The day started with the normal exitement that a long trip usually does. However, we started later than usual as we had to get our passports which had been delayed. Leaving at 9.00 instead of at 6.00 in the morning meant that the race was on to get to destination, ie Bethlehem in the Free State.
We arrived In Bethlehem as it was getting dark, having had plenty of frustration throughout the day with hold up after hold up because of road works, where we had our first get together as a team. Freezing cold. All members were full of chatter about the performances of the vehicles and what was to be expected the next day. Icevan proved to be outstandingly comfortable and very steady on the road and arrived without a hitch with us sharing the driving.
All teams left early with 2 vehicles deciding to take a different route to Badplaas. The trip again was delayed from time to time with road works. After arriving at Badplaas, our destination for the day, we set up camp – the first of many to come. While the others were pitching tents with mattresses and stretchers, the Icevan team simply popped up the roof with no fuss and or having to bother with new tents etc, as the vehicle has built in bunks and cupboards. The evening turned out to be a big party.
What a pleasure to simply turn in with the beds inside the vehicle.
With the start of the day with an early cup of strong coffee and a rusk (which will turn out to be the routine for rest of the trip) we set off to meet at Malalane to do some shopping and have breakfast with the rest of the team before crossing into Mozambique. The border crossing turned out to be a breeze and we started our journey into Moz with a pleasant drive to Maputo, not knowing what waited for us in Maputo. We decided to go through Maputo together (5 vehicles) which turned into a nightmare with wrong turns, bikes, busses, taxis and pedestrians all forcing or trying to force their way between us. With potholes, broken verges, roadworks, bikes, cars, busses and walkers we eventually got clear of the chaos and arrived at Honeypot campsite. It seemed by unanimous decision that chalets was the better choice after the day. However Icevan was in the running for the dick of the day for overshooting Honeypot and landing in Xai Xai with Team Halfway and Team Ivory behind us. Luckily it went to somebody else.
Decided to change our route. Stopped at Morrengulo sited on the beach. The sites were clean and very well looked after. A rest day with swimming and sitting around the camp site. Made a fantastic combined potjie with Team Halfway and Team Ivory.
Decided to stay at Morrengulo for another day. Team Halfway and Team Ivory also stayed for the extra day. Mark bought a fish from a local fisherman big enough to feed the six of us for 2 days.
Teams Lipstick and Bulldog off to Beira and the bikers off to Inhassoro. We are to meet up again at Gorongosa. A casual day in the sun with swimming, walking and taking in the tropical surrounds set us up for the next day’s long trip to Gorogosa (+/- 650km).
The hard ride begins. Driving in convoy with Teams Halfway andTeam Ivory. The road reasonably good with potholed sections. Lots of people on the roads in the small villages. As usual we shared the driving. We stopped at about 10.00 for our normal breakfast on the road, consisting of fruit and muesli. Crossed the Savo River but were not allowed to take any photos of the bridge. Arrived at Gorongoso at about 1.00pm only to be told that the bikers would not be allowed into the park. Found a lovely campsite run by Ria and Piet Van Zyl just outside the park. We then had to leave a note for the rest of the teams to meet us as they only arrived in the dark. Again we considered ourselves lucky not having to erect tents etc.
Early morning start as we have to go to Quelimane instead of Macuba so that we can join up with the bikers before they head off to Malawi while we continue up the coast. Certain sections of the road are terrible with potholes and huge holes where the vehicles have to ride on the side of the road to get by. As we approach Quelimane we have so many people walking and riding on bikes, that we have to be extremely careful not to bump into somebody. In town we meet at a waterfront restaurant for lunch with the other team members. After a shocking meal (some of the member don’t eat as the food is so bad) we head off to the campsite on a road filled with potholes and people. A quiet evening at a campsite which is basically closed for the season and has no running water.
As a result of the deviation from our schedule, we stop in Macuba for fuelling up and changing money. As we leave the town we have a section of road which is under construction????? (for how long we don’t know).
Unfortunately we carry on way past our normal stopping time for breakfast due to the dust and road condition. To stop at cleared areas alongside generally means lots of children around the vehicles. Today is no exception. We are all amazed at the number of children in Moz, and wonder where they are going to find work when they grow up.
Our new scheduled stop is at a campsite at Nampula which turns out to extremely pretty situated next to a pretty dam setting. Normally water means mossies, however we are pleasantly surprised to have no mozzies at our camp. Another quiet evening
Set off early so we can be in Pemba early as we are going to Sito Island today. The battery has to be changed on our vehicle and Paul has decided to stay in Pemba while we head out to Sito. He will be our carguard while we are away. Luckily the battery has been organized and is at Russels Camp when we arrive. John, the manager from Situ is there to meet us. At About 4.00pm we set off for Sito Island in quite a bumpy sea. The trip takes just over an hour and as we approach the island the sun is setting with the magic as one can only get in the tropics.
After settling in on this tropical paradise, we are greeted with drinks and a magnificent supper with prawn starters and calamari. Really looking forward to tomorrow. A good evening without having to dress up against the cold as we had to do at the beginning of the trip or worrying about mozzies.
The evening extended into the late hours with much hilarity as certain of the members (to remain anonomous) tried to qualify as cardinals.