March 19, 2010

Mozambique

No issues again at the Swaziland/South Africa border – the officials were more interested in my motorbike than in checking any of the paperwork. One border official even asked if I could take him into town to buy some bread – unfortunately I had to turn him down because I was ‘late for a meeting in Maputo’.

Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, is one of the strangest cities I have ever been to! The main road through the city doubles as the local market with informal markets and stalls packed along the street. The main street is shared between cars, bakkies (utes), lorries (trucks), taxi’s, buses , donkey carts, pedestrians, animals and basically anything that wants to be there. There seems to be no order in traffic flow and traffic laws are a thing of the past. It took me about two hours to get through Maputo with my finger constantly on the hooter. Frustrating, but that is Africa I suppose.

After lunch at Manhica I headed to Bilene, my first stopover in Mozambique. The road to Bilene was great and I managed to make Bilene in good time.

I was pleasantly surprised by Bilene. The town is really scenic and clean. BiIene is situated around a lagoon and is a great fishing spot. The beach is lined with palm tree’s and the sea is really calm, clean and warm. I am surprised that this place isn’t frequented more by the South African tourists. I spent my first three nights camping at the Palmeira Campsite with the Coconut Bar/Restaurant as my main port of call. The barman of Coconuts was a huge James Blunt fan and on one count he managed to play “Goodbye my lover” an amazing seven times in a row before I spoilt his fun and asked him to change the CD.

(My tent is a lot smaller than I thought it would be – maybe I should have checked it out before I bought it. But I must admit it is really strong, sturdy and waterproof which I found out during a rainstorm on the last night)


On 14/3 I woke up early, packed up the campsite and began my trek north to Tofo. It started raining just after I got on the bike and didn’t stop for about two hours. I was soaked! Just after Xai Xai the roads started to deteriorate. (I remember driving this route about ten years ago and the road was a good condition (paved) road all the way to Tofo! I am surprised how quickly it has deteriorated). Soon after Xai Xai the road became non-existent. The track that was left was just thick sand that had been churned into mud by the big trucks that were intent on maintaining the speed they would have done if there was a paved road. Quite scary. The motorbike with its heavy load is very unstable in the thick sand – so I think I am going to have to do some serious load shedding before I hit the really bad roads in northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. I eventually got to Tofo at about 16h00 – 400km in 8 hours! By the time I got to Tofo I was absolutely stuffed!!!
Tofo has long been legendary on the holiday-makers circuits with its azure waters, fascinating reefs, sweeping white beaches, rolling breakers, and a perpetual party-time atmosphere.
I had been recommended to stay at Aquatica Lodge, but for some reason the guard would not let me in the front gate – he couldn’t understand English and I can’t understand Portuguese so we ended up just shouting at each other. I wasn’t in the mood for his nonsense so continued on to the lodge next door called Bamboozi (www.bamboozibeachlodge.com). (I still have no idea why he would not let me in – maybe the lodge was full? Who knows.)




Bamboozi ended up being a ‘blessing in the skies’ (Dad :-). Bamboozi is a backpacker place with a great dive school and bar/restaurant. The bar/restaurant is high up in the dunes and has an absolutely amazing view over the sea. I stayed in a two sleeper cabin for 4 nights at $AU 12.00 per night!! Spent the evening on the restaurant deck eating a seafood dinner ($AUD 4.00) of calamari, prawns, crab and lobster and watching the sun go down over a couple of beers. It didn’t take me long to forget about the hectic days ride!


The next three days I spent fishing off the beach and relaxing in the Mozambican sun. I also met up with Big Paul, Paul the Pom, Matty Matt, Jay, Freda and Pierre who work at the dive school and I managed to do four dives with them. They are a great bunch of guys and dive these reefs for a living – what a cool job!! They are really passionate about what they do which is so great to see. Over the three days we dived ‘Salon’, ‘Manta Reef’,’ Marble Arch’ and ‘Giants Castle ‘. Spectacular diving – something I will never forget. Thanks guys!



Tofo is one of the top dive sites in the world and is by far one of the best sites I have dived in. I am amazed by the underwater beauty of this region – we have seen four HUGE manta rays, devil rays, moray eels, potato bass and loads of different coral fish. Whale sharks, great white sharks, dolphins and turtles also often patrol these waters.

On Wednesdays at Bamboozi is the ‘all you can eat pizza’ evening which turns into a huge party session. Matt, Nancy and I ended up at Fatima’s Nest drinking shooters and far too many beers. Some gay guy and a prostitute were having a fight over Matt. Ha ha dodgy place! Matt's you legend.

Woke up early on Thursday 18/3 to head up to Vilanculos. All I can say is that it is not fun riding a motorbike in the hot sun with a hangover. Along the way I crossed the Tropic Of Capricorn which is a bit of a milestone. Got to Vilaculos at about 15h00 and booked into the Zombie Cucumber Backpackers. Great spot. Had dinner with Tim and Stef, an English couple who I met up with at the backpackers. They have spent the last 18 months touring New Zealand, Australia, Asia, India and Africa. They have some great stories to share - Clucky the chicken – what a laugh. We ended up playing drinking games with some other poms back at the backpackers. Time for some serious detox.

Vilanculos is an amazing little town. It is the doorway to the Bazaruto Archipelago which is renowned for spectacular diving and fishing. The main industry here is obviously fishing and every morning the fishing dhows head out to sea. Quite spectacular. The whole town seems to gather every evening when the fishing boats return. They seem to have a great laugh at the "puffer fish" that turn themselves into the size of soccer balls from fright.


I stayed in Vilunculos (Zombie Cucumber) for three days and I spent most of the time relaxing, walking around the markets and taking walks down the beach with Tim and Stef. Tim and I have developed a knack of finding pubs ha ha. We also met up with Olly, Huon (the thinnest guy in the world!!) and Jonny a great bunch of guys who have just finished school in the UK and are heading up to Kenya. Also met Melody, a great lady from Toronto (Canada) who is also heading up to Egypt. I am sure that I will meet up with them all again along the way. It wasn’t long before the drinking games came out and some late evenings were enjoyed playing “Never have I ever”, “Fives” and “Circle of Fire”. Great fun.
We also had the privilege of meeting up with appropriately named T-Dog (Tick Dog) who decided to become our tour-guide / security guard whilst in Vilunculos. He walked with us everywhere and seemed to know the area like the back of his paw. He even walked with us to Bazaruto Dive Centre – some 5km’s away. We took a taxi back to town and he wasn’t allowed in the taxi – so I hope he is okay? Knowing T-dog, I am sure he made it back to the backpackers okay. We are not convinced he even has an owner – nobody seemed to know who he belonged to – anyway he looked fairly healthy so I think he manages okay by himself.


Decided to start the big push up to Malawi on 21/3. There has been some heavy rains recently in northern Mozambique, so I am changing my route slightly and cutting inland to Chimoio and then up to Tete and into Malawi. My first stop-over was a place called Silvia’s just outside Chimoio. Sylvia’s has a great swimming pool with a huge slide going into it. This must be the local attraction because there were about 50 kids swimming in the pool, on the Sunday afternoon, when I got there. Mozambique’s version of Disneyland? I was given a room right next to the pool L what a noise!! Nothing like screaming kids when you are trying to relax and get some sleep. The lodge’s were great – clean, comfy and hot water!
Woke up early on 22/3 with the aim of getting up to Tete which is about a 400km distance. I have heard some horror stories of this road so I decided to set off early. The road turned out to be a really great road – I assume that all the road works have recently finished because the road was in fairly good condition i.e. fewer potholes.
The road to Tete was great – it travels along the foothills of the Nyanga Mountain Range which is really beautiful. There are some huge granite mountains which seem really out of place here – they stick out of the ground and are hundreds of metres high – as if “the Gods” were throwing huge stones at the earth. The largest of these is Mount Gorongoza which is absolutely massive. The photo just does not do it justice – unfortunately the clouds had come in and covered it so I couldn’t really get any good camera shots.

My first petrol stop and the only one before Tete was at a town called Catandica. Unfortunately, when I got there, the petrol station had run out of petrol L. There was no chance I would get to Tete without getting some petrol. I managed to find a guy who sold me some petrol from a dodgy can at a ridiculous price of $AUD 17.00 for 10 litres. I had no idea of the quality of the petrol, but had no option but to risk it. As it turns out the petrol was fine. To top it off, the guy managed to spill petrol all over the bike while he was trying to pour it from his 25 litre drum into my tank. I was not happy!


Along the way I crossed the Pungue River and saw the remnants of the old Pungue River bridge. This bridge has quite a history to it as it was blown up by the Rhodesian Army in the 1970’s during the Rhodesian bush war. They had received intelligence that the “terrorists ” were using the bridge to get down to the Rhodesian border and cross into Rhodesia – so it was blown up and caused a huge uproar from the Mozambican government that were supporting Robert Mugabe.

I also crossed the Cahorra Bassa overhead line, which may interest some of the electrical engineers. The shape of the pilon is very strange, and for good reason. This particular line is one of the longest DC power lines in the world and connects the Cahorra Bassa hydroelectric power station to somewhere just east of Johannesburg. It then gets converted to AC and distributed across Africa. Quite an electrical phenomenon.


At about 12hoo I crossed the Zambezi River and headed into Tete. The Zambezi River is absolutely massive! There is a huge bridge crossing the river in Tete and I will not be surprised if the bridge collapses soon – you can hear the bridge taking strain every time a big truck goes over it and there are some huge cracks between the separate concrete sections on the bridge. I was relieved to get off the bridge!!

As I had made good time, I decided to refuel in Tete, get some lunch, and head up to Blantyre (Malawi), which was about 260 km away. The road was fairly good and I got to the Mozambique / Malawi border post in good time. Again, I had no problems at the border post, although I did have to show the border official how to fill out the “Carne de Passage” for the motorbike. Again, the motorbike was crowded by people wanting to have a look, wanting to sell me something or wanting to exchange money. It is really disconcerting having to leave all my belongings on the motorbike while I go into the customs office to fill out all the paperwork. Anyway, I did manage to exchange all my leftover Mozambican metcais for Malawi kwatcha at a really good rate.
Jaag maar aan.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow Bok, sounds amazing!!! your pics are awesome, so nice to be able to take this journey with you. keep the posts coming!!! Tam xxx

Donna said...

Sounds like you are having a great adventure! Enjoy!

Gareth and Michelle said...

Bok, this has made me so jealous!!!
Wow it just reminded me what amazing holidays we had along that coast. Michelle and I would love to make a trip out there one day. Maybe fly to Barra lodge some day and do some of those great dives.

Keep the posts coming, really enjoying reading them.

Cheers

Langostinos Deguavas... ;-)
ade us think about what a fantaActually its made

Petra said...

Hiya :)

Wow yr trip sounds real fun :)
and the pics are awesome!
Enjoy and keep the blog updated. Then i can at least have my mind travelling as im stuck here for the next while :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Son, your trip and adventures so far are awesome with many more to come.Mozambique is so beautiful and untouched and the people always smiling.Look forward to your next blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Awesome mate!!! Didn't realise it would be so much fun :P. Loving your posts, keep 'em coming!
Nic

Anonymous said...

T Dog is ok, don't worry... i saw him this morning, missing a few ticks because he had to swim back at high tide, and all the ticks unfortunately didn't make it...

Denis, Zombie Cucumber

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're having a jol! Have great time in Malawi. You must be seeing some amazing stuff!
Stuyv

Anonymous said...

Still haven't seen a pic of your bike.
Stuyv

Anonymous said...

Pics of mozam bring back some awesome memories. Jon, mate(Ian) and I been to Tofu and stayed at Bamboozi...hammered. Also had a good few evenings at the beach bar at Fatimas. Your trip sounds fantastic so far! Look after yourself. ps. Had a patient today..asked him, 'Are you coughing?' He says, 'no, some tea please doctor..'needless to say nurse and i canned ourselves.. Nick Burnaford

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