04-08-2007, 09:19 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Mozmalzambots, Southern African Loop
In 2002 I joined an unofficial Africa Safari trip from South Africa through Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana back to South Africa. It was a pretty interesting experience (7 starters and 3 finishers) and it introduced me to lake Malawi. I was much impressed and had been wanting to take Mrs Jockey there since.
Well, the universe finally aligned, and the two of us were able to embark on an unassisted trip in September 2006.
The planned route:
We left Johannesburg with joy and fear in our hearts respectively. I can never get away from that place fast enough.
We thought we might as well check out the Mozambique beaches while we're at it. I have a religious objection to toll roads and with the Komatipoort route infested as it is, we therefor headed for Swaziland en route to Maputo, the Mozambique capital.
Karma being inherently vindictive, we still had to deal with three toll booths on this day.
The only thing worth mentioning on the run to Ermelo is that i saw a roadsign warning of owls. I thought it pretty strange, but not less than two km's on I saw an owl sitting on a fence. Go figure.
In Ermelo we stopped at the Wimpy for a brekky and a view of the locals. Strange folk that emerge on Sundays dressed up for the Wimpy lunch. One well-meaning leech regaled us with unsolicited stories of how horrible the road was that we were to take from the Swazi border to Maputo. Just sand and holes and how he heroically made it to the border after hours of getting stuck in his 4x4. (I knew from research that the road in question should be tarred.) He then declared that in Maputo the roads are fine but 15km north the tar stops and its just sand tracks. WTF? The tar continues another 600km. He certainly does not own a 4x4, he has probably not been further than the Wimpy in the last 15 years, and he feels happy to lie through his teeth with his powdery wife sitting right there. I never cease to be amazed.
Moral of the story, always take advice from strangers as to road conditions with a healthy spade of sceptisism.
Anyway, so we hit the Swazi border and I am delighted to experience the quickest border crossing ever. Less than 10 min and we've cleared both sides. Helluva friendly people and regretfully we didn't have small change to buy a raffle ticket to support the local school. The prize.. a pig.
It's my first time in Swaziland and my impression is that it isn't the prettiest place I've ever seen. Granted, we made a beeline to get to the other side and may have missed some gems but I won't go out of my way to visit again. The people are very friendly and curtious though.
I crest a hill and get pulled over for speeding. Damn, this trip isn't even a day old and I get caught.
69km/h in a 60 zone. Very friendly cop fines me R20. Yes, that's right, twenty rand, equals about $2.70. I almost tip him. We part on friendly terms.
We ride through a game park and I see this interesting sign. (apologies for the quality)
Good to know the authorities care about the wellbeing of pedestrians.
We get to the second border post and things take a great deal longer on the Mozambique side. The official language is portuguese. We make it through to Maputo unscathed and book into a backpackers for the night, only dorm accomodation available. In the yard is parked a 4x4 under a tarpaulin. The rear is riddled with bullet holes. I didn't ask.
Maybe I must point out here that Moz had been consumed in a brutal civil war that lasted 18 years and only came to an end in 1994.
We go out for dinner and get one massive bill.
Back at the backpackers we've been upgraded to a room. Excellent. Not so excellent is that this establishment does not list hot water as one of their benefits. The double bed is an unexpected pleasure though.
Day two to follow.