|07-29-2007, 04:40 PM||#1|
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Southern Africa
Mozambique via Vilanculos
After being thwarted from getting into
After a bit of encouragement mrs Owl and a friend from our Adventure Club agreed to come along and the arrangements were quickly made: 1) New rear tyre, 2) New luggage board, 3) Bike service, 4) Accommodation booked near
A few evenings of dedicated effort soon got everything sorted out and by Thursday afternoon we left work early to rendezvous at the Shell filling station in
At Makhado/ Louis Trichardt (many towns are being renamed and re-renamed around here) we had supper and then refuelled before the last stretch east from a quaint little watering hole called Bokmakierie (see map above). Here we had to slow down to avoid the inevitable livestock that wander around on our regional roads. It was 11 PM by the time we pulled into the campsite, where Ross was still waiting for us by a blazing campfire, a pile of empty beer cans at his side. We stretched out and joined him.
Next morning was beautiful weather and after some final adjustments during breakfast, we were ready to load the bikes onto the Rivercamp's pickup. Spot the fuel cans under the canvas.
Unfortunately, their Isuzu was in for repairs; the Land Rover had much less space on the load area. We squeezed everything on board, tied it all down and set off for the park entrance.
Visitors are not allowed out of their vehicles in the
We offload the bikes and strap all our gear on the carriers again.
While the South African border crossing was a quick affair for a change, the Mozambican side is a model of Marxist mayhem. We join the queue.
It's 3 PM by the time all the paperwork has been checked off and we are free to go to Mapai, our first major waypoint in
The first part is easy two-track over hard-packed clay through trees and underbrush. It's dry and dusty. We do the tourist thing.
Some spectacular baobab trees along the way to lift the spirits.
Look another one, oops- is that sand we have here? Yup!
Riding two-up in this soft stuff is difficult. You need to have speed to “float” on the sand, but your manoeuvrability is compromised by the weight of pillion & luggage. It did not take long before we hit the deck. A couple of times. Gradually, the road improved as the day faded into the night.
It was plenty dark by the time we reached Mapai, where Edgar had a meal all prepared for us- advantage of a solo riding partner! I changed some of our money into local currency and bought some big bottles of beer. Life is good.
We were camped next to a shop and fell asleep with the boom-boom of loud music played on a PA system seriously overworked by the locals. Running off a car battery of course, because there is no electricity here. Welcome to Africa.
Public toilet facilities are opposite the shop, but quite limited. Campers call toilet paper “white gold”; the alternative here is to tear off some cardboard or recycling the rags used by other toilet-goers. We've got the white gold, no worries.
After breakfast and folding away the camping stuff, we are ready to hit Vilanculos. There is a rare road sign adjacent to the shop to show us the way. It warrants a picture in this country.
The terrain soon turns from sandy to muddy as we approach the river, with lots of tracks. Transport by the locals here (bringing goods and fuel from
We get directed a bit further downstream. The water is deeper on the far side and the bank of the river is noticeably steeper. I go first, while mrs Owl operates the camera. The locals watch the show, hoping for some entertainment.
Apart from the sudden change in depth close to the end it’s not too bad, even if the boots get sodden. This next pic gives a better idea of what I mean.
We refill the water bottles from the
We get to Sao Jorge, the next village and “major commercial centre”, where Edgar negotiates the price of petrol with some locals. His bike is very thirsty, and he is constantly worried about getting stuck without fuel (remember those jerry-cans). It costs about 1 ½ times the South African rate. It's repackaged from drums into 5 liter plastic containers called chigubas by the local traders.
We buy some local breadrolls (“paos”) for breakfast. They're cheap, but not great. Maybe we’re not hungry enough. They're sold from a bin, and covered with a cloth to keep them fresh-ish.
After following the railway line that runs from
A sign alongside says: "Vilanculos 444 km". Doesn’t sound too bad, does it now? The first 100 km is good gravel…
…with the odd bit of infrastructure in need of some work….
..until we reach Machaila for a “splash and dash”.
The road rapidly changes for the worst. Sand all the way to the next town, Mabote, 160 km further. Only the softness varies.
We followed Edgar out, but he soon disappeared from sight. It quickly became obvious that this was going to be a long and hot ride. We took a few more tumbles in the sand, fortunately without any damage. Progress was painfully slow and our ETA just crept further and further into the night as the distance inched by. We did not pass a single vehicle. Of more concern was our depleting water supplies and falling energy levels- late nights at the office are not good preparation for adventure riding of this nature and dehydration is bad news. At least we pass a road sign to confirm that we are heading in the right direction- maps for this region are notoriously poor.
Darkness is a blessing as the temperature becomes bearable and we try to stretch the last drops of water with more than 30 km still ahead through sand so soft that the clutch starts smelling whilst we're wading through it. Just then the road makes a “T” , and crosses a bridge with sparkling water below. We refill our bottles and carry on on a much firmer surface. We reach Mabote at 10 PM, where we find a well in the courtyard of the local school and pitch our tent next to it. We drink deeply- the water from the well tastes wonderful.Tomorrow is Saturday. It rains during the night.
Some kids drop by the next morning. They’ve got snotty noses but look quite happy as they play on the well. Communication is a bit of a problem for us here (Portuguese is the official language).
After a call on the walkie-talkie we locate Edgar in the courtyard of the local pub. He's had an early night, having arrived hours before us without stopping along the way except to have a few falls himself. Apart from a stiff shoulder he’s OK. We refuel again,
The last bit to the coast is only 120 km, and it’s completely different. Patches of mud this time. We make good speed until our front mudguard hits the sump guard in a rut and gets chowed by the tyre. So long, mudguard.The sight of the highway makes you want to kiss the tar when you eventually get there.
We hit the EN1 highway and head north for the last stretch. Time to open up the trottles!
Do it before you die!
Lure of Zanzibar/Mozambique via Vilanculos/Snow in Lesotho?/Great Wall, Iron Curtain/Islands,Falls,Rocks & Blocks/Salt,Silver&Stone/Two Twins Hit Namibia/Caprivi (S)trip
1NiteOwl screwed with this post 10-13-2007 at 01:40 PM Reason: Add pics!
|07-29-2007, 04:46 PM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Toronto, ON
Wow!! What an epic journey and awesome report!! Thanks for the sharing and taking us with you... Looking forward to your upcoming pics to be uploaded.
Keep it coming
|07-29-2007, 06:53 PM||#4|
Neither here nor there
Joined: May 2003
Location: State of Grace
I will be in SA later in the week and traveling up to Maputo & Xai Xai. I am terrified of the sand.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of the pics.
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|07-30-2007, 03:01 AM||#6|
Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Clearwater, FL USA
what an exotic place...
great pictures (i think that you are still adding some)
thanks for taking us along on your journey
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
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|07-30-2007, 03:14 AM||#7|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Mozambique - The only way i knew this place existed was because of a postage stamp that i had in my stamp collection. This is the first time i have seen pictures from the a nice country.
Thanks for sharing and welcome to the asylum.
Himalayas on a Motorcycle - Photography book by Chanderjeet
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|07-30-2007, 04:57 AM||#9|
Kev. Haute Savoie, France
Joined: Jul 2005
Location: French / Swiss Alps
KTM 950 Super Enduro R - Kejago's Travel Machine!
K: Kejago - That's me!
T: Travel - Go on a journey, go on a voyage, go from one place to another
M: Machine - Man-made device made up of interconnected parts that work together to perform a given task or function
|07-30-2007, 08:36 AM||#11|
Rider of passion
Joined: Feb 2004
Location: Zuerich, Switzerland
There are adventures to have on each spot of this planet! Thanks for telling about yours! Looking forward to see you exchange these nubers against pics!!
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The Black Forest Teaser '07
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|07-30-2007, 10:38 AM||#12|
Joined: Dec 2005
Wow looks like you had a lot of fun in that chaos that makes africa so different from other riding destinations wish I was there still a dream to ride up that coast line one day maybe. Keep the photos coming.
|07-30-2007, 10:50 AM||#13|
stuck in the office
Joined: Aug 2005
Location: St. Louis
Lekker report. Thanks for it and for giving the old names for us expats. The new 'comrade' names are confusing.
|07-30-2007, 04:02 PM||#14|
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Southern Africa
Vilanculos’ main claim to fame is actually that it is a staging post to the Bazaruto Archipelago, a very popular diving destination. There is some distinct evidence of Cyclone Favio as we enter the town (missing roofs, uprooted trees), but it’s open for business. People always make a plan!
The beaches are quite beautiful here, azure blue water. Seafood underneath.
After a cruise along the beachfront and inspecting the available campsites, we settle on Vilanculos Camping, where we are the only campers. The local stray dogs make themselves at home while we hang out the laundry.
Many trees have been flattened by the storm (that's our bathroom to the left).
Despite the labels, there is cold water only: the water boiler has been damaged by a fallen tree. It's still a major improvement- our previous bathroom did not even have running water.
After setting up the tents, chatting and reading a bit it’s supper-time: something we have all been looking forward to. Mozambique is rightly famous for its seafood. Because the camp facilities were mostly destroyed by the storm, we walked down the road in search of a suitable restaurant.
Supper was passable, but not as memorable as the missing items we discovered when we returned to our campsite- evidence of the local entrepreneurial spirit. Bye-bye water filter, bye-bye binoculars!
We decide to head for Xai-Xai the next morning, 500 km to the south. It’s Sunday and we need to be back at work on Tuesday, which will leave us with 800 km for the last day. We follow the EN1 national highway along the coast, which links
Advertisement for the favourite local brew, 2M beer.
We stop over for lunch at Maxixe (pron. “Mashish”) overlooking the bay to Inhambane, a popular tourist destination (Vilanculos is a bit too far for most folks). Some dhows by the beach create an idyllic mood. Edgar refuels, I want to make the next town first (do I see nodding heads?).
Lunch is slooow.
Whilst hurrying on to Xai-Xai, Edgar gets caught by the latest radar technology for speeding and I pull up at an empty filling station with an almost dry tank. The next village is 4 km too far for me, but Edgar saves our bacon from his half-empty tank. Unfortunately we have to do the last hour in darkness again, on a severely pot-holed road, with lots of minibus taxis, the most dangerous vehicles on
Finally some something resembling a fuel pump again! After washing off the bugs we ease into XaiXai and order supper at the Complexo Turistico Halley. They even have coffee, and it’s superb. Camping is right next door at the Parque de Campismo de Xai-Xai. Here they are in daylight.
We rise early the next morning and head for the beach to watch the sun come up and pick up some seashells.
Kinda makes the trip worthwhile.
Upon packing up I notice a very flat front tyre- a victim of last night’s potholes. It delays breakfast at Halley by half an hour as we patch it double-quick.
We enjoy coffee and croissants- delivered by a local to the campsite- before hitting the road to
There are lots of South African vehicles returning home, and they are in a hurry. Us too. Outside
Great time to be on a bike. We head straight to the front and pay a R100 bribe to a local fellow who has a 50/50 deal with officialdom. In 5 minutes we are back in
We head for
After lunch we climb through Bothasnek and Nelshoogte to Badplaas and reach
800 km for the day, 2500 km for the round trip. I can't wait for the next one.
|07-31-2007, 09:11 AM||#15|
Joined: Aug 2005
Damn I miss Africa. Your last photo did it for me on the nostalgia front . I lived for two years in the Nelshoogte forrests. Next time take the back roads around Barbeton through Kangwane to Badplaas.
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