Mozambique

Punta Malungane

What an experience we had in this our 21st country that we visited!!! It is so appropriate that this is no21 (overall that is, not only Africa) as this is a country of growth, of renwal, hope and a new life, all the things that is important for a 21 year old.

We unfortunately left late from The Breakers where we were staying due to the unfortunate passport delivery saga and raced (truly) to the border, I can be a very nervous co-driver as my family very well know!! and at times had to hold my breath for fear the car might just turn over if i let it out!!! BUT..... the day that started off in a very wierd and wonderfull way, continued to surprise us.

We started off in luxury, me having a PEDICURE !!!!!! (a girl has to look nice in the bush , i say!) Stew organising the last bits of shopping at Woolies (Ruds, we had ro support them !!for old times sake) and then sitting there chewing our nails waiting for the courier company. Then the hectic trip, through stunning countryside I must add on to the border. We got there at 5.05 !!!!!! They close at 5 and you all know what borderposts can be like.....Well LISTEN TO THIS

1. They , both sides (believe it) offered to let us through ........

2. NO BRIBES asked or offered......

3. No stamps in the passports, only a request to come back in the morning to officially enter the country!!!

Well, needless to say, you could have blown us both over. Such helpfulnes and friendly assistance I have NEVER experienced. Then followed a surreal trip of 14 km through a maze of sand tracks, not a sign in sight, in the gathering dusk, with only an initial marker and distance, we followed our noses,drove onwards down to the coast, around a picture-perfect dam, through the coastal bush. We finally arrived at Ponta Molangane campsite. What an experience,as we drove through a maze of campsites, chalets, huts and lodges, housing hundreds of SA holidaymakers.

Surfing in Moz !!!Surfing in Moz!!Our hut

We slept the next 2 nightsin a wooden hut, close to main communal kitchen/bar/diving camp. other than thepowere boats testing their engines from 6am, and the monkeys stealing our food, the place was paradise. warm gentle seas, a restaurant to eat at on the first night, and an endless supply of cold beer. We booked to swim with the dolphins the morning we left. Courtney,our team leader, her husband Paulus, originally from germany, and their 5 year old daughter led the way.

We spotted a pod of dolphins, and snorkelled amongst them, what an amazing experience to see these wonderful creatures in their natural envirnment , so close you could touch them(we did not as it is not allowed) later we swam above a reef, marvelling at the myriad of fishlife.

 

Maputo

We left Punta Malongane a bit late after the amazing experience with the dolphins, we thought it can't possibly be as bad as the roads leading to Punta Malongane ..........oh mu goodness....NOTHING could ever have prepared us for the roads leading to Maputo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have honestly NEVER seen anything like this. The stretch of "tar" we were gleefully told about the previous day turned into a nightmare and was worse than any gravel road in exixtence anywhere!It had potholes the size of craters and bushes growing in the middle of the road for good measure!!

Tar roads Moz style!!!! You have no idea how it feels to drive here and Ann,we tried to follow the bloody telephone poles.......but they kept on dissapearing!! The eternal "No signpost problem"(nsp) raised its ugly head again several times and our noses are not always so good so we cannot always follow thame sucessfully!!!the road just splits into 3 seperate tracks all going into a different direction and the result was that 140km took us 4 and a half hours!!!! Both Stew and Stan deserve medals for dealing so well with all of this.

Once again, this country amazed us totally, you drive on this godforsaken track for hours, thinking you are in the middle of nowhere and KAPOW>>>>>>>>you see the skyline of a huge city with skyscrapers included for good measure. The firat sighting of Maputo was just something you had to be there to understand!!

We had to cross to the city with a ferry as the trip to f=get there by road would have taken another 2 hours and with sunset here taking place at 5.45, that was most certainly not an option  as we still had to find a place to stay.BIG maistake....best to have it organised before you get to a strange city, something we as seasoned travellers should have known, but as we decided that this trip will be different as we need to get out of our usual ways....read Annaliese being a control freak!!!!

The beauty of the first sight as well as the ferry ride soon changed to stress and fighting as we drove around like lost farts trying to find affordable accommodation with off street parking...a completely impossible task it seemed.eg the Holiday Inn charges R1600 per room for the night , no breakfast!!This clearly exeeds our budget by about R1000.

As we know, all things have goood and bad sides and our journey will have good and bad times.....this one turned into a bad nightmare!!. We got utterly lost, it was pitch dark in a strange city, we could not speak the language, we were stopped by a "ploiceman" who claimed that we commited a traffic violation and promptly wanted to march us off to the police station,I burst into tears, Stew gave me one look and sped off in the car to get rid of the guy!!! Felt a bit like cops and robbers!!

We finally got a place via our trusted Africa on a shoestring guide, by Lonely Planet and found a nice , clean room in th Ibis Hotel in the centre of town, with a 24hr guard, a meal of goat stew (ugh!!) for Stewart and rubberised fish for me!! However, the nightmare did not end as we were promptly informed by the hotel that they cannot accept our dollars as they claimed  the noted are too old!!! We first thought it was a joke and went from bank to bank and got the same story. This was a gatslag as i started saving for this trip years ago and therefore have a lot of old dolars. We refused to give up and were finaly partly lucky after i stood in the que for 1 hour, they agreed to change dollars newer that 2001. Well, I am sure we can use the old ones in Zim!!

Despite all the bad luck, Maputo is a stunning city, Anna Maria, even have Italian designer shops!!!! Here development and decay goes hand in hand and you can have Cappucinoin one of the stunning coffe shops whilst you watch drains overflowing a little bit further down the road!!

The old and the new.....amazing city

We decided to have the obligatory prawn and crayfish meal......delicious, but we wanted to get out of the city as we clearly already became bush people not used to being in a city. We left for Xai Xai on the coast, so therefore the silence, no cell and/or internet connection 

Xai Xai

The road from maputo to Xai Xai was a good tarred road, making the trip of 230 km north an easy one. There were several police checks at the villages, but we were waved through each one by smiling friendly officials. John......keeping to the speed limits helps!! We crossed the Xai Xai bridge over the Limpopo in the gathering dusk, and true to form it seems , arrived in the dark. A "GArmin" read and some half-intelligible instructions from a petrol attendant led us off to the beach ("praia") a further 20kms out of town. On our arrival at a circle in the middle of nowhere we were met by Manuel who hitched a lift standing on Stanruza's running board and guided us to Praia de Xai Xai campsite.. It consisted of a rudimentary bar & reataurant , chalets ful of a group of Free Staters. We reanted a "bungalow", had an impromptu dinner of cold meats and bread together with another good bottle of red wine and soon passed out watching "Fiddler on the Roof" on the laptop!!The beach bar

The next morning, Annaliese promtly went straight into a huge branch with Stan, so at this stage we are not sure if the tent is still 100%, but do not have the guts to find out !!! We set out to explore after a cup of cofee at the "bar" and found we believe a place that will no doubt be one of our favourites on this trip!!! Our stunning "house on the hill"

Watch this space for further adventures and disasters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Inet shop closing.Love to all till next timexxxx

To get to the “resort” follow the road N/NE past the main Xai Xai campsite on the beach, past a few groups of houses. It is called Chonguene Beach Resort and belongs to Pieter from Pretoria. Also has a bar and restaurant if you feel like company. Truly to be recommended if you want to find a place to stay in Xai Xai. We loved it here as it is still wild and not overrun by stacks of Gauteng/Free State/ Mapumalanga holiday makers. You have miles and miles of beach all to

yourself.

Our house on the hill, the view and the insideStew buying bread from Richard

The momnent we saw this place, it was as if both of us finally felt the true spirit of Africa ica, the slower pace, the smell and sounds of nature, the clear sky, the sound and constant movement of the waves. We realized how fortunate we are to do this trip . We booked the place for 3 nights and for the first time both of us truly relaxed, chilled enjoyed life and each other.

All was however not just moonshine and roses, as life needs to be lived on both sides!! One thing, there was hardly any reception for the phone and ZACK, you little shit……every time we tried to phone, we had to climb a dune……..so appreciate the 3 messages you got!!! Also no internet connection, so despite all the thousands of rands we spend on “staying connected” we still cannot use the device and will be dependant upon internet cafes. BUT PLEASE keep on mailing as it is the BEST to get news, we will reply as often as we can find an open café!

We also experienced the true tropical climate here, lying on the beach one minute & the nextthenext minute the sea turns grey, the clouds gather and rains pours down in buckets!! So different from our Cape Town drizzles!

The lifestyle here is unbelievable, the locals bring freshly caught crayfish to your doorstep, Richard, the baker appeared at our door early the first morning with freshly baked bread and croissants!! Even more amazing is that he managed to find us the next morning after we moved 4 kms down the road !! I could not believe when I saw him outside as we did not even tell him that we will be in a different place.

We also discovered the most amazing site……..a haunted hotel!!! I promise, Stew did not believe me either, but he had to after what happened there! But first about the hotel, the locals have different stories, but it either belongs to a certain D”Oliveira who also owns the Polana or a cetain Durbanite, not sure. It is completely abandoned due to the war, but not badly vandalized at all. It is HUGE with 110 rooms as well as self catering units (it seems) but a lot of the stuff is still there, like the marble counters, the bar stools at the bar, some of the headboards, you can just see how smart the whole place was, you can hear the music if you listen very carefully, see the people dancing or having cocktails, having drinks on the patio, you can see the cooks preparing the most amazing meals etc!!! The place is a photographers dream and I went mad clicking away. We even found some of the old menus as well as food and drink order slips!! Check the pics………

The seats at the pool

 

This was however not the end of the fun and games here, will continue tom as the bloody place is closing again!

We started feeling a bit weird and left the place in a bit of a hurry, only to discover that Stanruza was stuck!! Really stuck in the sand, see, HAUNTED HOTEL !!! (now Stew had to believe me!) Well the only thing we could do was to be exited to use all the fancy equipment! So out came the sand tracks …….. progress was VERY slow to say the least and I am not much help in the pushing department with my bad back. Luckily within a short while the first local appeared, then the next one and then the next one and then a few etc.., what we did realize with this whole episode was that your fancy equipment is just exactly that, fancy! The help that worked best in the end, was putting a whole lot of bushes (readily available) on the tracks they all helped to push and voila! Off we went with at least 4 hanging on to the car for the rest of the way back to our house !!

Getting the fancy stuff!!The locals know best

We spend our last night at Xai Xai having steak and loving the view and the sound of the waves

 

Inhambane and Tofo

We left Xai Xai (for a change) at the correct time to ensure an early arrival at our next stop , Inhambane. The road was OK, a stretch of about 100km in true Moz style a bit of a disaster with crater potholes which takes absolute concentration to stay on the road. We stopped in Inhambane town for a delicious cup of coffee and Stews standard beer, had the best salads ever (remember we have not seen salad for a few days!!!) and discussed with the locals whether we should go to Tofo or Bara, decided to give Tofo the thumbs up and as we had loads of time to check out the places, once again found a spot at “Nordiens” right on the beach. Our standard requirements now are not negotiable!!! Sound of the waves, right on the beach nothing less !! We do not have a problem with extras as long as Stan can be parked close to the abode to enable us to use our fridge, most times our water (!!!) as well as our cups/food etc. Yes, you got it right, the standard accommodation here is nothing more that 2 beds, if you are lucky, the place has a loo and a shower and luxury is if there is a fridge in the room. Anything goes if it is called “self catering”

Tofo has a completely different vibe than the area further south where we came from, younger crowd and a lot of Europeans and Americano’s. A real laid back vibe and we had to laugh at ourselves, the place is most probably the size of Riviersonderend (if that) and we already think of it as civilization and a big town!! We will be in for a shock once we hit the UK!!!! There is a colourful local market, a few great eateries and a lot of bars!!! And hey……..you can even get wine here as well as HUNTERS !!!!! Heaven

Our hut at Nordien's Market at Tofo

The thing to do here is surfing (yeh go John, the waves are great) and/or diving. Since my open water 1 diving qualification is but a distant memory and since Stew always wanted to do the diving course, we decided to take the plunge and go for it ! I knew chances are that my back will not cope, but we had to try and started, I got as far as the first open water dive, about halfway through the course and unfortunately had to give up as my back started talking to me!! A big pity, but at least I got this far and can always continue once my back is stronger. Stew is still busy and loving it as the marine life here is awesome and the visability under water 20x better that in Cape Town. He will no doubt keep you all updated once he finished. In the meantime I will keep the site updated and send pics so you can all share the place with us.

Today is our last day at Tofo and I decided to explore the town Inhambane a bit. Interesting.... best of all is that i found a cafe with , wait for it ...wireless connection!! We also now discovered that we were taken for a HUGE ride by some Vodacom employees who convinced us that we will be able to connect with the modem anywhere as long as we buy time..........we bought a R1000 airtime !!!!!!!! for the connection and now we were told that Vodacom is only registered for voicemail and sms in Mozambique!!! Gatslag is that we cannot even use that now as we never got the roaming for the number.....all very disturbing as it is money wasted, you loose it after a month and it now seems that they do not haver any agreement anywhere in SOUTHERN aFRICA! Oh well.......by the way, we urgently need news on Zim, a bit cut off here and the only news we get is that it is chaos there. we need a bit more as the plan is to go there next week.

A typical Inhambane scene

SCUBA Diving

Scuba diving is something I’ve always wanted to do, but a combination of no time, asthma, claustrophobia, sinus/hayfever  problems  and general inertia meant this was unfulfilled, until I decided to take the plunge (literally), ignore all the problems, and go for it. A Dive school called Diversity in Tofu was the venue, and together with Annaliese initially, and a visiting lawyer  (can’t get away from them) from London, Toby, we   crammed in the 4 day course into 3 days. 

 

The first morning was  a mass of theory  and bewildering terminology, together with  a pool dive. Then, that afternoon, we were off in the boat  and down to our first ocean dive. Despite the best efforts of our instructor, Donna Rodgers, I was very nervous, but the incredible underwater world below was  worth overcoming all those fears. It was truly amazing, and Donna’s expert tuition made the initiation to Scuba diver relatively seamless.

 Have I ever been an attorney????? Diver...yeah!!!!

The next day  was hectic, more theory, 3 pool dives to learn new skills, and then 2 back to back dives  in the ocean to practice those skills. Underwater was phenomenal, time passing in a flash, filled with moray eels, pesky shoals of brightly coloured fish, huge star fish,  a small ray or 2, crocodile fish, paper fish….. WOW, what a new world  of adventure. The day ended with a compulsory 200 meter free swim from to boat back to the shore, more exercise in a day than I can remember for a while!

 

The last day consisted of the exam, and then final dive, when newly learned skills were put to use when Toby’s  air ran out on the bottom! We all made it back to the boat safe and sound, and I am now a qualified SCUBA diver  to 18 metres below!

 

 

Inhambane and Tofo

We
left Xai Xai (for a change)
at the correct time to ensure an early arrival at our next stop
, Inhambane. The road was OK, a stretch of
about 100km in true Moz style a bit of a disaster
with crater potholes which takes absolute concentration to stay on the road. We
stopped in Inhambane town for a delicious cup of
coffee and Stews standard beer, had the best salads ever (remember we have not
seen salad for a few days!!!) and discussed with the locals whether we should
go to Tofo or Bara, decided
to give Tofo the thumbs up and as we had loads of
time to check out the places, once again found a spot at “Nordiens”
right on the beach. Our standard requirements now are not negotiable!!! Sound
of the waves, right on the beach nothing less !! We do
not have a problem with extras as long as Stan can be parked close to the abode
to enable us to use our fridge, most times our water (!!!) as well as our
cups/food etc. Yes, you got it right, the standard accommodation here is
nothing more that 2 beds, if you are lucky, the place has a loo
and a shower and luxury is if there is a fridge in the room. Anything goes if
it is called “self catering” 

 

Tofo
has a completely different vibe than the area further south where we came from,
younger crowd and a lot of Europeans and Americano’s.
A real laid back vibe and we had to laugh at ourselves, the place is most
probably the size of Riviersonderend (if that) and we
already think of it as civilization and a big town!! We will be in for a shock
once we hit the UK!!!!
There is a colourful local market, a few great
eateries and a lot of bars!!! And hey……..you can even get wine here as well as HUNTERS !!!!! Heaven  

 Our hut at Nordien's   Market at Tofo

 

The
thing to do here is surfing (yeh go John, the waves
are great) and/or diving. Since my open water 1 diving qualification is but a
distant memory and since Stew always wanted to do the diving course, we decided
to take the plunge and go for it ! I knew chances are
that my back will not cope, but we had to try and started, I got as far as the
first open water dive, about halfway through the course and unfortunately had
to give up as my back started talking to me!! A big pity, but at least I got
this far and can always continue once my back is stronger. Stew is still busy and
loving it as the marine life here is awesome and the visability
under water 20x better that in Cape Town. He will
no doubt keep you all updated once he finished. In the meantime I will keep the
site updated and send pics so you can all share the
place with us.

Vilanculos and around

With Stanruza running on fumes, we drove into Vilanculos, and after our usual “drive around recce” , we settled down  at Villa la Mar, just out of town, and - you guessed it -  overlooking the sea. Our initial impression of the area was a bit disappointing, with large expanses of  exposed sand dotted with marooned fishing boats, in stark contrast to the  coast further south. The horizon was broken by several of the islands  the area is renowned for.

 Going nowhwere slowly!Our view from the lodge

Our accommodation secured, we headed back into town , and found a “supermarket” to stock up on some provisions, and a local fisherman to supply us crayfish for another gourmet dinner. One of the crayfish was the biggest crayfish I have ever seen on a plate, we named him Oupa Kreef.

 Oupa kreef..al ooit iemand n kreef sien verorber!!!! (The beercanis a huge one, not a normal can)

Our lodge was huge, designed to sleep 6-8, but with several lodges empty, and many of the surrounding accommodation still uninhabitable after the 2007 cyclone, our host was not worried about letting us loose in the “mansion” – 3 bedrooms,  2 bathrooms, one en suite, lounge, dining room, huge kitchen, 2 sun decks (both with mandatory view), swimming pool 5 meters away …. ( this is a tough life we have chosen, but someone has to do it!!).Problem with staying at places lke this is that you get  used to the luxury and it starts feeling like home!!!

 

We spent the next day with long walks along the beach, swimming in the pool, and a quick trip into town to fill up with diesel, and find an internet café, before packing up Stanruza  for an early start  the next day, when we hoped to say goodbye to Mozambique (for a while, we know we will be back to this beautiful country), and head to  Matendere Ranch in Zimbabwe, the home of the Du Plessis clan, via Mutare

 

Pomene and the road to hell

Chris Rea sang about it, so maybe he too went to  Pomene! Following John Pfaff’s advice NOT to miss Pomene, we left Inhambane  and drove back to the main road.  About an hour later a small sign pointing off  to a sandy road said “Pomene” , so Stanruza once more was put through his paces .

 58km said the sign,  as the “road” wound its way  through forest, small villages and subsistence farms, and then into virgin bush and grassland, seemingly untouched by humanity. The sandy track  slowed travel to a snail’s pace at times,  with welcome “Pomene Lodge” signs every 10 km  the only  break in the seemingly never ending  trail.

 The road to Pomene, or is it Vietnam?Mongrove swamps......Petro, dink net aan al die goggas!!!!! Doom help nie

As we neared the coast, the track hugged the edge of a mangrove swamp, with the mud of the swamp only a meter or so next to us as we  drove on. A few huts and signs of civilization reminded us of  aVietnam” feeling – really  weird!

As we broke out of the swamps, we drove at times on the beach, along  a long stretch of flat sandy wasteland, the track eventually ending at Pomene Lodge.  The main reception area, bar and restaurant is truly stupendous (John, the trip was worth it, you are forgiven), with a huge swimming pool lined with palm trees taking centre stage.

                  Filter coffee in the wild!

The lodge has a series of  self catering lodges, chalets and campsites, but was largely uninhabited when we arrived. Faced with the hell drive back on the same road (despite what the maps books say, there is no other “road’  out of Pomene), we decided to camp a night, and found a campsite with our prerequisites – sea view and the sound of the waves breaking only  20 meters away.  Annaliese   proceeded to rustle up some gourmet filter coffee – the Carol Boyes sugar spoon really makes a difference (Anna Maria, for some unknown reason the spoon was not packed, but is now our constant companion..a little bit of class amongst broken nails, sand everywhere, flea and insects bites all over my body!!)-  and   a first-class braai  ended off the night.

 

Despite heavy rain that night, our rooftop tent came out tops, and the next morning we packed up, and drove out  on the RTH back to the main road, and headed back north towards Vilanculos. The next 50 km of road consisted of Mozambique’s version of  the surface of the moon, with more potholes than road at times. Driving next to the road when possible was preferable, but Stan held together  well and somehow we made it to the other side.

Our closing thoughts

Annaliese:

As we are leaving this vibrant and slow, developed and “uncivilized” anomaly of a country, I will always think of it as the true example of how it is to love and live fully in a world where nothing is ever permanent; in Mozambique the force of nature truly takes its toll and the signs are everywhere; a world where each solution must be tried and shaped to fit , the correct solution clearly is not always obvious; a world where experimentation and risk are vital to forward motion. A lot of work still needs to be done, but as nature takes, so it gives back and it seems that the people of Mozambique is truly in tune with the rhythm of their country.

I am sad to go and all I can say is “obrigado” for letting me share in a fraction of the multitude that this country can offer. We will be back!

One of my favourite sites in Mozboat building Moz style!

Stewart:

Think of endless blue oceans, unspoilt beaches, warm waters, colouful reefs teeming with life. Think abominable roads, expensive fuel, mozzies, bugs of all shapes and size. Think warm sun, friendly people, easy living, great seafood. This is Mozambique, where nothing is too much trouble, or everything is too much effort - take your pick.

We will be back for more, sometime, somewhere.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE................................

To all of you that send us messages via the website, our webmaster is still working on the whole thing, but we cannot reply if you send it on the site and we would LOVE to , so Lucy, Adele, John etc and all that send mails, please mail us on info@rootsinafrica.co.za as we want to reply but do not have your mail add.

 

Love & Hugs

 

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                              Mozambique 

 

Dates :                                   28th March 2008 to 10th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:                   3 Meticals = R1

 

Number of Nights:             14

 

Distance traveled:              3109 km

 

Average distance per day:  222km

 

Cost of Diesel:                    R10.60 (Maputo)

 

                                                R12.25 (Vilanculos)

 

Average fuel consumption: 8.04 km/l

 

Diesel used:                            370 litres

 

Worst Road/s:                     Punto du Ouro to Maputo

Tar road 400km north of Masinga and

                                                Road to Pomene

 

Best Road/s:                       Maputo to Xai Xai

 

Favourite new destination:Xai Xai

 

Average cost of accommodation:R445.78

 

Number of Bushcamps:   None

 

Cheapest Acommodation:Camping at Pomene R200 per night for 2

 

Most enjoyable:                  Villa Del Mar in Vilankulos

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                              Mozambique 

 

Dates :                                   28th March 2008 to 10th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:                   3 Meticals = R1

 

Number of Nights:             14

 

Distance traveled:              3109 km

 

Average distance per day:  222km

 

Cost of Diesel:                    R10.60 (Maputo)

 

                                                R12.25 (Vilanculos)

 

Average fuel consumption:  8.04 km/l

 

Diesel used:                            370 litres

 

Worst Road/s:                     Punto du Ouro to Maputo

Tar road 400km north of Masinga and

                                                Road to Pomene

 

Best Road/s:                       Maputo to Xai Xai

 

Favourite new destination: Xai Xai

 

Average cost of accommodation: R445.78

 

Number of Bushcamps:   None

 

Cheapest Acommodation: Camping at Pomene R200 per night for 2

 

Most enjoyable:                  Villa Del Mar in Vilankulos