The Road to Nampula

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:03 pm
May 312011

Driving to QuelimaneAfter leaving Gorongosa we again endured the bumpy dirt road out of the park to the main road, although they had started to grade some of it whilst we were in the park, so hopefully it will improve. We then spent the morning avoiding potholes and people. There are so many people sitting, lying, walking and riding bicycles on the road that there is rarely a section of road where there is no one around (which makes loo breaks a little challenging). To add to the driving challenge the road is full of potholes so you spend your time weaving around people and potholes, often driving on the wrong side of the road. (I knew that time on the Playstation would come in handy one day!) Thankfully there aren’t that many vehicles around and those that we have seen are mainly trucks and the minibus taxis. I think we saw one other traveller the whole time. At least we rarely have to dodge cows and goats anymore.

As you leave Caia, which is a very small, non descript village, you cross the river via this enormous bridge that looks so out of place in the middle of rural Mozambique. Wayne thinks it is the most modern thing in Mozambique. The toll is 100 Mtc ($3.20), but given the few cars around it will take forever to pay for it. If only they spent the money on the roads around it instead. As we were paying the toll there was a knock on the passenger window and there stood a guy in military uniform. I wound down the window and said “Hello, how are you?” and the answer was “hungry”. To which I replied “me too, I’m hoping we stop for some lunch very soon”. There was no reply from him and we continued on our way.

We stopped around lunchtime about 1km after the bridge at Cuacua Lodge. They have basic campsites, just a patch of dirt with heaps of shade and a bbq. The amenities though were spotless and the water very hot. You can also use the hotel pool, but it is a bit of a hike back to it. There were only ourselves and another couple camping, so it was very quiet.

From here we headed towards the coast. As expected, the days and nights areDriving to Quelimane getting warmer as we head north. It is hard to believe it is winter sitting here in shorts and short sleeve shirts, even at night time and not even needing to get in your sleeping bag at night.

The road from Caia to Quelimane was pretty good, although you still have to avoid all the people. Quelimane is a reasonably big, busy town. We tried to find a supermarket but didn’t have any luck, so instead we had to slowly pass the small buildings and peer inside to see what they sold seeing as our Portuguese is pretty non existent, although I am learning some words. I managed to find a bakery and with sign language and writing numbers on the counter managed to buy 4 bread rolls and a loaf of bread for 21 Mtc, a grand total of 68 cents! The only other thing we really needed was diesel which we found easily enough. I even managed to ask where the toilet was in Portuguese AND they were spotlessly clean!

We left Quelimane for Zalala Beach. The road out is a one lane “tar” road that passes through rural villages and coconut trees. It was a very scenic 45 minute drive, well for me at least, Wayne was too busy dodging potholes, people and bicycles. There is supposed to be 2 campsites there according to our GPS. We found the first location – hmmm pretty deserted although beautiful spot amongst pine trees on the beach. Neither of us felt quite safe enough camping there. We couldn’t find the other one, however some young boys followed us and showed us what looked like it used to be a restaurant and bar. We could camp there in a semi enclosed area with access to toilets (flushed with a scoop of water) and views to the beach. There was no water on tap for a shower, although they did bring us a huge tub of clean water which we used with our own hot shower so we were fine. The place itself was kept clean, but there were unfinished bits that with a reasonably small amount of money I am sure you could fix and have a really nice business. The afternoon was spent relaxing with an audience of 3 young boys (the ones who had shown us the place). Conversation was a little tricky, but we did manage to find out a little about them and they were only too keen to help us if we needed them. We ate reasonably early and ventured into our tent to read and have an early night as we had a long day ahead of us the next day. Not long after we got in the tent we could hear someone outside. One of the guys that worked there laid a reed mat down on the sand next to the low front wall, put some poles in the ground and hung a mosquito net. He was obviously our security for the night as that is where he slept.

The road to Zalala BeachZalala BeachZalala Beach

We had an early start this morning as we knew we had a long drive ahead of us. The road is actually pretty good wide tar the majority of the way, although there is a really bad section about 10km north of Mocuba until the junction that goes to either Gurue or Alto Molocue. This stretch took us about an hour Driving to Quelimaneand is mainly poor, corrugated and potholed dirt, with an occasional patch of severely potholed tar thrown in. There were still the inevitable people everywhere to be avoided and driving takes 100% concentration. We did some shopping along the way, buying a lovely large pineapple for 25 Mtc (80 cents) and 10 bananas for 10 Mtc (30 cents) all from the comfort of the passenger seat. We could have bought: gravel, chairs, doors, tomatoes, bamboo poles, moonshine, cassava, oranges, wooden beds, charcoal, sweet potatoes, live chickens, wood and that isn’t even including the hundreds of other things available when you pass through a village.

We are staying at Complexo Nairucu just outside of Nampula. So far it seems ok and there is one other couple staying here. They are from Holland and travelling for 3 months, although a few years ago they spent a year travelling in Africa.

Tomorrow we have a couple of hours drive and we should be on the coast which we will meander up for a while.

Ilha da Mocambique

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:02 pm
Jun 012011

After first stopping at Shoprite in Nampula to stock up on groceries, we headed east towards the coast and the Liha da Mocambique. (For anyone who needs to shop at Shoprite in Nampula, we were warned by the couple staying at the campsite with us the previous night that they had their car door prised open and their mobile phone stolen, but not their GPS or camera, whilst they were inside shopping even though there are security guards outside and heaps of people around).

Casuarina Camp, Ilha da MocambiqueThe road was generally in pretty good condition and we easily made it to the Casuarina Camp by lunchtime. The camp is located directly beside the bridge that connects the island and the mainland. We camped on the sand and sat watching the fisherman and the local people for the rest of the afternoon only moving to venture a couple of hundred metres up the beach to see what was going on when the fishing boats came in. Our interpretation is that you must pay for a place on a fishing boat and then whatever you catch is yours. The boats were overladen with people and I’m not sure I’d want to be travelling very far in them, but I guess it works for them. People were then selling the fish directly from the beach.

Ilha da MocambiqueIlha da MocambiqueIlha da Mocambique

Ilha da MocambiqueWe cooked our dinner over the campfire on the beach whilst we watched the the world go by. It was amusing at times to watch the traffic on the bridge as it is a one lane bridge, about 3.5km long, View from our tent, Casuarina Camp, Ilha da Mocambiquewith 3 passing bays and African traffic. The camp has no running water, so the toilets are flushed with a scoop from the bucket and we chose to use our own shower and showered on the beach. The picture shows the view from our tent – such a hard life!

As we left the next morning though, we managed to get very stuck in the sand. 4 cars with trailers had pulled in the evening before and our only way out of camp was down and onto the beach – bad idea! We ended up with every male in the village I think helping to push us out and eventually made it back on to firm land.

Unfortunately the President of Mozambique was visiting the island the day we went across so the Fort and the museum were not open. We were told they would be open by midday, but being Africa I doubted that very much and when we left at 11.30 the President had still not arrived. We did though drive all around the island. It must have been a pretty impressive place in its time, but unfortunately now it is very run down with buildings in need of restoration. We spoke to a young guide for some time who lives on the island which was interesting, bought some bread rolls at the market and decided to head north to Nacala.

Ilha da MocambiqueIlha da MocambiqueIlha da Mocambique

Nacala Bay

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:37 pm
Jun 042011

Libelula, NacalaIt was only a couple of hours from the Ilha da Mocambique to Nacala and the roads were in good condition. We stayed 2 nights at Libelula Rustic Camp. The camp is located on an escarpment above a pretty, small beach where the water was warm and clear. It is a little bit of climb back up from the beach, but not too bad. The amenities are adequate, but the camping area is pretty restricted for rooftop tents, with only a very small level area with enough clearance to open the tent up. For ground tents they had a few level places under some thatch huts. The first night there was one other group camping with 2 cars, who very kindly moved one of their cars over so we could fit on the level piece of ground with them. We had a great night chatting to them, even if the mosquitoes were really bad there!

We took a drive down to the point where there is a fish market. There was heaps of fresh tuna to be bought but they were so large they would have lasted us a month, so we decided not to get any.

Libelula, Nacala BayLibelula, Nacala BayLibelula, Nacala Bay


 Posted by Elizabeth at 1:46 pm
Jun 062011

Unfortunately Wayne became ill during the night, spending most of the time throwing up or sitting on the toilet. By morning he had stopped actually being sick and wanted to move on, although he was in no fit state to drive, so I had the pleasure of tackling the roads for a change.

Our original plan was to try and take the coast road from Nacala to Pemba, however it was impossible to get any information on the condition of the road and whether the Lurio River was passable or not, so we opted to travel the 115km back to Namialo and take the tar road north. Once again the road was in pretty good condition, there were slightly less people on the road to dodge and the trip took about 5 hours.

We have spent the last 2 nights and tonight, at Pemba Dive and Bush Camp. It is pleasantly Pemba Dive & Bush Camplocated on a nice bit of beach with a bar and communal area right on the sand. They have free kayaks, snorkelling, volleyball, archery, guided walks and mud baths in the mangroves. There are 5 campsites each with their own large thatch roofed shelter. The amenities are rustic, semi open, reed enclosures, but are large and clean. The showers are cold water, but each has a large tub of hot water to scoop over you which works quite well, especially as the weather is still quite warm even though it is winter. The staff are very helpful, leaving kerosene lanterns in each camp at night, bringing hot water or a large tub of fresh water if needed. The last couple of days have been very relaxing, just reading in the hammocks on the beach and taking it easy.

Pemba Dive & Bush CampPemba Dive & Bush Camp

We also looked at Russel’s Place at Wimbe Beach, but the camping area was very small, located right next to the large bar and restaurant and I think it would get very noisy. If you want to party that is probably the place to go, but if you want to relax Pemba Dive is a much better location.

We met up yesterday with a couple that we had spoken to a few days ago and ended up eating a delicious meal of fresh tuna with them and spending the evening chatting. I doubt we will run into them again as today they are heading to the Tanzania border and then turning south again to be back in Tete by the weekend. There have been very few travellers along the way this far north and those that we have met we tend to meet up with again.


 Posted by Elizabeth at 7:05 pm
Jun 082011

The road to PanganeWe had read good things about Pangane, so decided we would make the trip further north to check it out. Reviva, Peter and Ed, who we had first met at Nacala and then again at Pemba, also decided they would head that way. Our original plan was to take the coast road north, but everyone told us the road would be dreadful as it hadn’t been graded yet after the rains, so we took the easy option and travelled the inland tar road north. The road up until Macomia where we turned right towards the coast was in good condition most of the way as we passed through villages. There are definitely less people the further north The road to Panganeyou head which makes driving a little easier. The road to the coast started as sandy dirt which was hard and fine. About halfway the road became very slippery, although still firm. Then we came across some trucks, carrying the usual packed load of people in the back, having difficulty climbing a hill that was very, very slippery and sloshy mud. We waited at the bottom of the hill to see whether the trucks made it and so we would not have to stop on the hill halfway. The first truck kept sliding sideways and getting stuck, but no one got out of the back of the truck to help or lighten the load! Some guys in the back of the second truck got out and pushed the first truck back on the right track and to help get it out of the mud. They both eventually made it to the top so it was our turn. With fingers Panganecrossed we started, really hoping we would make it as I definitely did not want to have to get out in the thick mud! We crawled up the hill, not sliding but at times we were barely going forward and at one point I thought we were stuck, but slowly we made it to the top and firm ground again. Thank goodness! The track then was firm sandy dirt again until about 10 km from Pangane when it became softer sand, but was quite manageable. We drove through coastal villages, weaving our way through the palm trees with the ocean just beside us. It was really quite a scenic drive.

Hashim's Camp, PanganeOur destination was Hashim’s Camp which is at the very end of a small peninsula that juts out into the ocean, at the end of a quite large village. It was basic to say the least, but Hashim was very pleasant and helpful. We parked our car on the sand in the middle of the palm trees about 50m from the water. Not a bad location if you ask me. The toilet was merely a toilet bowl in the sand, flushed with water scooped from a larger container and with a reed wall around it. The shower was a dribble from a drum overhead or water scooped using coconut ladles from a container. It didn’t matter that the water was cold as it was pretty warm, even though it is winter. Hashim also organised our meals for us both nights we stayed. We had a feast of crayfish, different types of fish, octopus and local Pangane coconut rice for the huge cost of about $6 each, definitely a bargain!


The weather had started to become overcast as we made our way towards the coast, not the perfect tropical beach weather. When we arrived it was still overcast and a slight wind had started, and it looked like rain. We took a stroll along the beach to check out all the fishing boats and see what the locals were up to. The men were mending an absolutely huge fishing net on the beach, whilst others were working on the boats. One man was caulking the joints between the planks in the hull of a boat by jamming wads of cotton into the gaps. Everyone we met was really friendly and happy.

By about 5.30pm the rain had started and the wind had picked up. By 6.30pm it was pitch black, the rain was heavier and the wind was howling. Thankfully there are some “rooms” at Hashim’s that have a covered verandah on them, so all of us huddled under there to eat our dinner and try and stay dry. The roof did leak a little but it wasn’t too bad. After dinner, at the first break in the rain, we all ran for our tents and scrambled inside. The rain eventually stopped, but the wind howled for a large part of the night, although nowhere near as bad as the night we had to endure at Kamieskroon. The tents survived with no leaks and we woke to a beautiful morning with no wind and sunshine. Perfect!

PanganeHashim organised a dhow to take us out on the water for a few hours. The water is perfectly clear and a beautiful turquoise colour and was just too inviting so Ed, Wayne and I decided to jump over the side for a refreshing swim. The water was lovely and warm, and anyone who knows me knows the water and the weather have to be really warm before you will see me in the water! Now the challenge of getting back on the dhow – hmmmm. Wayne managed to get up first without too much trouble. I tried, but there was no way on earth I was strong enough to haul myself up over the side that was quite a long way above the water. Wayne tried to pull me up, no luck. Next plan, Wayne pulled and Ed pushed and eventually I was balanced on my stomach on the edge of the boat. By now everyone, including myself and the dhow captain were in hysterics. I stopped laughing long enough to manage to slide myself on my stomach over the edge and into the bottom of the boat like a beached whale – an extremely glamorous way to get onto a boat! At least I managed to provide some entertainment value for everyone! They rigged up a rope to help Ed get in the boat and he managed without too much problem as well. (Later we all went swimming again, and this time we all used a rope to get back in, but still Reviva and myself did not make a particularly elegant landing back into the dhow!).

I think Pangane is a lovely spot and I’m glad we made the effort to visit. Yes it is primitive, but it is like being shipwrecked on your own tropical island. Yes it is a fishing village and there is some rubbish on the sand, although not a lot. Yes there have been things stolen from previous campers and Hashim is very conscious of security and ensured we locked everything up (none of us had any issues). It was a mini adventure and we had an excellent time and Hashim is great.

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