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Published: November 6th 2008
Setting off from Limbe Club - Malawi
We were up early, none of us really looking forward to the bumpy ride ahead and, of course, the worry about fuel. When we got to the Malawi/Mozambique
border at Mwanza
we filled up our car with fuel to the maximum capacity before completing the simple procedures.
Then on to the Mozambique side where again the formalities were relatively straightforward. We changed enough cash into Moz money, enough to fill our tanks again before we entered Zim
. The one big feature was crossing the Zambezi River - it was huge! Like crossing of the Rhone at its widest. This was just before Tete where we asked about fuel and were assured that we could get it further on, “around the next corner”. But we never saw any fuel station, so on we went, secure in the knowledge that we could get more before we crossed into Zim.
Mozambique was extremely dry and we felt that it was potentially very pretty to drive through except for the burning devastation. In particular the last 50 miles before the border we were rather horrified at the burning of the countryside, and it seemed to us to be a somewhat pointless exercise -
Crossing the Zambezi River - Mozambique
lots of trees being totally consumed as against the quick flash fires which are often lit deliberately at this time of the year, just before the rains, to clear the place of rubbish so that the new grass can thrive once the rains start. But not here seemingly.
Anyway, we cleared out of Mozambique without finding a fuel pump anywhere but were assured we could get it at the border. Wrong! We had contemplated camping before the border, at about 3 pm, but there was absolutely nowhere suitable whatsoever, so it was Hobson’s choice and through the border we had to go.
What chaos! There were at least two huge buses in front of us, plus umpteen huge trucks, and we joined the queue of humans about an hour long to get our visas. These cost us $55 or, for a transit one, $50. We unknowingly opted for the latter. This we then discovered would only allow us 3 days in Zim unlike the 10 days we enjoyed in Tanzania but, once issued, there was no way they would change it. Next came the Carbon Tax, which every car has to pay - $25 each in our case
Crossing the Zambezi
Zambezi crossing - Mozambique
for one month! What a farce, especially with all the bush burning going on and the smoke filled haze everywhere, what little carbon our cars would produce would be quite insignificant.
Then we had to get more gate passes stamped and go through the bargaining with the touts for changing money. As we hadn’t spent anything in Moz we changed all our Meticas straight into Rands. By this time we had all had Zim in a big way and as we pulled off, the police stopped us for yet another check - only because they were bored as far as we could see. They asked for our vehicle log books and then never even looked at them! We were thankful to get away at last. Not since Egypt had we suffered so much hassle at a border control - and I expect it will be the same on the way out.
Anyway, there was a fuel station just across the border, but it had no electricity so the pumps didn’t work.. But they offered us fuel from plastic cans, 20 litres a time, but we had heard that this sort of fuel source was often contaminated with paraffin and even vegetable oil at times, so we declined. It was now 4.30 pm and it gets dark here at 6 pm promptly, so we anxiously set off to find a bush camp. After about 20 mins we saw a kopje off to our left, across a little dry donga, which looked as though it was deserted and it looked as though we could reach it. Nobody saw us dive off the road and, after an exciting crossing of the dry donga using low ratio and diff-lock, we reached our objective. It was ideal! At that time of the evening we could not have wished for anything better. We set up our tents, were very discrete with our camp lights so as not to attract attention to ourselves, and went to bed reasonably early. Oh, and the roads through Moz? There were a few pothole sections to start with, but nothing as bad as we experience in Kenya, and the rest of it was excellent. I don’t know where our South African friend had been driving!!
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