Northern Moz advice please





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  1. #1
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    Question Northern Moz advice please

    Hi all,
    We’re going to be spending five to six weeks this June/July in northern Mozambique. I’d appreciate any feedback on our rough itinerary, plus suggestions re nice places to stay, visit etc en route. Single vehicle, two adults, two kids. As always, our schedule is completely flexible, and will change en route. We’re not booking anything in advance.

    Roughly: Getting there will be Cape Town - Jo’burg - Beit Bridge - Masvingo -Mutare - Tete - Blantyre - Zomba - Mangochi - Mandimba to Mozambique. Overnights on this route will probably include Bvumba Gardens (Mutare), and overnight in Tete or Blantyre (any suggestions?) etc.

    Then:
    1. A couple of nights camping on Lake Niassa/Malawi at Meponda.
    2. Lichinga to Marrupa (tar road). We may make a detour into the Niassa Game Reserve if there’s fuel available at Marrupa.
    3. Marrupa to Montepuez (bad dirt track) (bush camp or find somewhere in Montepuez - I’m told there’s a French couple who have a restaurant and campsite there. Anyone have details?)
    4. Montepuez to Pemba (tar) where we’ll stay for five or six days at Pemba Bush and Dive Camp, exploring the local countryside as well as diving. While there, also catch a dhow to Ibo Island for an overnight stay or longer. If possible, find a dhow skipper who is prepared to do four or five nights rough camping on the islands in the Quirimba Archipelago.

    Next leg:
    1. Several days at Libelula dive camp (formerly Bay Diving) at Fernao Veloso, Nacala area. Day trips from here to Matibane and Chocas Mar.
    2. Couple of nights on Ilha do Mozambique staying at one of the guest houses. Recommendations?
    3. A night at Monte Nairuca outside Nampula.
    4. A couple of days from Nampula to Gorongosa National Park, travelling via Malema (not Julius) to Monte Namuli (Gurue area) and Monte Mabu camping at Cha Lugela - this leg for purposes of botanising and birding, plus three or four days in Gorongosa.

    Then we’ll do a slow drift back to South Africa, probably stopping at Pomene, Tofo and other old familiar haunts on the way down. Depending on time, we’ll either go out at Ponto through KZN then back road it through the eastern Free State, or gap it via Komatipoort/Joburg if we’re running late.

    All suggestions welcome.

    Tony
    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2010/02/17 at 12:11 PM. Reason: Formatting
    Tony Weaver

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  2. #2
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    I have no advise, but damn I wish it was me.
    PS. Please breakdown. I will PM you my phone no...........
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henris View Post
    PS. Please breakdown. I will PM you my phone no...........
    In a Land Rover? Never
    Tony Weaver

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    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  4. #4
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    Hi Tony,

    Sounds like a brilliant trip, very similar to what we did in 07/08. I've unfortunately lost all my notes from my research and trip report due a PC crash a while back but I will comment where I can...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    1. A couple of nights camping on Lake Niassa/Malawi at Meponda.
    I see Meponda is situated on the Mozambique side (Lake Niassa) not sure about the diving / snorkeling there but the snorkeling we did in the Monkey Bay area on an island called Bird Island if I remember correctly was brilliant! It was a morning trip by boat to the island with some locals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    2. Lichinga to Marrupa (tar road). We may make a detour into the Niassa Game Reserve if thereís fuel available at Marrupa.
    The Niassa Reserve is one of the most beautiful and remote places (when we signed in at the boom we were the 12th foreign vehicle for the year to enter the reserve) I have been to and will definitely go back there at the drop of a hat. As you say the only problem being fuel in the area...I don't recall there being fuel in Maruppa when we were there in 2008.

    From Maruppa we headed to Mecula and then up to the Rio Rovuma. It was quite marshy when we were there and headed South and tried to stick to a track that followed the Rio Lugenda heading East which proved tough to follow through the marsh lands. We bush camped for 2 nights and headed out again.

    We only traveled approximately 250km inside the reserve due to fuel restraints but encountered the infamous 'man-eating' lions of the area and a fair amount of other game. It's definitely not teaming with game but the experience makes up for that!


    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    3. Marrupa to Montepuez (bad dirt track) (bush camp or find somewhere in Montepuez - Iím told thereís a French couple who have a restaurant and campsite there. Anyone have details?)
    We traveled this route in the rainy season Dec/Jan and were told that it's impassable by many people. It's certainly a BAD track but that's the best part I think. We left the Mecula area approximately mid morning and only arrived in Montepuez after midnight. It was very slow going near Balama with river after river to cross. Some of them were 1m - 1.5m 'dip-tanks' that you needed to cross, there were some frightening drop offs too.

    I'm not sure about the French couple's campsite / restaurant but steer clear of town itself. We stayed in something that resembled military hospital rooms that catered for over flow! Not nice at all .

    I'll scan though my machine again and see if I can find anymore info for you on the rest...

    Not sure if you have any of these pdf files on Mozambique?

    Pemba and the Region North to the Rio Rovuma and Tanzania
    Quelimane to Nacala and Nampula to Malawi
    Vilankulo to Chimoio & Beira
    Maxixe to Vilankulo


    Regards,
    Mike
    Last edited by GreenDisco; 2010/02/17 at 01:24 PM.
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    Tony,

    I have friends doing predator research in Niassa. Would you like me to get their email address (they're in CT at the moment)? They could give you some advice, assuming you don't know them already.

    Rob

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    Thanks Mike, Rob: Mike, that's great info - I have a friend who is a field geologist doing some recces there at the moment, and he says the dirt stretch between Maruppa and Montepuez is a constantly changing epic! But he covers the road regularly in a Fortuner (with OME and proper tyres) and says it's fine in the dry season. He also says Meponda is a gem of a place. I have snorkelled Maclear before.

    Thanks, I've got Mike's (Mozguide) PDF, and have also posted my query on his site.

    Rob, I'd love to chat to your friends doing the predator research - I might end up carting my jerry cans along so that we can do Niassa. Now that the road is tarred to Marrupa, there is evidently sporadic fuel available there. I've spent time on the Tanzanian side of the border which is fairly similar to Niassa, and around the Selous, and it is wonderful wild country.

    If you have comms with your Niassa friends, my e-mail is tony.weaver(at)inl.co.za and my cell is oh eight four 5766 oh eight six.

    Tony
    Tony Weaver

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    Sounds like a great adventure! What I can add though is that the Samora Machel bridge over the Zambesi river in Tete is currently undergoing extensive repairs. Expect delays when crossing between 30 mins and 6 hours!

    Expected completion date is Sept 2010, but hey, this is Africa! Anything can happen.

    Another thing, after crossing the bridge, between 3 and 4 kays on, on the left side of the road you will see a company called "Resource Drilling". Lots of big drilling rigs in the yard. They run a fleet of old 110's, so should the unthinkable happen and you need some assistance with the Landy, pop in, I found the guys in the workshop to be really friendly, and South African!!!

  8. #8
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    Thanks Gary - I seem to remember from my last visit to Tete that there was a riverfront restaurant right under the bridge on the western bank that had excellent steak and chips. Maybe sit there until they open the bridge ... and thanks for the Resource Drilling tip - always good to file away that kind of info.

    Tony
    Tony Weaver

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    My pleasure Tony! The bridge here in Tete is more of a south / north orientation, so not sure of which side you mean, but believe that you mean the south / west side. I havent been there, just pop in and out of town as fast as possible to get the supplies that I need. But I have to be there tomorrow, so I will make a point of looking for it. Some of the guys in camp went to a restaurant called "Mario's" last night, but were more into the 2M and the dancing than the food... LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary110 View Post
    Sounds like a great adventure! What I can add though is that the Samora Machel bridge over the Zambesi river in Tete is currently undergoing extensive repairs. Expect delays when crossing between 30 mins and 6 hours! Expected completion date is Sept 2010, but hey, this is Africa! Anything can happen.
    I crossed this bridge in 1995 doing a convoy through the Tete corridor from Malawi to Zim, and remember it to this day.

    We stopped at the boom to pay our toll, and the chap came out to collect our money. He wasn't sober.........at all. He wandered up to the passenger door of the car and said something in Portuguese. I answered "que?" He changed to English, and said "that will be forty".

    "Forty what?" I asked.

    We were patently already too much of a nuisance for him, so he said, "Forty anythings".......!!!

    We'd been through a few countries recently, so I said..."What, Kenya Shillings, Tanzanian Shillings, Malawi Kwatcha?"

    So, we ended up crossing the bridge for 40 Malawian kwatcha, an infinitesimal fraction of a cent.........

    I hope they used the money towards the upkeep of the bridge!

    Mike

    PS Great trip Tony. I wish you a severe break-down somewhere up north, and hope that it takes a very long time to get back home!!
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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  11. #11
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    Sounds as though it'll be an epic trip Tony. Re. Ibo/Pemba, we were there a couple of years back and had a wonderful adventure (also 2 adults, 2 kids). I'd recommend getting in touch with a local guide called Faia (he's Kingsley Holgate's guide when in the area too) in order to eke out the most interesting haunts.I'll search for his number, but otherwise just ask for him when in Pemba - he's very well known there. Apart from (the very expensive!) Ibo Island Lodge there is only the very uncomfortable and grotty telecoms accommodation on Ibo itself. You'll have no problem finding a willing and eager dhow operator to take you into the Quarimbas though- a highlight for us!! BTW Tony, we were neighbours once in Linbro Park (the Harrisons)!
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  12. #12
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    Hi all,

    First, Rob, thanks for the Niassa contact - we'll be getting together in March to look at maps together. For others planning the Maruppa to Montepuez run, here's their advice:

    "You will be able to fill up in Lichinga and there is a very good chance that the new fuel station in Marrupa will be fully operational by August. Montepuez is the next opportunity, although the reserve headquarters in Mbatamila (just 30km west of Mecula) will sometimes help out with fuel. The road from Marruppa, Nungu to Balama is slow but will be passable in August, but you will certainly have to be careful with a maximum range of 775km."

    Gary: Yup, I think the restaurant was on the south west bank. I was there with Kingsley Holgate when we were doing the Zambezi - Zaire expedition (I did Chinde to Cahora Bassa gorge) and it may just have been that we were sick of our own cooking by then.

    MikeAG: When we first crossed the Tete bridge in 1993, we paid the toll with a packet of Marie biscuits! (and the guy was drunk then too - and waving an AK47 about).

    NoordhoekNic: Thanks for the Ibo info, very useful - which one of the Harrisons are you? (I'm allowed to hijack this thread - it's mine!)

    Tony
    Tony Weaver

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    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  13. #13
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    I'm Gwyn's cousin - we lived in the cottage for years and used to hang out at your place listening to LP's - fun times!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noordhoeknic View Post
    I'm Gwyn's cousin - we lived in the cottage for years and used to hang out at your place listening to LP's - fun times!
    Got it! I still travel with Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell, with the more recent addition of Jack Johnson and loads of African music.

    Re Ibo, I've heard good reports about a place called Cinco Portas Pensao. They have their own motor launch that does a supply run from Pemba twice a week, a 12 hour trip that goes via several islands, including a stopover for diving in the Quililea Island marine sanctuary.

    If we took the boat both ways, and stayed four nights on Ibo at the Pensao, it would come to $760 for the family, which is steep, but as that would be our only non-camping stay for six weeks, doable (we will probably have a place to camp on Ilha de Mozambique as a friend has taken a 99-year lease on a crumbling old mansion he is renovating, and we can camp in his grounds). Have you heard anything about Cinco Portas?
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  15. #15
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    Wot, no Pink Floyd? How do you hear Joni M when the LR is moving?

    My maps aren't helping me with one or two of these places...........possibly because of the Portuguese names. Are the Quirimba islands the ones very close to the mainland, running down from roughly the Tan border to Pemba?

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    Wot, no Pink Floyd? How do you hear Joni M when the LR is moving?

    My maps aren't helping me with one or two of these places...........possibly because of the Portuguese names. Are the Quirimba islands the ones very close to the mainland, running down from roughly the Tan border to Pemba?

    Mike
    Lots of Floyd ... as I always say, the quietest vehicle in the bush is a Land Rover V8 idling along in low range seccond at walking pace - you can sneak right up to the game, and then blast them with "Shine on you crazy diamond" just for fun

    yup, the Quirimbas run from Pemba to Cabo Delgado, roughly. There are said to be 23 islands, some say more. Some of them, like Quilelea are tiny and don't show up on the smaller scale maps.

    Mike, for desk top reference (and for travelling) you need to get yourself a copy of the National Geographic African Adventure Atlas which is co-published with MapStudio in Cape Town. Not great on relief, but fantastic on road detail. Used in conjunction with T4A, it's hard to go wrong. Also very well priced - it's a monster tome, almost A3 in size, and the hardcover retails here for R380 and the soft cover (plasticised) for about R250. It shows 16 of the Quirimba Islands and names 14 of them.

    Tony
    Tony Weaver

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    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  17. #17
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    Map Studio rang a bell, so I went and grabbed something off the shelf. It is called Southern & East African Road Atlas by Map Studio.....and you are dead right, the Quirimba Archipeligo is there and named individually. It is probably the baby brother of the atlas you mention. There was something special about crossing Africa with the 3 old Michelin 1 to 4 millions...953, 954 & 955. One had to ask the way rather a lot!

    It was never the engine noise with a LR that was the issue.....it was always the stuff rattling loose! My brother reckoned that Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple was about the quietest stuff he could listen to in his!!

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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    You're wasting your time with Mike - methinks he's illiterate or, at the very least, severely dyslexic! Can't help with Cinco Portas I'm afraid - we idled by dhow from island to island and a few islands that are only sand-banks at low-tide and then returned to Ibo. Would have preferred to have explored deeper into the archipelago and slept open on some of the islands but it's quite controlled and restricted with regard to sleeping on islands.
    Reserve "Dark side of the moon" for Ibo!!

    Nic

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    There was something special about crossing Africa with the 3 old Michelin 1 to 4 millions...953, 954 & 955. One had to ask the way rather a lot! Mike
    The three Michelins are the wallpaper in my office - seriously. I do a lot of my planning off them, because you can see so much of the continent at a glance - so it's easy to see that the straightest line between Cape Town and Pemba is via Beit Bridge, Mutare, Blantyre and Lichinga. Whether the roads still exist is a different matter altogether.

    My favourite legend on the Michelins is the one that says "Route impassable in the rainy season" - that's a serious "I dare you to try this road" stuff. You always know that a road is going to be really bad and you're in for big trouble when you ask a local "how is the road ahead" and they reply "bad, very bad, but no problem in a Land Rover."

    Nic, I'm hoping to do the opposite of Dark Side of the Moon and be on Ibo or Ilha for the full moon on June 26.

    Mike, I've got the Mapstudio Atlas you refer to - It unfortunately has some inaccuracies. The Nat Geo one does southern and East Africa at 1:1million and West and North Africa at 1:3.5mil, but has great detailed maps of key areas at the back and of major towns and cities. Its Kafue map was the best I could find, although it didn't have some of the lodges, like Kaingu and McBrides on it.

    Tony
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    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

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    I'll see if I can get hold of a copy, Tony.

    The part of your route I wouldn't be looking forward to is the Musina/ Beit Bridge border crossing, but that is compensated for by the prospect of the Eastern Highlands of Zim..........ah, Chimanimani........that conjurs up great memories! What a beautiful spot!! Don't rush through there.

    Mike
    "A poxy, feral, Brit architect who drinks bad beer and supports the wrong rugby team." Tony Weaver

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