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Published: February 23rd 2018
Tuesday 20 February – Vilancoulos to Xai Xai
We all arrived at breakfast on time (5.30am) and was on the road close to 6.00am. Everyone helps with the washing up and packing up so it’s very easy.
The day started with a beautiful sunrise, made more dramatic with a heavy rain cloud in the distance, partially covering the sun. We only saw the results of the rain rather than be in rain. It was so pleasant sitting on the balcony watching the sunrise, in balmy temperature, sipping our coffee etc. Just as the sun was coming up it was windy but once it was completely up, the wind calmed down.
We stopped on the way for a roadside lunch prepared at the truck. It rained on the way.
Xai Xai lies just north of Maputo, situated on the banks of the Limpopo River. It is a bustling town with markets, shops, restaurants and bars. We spent our final night in the seaside village, at the Sunset Beach Lodge at Chidinguele, Xai Xai.
The sandy road into the lodge was around 2kms and it gave us (as
our guide Gareth said) an African massage! We arrived at 2.30pm and after settling in, we all came together at the bar which had a hugh wooden deck, looking over the beautiful, long beach. The tide was high, but we later learned there is mostly no beach, even at low tide.
After a few beers in the breeze before sunset, we gathered for dinner under a thatched shelter for one of Annelisa’s last Mozambique meals, the snoek, a very tasty long, slender local fish with a mildly spicy sauce.
We were in a bungalow with fans and plenty of sea breeze. Other than the blinds banging in the wind at night, it was comfy. I was however, a little thoughtful, hoping that I will be able to get through the border crossing the next day. Wednesday 21 February – Xai Xai to the South African Border crossing to Mal
Up at 5.30am for a 6.00am breakfast and 6.30am departure, we were heading for Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary situated on the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park. The Crocodile River forms the boundary between Marloth Park and
The weather was a lovely temperature of around 28 degrees with a breeze and overcast until 8.00am. It was very pleasant driving along in the truck, with windows down. We drove 400kms, stopping at villages from time to time. At breakfast, we packed our ham and salad bread roll so that we could et on the way to save time. We initially followed the coast south before turning west towards the border.
Unfortunately, the road was unsealed, and the area had rain in earlier days so there were many potholes and Shorty our driver was often going 10kph. It took us about 3 hours to travel 90kms. We hit the bitumen around 3.30pm. The road went through the occasional village and past small plots where few people lived.
To pass the time we also did a lot of bird watching as there were 100s. I recognised rollers, swifts, swallows and finches but as I am really bad at taking photos of birds, there are none published with this blog!
The great excitement was when we got to Moamba which was at the start of the sealed road,
Shorty in his Zulu traditional dress (2)
He was our driver and every time he goes back into South Africa, he wears these clothes.
we took a retour through a back street of the town. It was an unsealed road and another mud hole ….. which we got bogged in!!! So close yet so far. It didn’t take much time before the locals wanted to do the work of digging the truck out. Within 10 minutes, we were out of the hole. It was great rejoicing once we drove out, particularly from the locals who received a generous tip from our guide.
We waved our goodbyes and at 100kph, we headed for the border being stopped only by roadworks.
We arrived at the Mozambique border crossing. We parked and all got out of the truck and joined the line for the passport check. We all went through very quickly. Step one finished. We had a 15 minute wait for roadworks at which many young lads were running up and down the long line of traffic to sell nuts and drinks.
Ten minutes after we drove off we stopped again for the South African entry border. This was the moment. I either celebrate or find a taxi to take me back to Maputo. The latter was
a terrible option. We all lined up. A young African called me to the counter “Have you been to South Africa before” “Not this year” she looked through my passport, hardly looking at me, talking to her work colleague and I heard 2 stamps go on a page in my passport that had 4 other stamps, not the empty page. I felt my closed passport go into my hand. Quickly walking off with Tom waiting anxiously as was Gareth our guide.
I WAS THROUGH INTO SOUTH AFRICA IN SUCH QUICK TIME! I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.
We couldn’t contain ourselves but waited until we were behind our truck and jumped for joy and hugged Tom. The Kenyan Airlines who blocked me from getting on the plane in Nairobi have a lot to answer. They will be getting a claim letter from me with a threat to tell the market of their poor service and inflexibility.
Quickly putting that all behind us, we stopped for water etc and then drove onto our accommodation at the Boulders Safari Lodge in the Malelane Region at the south end of Kruger NP.
What a lovely established Lodge with beautiful landscaping and excellent facilities. We all stayed in a very large lodge where Tom and I were lucky enough to be put into the double bedroom with Ensuite. Tom had bought some beers, so we sat down in the outside lounge and celebrated. We then joined the others at the bar and bought a round of drinks for everyone to celebrate with us. They have been fantastic to travel with. I have learned a lot more about Sweden from Yvonne and Johan and from Matt from London, have learned how to put indicators on Google Maps for all the recommended places to next visit!!!!!! Poor Tom!
The meal which Annelisa prepared for us was Kudu and beef spaghetti Bolognese and salad followed by mango. We drank some South African red as well. This was our last dinner together as Matt was going to another hotel in Johannesburg and was meeting up with his 5 friends to travel to Namibia. We both had a fantastic sleep that night.
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