh prawns that Rui prepared for a late lunch. We had a walk on the beach and watched the flamingos on the lagoon. Well rested and ready we will head further north
We head north and stopped over at a campsite called Sunset Beach at Chidenguele and were tempted by a beach or pool day, but the weather turned and we decided to rather move on.
Our next stop would be Tofo and as we had a good time there a year ago we were looking forward to it. As we drove further north the speed of development slows down completely and the roadside returns to marketplaces, rows
of bags filled with charcoal and makeshift stalls with the fresh fruit for sale and heaps of coconuts covered under palm leaves awaiting the trucks for collection.
We drove into Tofo on a cloudy Thursday afternoon and found a camping spot in the busy Fatima's nest campsite of the backpackers. Here we took long strolls alongside the beach to both sides and spend our days watching the
wales playing and blowing in the bay and chatting to fellow tourists. Ever so often we would take a walk to the market to buy fresh bread and fish. It was hard to believe we were already watching the second full moon rising since we left home over the sea at Tofo.
We ate crayfish, walked the wonderful white beaches, we were amazed by the sea life in the crystal clear waters of the rock pools and met some amazing new friends. We even ran into Ernesto a young boy I donated my mosquito bands to a year ago and he was still wearing them and remembered us. Hope he doesn't still rely on them for malaria protection, but we had to move further on.
The long drive to Vilancoulos started with stocking up at the ever present Chinese super mercado and we moved on to Maxixe, always a bustling little port town and the first place I have seen you could buy ice water per glass on the street or at the market. A lot of activity and renovations and building going on here. We headed north through the plantations of palm trees and crossed the Tropic of the Capricorn in yet another country. Could not help but to giggle at a road sign on the EN1 warning about elephant crossing the highway.
As we entered the Boabab campsite and backpackers some of the campers we met at previous camps shouted their greetings and called us by name, almost like being at home.
Later the day it seemed the whole of Tofo had moved to Vilancoulos. We knew so many neighbours we organised
a braai and said our goodbyes for the second time to the same couple on their way to Zimbabwe (by chapa), only to find them back later the morning again as the Chappa (minibus taxi) broke down and they returned for two more dives before now rerouting to the Kruger. We walked the little town of Vilancoulos and stumble a cross a brand new built hospital.
We chartered a boat trip to the Islands of Marguerique and Benguerra, but the day turned out to be too windy and we had to postpone. We bought fresh vegetables at the market, bartered about fish weights and prices and even drove in a Tuc Tuc. Our driver was wearing headphones and from the backseat he looked like a pilot awaiting clearance from air traffic control to take off. The sea with all its shades of greens, blues and turquoise make this probably one of the most beautiful places we have seen. We are camping under a huge Boabab watching dhows and fisherman coming and leaving on their daily trips, I wish all people I know could have this peace of heaven for a while. Like one of our friends said we are becoming all the more" two hippies with a wheelbarrow through Africa", but we enjoy every minute!
We patiently awaited the perfect day for the islands and it paid off, but also experienced how all activities were influenced by the weather. The sea "died" on the fishermen and they did not go out, the fish that came out was
carefully distributed by the elder and all were waiting for the wind to die. Even the small boys on the beach became weatherman, and proved to be correct as he said by Tuesday the wind would clear up and so it was. Tuesday morning all fishing boats were back to normal and leaving the bay at sunrise.
We got a group together made up by a Dutch couple, a Swiss couple, 3 Belgium's and the two of us set off to snorkel and spend the day on the Isle of Marguruque. Because of leaving late and low tide the men had to get off the boat and push us through at some stages. The snorkelling was good and we walked the island and after an enjoyable day with good company we set sails to mainland.
That night we were "flenters gesnorkel" and slept well. Yet, we had to do another braai by popular demand and Rui being the only one in the group being able to make a fire and able to braai he was named the Alpha Male. We said our goodbyes and prepared to move on.
We planned to stay the weekend at Vilancoulos, it is 10 days later and we have to move because we are running out
of visa time and not by choice. We walked the town, watched the fisherman, shopped at the market, visited the islands, queued at the bakery for the best bread in Mozambique and really enjoyed our time at Baobab backpackers and campsite.
At the Save river there was a military convoy escorting vehicles through the Sofala province due to a history of political incidents so we had to be there in time to leave at 08h00.
The vehicles queued at the bridge and while waiting for departure ourselves and the Swiss couple from Tofo and Vilancoulos travelling by chappa shared a donated pineapple on the side of the road. Sweet as honey. With a sudden scramble the military vehicle (casper) was ready to leave and it all started. It was a queue of about 3 km of vehicles and loaded trucks of all sizes and sorts. Once across the bridge the race began! It turned out to be a rally! Cars and trucks were overtaking each other on both left and right side of the road without any order. They were overtaking and dodging potholes without any respect for any traffic regulations. And we participated and played the game. The road was just potholes and the race was in full swing. We overtook the general at some stage and although we did not manage a podium finish, racing driver Rui ended under the first five places. I can just say my first rally was entered under a false pretences, I expected it to be an ordered Military escort.
We moved onto the town of Chimoio and turned away from the coastline. It became more agricultural and the town seemed to be more of the old Portuguese / Mozambican towns. Being still only after noon we decided to push on and look for camping on T4A on the way to Tete. Although a lot of big trucks the road surface was good and we pushed on, however once starting to look for camping sites we found T4A latest version to be badly outdated as the sites did no longer exist. We drove into Tete round about 20h00 against all planning and found a campsite indicated on T4A at Sundowner Lodge. As we enquired about the possibility of camping I think the owner saw my face and felt sorry for me, they did not have any camping, but seeing we would sleep in our vehicle he offered us to park in the parking area and to open up one of the bungalows for us to use the ablutions, so we spent the camping money on food and went to bed on the banks of the Zambezi.
Early up the next morning we watched the sun rise for the last time on Mozambican ground over the Zambezi and after a drive through morning traffic through Tete we filled up for the last time with what would become cheap fuel before crossing to Malawi where the fuel price would be MK657 or R22 per litre.