We used my 40m long climbing rope to tow out the boat (at the expense of at least one sense of humour) and went back to camp for a well-earned lunch while the locals recounted our antics punctuated by huge, friendly bellows of laughter. I am sure one white Landrover 130 and its four occupants have now become a firm part of the folklore of the tribes of the Zinave. Oh, we did see fish-eagles, many other birds of prey, parrots, hornbills and many and various other feathered flappers. With clouds of mosquitoes at night and flocks of flies by day one night was enough and sunrise the following day found us bumping back to the main road the way we had come en-route to one of my favourite spots – due to it’s sea-views and accompanying cool breezes – sleepy little Inhassoro.
Debbie’s main request for the trip had simply been “at least one plate of prawns” and although her wishes had been fulfilled magnificently at Bamboozi, the Hotel Seta restaurant revived our spirits and the excellent ablutions washed away the last scratchy granules of Rio Save sand. And now imagine getting into a bath which has been run about an hour previously – that is how warm the Mozambican Channel is here, even our beers from the steel trunk tasted cold by contrast. And now add to the picture four smiling faces obscured by cans of 2M and you will know what I mean. After supper, Dave and I went down the short main street in search of the ‘Pink Bar’ and three characters we were told were called ‘Hungry’, ‘Thirsty’ and ‘Vomit’ respectively. However literally we may have taken the names, before long, locals who answered to these descriptions had visited the Pink bar.
Author hard at work planning the day’s activities
Inhassoro is just a (very long) day’s drive from Harare (most Zimbabweans either stay over at Mutare before entering Moz or at Casa Msika which is just after Manica inside the country), and the campers at Seta (the owner’s nickname, don’t ask me why) all drove Zimbabwe-registered vehicles. Judging by the size of their boats and gleam of their cars, there are at least some citizens who are not suffering to badly at the bungling hands of Mugabe. In Inhassoro during the SA and Zim school holidays you can Scuba Dive, go big game fishing or take a Landrover transfer up the beach to the impossibly blue lagoon up at old Bartolomeu Dias (I say ‘old’ because this village is now under the waves and you can snorkel amid the ruins).
At the Pink Bar, Herb, who makes furniture in Vilankulo, had warned us that the road north up to the Save Bridge was fine but after that as far as the BP fuel station at Muxungue (90km) the surface was severely potholed. Now, did I mention that we are towing a boat? Yes a little Malibu with a single 50hp Mercury outboard, which we are aiming to use to visit various inaccessible spots along the Zambezi, if and when we finally get there. The BP in Muxungue is probably the best place at present to buy the cashews for which Mozambique was once famed, and which were once dished out for free as pub snacks in LourenÃƒÂ§o Marques (now Maputo), but don’t expect good quality and offer less than the asking price.
Now as I write we are 150km north of Muxungue (much less pot-holes now, thanks), humming along at a steady 100kph (the Landy uses around 11 litres of diesel per 100km at this speed, but then we are bigger than normal, and towing). Inchope is a surprisingly non-descript village at the junction of the E.N.1 and the Beira – Zimbabwe highway, soon to be one of Mozambique’s main cross-roads with the finishing of extensions of the E.N.1 via Gorongosa town to the Caia ferry over the mighty Zambezi. Inchope to the Pungue river bridge is good tar after which anticipate potholes from hell – 15kph on the 40km stretch to Gorongosa town.
Mercado Municipal, Gorongosa Town
I’ve been writing ‘town’ after Gorongosa to avoid confusion with the once-celebrated game reserve, ‘Parque Nacional de Gorongosa’ that really was meant to be our next destination, but was closed when we arrived. Official open period is May 1 to October 31 (outside of that, the roads are often flooded – Chitengo Camp is just 20m above sea-level), we arrived on April 29 and the warden was sticking to regulations so we decided to try our luck on May 1 on our way back from Caia. We did, and still the reserve was not ready for visitors, but I did manage to find out that facilities remain one basic campsite at Chitengo and that the entrance fee is US$10 per person and camping $7.50 per day, also that the elephants were becoming a problem.
View from Casa Msika’s (near Manica) restaurant/pool area over the Chicamba dam
We returned via Zimbabwe, our last night in Mozambique being at truly serene and beautiful (especially as it is now full) Chicamba dam with its Casa Msika Lodge. Remember, if you follow in our spoor one-day, to fill up your tank plus a Jerry-can or two in Manica before hitting the Machipanda/Forbes Post (Mutare) border, as Zimbabwe is likely to remain dry for quite a while.