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DIARY 2              2016   

        Map + Plan


           Photos   Diary 1 + 2

From the southern part of the country, we are now going north

6/1 It turns out the price we were given last night was in ZAR, not MZL: Three times as expensive. The short walk down to the beach make up for it. It is the most perfect beach, and we have it for our self. At least the few kilometres we can see to each side. We do some walking, but save the swimming for later.
On out way out to the main coastal road, we pass some huge bulbs with amazing fruit stands. The small stands along the road sell corn-grinders in wood for some time, then firewood and charcoal followed by huge clay jars and pots. One larger village we pass through, have all the tire-companies.
The straw huts along the way are scattered along it, and redrawn 30-50 meters. They farm coconuts and papaya, but here are next to nothing live animals.
We only pass three larger villages today, with banks and a few proper shops. We do a stop in Massinga, to see the tiny shops and the market. They are far from keen on being photographed, but their goods are so motive rich. Some have real technical gear in a shop made of twigs and grass. Many sell clothing and shoes, kitchen gear and spare-parts for cars. A few cages with hens, but no meat. A brand new plough for oxen, dishwashing bowls in colourful plastic and weird mixes.

An hour later, we spot a Baobab tree; Adansonia digitata among other trees, on a farmers field. That causes for photos. It is Gry's first wild Baobab, and she enjoys it. Fifty kilometres further, and we find a small forest with them. The biggest are around four meters in diameter, but all are so beautiful trees. From here, they pop-up in groups from time to time.
A few other plants like some beans with slim and long fruits, colourful grasshoppers and the most evil fruits, resembling partisan nails.
We pass a few huge trucks, and huge busses passes us on the narrow road. A few small busses pick-up people along the road, and a few 4x4 use the road as well, but it is quiet. We only pass six radar controls, and none bothers us. In some stretches, the road is full of pot-holes, and the shoulders have worked their way towards the middle.
Next stop is at the first warning for elephants. The next sign is for sheep, and that, we have not seen! Around the sign, some real spiny Cucurbitaceae fruits are found, along with a few other interesting plants. A few times, we pass open areas, which are swamp, formed on ancient bays of huge rivers.
When we have a lunch break under a huge tree, some magnificent bulbs hide badly in the bush. Some workers sit in the shadow, crushing rocks with hammers. A single river is full with water, which seems so strange in the green but very dry area.

At three, we arrival in Inhasso, which on the map appears as a larger, costal city. It is at the coast, but it is only 30 houses, among them two banks, but not really any shops. On two gravel roads leading along the coast, ten resorts and alike are found. We find a campsite in the end of one, and check the water. Perfect beach, 28C water and a gentle surf. Before we head in, we check, if we really have seen the entire city - and we have!
Back to work and read until the water draws at five. It absolutely perfect! Crystal clear, warm as it gets and we got several kilometres of nice beach to our self. Dinner at a nearby resort; pizzas, which are great! We could prepare food our self, but one can of tomatoes, beans, corn and alike is 100 MZL, a pizza 200. And no dish wash afterwards. We can always cook, when we can't buy dinner. Straight to bed when we get back.

7/1 Someone is sleeping late, and the payment of the camp take an hour more. I get to see the fishermen draw huge nets into the perfect beach, catching small amounts of tiny fish. It is nine before we start the driving. The road leads a bit inland, but remains real lowland for the first 300 kilometres. We do a few stops to admire baobabs and enjoy a cup of tea. Gry find some chilly-like cucumbers, and several other plants look interesting.
The houses we are passing are mainly rondawels with straw-roof, and no domesticated animals at all. Once, I see a man carrying a dead monkey, another place, a boy is offering two tortoises to the passing cars.
Again today, we pass huge mounts, which I, despite they are up to six meters tall, and 10 meters wide, guess are termite mounts. Numerous butterflies crosses the road, sometimes, we can count 30. The settlement turns more and more scares. In some stretches, they sell charcoal, in some, the boys try to block the road to sell peanuts or something looking that way.
In one area, everyone is selling fuel in cola bottles and even in ten litre plastic containers. I predicted, we have to fuel in the afternoon - and not by bottles. I stop right after one filling station, but don't bother to turn back. That turns out to be the last in the 150 kilometres to the Chimanimani National Park, which is the goal for the day. We only have fuel for around 200, when we get there, and I hate my self. The signs showed to a town just before the park, but as the gravel road got more and more narrow, hope ran out. The city was around five huts - no filling station! Luckily, we are told that further down the road, we would be able to buy diesel, and we can drive in this park, without the co-driver having to push us 150 kilometres back for filing.

As we get to a big bridge, we have to stop. We have to buy a ticket for the bridge, and a police officer is asking about our trip. He look a bit disappointed and surprised, when he stands with empty hands, and have to let us drive on. The bridge spans over a huge, almost dry river.
On the other side, the military is harassing people, but despite him asking, if we have something for him to drink, he decline our light flavoured water.
The same scenario plays out at the next bridge, and as the soldier ask, I just say; Sorry mate, NO. Again, we leave behind a disappointed man.
Soon after, a group of White Storks stand close to the road. I know stopping will scare them off, and drive on - with two real bad photos. We passes through a single larger village, but don't stop. Soon after, we turn down a gravel road for 50 kilometres, and reach a parallel road. Then we can see the mountains in the distance. Already now, the area is significantly more lush. Even the grass is green here. Banana plantations, corn, gum tree plantations and fruit trees, but with exception of the gum trees, only in small fields.

The winding road, leading up and into the mountains offers some fantastic views, and we have to do several stops. From sea level, we reach first a plateau of 500+ metres, then the area with the park at 700 meters height. The huge hills are partial farmed, but not intensive at all, and it seems like only a few people are living here.
We reach the earlier mentioned gravelroad for the Chimanimani National Park. The last four kilometres are down a rather challenging road, and I start to fear, what the trails in the park will be like. This trail is either fine, loose sand or like a dry, rough riverbed.
As we pass a river, we have to get out to take photos. When we return to the car, a uniformed guy is waiting. He looks real strict, but loosen up fast. He, and the three colleagues at the three tiny huts only speak Portuguese, but apparently, they know someone who speaks English. Moses is brought, on the back of a motorcycle, and speaks a brilliant English. We spend an hour filling out forms, and it seems like the guys never tried it before. And calculating the price (2*400+2*200+1*300) is a huge task for them. But the prices are right, and they don't ask for tips.
They show us a campsite next to the beautiful river, and arrange for water for the bath and toilets. When a poor guy starts caring water from the river, I tell him: We will just bath in the crocodile-free river.
In front of their office, which by the way was big and surprisingly modern, I spot a tiny Anguidae - or alike: Legless reptile, not a snake. It is seven centimetres long, only 1,5 millimetre wide. It looks like a silver chain.
At the river, Euphorbias with orchids on, are the first to meet us. The park have 90 endemic plants and a wide biodiversity - and spread in heights. Here are bulbs and Kalanchoes along with herbs from the moist areas and a caudiciform Ficus. 
It have become way too late, and only I get to do a fast walk, while Gry prepare dinner. As it darkens, we head for the river to bath. I could stay in the water for a very long time without out freezing - it is above 28C. Back in the dark to work with 150 photos and diary - in a swarm of insects, but it is too warm to have the door closed.
I finish up before ten, and count on an early work in the morning. The entire area is covered in ants, and some find their way down from the trees to the tent - but only outside. A few mosquitoes and moths swarm around, and toads and leaf frogs voices are heard from the river. The stars are tinkling from a moonless sky, and the heat have lowered to a pleasant level.

8/1 We are up early to enjoy the coolness of the night. A fast breakfast, and we set out for a walk along the beautiful river. Huge boulders make both way and obstacles. Here are many flowering orchids, interesting trees and bushes, bulbs and succulents. Gry discover an aquatic spider, and go all-in to get a great picture. Then we find an unknown plant with some fantastic hooks for climbing.
After an hour, the sun breaks through, and the temperature raises drastic. One of us get too hot, and we return to camp. The guys have found a map, and I decide on a road, leading right through the park, heading towards the mountains at the Zimbabwe border, hoping it will lead to some Afro-Alpine areas.
The mountains offer better and better views, and we can see the rain on the peaks. We are driving at around 700 meters height, but the mountains are more like 2500 meters. This park offers flora from tropic to African Alpine, but not without a lot of walking, it seems. This part is bush-land with quite some trees and a massive, green blanket of grass and herbs underneath. It is so clear; here are no grassers at all!
Well, a small herd of cows are found at a river crossing, else, we only see birds and toad-agamas along with the blue-tailed geckos. Some large bulbs have enormous, red fruits, Convolvulaceaes, Vitaceaes, Fabaceaes and Lamiaceaes. Huge flowering Bauhinias are all over.
A few creeks cross the trail in deep ravines, but have are no ponds.

After fifteen kilometres, we turn around. The main event on the return is a absolutely huge skink. It is at least 60 centimetres, and it have a short tail. It lives on a barren rock - but have a crack way too close. I see another, while I inspect the area, but it is too fast as well. Here are Aloes, Euphorbias and some bulbs with fruits.
Back at the camp, we chat with the guys, and tell them which awesome piece of nature they have. Then we head on towards Rotanda and especially the gasoline station. On the way, we pass a tiny plant with huge, succulent flowers and black fruits. It almost look like a parasitic plant, but it has leaves.
It is a long gravelroad - especially when you are watching the needle showing less than a quarter of the last, 60 litter tank. Rotanda is getting a new gasoline station among the 30 huts. And that means the old one has been torn down. That was a 40 kilometre de-tour I could have done without.
At least, we still have gasoline to at least 150 kilometres - I hope, and we set the GPS for the next bigger city we should pass through; Chimoio. When we pass two local lorries with drivers, I ask them for the nearest diesel. They kind of point each way but they do agree; 150 kilometres - at least. Chimoio should be the best choice. Their road directions alien with the GPS, but add a dam.
We meet the dam, and despite it is not big, it is still impressive. It is a concrete addition to a natural granite wall. The lake looked great, and so do the river, leading away from the dam. The road turns gravel again, but after quite some time, huge gum tree plantations and a huge Chinese factory indicates civilization might be around the corner. With less than 20 litres of diesel, I'm looking forward to it!
From a distance, it seems to be a huge city, filling the entire mountain range. Some large factories and quite some huge trucks indicate a lot of activity. Chimoio is the fifth biggest town in Mozambique - and not really big at all.
The first station do not accept credit cards, and I'm sure we have not cash enough. The next does, and we buy 121 litre diesel. My co-driver has been suspicious quiet today, and I figure she have an overheated body and flue will benefit from an afternoon in an air conditioned room. It is not twice as expensive as a camp site, but clean and nice enough.

After she is taken care of, I head out in the "big" city. It is not big at all. In one end, a primitive market is found. Lots of clothing and shoes, and I park next to a traffic inspection police officer. I don't find anything but motives - and lots of them.
Then I let the GPS lead me to the centre of town, or is it just a ruin with a dump-site in front? In the other end of town, another market is found between the railroad and the "fancy" shops. At first, people don't like to be photographed. An approach to break the ice, is to start chatting and complimenting and soon I have to leave with girls running after me, demanding I photograph them. And the boys are not much better. I get some of the women to laugh as much, they almost fall from their chairs. And I get some good photos.
Back to take Gry to dinner - which is not the success I have expected. The cook can only speak Portuguese, and despite both he and we try, we do not end up with the kind of food we were looking for. But the price is ridiculous; what a can of good beans costs.
Back to the room and work to the sound of the music from the bar, two stories down on the other side of the alley. It is actually not that bad, just a bit loud to sleep to. It is only a bit passed ten, when I'm finish with the essentials for the day.
We are a bit ahead the plan,  mainly because the towns we planned to see turned out so small and un-interesting. We can take a break here, and save a few days for the Kalahari or....

9/1 After a good night's sleep, we are witness to a short shower in the early morning. Black clouds promise more to the mountains in the distance - where we are heading. Gry is up and running on most cylinders again.
It is a smooth road to Manica, a real cosy mid-sized town. We pass the market and I talk Gry into a walk. People are so smiling and charming - when the ice is broken, and we get loads of pictures. We get our pictures taken too, by the locals. Thinking about it, we have only seen the few tourists at the hostel in Maputo and the couple of Canadians at the beach. No wonder the two pale Danes make such a fuss.
Gry find some bananas and mangos, which cost next to nothing, and are so tasty! The market and shops around have everything from hair-extinctions over toothpaste to ox-ploughs. Men with sowing machines, all household in plastic, spare tires, chains, huge soaps for cloth-washing and much, much more. We do several loops, and end at the railroad, with a view to the cathedral on the hilltop. Gry is a bit overwhelmed by the loud, drastic gesticulating and laughing Bihrmann - but have to admit; it works: We do get in contact with the else so closed locals, and get permission to photo them.

The road turns into gravel right after Manica, and before the poor cop at the city limit sign gets to say anything, after having stopped us, I ask for directions to Penha Longa. We are on the right track, it is just 3-4 kilometres down the road. After 25 kilometres, we ask some banana plantation workers, and they also say three kilometres. We pass many women, carrying huge bundles of firewood or water containers on their head, or all kind of goods. The area is partly farmed and real fertile.
After 35 kilometres, we reach the little village Casa Gaswa, and we see the first sign to Penha Longa - partly washed of a big boulder. The gravel road has turned real narrow, but the aware co-driver spots a tiny sign, showing off to Penha Longa Pmv. We ask some workers, a bit in, and we are on the right track. A newly painted metal gate closes the road, and a real charming house, covered in flowering plants, sits on the nearby hill.
The workers only speak Portuguese, and don't seem eager to receive guests. When we explain, we got our own tent, and will prepare our own food, we are let in to  Penha Longa. 700 MZL, and we can drive to the campsite.
It is through a old gum tree plantation, and the trees are like telegraph poles, just ten times taller. Then three stems are placed across the road, and we are not aloud to drive any further. And "no, we can't carry the tent further either".
We end up camping at the entrance, but get a small guided tour up to the former impressive mansion. It is undergoing restoration, and the pool do hold water. It must have been the home of a real wealthy colonialist, with a interest in botany.
The entire area is dominated by terraces and creeks, build by billions of head-sized rocks. Here are still numerous foreign plants, but the local plants are gaining ground. A green pond have the aquatic frogs; Xenocipus laevis, and many insects can be found around it.

We leave the car, and go for a hike to the waterfall and beyond. Ferns, Begonias, African cacti: Rhipsalis baccifera, Streptocarpus, Impatiens and many more. A young local, upper-class couple look so more wrong in these settings than us, but nice to see they appreciate the wild.
When we pass the camp for the second time, we make a reading/working brake. I would like to hike to the real close peaks - but know how challenging it will be.
Next tour leads us the other way. Gry discover a tiny snake on the trail, and we get some pictures, before it panics. We walk among the tall Eucalyptus trees, and despite they are a cultured and invasive species, it is hard not to admire them.
After a long walk, we end at a scattered village with tiny fields and a few goats. We get permission to photo some locals, which I remember as massively laughing. The photos show an real grumpy and serious granny. On the way back, we meet a small herd of cows and the four young herdsmen. They hide behind the cows, and in fun, they are afraid of Gry's camera. We see some awesome views of the surrounding hills, and the sun decent behind one of them.
Gry prepare some delicious dinner from next to nothing, and well fed, I start to work afterwards. It is not as cold as I have feared, but the dove- and fleece jackets are handy to have. Strangely enough, here are no mosquitoes, but quite some fire-flies and bats. I work to ten, and manages to be finish - well, kind of. The night is filled with the sound of distant music, bats, crickets and other insects on a background of the many waterfalls in the area. The moon and stars are gone, and the night is dark - real dark! Fireflies dance, and lead the thought towards shooting stars. We prepare the tent for rain - just to prevent it.

10/1 That didn't make it. First, it started to drizzle, then we got the full force. At least, the tent keep us perfectly dry. The water reserve is down to five litres of drinking water, and we could do with some fresh fruits. Manica is on the road, but we fail to find any shops, selling water.
Then we head for the border crossing at Machipanda/Forbes. It is a nice way, heading towards the mountains. We reach the border at nine, and the exit from Mozambique is quick - Mozambique-time.

From here, the journey continues in ZIMBABWE.

I have only seen the southern part of the country, and quite frankly; I wouldn't bother seeing the north. It is run-down, filled with trash and crocked cops. It is hard to find wild nature, and it seems like most wild animals have been shoot. The other countries around it, are so much more appealing and easy accessible, and cheaper too. We have driven 2500 kilometres, I have only take 750 photos - less than I can make on a single day.

Visa 729  
1/6 of flight 1.046  
9 day 4x4 4.302  
Food 616  
Hotels 800  
1/6 gadgets 1.100  
Diesel 1.100  
Entrees 525  
DKK 10.218 €1370


   Diary 1 + 2  Map + Plan  Photos