MozambiquePosted by Espen Mon, August 20, 2012 18:19:47
northernmost stop in Mozambique was Pemba, and according to our guidebook, a
relaxed and quiet little town with great beaches, snorkeling and diving. As we
reached the outskirts of town, we got a hint that things might have changed
since the publishing of our guidebook in 2007. There were construction sites,
container storage areas, and heavy traffic. Strange. Well, it was getting late,
and we drove to a place where we had heard the camping was nice. The last
hundred or so kilometers a clogged fuel filter made us slower and slower, so we
were a bit behind normal arrival time, and were quite tired and ready for a
good dinner. We could always look around the next day.
to a view like this is great. We stayed for several days. The Pemba Dive &
Bush Camp is a few kilometers outside town, and the mangrove forest along the
beach prevent it from being at walkway for people living nearby or the infamous
beach sellers which can be quite annoying at times. It was therefore a perfect
place to hang out and relax for a few days in peace and quiet. Two other
overlanders also pulled in the next couple of days.
Pemba what our guidebook told us? Not really. We drove into town for some
supplies, and things have changed. About three years ago they discovered a huge
gas field a few miles off the coast of Northern Mozambique. There is now a new
container port, most property in and around Pemba is bought up by high ranking
politicians (or so say the rumors), the main beach just outside town can hardly
be accessed because of the apartment buildings and building projects, and the
town itself is busy and very expensive.
I may make
it sound sad, but who am I really to say this is wrong. 40 years ago they found
oil off the coast of Norway, and we like to describe this as something that caused
a thriving new area of business, and a solid boost in our economy. Still, I’m
not sure it will have the same effect on Pemba. I guess we’ll just have to see,
and I hope the oil companies are aware of the impact they have on a relatively
poor country and the local communities in and around Pemba.
we set out to cross the northern part of Mozambique towards the border to
Malawi, one of the most remote areas in Mozambique, again according to our
guide book. Well. Another surprise. We drove about 870 kilometers to the border
in two days. Half of it was paved, a quarter was good gravel, and the rest was
more or less under construction.
going on??? Later we learned that in the north western Mozambique they have
found a huge area containing coal, and the Chinese has bought the rights.
And yes, we
did spot some evidence of the Chinese presence…
did encounter a few kilometers of the “old” road as well. We had maybe 50
kilometers of two-tracks through a few villages and forest. In one of these
villages we also had a not so nice experience with a young and half-drunk
police officer who insisted on “inspection”. With a machine gun and under
influence we decided it was best to let him take a look. He wanted to check the
Zarges box on the roof (note: funny enough it seems that a big metal box always
draws the police or custom officer's attention, and all other travelers tell us
the same thing. One put a canvas cover on his, and he never got the question
again), and we both climbed up. The roof is a good place to let an aggressive
police officer cool down, out of harm's way.
I opened the box and started to browse through it, and of course as slow
as I could. After 20 minutes of looking at our camping gear he wondered what
was in the “box” of the roof top tent. By this time, another and older (and
sober) police officer had started to suggest that this was enough. But the
young guy still insisted that he needed to check the big grey box (roof tent),
and I opened the zipper so he could see what was inside. Then another older man
appeared, and I got the impression that he was kind of embarrassed about the
whole thing. This older man started talking to the older police officer, and
the young, half-drunk officer was told to stand down. He went back to his beer
bottle, still wearing his pilot look sunglasses and with the machine gun over
his shoulder. The old man and the other police officer shook my hand and
apologized for the inconvenience, and we were on our way. We wondered how long
we would have been there if both policemen had been young and half-drunk.
a few kilometers down the road we found ourselves a distraction. First we
wondered if there had been an accident. A push-bike was parked in the middle of
the road and a man's feet were sticking out from the bushes. We locked the
doors. Was somebody trying to make us stop in the middle of nowhere? We were
probably a bit jumpy after the police road block.
but nothing happened. We looked at each other, and we had both drawn the same
conclusion. The man was asleep. Short honk. No reaction. Another honk, and the
man got up looking rather confused. The whole situation was kind of comical so
we started smiling, and the guy saw two strangers sitting in a car waiting for
him to wake up and move his bike in the absolute middle of nowhere, and he also
started to laugh. He got up, moved his bike to the side of the road, and we
drove past. Obviously not too much traffic in this part of Mozambique, and we
hadn't seen more than a couple of vehicles for the whole day. Not sure if he
went back to sleep, but at least we were on our way to the border and Malawi.
MozambiquePosted by Malin Wed, August 08, 2012 10:05:45
decided to drive through Mozambique and we started to read up on the country,
Ilha de Mozambique has been on the top of our list of places to see.
is 3 km off the coast and is connected to the mainland with a bridge. Long before
the Portuguese arrived in 1498 Ilha de Mozambique has been a trading settlement
with connections to Madagascar, Arabia and Persia. After discovering the Island
the Portuguese established a settlement there, continued the trading, made it a
naval base, built a fort, and the Island became the capital of Portuguese East
Africa until the end of the 19th century when the capital was moved
to Maputo. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mozambique is about 3 km long and between 200 and 500 meters wide, and has
roughly 14,000 inhabitants. In the southern end are the main living quarters
and on the northern half are the remains of the old large houses, but there are
people living there too.
Next to the
bridge on the mainland there is a campsite, but there are none on the Island.
As we drove out on the bridge we decided we would look for a room for the
night, because we would like to stay out there. As we were driving around
looking, some teenage boys were a little too eager to help us, but as soon as
we had parked the car and walked around, we were left to ourselves. People
continued with what they were doing and let us walk around without much
attention. We found a room at Patio dos Quintalinhos and they also had secure
parking for the Patrol in a locked garage. The owner is Gabriel, a friendly and
helpful Italian. He is an architect and he have renovated and built up the
is relaxing on the sofa one evening. The sofa is a small wooden boat that hangs
from the roof.
First we thought
we would spend one night on the Ilha de Mozambique, but in the end it became
three nights. As with many places you get to, your first impression is not the
best, but the more time you give the place the more you like it. Some other
travellers thought it looked like a war zone, and in one way it does, but it is
also a really fascinating place.
We spent the days wandering around in the
streets, relaxing at Patio dos Quintalinhos and eating good fish meals in the
some photos from our wanderings around town.
A dhow in front of the fort.
People arriving on the island with a dhow.
The fishing port.
Bringing fresh fish home for dinner.
Another couple that was out for a stroll.
The old hospital.
MozambiquePosted by Malin Sun, August 05, 2012 20:35:18
relaxing days in the Inhambane area with our visiting friends from Norway, our
paths took different directions. Actually we both had the same goal, Norway,
but they would return to Johannesburg to hand in the rental car and then fly
back home. We are still aiming to drive back to Norway up the East coast of
Africa, and being in Southern Mozambique we still have quite a long distance to
cover. So with that in the back of our minds we decided to cover some distance.
In a junction west of Inhambane our friends took a left turn heading south and we
took a right turn heading northwards.
Out by the
coast it feels like you are driving in a village that goes on for tens of
kilometers, there are houses all along the road. Further inland there were less
people and houses, and they were grouped in villages as we would know them. In
between the villages there was not much, and what struck us was that there was
not much farming or large herds of goats or cattle like we were used to see in
Namibia and Botswana. It looks like people on the country side in Mozambique
farm what they need and only a little for sale.
was more or less good, tar the whole way, but sometimes it was full of
potholes. Most of the traffic along the road are people walking or biking,
there was not so much car or truck traffic. But there are exceptions. First we
overtook one new Volvo truck, then a little bit further on we saw one more
looking exactly the same and then another one. Then we could see a long line of
them in front of us. As they were driving in only 50 kilometers per hour we had
to overtake if we wanted to cover some distance.
We counted 20 of the new Volvo
trucks, they must have been on their way to be delivered at a project further
north. As we stopped in a town to eat lunch they all passed us, so after lunch
it was just to start all over again. First day of putting distance behind us we
only did 304 km, because we had a slow start and were saying goodbye to
friends. The night was spent in Vilhanculos that seemed like a nice town with a
morning at 6 we refueled and were ready for a long day on the road. The road
north of Vilhanculos was bad with lots and lots of potholes, and it was not a
good start to a long driving day. But luckily the road improved. Then we saw a
familiar looking truck in front of us, or to be exact, twenty of them.
Apparently they had been driving for some hours already, because they pulled
over for a break. Perfect.
I do not
know how many villages we drove through that day, but it was many.
When you see
more and more people along the road you realize you are approaching a town. And
it seems like everyone are carrying something. Fire wood, coals, straws and
fresh produce are going into to the towns and the same things and clothes and
other commodities are carried back out.
passed a river there were always people there doing their laundry and washing
This is a river close to a small town and doing laundry must be a
pretty social activity.
kilometers and 11 hours in the car the sun was setting as we drove across the
Just on the other side of Zambezi was a Lodge with a campground
that had been recommended to us, and it was time to stop for the night. As
sunrise is at 6 in the morning and the sunset is at 17 o’clock in the afternoon
this was as much distance we can cover in a day’s drive in Mozambique.
the next morning we were ready again.
This day the landscape really changed. It
was a bit more up and down, and all around us were really fascinating rock
formations, domes and hills. And after doing 685 kilometers we camped in this
landscape just outside Nampula.
Day four of
covering distance we only had 210 kilometers to drive so we had a slow start.
Driving back into Nampula we were pulled over at a police check point for the
first time in Mozambique. We had heard so many bad stories about the police in
Mozambique, that they are underpaid and look for all opportunities to give you
a fine or take a bribe. This is a photo about common traffic offences in Mozambique
from a tourist brochure we got in the Gaza Province (the province next to
Maputo and that also borders to South Africa).
We have tried to take all this
rules into account, so far the police have not been interested in us and we
have just been waved through all the check points. The Nampula officer smiled, said
good morning and asked us where we came from. We were stuttering, because we
could not remember the name of the place we had spent the night.
Complexo…complexo….??.. Finally the officer helped us out and said Complexo
Montes Nairucu Lodge. YES, that was the place. Then he just smiled and said we
could keep on driving without wanting to check any papers.
road there are many people trying to sell what they produce. There are handbags
and baskets made of straw, mats, beds, chairs, piri-piri sauce, fruit,
vegetables, nuts, fish, meat and live chickens. Some have put up small stalls
while others are holding up what they want to sell. Still, we have not been
hungry enough to buy the live chickens they are holding upside down in their
legs while they are shaking them just to show us it is a live. On a stretch of
the road between Nampula and Monapo the sales people changed their approach to
something we have not seen so far. I do understand that these people are poor
and need to sell their stuff, but these guys (they were all males between 20
and 30) were suicidal. When they heard or saw a car approaching they jumped up
and walked into the street and into the lane where you are driving, and to
avoid them you had to cross into the lane coming towards you. After driving
over into the other lane a few times, I thought this is not right so I just
kept on driving in my lane. They were still standing there in the middle of the
road as you approached and just in the last second they swung away the items
they were holding out for sale and themselves. It does not feel right at all
driving past people so close in 80 km/h, and then I am driving slower than most
local vehicles that just blast past us. After this I tried to slow down before
the sales people when they were in the middle of the road before me, but then
they were just running like crazy to the side of the road to get more things to
show us because they thought I was stopping to buy something. After 30 -40 of
these suicidal sellers we drove through Monapo and after that the sellers
behaved like normal again.
after 1900 kilometers we reached the Indian Ocean again. We left the mainland
for a while as we drove across the bridge out to the UNESCO World Heritage Site
of Ilha de Mozambique / Mozambique Island. More about this island in the next
MozambiquePosted by Espen Wed, August 01, 2012 23:39:44
We hit the
coast just north of Xai-Xai as it began to get dark. The GPS showed a campsite
a few kilometers further and warned us about soft sand on the access roads. As
we took off from the highway a sign told us to air down to 0.8 bar (about 11
psi). We took the rental car down to 15 psi and the Patrol down to 25. For the
story it would probably have been better if we bogged down, but we had no
problems. The road ended literally on the beach, and the camp sites were in
between the trees.
and early July is the South African school holidays, so we were expecting lots
of people and crowded camp sites. Not at this site. We met a group of students
that had booked in for a week to do some fishing. I suspect they were imagining
a bit more action, but they had been the only campers here for several days.
morning we were on the move again. We were on our way to Inhambane, and to the
beaches on the peninsula just past the town. We had recommendations from a2aexpedition.com
to see Barra, and we had also heard nice things about a small village called
Tofo. After stocking up on food and drinks in Inhambane we drove towards
Fatima’s Nest Camping in Tofo. This is a quiet little town almost directly on
the beach, and with several backpacker places and small restaurants.
here for a couple of days playing on the beach and eating out in the local
restaurants. As this is a village there is of course a lot more people around
at all times. It could be quite annoying trying to relax on the beach when the
sellers disturb you ever five minutes, and they are not very good at
understanding the words “no thanks”. Most of these sellers are kids trying to
sell you necklaces and bracelets, and their small selection looks suspiciously
enough identical. It doesn’t take much imagination to think there is somebody
behind this irritating “business”.
we drove a few kilometers further north to the tip of the peninsula, to Barra.
The resorts are basically located on the “inside” of the peninsula, and when we
were there this was perfect for the weather. There was a camp site at the
lighthouse, but with no direct access to the beach, and also we were the only
ones there. In our maps there was supposed to be another camp site directly on
the beach not too far away, so we went to look for this. No luck, it was gone.
Fortunately, we found a place with the same name, so we drove in to check if
the just had moved location. Here we met a very charming lady explaining that,
no, this was not so, but as her bungalows were empty, actually from this same
morning, we could get a “camping rate”. Deal! We moved into two bungalows
(unURBANs in one and friends in another) and settled down for a few days.
bungalow place had their own bar/restaurant, also on the beach, and here we
ordered the big prawns that Mozambique is famous for. There is only one thing
to say about this meal: OMG!!!
beach activity, and I guess slightly more productive than working on your tan,
fishing. We came across these guys just after they had put the net in, and were
just starting to pull it in. They put it in by using the dhow (a small
sailboat), and drop the net parallel to the beach. In each end are long ropes
that are brought to shore, and then two groups of guys are slowly pulling it
in. We were allowed to help pulling, and the whole process must have taken two
hours. The net is not hauled all the way up on the beach, but when it is more
or less closed, the fishermen swim out with snorkel and diving masks to take
out the fish that is big enough to end up as food.
stop before splitting up with our friends from Norway was Paindane. This is a
place where the reef is close enough to access from the beach, and it is also
one of the few beaches in Mozambique where you are allowed to drive. But only
for the brave…
the weather made it difficult for us, and a big swell coming in created a
current too strong to swim in along the beach. Snorkeling in the Indian Ocean
was postponed. Early next morning we drove back to the main road, and our
friends turned south towards Swaziland and eventually Jo’burg to fly home. And
we turned north…