With a cyclone predicted on the southern coastline of Mozambique and our 30 day visa swiftly coming to an end, 4ina4x4 decided to move inland and head for the hills! Our original plan was to go from Mozambique into Southern Malawi, but sadly Malawi has closed all land borders to non-residents so another route had to be found. We initially contemplated the East coast of Lake Malawi/North western Mozambique but with all the isis issues in Northern Moz we felt happier to rather just skip this entire area and trek up through Western Moz into Zambia.
But shoo what a journey to get from the coast of Mozambique (Inhassoro) to Zambia – coming from SA you forget how MASSIVE Mozambique is… jeepas it is 3 days of driving to get from the coast to the North West corner into Zambia. And the driving is intense! Safa’s don’t think our potholed roads are bad (we dream of SA potholes!!!!!) …. The potholes in Mozambique and certain Zambian areas are more like Kimberly holes!!!! In areas the road has a few meter wide dongas and in other sections one half is gravel corrugated road and the other side is potholed tar…. You are constantly choosing which option is better . And no matter how hard you try you WILL inevitably land yourself in one of the holes! As you can imagine driving these roads takes serious concentration and driving for 6-7 hours is more than enough - Dev was a complete trooper!
As bad as these potholes were, the scenery along the roadside is completely mesmerising – huge granite rocks form massive mountains, children play outside their huts with huge baobabs overlooking them, farmers work tirelessly on their plots of mielie lands, women cycle miles to get to town, people walk kms to get to town. In some villages motorbikes are the local taxi service with the driver, a mum a small baby and bags of shopping precariously perched on the back. In the next it is tuk-tuks…...
And huge rivers….. we have never heard of these rivers yet they far precede the size of any SA river…. They were vast and roaring after much rainfall.
One of our stops was in Tete where the mighty Zambezi river cuts through the countryside. We stayed with an old varsity mate of Devs (and I am friends with the wife from school sport days but sadly her and the kids were back in SA). What a treat to once again be in a home with home comforts and a good old roast chicken and veggies and time to chat to mates and also for the kids to have dolls-houses and toys to play with! Tete really is in the middle of nowhere - 2/3 hours to Malawi border, 5 hours to Zambia and about 12 hours to the Moz coast. And NOTHING, I mean nothing between those destinations. But in this town we were welcomed by the most awesome expat community who invited us along to sundowners on top of a hilltop overlooking Tete and the vast Zambezi river and then onto a birthday party…. Once again we were reminded of the goodness of so many people. Thank you so much to you all for opening your arms to us strangers!
From Tete it was an arduous journey to the Zambian Border, and with our heads a little fuzzy from the opskop the night before, it made for a rather long day J
Zambian border was as promised… a nightmare! We needed papers we didn’t have, there are about 7 different road/car offices you need to go through, and endless forms to be filled in, all this adding 2.5 hours to our already long day. Once again Dev was a trooper and his patience and biding time got us through slowly but smoothly. Thankfully there was a tree where I could sit with the kids in the shade and feed them lunch. An old motorbike become the kids entertainment!
The 40kms from this border took us 1.5 hours! Slow going. But so very different to Moz - e are always amazined that you can literally cross an imaginary line (border) and suddenyly life/homes/people are so different....how is this possible? Zambia was bright markets, smiling people and still lush green roadside....
We treated ourselves that night to the Protea Hotel in Chipata – sometimes you just need a little luxury.
The following morning with much excitement we drove the short 2 hour drive to SOUTH LUANGWA…. A place Dev and I have yearned to visit. It is not the “ideal” time to visit SL as it is the wet season and many of the roads and camps are closed due to high rivers and with the excess water the game is spread out much more….. but boy oh boy this lush green park is beyond beautiful.
We set up camp in the beautiful Wildlife Camp on the banks of the Luangwa river. Having been here for less than a day we decided that we would spend a fair amount of time here both exploring the park and also just putting our feet up a bit!
See my next blog post for more on our incredible time here in South Luangwa!