August 25th 2013: Cuamba – Nampula, Mozambique
Driven distance on August 25th 2013: 350km (220 miles)
Driven distance total: 75’080km (46’650 miles)
Well, there are actually still people in perfect organized Switzerland who are unnecessarily complaining about the construction sights on the road. Now here is an example from Africa; a 300km (200 miles) long main traffic route is being tarred. The government (since they don’t have the possibilities themselves) gives contracts for the road work to different companies; So there are Chinese, Portuguese and South Africans independently working on the road. The result – a 300km long continuous stretch of construction, full of corrugated dirt roads. Such dirt roads are definitely no advantage for the locals. They have to eat the dust from every fast vehicle that passes on those roads through the villages! For the people there normal – for us unimaginable!
As always on such roads we try to protect the Landrover as much as possible. We drop the tire pressure and drive rather slowly! Nevertheless something broke. We were a bit shocked during our 10AM snack break when we saw the diesel (filled up the tank the evening before) just flowing out on the ground. A thin, continuously flowing stream was contaminating the floor L. We had to continue like this since we couldn’t really locate the leakage. Luckily the leakage seemed to be rather at the upper side of the tank and therefor stopped after a while (after 10 to 20L (3 to 5 gallons) of loss) by itself.
Besides the road was this trip fantastic! The landscape contains of many spectacular mountains and the villages gave us a view into the typical rural Africa.
Unfortunately we didn’t make it to our destination during daylight and we had to drive about half hour in darkness! We always try to avoid this, since it is much more dangerous to drive in the night. The main reason for this is simply that we almost don’t see anything. The people are on the road on foot or bicycle without light, animals are crossing the street and some cars or trucks are as well driving with almost no or no lights.
August 26th – 27th 2013: Nampula, Mozambique
Driven distance on August 26th – 27th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 75’180km (46’710 miles)
Once again we tried our luck at the Toyota dealer to get the diesel tank fixed. But also here they didn’t want to do anything with our Landrover L. They told us another shop where we can go. There we had more success and immediately were 3 guys working on it. Since we almost ha a full tank, we first had to drain 100L (26 gallons) diesel out of the tank... Three hours later the tank was down and we could locate the leak at the tank. There was a crack along one of the welding sections at the upper side of the tank. After the lunch break they welded the tank and two hours later the car was ready. Since this shop was rather expensive but therefor clean we paid for the repair about 300$. Of course we didn’t have enough cash and our credit cards weren’t accepted. But without any hassle we were able to pay the bill the next day. We left them 100 Euros as an assurance that we return the next day. We also managed our grocery shopping in the bustling town. What is quite practical are the veggies selling guys just in front of the supermarket, where we could get carrots, potatoes and long beans. Even when you are not really intending to buy anything, you almost get compelled to buy something healthy when the guys are surrounding you :-). Also something typical African are the many young guys on the streets who are selling airtime for cell phones, cigarettes, clothes and so on... For lunch we sat in a small restaurant, ate chicken, rice and fries and chatted with the Portuguese owner. Also at the other tables were Portuguese men eating and we understood that some of them worked as road construction engineers for a Portuguese company. One of them explained to us, that he lives here in Mozambique since 2 years and that he has 2 children and wife back home in Portugal. He couldn’t find work back in Europe, so he had to come to Africa! Also the restaurant owner was unemployed in Portugal and has found work here in Mozambique
August 28th 2013: Nampula – Mozambique Island, Mozambique
Driven distance on August 28th 2013: 200km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 75’380km (46’840 miles)
The specialty on this part of the road were definitely the peanut sellers along the road. Well well, the part with recognizing the hazards in traffic doesn’t exist here. The guys weren’t standing at the side of the road, no they were standing half on the street and were holding their peanut buckets onto the road, so the wind from the rapidly moving Landrover almost blew them away :-).
Later on, we intended to sleep just before the island. Unfortunately the campground wasn’t operating anymore so we had to drive over the 3km (2 miles) long bridge to the island. We had some difficulties to find an adequate sleeping place, since there are no camping spots on the island. After some asking around, we found two guys who showed us a place where we could safely park, camp and use the toilet and shower of a regular hotel room. The only hazard that was present was the soccer ball! We were parked just besides the goal from the local soccer field :-).
August 29th – 30th 2013: Mozambique Island, Mozambique
Driven distance on August 29th – 30th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 75’380km (46’840 miles)
The „Ilha de Moçambique“ was the capital of the Portuguese East Africa until the end of the 19th Century and is listed today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The northern end of the island is dominated by the massive Fort Sao Sebastiao, which is the oldest, still completely standing fort in the southern Africa. At the most far end of the island is further the „Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte“, which was built in the year 1522 and is believed to be the oldest building in the southern hemisphere. Some other remains of the Portuguese are the old governors palace, some restored colonial buildings and churches. But most of the colonial buildings are run-down and look quite crappy. Besides several churches are also some mosques and a little Hindu temple present on the small island. We paid a short a visit to the Hindu temple which wasn’t honestly that beautiful... We met the Hindu priest who greeted us very friendly and he showed us the prayers hall. We rather felt like in a bathroom, since the entire room was white tiled :-). Just some statues of Hindu gods and some other decorations made it look a bit relaxed :-). Most impressive was the automatic drum machine that the priest presented to us :-). They use it during the services (Pujas) and it makes a huge noise!
An exceptional experience was, when we went with our young friend Victor for lunch. We walked from the old town into the nearby village, which was mainly having a labyrinth of alleys and crappy tiny houses. In the beginning we didn’t feel that good, but the people were friendly and smiled at us. Victor explained to us, that he comes here every day to eat lunch. It wasn’t a restaurant, it was just a small private house where you can get some food. Victor brought us 2 plates overfilled with rice, gravy and a piece of meat while we were sitting on the little wall from the building. As the locals we ate with our hands. It was actually quite tasty, but way too much rice for our stomachs! After we were done eating, a woman was sitting besides Stefan and pointed with her finger onto the plate, where there was only a bone left on it. We weren’t exactly sure what the women wanted (Victor was not present at the time) until another woman was coming to take our plates back to the kitchen. She then gave the already well finished bone to the other women and she was eating some more of it, passed it on to her child which was afterwards chewing on it! It didn’t really look like the women was suffering from hunger, but we assume that she can’t afford meat and therefor wanted to have the taste of meat... We felt a bit strange… We paid for the three plates less then 3 dollars!
Also the sailing trip was a exciting adventure. With an old traditional sailing boat and a three-men crew we cruised nicely for over 2 hours to the lagoon on the mainland with its picturesque beach. It was fascinating to watch the men when they were handling the sail and the boat.
August 31st 2013: Mozambique Island – Pemba, Mozambique
Driven distance on August 31st 2013: 450km (280 miles)
Driven distance total: 75’830km (47’120 miles)
We started early in the morning. Our daily trips are getting steadily longer, since there are fewer and fewer places to camp. Additionally we got warned from several sides that the road is a construction site. The fact with the construction site was true. But at least they were thinking a bit more than on other roadwork areas. First of all they left the old bridges as they are to quicker build the actual road. Further on is one lane already finished and they are building now the second one. Since there is not too much traffic, it is mostly possible to drive on the tarred part of the road. Therefor we arrived surprisingly on time at our kite-surf destination Pemba. We stopped about 20km (12 miles) before Pemba at a big veggies market. Unfortunately we didn’t even make it to the selling stalls since we were getting completely hindered by a dozen veggies selling guys :-). Besides the bargaining you also have to take care that the scales are about right. Some times they are that old that they show 2 or 3 kilos when having 1! 5kg of veggies was the result of the short but intensive stop.
Our beach for the kite surfing was about 15km (10 miles) outside of town, so therefor we organized first some food supplies in town. Pemba seems to be a pleasant town and the people seem to be very friendly as at the other places in Mozambique and we feel quite comfy here!
What surprised us in Pemba were the many construction sites. Several gas stations are being built, supermarkets are opening their gates and numerous parking areas are full of containers, pipes, trucks and cranes. The reason for that is, that have found oil in the sea nearby and therefor is Pemba sprawling.
To get to our final destination in Pemba we didn’t take the main road, but rather tried to go along the beach with help of the GPS. The trip was rather annoying. The GPS wasn’t really correct and the sandy track led us partially across private properties. Anyways we made it without problems and just arrived before darkness at the lodge Il Pirata, which is famous as a kite surfing place! The Italian owner was unfortunately really not helpful!! We weren’t allowed to camp and a room was way beyond our budget. To the question if we were at least allowed to store our kite surf gear here, we immediately received the answer that it costs 30$ per month! Additionally we would have to pay 6$ per day for kiting and receive for this a “helper”! We explained to him that we now have to go to a 10km (6 miles) far away campground because we couldn’t afford his lodge. Plus we would have to pack every day all our camping gear and kite gear just to come for kite surfing!! He absolutely didn’t care! But the best part is coming now. To the question, if there is another lodge nearby where we could camp, he said: “No, there is none”! We drove disappointed away and were absolutely demotivated and had “hanging down heads” L!
Just 100m (330 feet) further we spotted the entrance gate to the „n’Zuwa Lodge“ and we tried again our luck. And what happened? The lodge under very friendly German/American management took us 2 travel bums :-)! Absolutely happy and released we installed our camp directly at the beach! For dinner we enjoyed a yummy fish and a cold beer in the restaurant!
September 1st – 19th 2013: Pemba, Mozambique
Driven distance on September 1st – 19th 2013: 240km (150 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’070km (47’270 miles)
Although we were just at the end of the kite surf season, we had the first two weeks almost every day wind and we could go crazy on the water :-). We really enjoyed the fact, that we had the ocean basically for us and we didn’t have to fear other kite surfers or crashes with them :-). Even at the weekend with good wind there were maximum 5 to 6 kites on the sky! What was a bit annoying was, that we couldn’t kite during low tide, since the ocean is drawing back about a mile! During low tide the ocean belongs to the locals, who are collecting clams. Approx. every 4th day we went to town for shopping and to get some diversity from our lonesome beach :-).
By coincidence we heard that there is a festival going on the coming weekend with some local musicians as well as some Swiss artists. The festival was organized by the Swiss organization Viva con Agua! And of course we didn’t wanna miss that. Already in the afternoon we drove to town and could witness the Swiss rapper Knäckeboul during a beat box workshop with local kids. All the kids were really fascinated to hear what kind of noises the white man produces with just his mouth! They were dancing, rapping, singing, beat-boxing – all in all a pleasant happening! The program at the evening contained a fashion show and different concerts. For us this was all just a great thing, since we didn’t go really out for a long time ;-).
Another party that had to be celebrated was of course my (Maryse) 30th birthday :-). I got surprised with a yummy chocolate cake and a delicious dinner with bonfire :-).
September 20th 2013: Pemba – Mocimboa Da Praya, Mozambique
Driven distance on September 20th 2013: 350km (220 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’420km (47’490 miles)
Now we finally managed it after nearly 3 weeks to leave the nice beach near Pemba and the n’Zuwa lodge behind us. We started early at 8AM since the road was again partially a roadwork site. We moved quite rapidly since the first part of the road was already finished. Around 11AM we made a rather unexpected stop. 2 young Asian backpackers were hitchhiking. After some discussion we had pity for them and took the 2 Koreans with us, until the end. Their huge backpacks we put on the roof and went on. They were squeezed in between the closets of the Landrover but simply said that this is first class for them, and that they otherwise ride with dozens of Africans together on the back of a pick-up truck :-).
Our average speed was constantly decreasing and the potholes and corrugation on the construction road were increasing!! Just before darkness we reached our destination and were quite tired.
September 21st 2013: Mocimboa Da Praya, Mozambique – Kilambo, Tanzania
Driven distance on September 21st 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 76’560km (47’570 miles)
We decided not to stay for too long in Mozambique anymore and move quickly to the border since we still weren’t sure if we would get a visa at this border crossing. We even asked at the Tanzanian embassy in Maputo (Mozambique) if we get a visa or not at this crossing and they just said that they are not sure about this specific border. A secure option would have been to drive to the next more western crossing, but would have been a long detour for us. Also many other people weren’t able to give us a real answer regarding the visas. So we decided to just try our luck :-). In addition was also quite uncertain how often and when that the ferry crosses the Rovuma River. The first 30km (20 miles) of the road from Mocimboa de Praia were newly tarred, but then the roadwork and the bumpy roads started again. After the village of Palma, the road got more and more smaller and looked at the end more like a road that ends somewhere in the forest rather then a road going to a border crossing :-). We of course asked first about the Tanzanian visa at the Mozambique border post before exiting the country. Unfortunately the officer didn’t know it either, but at least he called to the other side of the river and asked the Tanzanian guys. Luckily we received a positive answer! We met once again our Korean friends after we arrived at the Rovuma River. They unfortunately missed the first ferry and were waiting already for 5 hours. During the dry season the ferry has to follow the tides. Only during high tide is enough water and the ferry can operate, otherwise the water level is too low. We were lucky and only had to wait for 2 hours :-). The crowed was getting nervous when the ferry was in sight. Also we started the engine of the car to get a space on the ferry :-). Afterwards everything went fast. The incoming guests were taxis and busses loudly offered and the waiting passengers went quickly on board. Also we got a space and the ferry took off. The ferry ride was 15$, including the car and us two. After 10 minutes we reached the Tanzanian side of the river. We continued towards the immigration after changing the remaining Mozambique Meticais into Tanzanian Shillings. Without problems we got a visa for 50$. It got already dark after we finished the paper work for the car. Since our car doesn’t have lights at the moment, we basically had to stay in the border village overnight. We could install our camp directly at the premises of the customs office directly besides the police.