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Week 21: Malawi/Mozambique: From Lake Malawi back to the Indian Ocean

Aahhhh…the joys of waking to the sound of the waves again! After a couple of looooong days in the car, we are in the final East African country before we hit home – Mozambique! Even though we had to skip the northern part of Moz due to the insurgent violence, there is still so much to see and explore…but I must admit, we are going to treat the next two weeks more like a beach holiday than anything else! Back to our travel stats so far: • Total days travelled through Africa: 142 • Total distance driven from Cape Town through Africa: 20,447km o To do 1,500km in a week doesn’t sound like much – but on these roads it meant 3 full days’ driving from Lake Malawi to the Indian Ocean shores, as well as another half day’s driving at the start of the week as a “warm-up” 😊 Although the majority of the roads are now tarred, it still means navigating stretches with more potholes than tar / having to come to a complete standstill on a downhill mountain pass to get over monster speedbumps (x 50 it felt like!) / dodging goats and cattle and dogs and people on bicycles / long chats through numerous military and police checkpoints, where everyone wants to see ALL your paperwork again and again / and sometimes just having to stop to admire the beauty! • Total borders crossed: 12 o Only one more border to go…Komatipoort in about 2 weeks’ time! And then the Aardvark stats for Week 21: • Best drink: Definitely NOT R&R 😊 Irene had her first TipoTinto Rum & Rasberry aka R&R aka Mozambique’s official drink, and promptly changed over to my G&T – which everyone on social media applauded due to its mind numbing abilities 😊 So I’ll thus rather go with my current ice-cold Savanna…sometimes simpler still is better! And in this weather, anything that is ice-cold will always be a winner! • Best food: I’m going for tonight’s dinner, even though it is still on the braai 😊 3 massive crayfish that were caught by the local fishermen earlier this morning, with the heads & feet used for a super-rich seafood bisque (to be used as a dipping sauce), crayfish tails that will be barbequed soon over the fire, served with mango-passionfruit-chilly salsa, local “katkoppe” bread toasted and rubbed with garlic, fresh cucumber & tomato salad and ice-cold box Premier Grand Cru box wine! NJAMNJAMNJAM! Watch out Cape Town…soon this will be available at…watch this space… • Best view: Irene’s smile this morning when she saw the crayfish! Oh and also driving through the unexpected mountain passes at Sussundenga (on the way south from Tete) – who knew that Mozambique could look like the Serengeti after rains!! Week 21 started with an early morning rainstorm, just to remind us that we are still in the wet season, but more importantly, to break the heat! The campsite at Kachere Kastle turned out to be our favorite in Malawi, and we just couldn’t help it, we had to stay 2 more nights to “recover” from the long Tanzanian roads! One of the most important aspects of any overlanding trip is the people one meet - fellow overlanders, world-travelers and adventurous spirits – and every encounter serves to stir memories, swap travel stories and campsite tips, and generally just inspire one to keep on exploring! At Kachere we were privileged to spend some time with British Linda & Mike who are currently managing the lodge as a short break before they head further north, and then a looooooong evening around the fire with Alex and Stefan, two Austrians friends who escaped the cold European winter in lieu of the African sun (and little did they know, rain 😊) The morning of day 138 was thus a slow one and we took our time with the 140km to Nkothakota Pottery’s campsite. It was interesting to see how the German owners are busy revamping and upgrading the property, as we also stayed there in October on our way north. There are really a couple of gems along the Lake Malawian coast, and we feel confident that we’ve managed to find them all! We were again later on joined by two Dutchies travelling north, and spent a good couple of hours giving them info on their route and campsites not to be missed…they are doing the reverse of our route, and we felt really privileged to be able to share our knowledge and give a bit back to the overlanding community, who so kindly and generously gave us invaluable advice and tips throughout our trip! Early the next morning we hit the road to travel through to Tete in Mozambique. It was still 2 days before the High Court had to decide on whether the Malawian Presidential Election had to be declared void due to irregularities (which is what subsequently happened), and we wanted to be out of Malawi prior to the risk of massive protests by the losing faction. The road, though long, was totally uneventful, and the border crossing into Mozambique went without a hitch – that is, after we had to yet again turn down all the runners/car guards (?!) / money changers who are quite persistent in their offerings, as well as wake the local custom official up from his afternoon slumber to stamp our passports 😊 The road to Tete was an absolute dream…no speedcops, very few potholes and decent tarmac all the way through…we just had to marvel at the landscape though – this was not the Mozambique of white beaches and blue seas, but the one with rolling green hills, mountains and vast open spaces – who would ever have guesses!! We spent the night at Willie’s Jesu e Boma Campsite in the middle of Tete, but also on the shore of the Zambezi river. Willie is an ex-missionary / preacher, with a wealth of knowledge about Mozambique, African history, and also the road ahead…just a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening next to a fire! The next morning we set off to drive towards Sussundenga - again the majority of the road was beautifully tarred, but two good stretches had more potholes than tar! We subsequently learned that the road was only 5years old, and had been in that terrible potholed state for the past 2.5years already, as it wasn’t built for trucks in the first place, and for overweight trucks in the second…oh well, the slow journey gave us more time to look at the scenery 😊 At Willie’s recommendation, we spent the night at Koos and Margret’s farm, Monte Vista, 33km south of Chomoio. A beautiful quiet piece of land, with a hanslammer Billy, baby jack russels called Karel and Sarel running around, and typical old fashioned Afrikaans hospitality – it transported us straight back to the old Wes Transvaal with an ice-coffee to top it off! We never realized the extend of the 2019 cyclone called Ida’s impact on this area - only after seeing the photos and hearing the stories, we realized how devastating it was, but also (and more importantly) how people across all races, cultures, religions and nationalities came together to ensure that the stranded people had food, water and a roof over their heads…true saints in any and all versions of the word! The next morning, freshly brewed coffee and bags of “just picked” guavas in Aardvark later, we decided to take the “road less travelled” via the mountain pass of Sussundenga and the dirt road towards Domwe, rather than the main EN1 where there were still some reports of potential “issues”. And what a great choice it was! At times it looked similar to the numerous rain forests that we’ve been through, and at times it really looked similar to the open green expanse of the Serengeti…strange but true! After hitting a last lost rainstorm on the dirt road, our very dirty Aardvark and us eventually cruised into Goody’s Villas & Campsite in Inhassoro…we were so lucky to have skipped all the notorious MozEye speedtraps on the way here and all we could do was stand on the beach and just breathe 😊 Dinner soon arrived in the form of freshly caught fish – the local fishermen come around in the afternoon with their catch of the day (and a scale to determine a fair price obviously), and Irene was in her element! Buying fish, cleaning, filleting and grilling it to perfection…the joy around our campsite was almost touchable 😊 And this is going to be home for the next couple of days… I’m writing this whilst sitting next to Aardvark under a big tree, a small fire going already, and smelling dinner in the making all around. The beach is about 30m away, and whenever I look up from the screen I just see the different hues of blue…a stunning spot! Next week we will most probably drive slowly south to the beaches of Vilankulos, Morrungulo, Paindane and then Inhambane and Tofo…so many incredible places to still see! Till then. J

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