Transiting Mozambique

Community Highlights Africa & The Middle East Transiting Mozambique

Portuguese Africa

Portuguese Africa

I’ve always liked the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. Capo Verde and Guinea-Bissau in particular. They have a kind “Latino Africa” air to them—a mix between the Northern shores of the Iberian Peninsula and Sub-Saharan Africa. This possibly because most of them didn’t get their independence from Portugal until the ’70s, often in bloody wars of independence. Mozambique is no exception to this.
Initially, my plan had been to spent quite a while in MZ, but the country is simply too big. The distances are too vast on a glorified scooter on which I can maximum do 350-380 km/day. The big draw is the Ilha de Mozambique and the coast, but that would have meant, at least, a 2,000 km detour. Instead, I’m giving the region west of Malawi a short sniff, and put aside the rest of the country for another time.

Visa done all wrong

Visa done all wrong

The immigration officers at the border post clearly disagreed with this approach. I had asked (and paid) for an eight-day transit visa, as these are half the price of the standard one-month tourist visas. Somehow, I drove into Mozambique with a 30-day double-entry visa, regardless, just in case I changed my mind and wanted to go back.
All three officers on duty were very excited and a little overwhelmed when I rocked up at the border and asked for a visa. It’s obviously not every day that happens. All three of them insisted that they were to do the visa formalities and kept having plenty of comments and good advice to the one who ended up actually typing my details into their system. This brought everything to a halt at the border post, and ques of locals trying to get through immigration soon materialised, who complaining loudly of the lack of service. Eventually, the junior officer was told to deal with the ques, which, to be fair, he did admirably fast.

Crowded Malawi

Crowded Malawi

Immediately after entering Mozambique, it became physically visible how vast the country is. The contrast to Malawi, one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, was enormous. In Malawi, every road I drove down was full of people walking or cycling between the villages, which all lay within relatively small distances of each other. In Mozambique, the roads are deserted, and villages are wide and far between, making racing down the streets a much more enjoyable experience as I don’t have to watch out for my fellow and softer road users continually.
Mozambique also saw my first run-in with other motorcyclists. A UK-couple living in Malawi overtook me on their 1200cc BMW (compare that to my 110cc). I had a chance to catch up as they had a road-side break a couple of kilometres further ahead. We were heading to the same town and met up in the evening for a couple of beers. Of course, they asked on details about my bike of which I knew nothing. Interestingly enough, though, the longest trip they have ever done on their comfortable beast of a machine was a short 3,000 km journey down into Mozambique and back. That’s only a couple of hundred kilometres more than I have done on this trip so far. Compliments such as me “being their hero” for attempting to get to Cape Town on a glorified scooter was mixed with comments questioning my sanity. All in all, what could be expected.

Locals digging for water

Locals digging for water

My last overall impression of Mozambique was the draught. It might not have turned into a humanitarian catastrophe just yet. Still, with an unusually warm dry season and months till the rains are expected, things looked bleak from a layman’s perspective. Most riverbeds very complete dried out, including some of the mayor feeder-rivers to the Zambezi. On multiple occasions, I passed villages where the locals had to dig down into the dry river beds to create small puddles of water for bathing and washing their clothes and dishes.
This is in itself not life-threatening, but if there will not remain enough water for the locals’ livestock, this could crash the local economies complete, with no small share of human misery following in its wake.

This featured blog entry was written by askgudmundsen from the blog Southern Africa Road Blog.
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By askgudmundsen

Posted Tue, Oct 15, 2019 | Mozambique | Comments