Claudia, Peter, Lasse & Sil discovering the world www.amsterdamonroute.reismee.nl

Mozambique - Part 1

Crossing the border into Mozambique took a little time and patience, with some misuse of power and position on the side of the customs officials. We decided to only hand in our passports and not those of the children, as Lasse and Sil were in Peter's passport and this saved us another 55 US$ on visa costs. The customs official did not very much like this move of us, but after some to-ing and fro-ing, we got back our passports, with visa, and were free to enter Mozambique.

We arrived while it was dark already at the Zambesi bridge that would take us to Tete, our first stop in Mozambique. The bridge was being repaired and only allowed one-way crossing, so there was a big line of cars and trucks waiting to cross the bridge. Peter displayed some brutality, which got us over the bridge fairly quick. All the hotels listed in the Lonely Planet were full, so we tried our luck at Hotel Kassuende, a place used mostly by local travelers. The room was okay, except for the shower and toilet (see picture). The next morning we had French fries with fried eggs for breakfast, the only item on the menu. We were very ready to go again!

We decided to make use of some highway to get from the border to the coast of Mozambique as quickly as possible. We planned three consecutive travel days to get from Zomba (Malawi) to Vilankulo at the coast of Mozambique. Our second stop-over was in Chimoio, where we stayed in a luxury, western style bungalow resort, with swimming pool and restaurant. We dried the stuff on our roof rack, wet because of rain underway, and hung out our sleeping bags that were still a bit damp from last night. Lasse, Sil and Peter took a dive in the (unheated) swimming pool, and were watched by other guests glad in thick coats and long trousers with some dismay. Lasse spent some of his pocket money on a horse ride around the resort, with a big smile on his face. Internet was complementary and quick, so we spent some time updating our travel blog and reading our e-mails. It is always nice to receive some news from home, just reading about every-day activities from our friends and family is nice when you are so far away from home. After an early breakfast the next morning we were on the road again, destination Vilankulo.

In Vilankulo we pitched our tents at Centro Turistico Josef e Tine. We planned to stay here some days, do some home schooling with Lasse and Sil and some sight-seeing. The campsite annex lodge was a bit shabby and run-down, with ditto ablution blocks. We had a nice spot for our tents, but the atmosphere at the place was not really welcoming, as a bunch of locals was hanging around the central area of the lodge the entire day, watching TV and hanging out. Luckily we decided late on the first evening to take a dhow safari (day boat trip) to Magarot Island do some snorkeling at the reef. On the trip we met with Tobias and Bettina, with their one-year old son Konstantin, from Germany, and Jan-Karel (Holland) and Becky (Kenya), with their three-year old daughter Ayanna. So it turned out to be a real kids event and we could all get along quit nice. The guests really made the day, as the three Mozambican guys that were sailing the boat did not display the slightest interest in their guests (us), and were even illegally spear-fishing at the reef at the end of the day. We decided to shorten our stay and move on a day earlier, as the atmosphere around the place bothered us more and more. But we did not leave before Claudia had a look at the President of Mozambique visiting the town and after having a drink with Jan-Karel and Becky the next day.

Barra was going to be our next stop, situated on the far end of a small peninsula, supposedly a paradise for surfers, fishermen and whale-watchers. We tried several campsites, but all not very nice, so in the end we decided to take a hut at Montanha Valley Lodge, a very luxury lodge, run by a South African couple Bob and Annelize (their lodge was up for sale, at a price of 5,5 million Rand...). We enjoyed staying in a lodge, as Sil was having a fever and diarrhea, and a toilet next to your bed is quit handy in such a situation. We spent a lovely day at the beach, Sil quickly recovered, we had a lovely meal prepared by Annelize and Lasse and Sil were allowed a couple of runs on a real quad, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Most of the lodges here appear to be run by South Africans, as this is a very popular destination for South African holiday makers. And as most South African holiday makers bring from home large crates of food, it is very questionable whether the local community benefits at all from all these lodges. Apart from some local wages for the employees, there is a 17% tourism tax levied on the price of a night's stay-over, but that will probably be all and the profits generated by the lodges will find their way to South Africa. We also learned that camping is not very popular by the local communities, as they bring in too little money, hence little camping permits are issued and most lodges only offer dorms or single/double rooms, which are too expensive for our budget.

The next day we met up with Tobias and Bettina and went on a whale-shark safari with them. That was quit spectacular. We were launched with a rubber boat with two large motors straight into the 3 meter high waves, which put an ear-to-ear smile on the face of Lasse and Sil. Quickly, the boat picked up speed and drove to 'whale-alley', where lots of humpback whales, manta rays and whale-sharks were swimming. As soon as the skipper spotted a whale-shark, he turned the boat, shouted 'ready? - Get in!', and off we went, into the water, to swim together with 9-meter long whale-sharks, the largest fish on earth. It was a truly astonishing experience to swim together with these huge but friendly giants (the feed on plankton only), and we all had a good go at it. At the end of the trip, just before we returned, the skipper spotted 2 manta rays. Claudia and Peter dived in and caught a good glimpse of these beautiful animals too. Afterwards, we sat with Tobias and Bettina on the beach, really enjoying in silence this great experience.

The whale-shark safaris were organized from the Bamboozi lodge at Tofo, close to Barra. We liked this place so much that we decided to pitch our tents here and stay a couple of days. The weather was beautiful and the beaches white and wide. Besides,Tobias and Bettina were staying closeby, at Inhambana (famous town in the days of slavery), as Bettina was doing field-research for her PhD study, so we agreed to meet the next day to visit Inhambana together and cook at their house. The last night at Bamboozi campsite was stormy and rainy, and we had to work hard to drie our stuff the next morning. We tried to fulfill Claudia's wish for a long walk along the beach, but were driven back by the rain. So we said our good-byes and got back on the road again, heading for Xai-Xai, some 300 km down south.

The hotel in Xai-Xai was fully booked, or the lady at the reception was not interested in more guests, so we took the option offered by 2 boys on the street to take us to a holiday house they knew. The kids showed us the way, while standing on our rear-bumper. The place turned out to be nice, and again, ran by a South African guy. We had dinner at the local camping, where some sort of youth conference was being held. This resulted in some big laughs and nice moments, as we were looked at by this large group of youngsters to who we could not communicate other than 'hello, how are you? Everything ok?'

From Xai-Xai we went inland, away from the ocean. Via bad roads we reached Massingir, a small village at the border of the Limpopo National park, which borders Kruger National park in South Africa. We wanted to go into Kruger via Limpopo NP, but we made a stop-over in Massingir because the distances were too long and the road was too bad. We stayed at community owned Covane Community Lodge. The next day we went on to Giryondo gate, trying to enter South Africa. After we had our passports stamped by Mozambican officials, we went to the South African customs, but only to find out that we could only obtain one time a 7 day visa extension, as our original visa had expired. This presented us with a problem, as our flight out of Cape Town was on September 15, and we had counted on spending our last 4 weeks touring South Africa. We had no choice to go back into Mozambique, purchase a new visa again and go back to Massingir, where we stayed once more at Covane Community lodge. Here we met Tinus and Rinelda, a couple from South Africa, with their sons Lukas (12) and Daniel (10). Tinus and Rinelda were employees of the lodge and responsible for management and a new construction project that would enlarge and upgrade the lodge. Lasse and Sil really hit it off with Lukas and Daniel, so we decided to pitch our tents and stay a little bit longer, to give our kids the chance to play with other kids. We also enjoyed our stay, witnessed a traditional dance at our camp, went out on a boating trip with Tinus and Rinelda and the kids, during which we saw hippo's and croc's in the huge lake that existed because of the artificial dam built for agricultural purposes (irrigation of the land).

To be continued in Part 2 ......

Reacties

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marijke

Wat een avonturen weer, vooral dat jullie met walvissen hebben gezwommen geweldig !!!
Leuk dat je toch overal weer gelijkgestemde mensen tegen kan komen !

dikke kus Marijke.

Norbert

Hallo meine Lieben, ich bin happy, dass Ihr lebt.....
Der Übersetzer-Dienst bei google.de meinte nämlich...
"On our way to Xai-Xai we were laser-gunned by the local police" so zu übersetzen:
Auf unserem Weg nach Xai-Xai Laser - wir waren von der örtlichen Polizei niedergeschossen.....
Auf ein langes Leben und viele schuss-sichere Westen - groetjes + dikke kus

Rutger en Marlies

Mooi verhaal! Volgens mij hebben die agenten geluk gehad dat ze geen pijl van de boog hebben geincasseerd:) Wij zijn inmiddels in Kampala.. Heel veel plezier!!

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