Best time to visit:
The climate varies according to the region, but the ideal times to leave are the so-called middle seasons (March, April and September to November) when the heat remains within acceptable temperatures.
In a word:
Lixile (good morning)
Recommended Antitific, Prophylaxis Antimalarial (chloroquine-resistant)
- In large cities, pay attention to any gatherings of people that can turn into urban turmoil
- For safety reasons, do not go around at night, neither on foot nor by car
Live a full day among the children of Ilha de Mozambique, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Day trip by catamaran to the islands of Magaruque and Bazaruto; Relax by the sea in Praia do Tofo
In this great adventure we rented a 4 × 4 truck in Johannesburg, South Africa and slowly we began the journey north to the mighty Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe crossing boundless landscapes, savannas, rivers, still virgin islands and some of the most beautiful parks in all of Africa. There will be unexpected twists and turns, while we were heading towards Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, we learn of a revolt that has broken out in the city due to the increase in the prices of bread and water and we are forced to fall back to another location, this is just one of the many adventures that we will face in an adventurous journey in pure South East Africa. We will sleep almost every night in tents, we will cook using our camping kitchen, we will visit some of the most characteristic places of this old former Portuguese colony, we will fall in love with its islands and its people!
Our suggested itinerary (12 days)
Praia do Tofo (relaxation by the sea)
Vilankulo (boat trips to Magaruque and Bazaruto islands)
Caia, Ilha de Mozambique (visit of the UNESCO heritage village)
Nampula and transfer to Malawi
In Africa you have to be patient.
If you are not patient: you become!
Patience to stay tens of hours in an uncomfortable van waiting, looking, scrutinizing, hoping to catch a glimpse of some animal during the safari.
Patience to put up with the border bureaucracy; patience to bargain for a decent exchange between South African rand and Mozambique metical.
Leaving South Africa with its beautiful Kruger Park, we also leave the “western” world behind, the remains of those old Boers now called “Afrikaners” vanish immediately in the red dust of the Mozambican earth.
Crossed the border: change the language, we leave English from the Dutch pronunciation and a warmer Portuguese welcomes us.
We are in Africa: and this time really!
In recent days, internal unrest has broken out in Maputo due to the increase in the price of bread and water. We wisely decide to avoid the capital and for this reason we leave the only paved road to immerse ourselves in a path forgotten by God ... Large holes, dust, sand, jungle landscape frames our path ...
For hundreds of km we meet nothing but a few small children who have come out from who knows where and a few lonely goats ...
Sometimes I am enchanted by fleetingly observing their huts and through them I try to imagine how their daily life could unfold ... it is difficult not to feel tenderness and compassion for these people who, being born here, find themselves living a life of hardship and daily struggle for survival ...
I am not exaggerating and the clear example is provided by the girl who quarrels with friends to grab our empty plastic bottle ...
So how can we not feel lucky in the face of so much misery? How not to feel "small" when you get stuck in city traffic or when you break a stupid ornament at home and get angry? Here everything returns to acquire its true value.
Fannie, our Afrikaner driver, goes straight ... let's go up the black continent!
You give a pen ... They give you a smile accompanied by a shy "obrigado” and you immediately feel richer and happier!
The thing that struck me most about this first taste of Africa is the "waka waka", the eternal journey of these men, women and children who emerge from everywhere and walk ... they go on ... who knows where ... they continue in single file, in groups, solitary ... some improvise a dance on the side of the road with red sand, an elderly lady animatedly discusses with a circle of women with large and pronounced asses. Children with heavy flasks or large bags on their heads; little girls with artistic hair and a thousand colored braids ... Where they go: no one knows ... Where they come from: you can't see ... We only know that they go ...
After 14 hours on the road we stopped at Praia do Tofo, a very romantic place that overlooks the Indian Ocean.
Anti-malarial prophylaxis proceeds. The "lariam" so far has not had great side effects in me, fortunately ...
Here is one of those places that I will not easily forget!
We were stocking up on some food supplies on the border between South Africa and Mozambique when Fannie catches a guy renting out his wonderful oceanfront villa for a night.
It was hard to get there but it was really worth it.
Waking up with this spectacle of nature thrilled me!
The immense ocean that surrounds you, the fishermen returning from their fishing trip ...
I will never forget the barefoot jog wearing only the swimsuit, on the white beach ...
I would love to be able to capture as much as possible of these images, these sensations, these flavors ...
How surprising is this Mozambique ... And who would have ever expected it?
Day of travel and transfer along the dusty roads of Mozambique to the coastal city of Vilankulo which welcomed us with its sounds, its music, its flavors, its people ...
We are cooked and, given a bit of life, we decide to have dinner at a local restaurant. Two local boys cheer up our dinner by improvising songs with their guitar, songs that praise the goodness and courtesy of the "people of Vilankulo".
What a beautiful evening ... I was in a remote village in Mozambique ...
We are lucky enough to stay in some huts with a roof built from intertwining palm leaves overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Here, too, electricity is a useless luxury.
Illuminated by our dim torches we proceed to the various operations. Without light everything is more difficult but it serves to consolidate our body spirit.
We do our best in organizing primary things: wire for drying clothes, various mosquito nets, backpack for the navigation of tomorrow, etc.
At dawn I was already back on the beach with my trusty camera to admire the fishermen returning from their fishing trip, the children playing with the crabs on the shoreline or with the small fish jumping off the nets, the women loading large baskets full of fish on the head and off to the “Mercado Municipal”…
Taking advantage of the low tide we walk 200 meters before getting on our boat. We set sail!
It is incredible how low tide manages to bring out real oases in the ocean.
The navigation is slow but allows us to admire the various colors and the many shades of the sea but also huge schools of fish, large jellyfish and large starfish.
Magaruque is an island far from everything, it has a small beach and large palm trees on the ocean. Every now and then some crab that came out of a hole in the sand crossed it with its clumsy gait and then disappeared into another hole not far away ...
With my feet and hands bleeding and scarred by corals, we dive for a long snorkeling but exhausted from the fight against the current and a little disappointed by the scarcity of fauna, I abandon myself and fall asleep under a palm tree, as in the most classic of images of Relax!
In the meantime, our Mozambican friends have already prepared a delicious lunch based on rice, giant crabs and excellent grilled barracuda ...
While with the sail reupholstered to the best, we return to Vilankulo, sitting towards the infinity of the ocean, with my legs dangling and feet in the water, I was traveling with my heart.
Dawn is always one of the most unforgettable moments of a day ... wherever you are, seeing that orange disc emerge from infinity gives you joy, hope and life!
In two hours we reach the Bazaruto island.
Navigation, as always, is romantic, it envelops you, surrounds you, cradles you ... I love sitting with my legs off the boat and in the loneliest point of the bow: I want to enjoy the conquest of every single wave ...
The scene is dominated by an immense white sand dune ...
Touched the ground we are literally magnetized by the climb of the dune.
At the top: the spectacle that this island gives us repays us for all the effort and above all for the swallowed sand ...
Low tide had created a natural palette of a thousand colors that with the reflection of the sun, the incessant coming and going of the clouds made the show even more exciting ...
Bathing in the natural pool among the corals, I take this opportunity, since there is no one, to even do it naked, in total freedom!
Grilled squid lunch fighting with the hawk that, like a shark, peered at us from above in the sky, hoping for a moment of distraction to steal our food
Today we leave Vilankulo and its sea, we head north.
Three full days of walking await us and the unknown places where we will sleep makes everything even more exciting.
We grind hundreds of miles and cross a large part of this nation.
I have seen men, women and children appear out of nowhere and walk with the most disparate thing in perfect balance on their heads and then suddenly disappear again; children sitting in the shade of a giant baobab tree while an adult explained something to them; men sell gasoline bottles on the street; straw and mud huts; women doing laundry in a small pool of water near a half-dried river; elderly women with cross-shaped tattoos on their foreheads, cheeks and chins; people of all ages travel miles and miles just to bring some water; children take care of little brothers and sisters much younger than them….
Our equipped truck suddenly brakes. A cloud of sand hits us, then thins out and we go down.
We are tired, dirty and sweaty.
We want to set up the tents and the camp kitchen as soon as possible so that we can relax with a shower.
We are staying in a field that is too close to the imposing Zambezi River.
In no time at all, our battle for survival against mosquitoes begins.
We set everything with great collaboration from everyone. We are now experts.
The night in the tent was tough: the worst.
The fight continues against the suffocating heat and the hundreds of mosquitoes of the Zambezi…
Night falls early in this corner of the world and it happens that at 17.00, after eleven hours of travel, you are still on the road and you are still missing many! Too many!
Driving here at night is tough as well as very dangerous.
The rare animals graze undisturbed on the still hot asphalt; few vehicles have headlights and the many police checkpoints are used to stop those without light.
Fannie, our Boer driver, knows this well and therefore tries in vain to convince us to stop in the first useful place, but we want to get to our destination at all costs, according to our information there should be a very delightful seaside resort, and after all these hard days we really need a little break!
In the late evening, after 15 hours of very heavy truck, we reach Ihla Moçambique.
The place is totally different from what we expected.
The Lonely Planet this time failed. We, who were expecting a tourist-equipped place in which to rest our tired bones, wash clothes that are now too dirty and above all take a relaxing shower, find ourselves having to camp on a deserted beach where even finding a sealed bottle of water becomes a difficult task. But we do not lose heart and in a short time our field is ready and the risottos in sachets, brought from Italy, are already boiling in the pot!
A wonderful and romantic starry sky observes us while, after a general spread of amuchina all over the body, we collapse exhausted in our sleeping bag ...
Wake up as usual at five, but by now we have been totally enveloped by African life that moves and develops perfectly to the rhythm of the sun ...
We cross the three km of bridge on foot that divide the city from the island that we have renamed: "the island of children"!
Never seen so many children in my life!
Even now, as I jot down my thoughts sitting outside a restaurant, endless lines of curious children pass me by. Many ask me to be photographed and when they see themselves in the little screen of my camera they jump for joy, applaud, call their friends to gather, they pose again for another shot ...
The islet is all a mixture of huts and schools.
We entered one of them…. A boy explained the respiratory system to a group of children sitting on the ground, without desks or chairs ...
"The idea of our candy bag wasn't so good!" you must have thought poor Stefy while she was attacked by dozens and dozens of kids ...
Ibrahim, a deaf-dumb child, very awake and very intelligent, becomes our body guard. After offering him a plate of rice and a Fanta, he follows us all afternoon and woe betide any child who gets too close to us ...
We are filthy and smelly; at the first beach we dive to wash!
We haven't had water for two whole days and with this moonlight ...
While we are soaking a circle of kids forms, watching us amused.
After a while we all find ourselves dancing with them to the rhythm of their songs!
It's time for dinner! The lobsters bought this morning from a fisherman await us, paid for two euros each, which the owner of a restaurant will cook for us in her restaurant, specifying however that we would have to pay 100 metikals (2 euros) for the "labor". Two euros in all !!!
The return to our tents was quite eventful with a bitter surprise.
Our tents have been blown away!
With enormous patience and without breaking down we slowly rebuild the whole field!
While I was dismantling the tent, in the quiet of the Mozambican dawn, I considered that we haven't washed properly for three days, the shower is now an old memory as well as a luxury, the beard and hair are long, the clothes are dirty and not I've been looking in the mirror for a week, supplies are starting to run out, it's hard to even find some water, the tactical shorts are already wide for me but we are happy!
Happy with the experience we are living, happy to sip the little water we have left in the bottle even if it is always boiling, happy with the knowledge that this journey is changing us and then we will try not to waste superfluously what we had previously taken for granted.
Nampula is the third largest city in Mozambique. We secure 300 liters of fuel for our truck and struggle enough to find a store for food supplies.
Shoprite is what we need.
Upon exiting the supermarket, with two trolleys overflowing with food, I understand the reason for all that security armed with big guns at the exit of every single shop.
As if we were escorting two half-valuables, we were almost attacked by the crowd waiting outside. Rudy and Fannie who had remained guarding our vehicle seeing us in the distance immediately tell us that they had just witnessed a theft of the car parked next to us ...
Without getting lost in chatter we both empty the trolleys on the seats and skid away.
We will put them in order away from too curious eyes.
We arrive in Cuamba in the late evening, we are on the border between Mozambique and Malawi, and here it is difficult to find a decent place for the night.
Before asking for asylum at a school we try the "San Miguel Pension" ... they only have three doubles but with a little sacrifice we settle in three by joining the beds and sleeping vertically!
Here, too, the shower is an optional, but the sink is even so!
We wash where and how it happens but this is also the beauty of a trip to Africa!
We are ready to enter Malawi! A new adventure begins!
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