I had an invitation to visit a project in
South Africa, I have done some pro-bono work on in the past. Now, it
should be launched commercially, and I'm asked to give my input, and
hopefully work on it, in the future. Realising how little I actually
know about South African highland and tropical plants, I figured I might do a
tour around the premises. Where others bask on the perfect and
endless beaches, I head inland along the Limpopo river.
While studding the
flora, I will try to
sell some assistance to the parks I meet on along the road. I
also hope to be able to collect
material for DNA-tests for Dr. Tanja Schuster, who is mapping
Oxygonum. I will visit the wild and
unspoiled nature scattered around this area. I plan to do a quick tour
from South Africa
through Lesotho, Swaziland,
Mozambique, Zimbabwe and
Some facts about the country.
(Jump to diary)
Republic of Mozambique is a rather large
country in south-eastern Africa. It is bound by Swaziland to the
south, South Africa to the southwest, Zimbabwe to the west, Zambia
and Malawi to the northwest, Tanzania to the north and the Indian
Ocean to the east. It covers 801,590 km²,
measuring roughly 1000 times 2000 kilometres, and it feels
significantly bigger, driving its roads!
The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi
River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastal strip
gives way to inland hills and low plateaus. Rugged highlands are
further west; they include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire
highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde
plateau, covered with miombo woodlands. I will only go through a
small part of the the area, south of the Zambezi River. Here are
lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebombo
Mountains located in the deep south. Despite a population of more than
25 million citizens, here are quite some
nature. Christians made up 56.1% of Mozambique's population and
Muslims comprised 17.9% of the population. 7.3% of the people held
other beliefs, mainly animism, and 18.7% had no religious beliefs.
I find it a bit worrying, the flag includes a
AK47 assault rifle, but it is said to be calm enough by now.
MONEY: The currency is Mozambican Metical (MT). 1 DKK=6MT.
Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons, a wet season
which I hit, from October to March and a dry season from April to
September. I guess April-March would have been better. Climatic
conditions, however, vary depending on altitude. Rainfall is heavy
along the coast and decreases in the north and south. Annual
precipitation varies from 500 to 900 mm depending on the region,
with an average of 590 mm. Cyclones are common during the wet
season. Average temperature ranges in Maputo are from 13 to 24 °C in
July to 22 to 31 °C in February, which suits me perfect.
ANIMALS and PLANTS:
Due to the share size, but also the altitude and climatic variations
throughout the waste area, animal and plant life is numerous. Huge,
semi-un-disturbed areas and national parks offers rich opportunity
to enjoy it.
The plants in Mozambique I especially want to find, beside from the
Oxygonum are the numerous caudiciforms and terrestrial
orchids found here.
1/1 2016. Entering from
actually causes for a celebration: It
is the 50. country I visit, for a rather extensive
exploration (and 66. in total). It is a bit of a slow start. The officers
at the border is slow and don't hide it; they don't give a
dammed. When I ask, if I actually could have obtained a
visa here, they say yes, no problem. Strange their
embassy insist they are the only one capable.
While I wait for one of the officers, a guy with a ID
card around his neck, offers to help me with the
mandatory insurance for the car. It take me some time to
convince him; I got what I need. Then he ask for a gift
from my country! I surely must have something, a bill or
something? He get a wide smile.
I have worked my way down from the high altitude in Lesotho
to the water level, and that can be felt on the
temperature! High thirties during the day, slightly less
in the night.
The border city; Namaacha should be a cool town, with
flowers and so. I actually thought of spending the rest
of the day
here, along with a night. That was before I
discovered, it look like the remains of a civil war - the
loosing side. I don't even feel like getting out of the
car! The GPS leads me to the centre. Or is it a
Next site is the capital; Maputo. I have been out in the
wild for a long time by now, and skipped the last three
capitals. It is only 80 kilometres, and I go for it.
It is amassing how big difference the border have done.
Here are not just grass, here are tall grass and the
even higher fruit-stands from last year. And here are
not a single goat, cow or sheep. Just huge, un-populated
hills with grass and herbs. I do a few stops to
botanize, but decides to save that for later.
As so many other big cities, Maputo start fare out. And it
does not look good. Trash, wrecked sheets, huge amounts
of charcoal and firewood. A bit further in, big blocks
with no paint reminds me of Moscow meet Rio - in the bad
way. It somehow seems like Mozambique is more modern
that Swaziland and Lesotho - and way more poor.
In the back of my head, all the scary stories of the
corrupt cops and other scams are loud. An officer will
ask to see you driving license, and you don't get it
back, before you have paid 2000 MZL - negotiable down to 200 MZL, if you are good and have a lot of time. Or lame people, pushed out in front
of your car, calming they worked before you hit them.
Even the officer at the police station in Swaziland told
I drive right to the booked (from tomorrow) Base
Backpackers - except the GPS want me to drive the wrong
way through the last two
one-way streets. I get a dorm-bed, and
have a long chat with a Norwegian, until the Indian
restaurant on the other side of the road opens. I am not
in the mood for Indian cuisine, but it is apparently the
only open restaurant around her to night. It is run by
Indians, and the taste is real authentic.
Back at the hostel, I start to work with the day's
photos and impressions. Here, they do drive in the wrong
side of the road, but the power-plugs are the small
ones. It is an old Portuguese colony, and that shows in
While I'm at it, I check to see, if there are anything I
should look at, while I'm in Maputo. It is limited, and the
railroad stations architecture and the Municipal Market might be it.
2/1 It is Saturday, and the
city is almost soundless. I sit at the porch
with a Romanian and long time with a German
oceanic scientist, who now work as a science journalist.
A bit before ten, I figure there must be some action in
the centre, which is just around the corner.
It is truly amassing how much trash is laying around
here. Everywhere! And waste water and leaking water pipes
add to the mess. I walk Av. Vladimir Lenine and Rue Ho
Chi Ming, cross Kim II Yung and Karl Marx, just before
Olof Palme, and pass a statue, fitted from the Soviet
area. Then the old fortress, build by the Portuguese in
the 19. century. I guess it will look as any other fort
inside. It is an active fishing harbour, but closed to
the public, it seems.
Most shops are closed the entire day, but outside on the
sidewalks, many small vendors have found a spot. It does
look like they are there every day, and not just Saturdays. I pass the ministry of justice, and it does
need paint for sure. So does most other buildings, older
than a couple of years. One of the few building who is
pristine, and with a clean sidewalk, is the mosque.
The station building is a fine example of the
Eifel-school architecture, and from a distance, it look
brilliant. A huge dome in cupper and some smaller roofs
in iron-work. There are no trains at the platforms, and no
people within the building - except the security guards,
found everywhere. The hostel I stay at, with room for
around 20, has it own, the pizzeria have, the shoe-shop
and so on. Most are fast asleep, and no wonder: It must
be so boring!
The Municipal Market is just around the corner, and it
is surprisingly clean - compared with anything else. Not
everyone is keen to have their photo taken, but some
don't mind that much. It is the familiar fruits and
The streets leading form here are packed with
street-shops. Mainly cloth and shoos, but also
cell-phones and other small electronic equipment. My
co-driver is keen to be able to hear her music in the
car, and I find a gadget for that. A tire-repair kit
would be neat, but those shops are all closed.
When I finally find a café, it is Italian owned and
could be in Europe. Round the corner, a whole line of
cafés are found. I return to Base as the shops are
closing, and despite I'm quite close, I ask a police
woman for directions, by asking for Av. Vladimir Lenine.
In quite good English, she say "I can't help you, I only
speak Portuguese". What she meant was "Fuck you".
It is the next parallel street with the one we are in.
Back at Base, I start working. A long
chat with Japanese girl, who have been teaching in a
remote village for quite some time. She is constantly
fighting the public offices, to get her volunteer work
done. She have to pay!
Despite I can't upload, I finish up the photos from
At four, I set out to find some non-Indian food. A tour
round the block is an hour's walk, mainly because it is
made up by the slope; Jardim des Professores. It sound
way more appealing than it look. It is just another
city-dump, and I fare from feel like entering it. Too
few others are.
The block also consist of huge hotels and the started
construction of even more. But the sidewalks are for the
most part gone
filled with trash, just like the rest of the city. I
still have to find five meters of sidewalk, not smashed
in some way - or one meter without trash.
I see way more security guards, than
any other people on this tour around the block. The few hotels which have a restaurant,
are way too step for me, but a cafe offers light meals,
and I will return to it later. A burger and some cups of thai
later, I return to work. Unfortunately, I have no
internet, but the Japanese girl offer to share her. I
get to pay way too much WAT for my company, make my own
salary for the month, and sort the rest too. Boring, but
nice I can do it form here.
While the day have been partly cloudy and pretty cool -
not more than mid thirties, the evening feel actually
warmer. And the humidity is 80-90%.
Apparently, I'm the receptionist, when a large group
of mixed French, Japanese and Romanians arrivals after ten. Well, how hard can it be, when you
first get the Portuguese in the guest book? It is not
that fare from Spanish, in writing. And no, there are no
Wi-Fi. At least, we get the three cars parked in the
right order for tomorrow's use. At midnight, I have had enough fun for one day.
3/1 It is a nice and sunny
day, and until six, I don't have anything else to do,
but relax. I clean the car, and prepare the
music-gadget, and do laundry, and re-organise the car,
and fine-tune the route and... The city, on the other
hand, does not really draw. It is, after all, nothing
more than an overfilled and badly maintained trashcan,
and the shops are closed. But the Natural History Museum
is 600 metres down the same road, and its
architecture is "Manueline" - and I have to find out
what that is! Of cause, it is Portuguese late Gothic,
and not that impressive. Further down the road, the City's
Garden are found along the water, and I start with it.
On the way, I see one of the rather large greenish
Calotes, roaming the sidewalks. In a narrow area between
two roads, one of the Convulvaceae parasitic plants have
As no really surprise, the City's Garden is just part of
the city-dump. It stinks, and
is hazard to walk through,
due to the trash. I make it down to the coastline, which
apparently should be some kind of marina. Things are
falling apart, and there are litter scattered in a thick
layer everywhere. The railing have rusted away, and a
solid drop of ten meters await the unlucky pedestrian. A
few, small speedboats are found in a locked up area,
which they share with some old cars, half rusted away -
and a lot of other trash.
I make it back to the café at the same round-about as
the museum, and considered my anticipated late dinner, I
get a pot of tea and a Caesar Salad. Then the Natural History Museum
open, and I pay 50 MZL to enter. It was build in 1913,
and nothing have changed since, I think. OK, here are
some interactive computers in each room, and a few
The exhibition is somehow impressive.
animals in kind of natural setups. The centrepiece -
literally - is a waterhole with elephants, lions,
waterbucks, impalas, ducks, giraffes and much more. At
the entrance, I'm told not to touch anything, but
someone must have. It is not only the elephants, rhinos
and hippos that lack hair.
Other rooms display fish, reptiles, marine animals,
insects and general evolution. Part of it is closed
down, and have been so for a long time. It must content
of birds at least.
Two other rooms have ethnic collections from not so long
ago. Wooden figures, but with pipes and guns. Outside is
a small garden with mainly trees and bushes, many with
It make me occupied till a bit after
noon, then I walk back to Base. Hopefully, it will be
great to leave this city, and get out into the wild and
country side. I have seen trash enough for a real long
time by now!
Somehow the raw photos managed to use 45 GB of
hard-drive space, and I need to remove Lesotho and
Swaziland from the computer - but not without making a
secondary back-up! That keep the computer busy for a hour.
My double room is ready, but despite the price of 1500 MZL a day, it does
not come with towels. Mozambique is significantly more
expensive, and with a clear lower standard, than the
other countries I recently have explored. I actually
have to go out and find an ATM, and while I'm at it, I
also try to find other restaurants. It seems like the
main street is parallel with the one I live in. Here are
three open pizzerias and a restaurant quite alike. Every
thing else is closed.
On one of the trees along the road, a Agama with a real
bright, blue head don't get away before I get a few
photos. Back to work until five, when it is time to
pick-up my co-driver for the next five weeks at the
airport. She is on scheduled time, and pretty fast, we
are back at Base. Dinner at a local pizzeria and then
catching up the rest of the evening.
4/1 An early start to reach
the Maputo Elephant Reserve,
also known as Maputo
Special Reserve (after most elephants have been killed). The GPS leads us down to the
apparently; want us to take a ferry across the bay. I
thought the 80 kilometres sealed road sounded way more
Well, after 35 kilometres, it turns into a gravelroad,
and as such, it continues for additional 90 kilometres.
And it is not a smooth and neat one. It might have been
sealed in ancient time. Some small parts have around 5%
remaining sealing. They do not form pot-holes,
they form table mountains.
The fields along the road is with way more stock, then I
have seen in Mozambique earlier. And the grass has gone,
only the Acacia bushes remain in the dry landscape. Not
really a botanists dream. We only do a few stops, and
fail to find anything interesting. Most of the
cross are dry, except the Rio Maputo. It is filled with
chocolate brown water.
We se many carrying or wheelbarrowing water along the
road. At one point, we pass a huge gathering of people
and way more yellow and white plastic containers, around
a well. Another time, we pass a gigantic cement factory
in the making. Huge area with green lawns, romantic
director's mansion, funktiolistic headquarter and city
with three story blocks for the workers. Even a forest
have been made for recreation. But the road to it is
just started being measured up.
It is passed then, before we reach
the Maputo Elephant Reserve. My co-driver; Gry, have done a bit on
reading on the subject in a brand new guidebook. They
have changed the name from
to Special, because most elephants were sniped. Here are
only 180 left in the massive 30 km2 reserve. And now she
tell me, AFTER I have promised to show her the first
The entrance take a lot of paperwork, and we have to pay
400 MZL for each of us, including the car. Four times
more, than the guidebook claims. Before we have driven
long, on the white sand that make up all the roads, some
Kudus stand in the shadow of a tree. Then and old
giraffe with a small calf have found their shadow. The
grass does not look like here are any animals, and only
a very few trails crosses the road.
We stop a few time to get a closer look at plants, but
the main target is the elephants. We did not get any map
of the area, and have to relay on the
dot in the
middle of a white area. And the roads are few but winding. Further
more, the white sand is real soft, and in many places,
the car sink 20 centimetres down into it. I have to
engage 4WD and go down in 1. and 2. gear. Further more, I have
to keep a high tempo, not to sink deeper in. Lowering
the pressure in the tires is last resort.
We make some huge loops, almost covering the enormous
park. When we stop at a big lake, we see elephants!
Three big tuskers and a suckling are bathing with much
enthusiasm. Right next to them, three hippos watch
rather nervous. Despite we are watching them for quite
some time, Gry's face keep cracked with a wide smile.
It is getting late, and we have a long tour home. The
lack of map make it a challenge. Despite we drive
roughly the right
direction, there are no connection roads,
and we have to turn round at a rangers station. When we
get back to the big lake with the elephants, they have
just left the water, and that calls for additional pictures.
We are running late, but I have to stop for some
monkeys, fantastic red flowers and a huge dung beetle.
In the tall grass, huge flocks of sparrows swarm around.
The exit finally turns up, and we have driven 80
kilometres in the loose sand. Now 90 kilometres of rough
gravel road lies ahead. I drive significantly faster
than the few other cars -
when we meet the convoys of trucks. The dust cloud are
immense, and remain for a long time. The trucks
tend to drive in our side of the road, but I just turn
on the light, and keep to my rights.
We need to do some shopping, and my guess about Spar
will close at eight sticks. We get there quarter to, in
the dark night, but when Gry jumps - well rested - out
of the car, a big Danish Chocolate-bar have gone liquid,
and she is covered in chocolate - along with her bag,
car and sidewalk. I was aware, she got scared a few
time, but not that bad!
We get into Spar, and get the shopping done. Back to
divide Gry and chocolate, then out to eat. I am quite
used after twelve hours of concentrated driving, but the
server works again, and I can upload, and many emails
demand an answer. Then there are the photos and diary,
and it gets beyond midnight for me.
5/1 I get to work a bit in the
morning, before we meet to breakfast. While I pack the
car, I discover one of the milk cartons have leaked. The
other eleven are soaked along with the inside of the
fritz. I leave all the milk to the cleaning lady at the
Base, and clean the fridge.
At nine, we find our way out of the city. Well, kind of.
The GPS leads us through narrow streets, through busy
business areas with primitive stands and a lot of
trash and sandy streets, which always make me get the
truck stopped. It would be embarrassing to get stock in
the streets of a capital. Then again, how many capitals
can you do that in? I don't think the GPS is leading us
bad roads - I just think this is how the city is.
A stop at a gas station results in a long preach about
knowing Jesus. I'm told, I would get a better life, if I
know him. I say, I have a great life, and I think, it is
about giving other people better a life, that matters.
More sandy roads and primitive shops and then a concrete
tile road. After a long time, we finally meet asphalt,
but the GPS wants to go through another narrow street
with shops. Overruled, and quite soon, we find a brand
new, perfectly sealed four-lane road, heading all the
way North we want to go - unknown to the GPS.
379 kilometres to next turn, and Gry get appointed DJ.
Some of hers, some of mine - little in common.
Here are radar controls for each 15-20 kilometres, but
we get through the first nine.
ten stops us, demands a "high-five", and want 2000 MZL,
because I drove 80 in a 60 zone. He is knowing, and I know he
knows, which he do know, it is a 80 zone. I have kept my
cash down on around 200, which I'm told should be
acceptable, but I got 320 today. He settle for 300. When
we drive on, I ask my co-driver to put additional 200 MZL in my purse for the next corrupt cop. I am glad I
did my research on the subject.
We start driving through bush
savannah, but after some time, it changes into way more
lush green forest with coconut, papaya and bananas along
with natural occurring trees. Here are small huts and
small villages, all the way up the coastal road, and not
really any interesting places to botanize
Along the road, firewood, charcoal, peanuts and fresh
fruits are offered all the time.
Half way up to Inhambane, we drive right through the rather big Xai-Xai.
A short stop at their mall to stock müesli and other
food. Soon after, we actually see the sea for the first
time. Ox carriages and ox ploughing seems to be quite
normal, but here are still very few goats, sheep and
A tea break in the afternoon, then further up the
coastal road, passing a line of radar controls and check
points - unattended. We reach our goal; Inhambane after six, and
watch the sunset over the bay. A bit down the coast, a
flock of white flamingos are foraging.
We find a local
hut which sell food, and while we wait for our food, an
Englishman ask, if he can join in. Apparently, he have
been missing someone to talk with, and it seems like we
are the only tourists in town. I had anticipated this to
tourist of surfer town, but
it is far from. We have not
seen anything indicating tourism at all!
We passed a sign to a campsite ten kilometres before
town, and head back for it, after dark. From the sign at the
main road, additional 25 kilometres down a gravel road
leads us to a big, rather dark resort. A charming, tiny
guard call for an English speaking friend, and we are
guided to a camp-site. We can hear the ocean close bye,
but are locked in. A cup of tea, and I work, while Gry
organises her stuff in the car, along with the extra
stock of food.
Some almost white geckoes are found in the light from
the toilets, and huge hunting beetles roam the sand.
Crickets, waves and a star-packed sky make a good
atmosphere, after the 500 kilometres driving of the day.
From here, we head even more north
in Diary 2