Rio Nahamacambe Mozambique to Mwanza border Malawi

I have two rules for Africa. 1. Don’t cross borders at the end of the day, cross a border early in the day, many less hassles. 2. Don’t drive at night in Africa.

So today I broke both rules.

I left my wild camp near Rio Nahamacambe and got going about 8am.  The N7 the day before was mostly pot-hole free, but it got worse as it progressed. I had one obstacle ahead. iOverlander said there was a checkpoint 50km ahead that checked your road tax. So I got every bit of paperwork out in preparation for that. However when I got there, no-one was there. It was a Saturday morning. About 100m further on was another checkpoint, this time military, but they were not interested in me.

There are Charcoal sellers almost everywhere in Mozambique
Crossing the Zambesi river on the new bridge near Tete

I was going to stop in Tete, at the Shoprite supermarket. I drove past a Shoprite that was closed on the outskirts of Tete, and about 500m on I got stopped at another police checkpoint. This policeman told me I couldn’t go that way because the bridge had been cut across the Zambesi. So I turned around and took the highway out of town which crosses the Zambesi on a new bridge. I thought I would backtrack into Tete from the other side of the river. However that’s when I found the collapsed bridge. The northern part of Tete was not accessible from the N7.

Lots of Bicycle riders in this part of Mozambique


Mozambique village under a Baobab


A typical Mozambique Village
Some Mozambique shops
Mozambique cart
Crashed Bus and trailer near the Malawi border Mozambique

So Shoprite was out of the question. So I continued on about 70km from the Malawi border. At around 4pm I was seriously looking for places to camp. iOverlander showed nothing. It was just too populated, there was village after village. I looked at google maps. It showed a hotel at Zobue the border town on the Mozambique side. Sure I thought I could park in their car park and stay there. Not surprisingly I arrived in Zobue with a main street choked with trucks, and no hotel in sight. So I am at the border post getting overwhelmed with fixers, money changers and people selling reflectors required in Malawi.  I had no choice I had to cross the border at dusk. I knew the border post was open until 9m. So I get through the Mozambique side pretty easy, and shake off the fixers. Its a 4km drive through no-mans land until the Malawi side.

I arrive at the Malawi post. Of course, as is true of most African land borders there are dozens of trucks packed everywhere. I park up the end and I am surrounded by maybe 8 people, fixers, sim sellers and money changers. The money changer I wanted so I got rid of all my Mozambique currency for Malawi Kwacha. I didn’t want a sim seller, because I am much better of getting a sim from a seller in a town who can activate the sim and load it up for me. Also I didn’t want a fixer, but they are much harder to shake. It turned out I had to present to a medical tent to show my vaccine passport (that no-one ever scanned, faking one would be easy). I filled in another form, showed my passport. Then I drove to the immigration building (fixers in tow), where despite having an e-visa, I filled in another form. Then with fixers in tow, I went to the area to get a TIP (Temporary Import Permit). I got the permit noted that my name was spelt wrong (doesn’t matter they said) paid for it in USD and most of my Malawi Kwacha, that I had got from the money exchanger.  After all this its 7pm at night. I now have to find an insurance broker to give me road insurance. I visit the insurance office – closed. Someone says they will ring them, and a few minutes later a helpful english speaking man gets me to hand over $A50 for 30 days road insurance. This takes half an hour or so. I ask him if he knows of anywhere to stay, and he says he is going home, and I can follow him and he will show me a hotel down the road. So its nearly 8pm dark and in Africa and I am driving down the road, not sure I am following the right car. He leads me to a Hotel, and I am very grateful.

I ask the hotel if I can park in the carpark overnight. Sure they say $A30 to stay in the car park $A40 to sleep in a room. I am convinced and pay for a room. I am asleep fairly soon, after breaking all my African rules, its been a long tiring day.





Chimoio to Rio Nahamacambe

After two days in Chimoio staying at the wonderful Fernandes place it was time to move on and get closer to Malawi. I got loaded up, and left firstly for Shoprite which had just opened at 9:00am. I was successful in getting supplies, and even paying with my credit card (two attempts two different machines). Then it was  of to Engen to load up with Diesel and pay $A124 at $A2.21 per litre.

Of west via the N6, through a toll gate charging the most I had ever been charged 180Mt, or $A4.  Then I turned right onto the N7. The N7 wsn’t as good as the N6 but for most of its length it was relatively pot-hole free. My first of two police stops for the day. This policeman asked me for my license, a first, and commented that it expired in 3 months, which is also true.


Fist of the days Police stops

There were lots of people in this part of Mozambique. There were never-ending villages, towns, and people walking along the road.

Eventually at about 4pm and 250km I found a wild camp on iOverlander. It is enough of the road. I can hear the traffic but it will probably stop at dark.

Even though I said there were not many potholes, there were still potholes


Through another Toll booth, third for the day


Lots of trucks and taxis on the N7, not many cars
Another iOverlander wild camp

Chimbamo to Chimoio

It was back to the potholed N1. Slow progress up the road to Inchope, which is the intersection with the N6.

Never ending potholes, where sometimes vehicles swap sides
There were 3 small patching teams. By 2095 they will have patched the whole road!
There is a guy sitting on top holding the load steady…..
Charcoal for sale
When you enter a medium sized town the roads are swarming with people.
More potholes


After Inchope I turned left onto the N6 which was pretty well a perfect road. It was an easy drive into Chimoio where after some confusion I found the Airbnb of Fernandes. I drove the camper and set up in their front yard.

Carting water by bicycle
Another police stop

parked in the front yard
Clancy poking over the fence of Fernandes place


Inhassaro to near Chimbamo

Well it was a crazy 250km drive up the N1. I loaded up with some more supplies in Inhassaro, in case I never saw them again. I also found a bakery and bought some freshly baked rolls, very nice.

Then after a few km it was onto the N1. Initially not too bad. Then I passed a overturned trailer, that was originally attached to a B-double.

I got stopped at a police road block, but as soon as I got close I got waved on. However as I got further north I got stopped more and more. The Police (or sometimes the Army) were friendly enough, I am sure they pull me over out of boredom than any other reason.

After about 100km I got to the Rio Save. There  was an existing bridge, and a new bridge being built, and a temporary bridge next to the new bridge.  The new bridge is being built by the Chinese, but construction has been halted for 6 months because the Mozambique Government does not have the money.



The potholes are really bad for long sections of the N1. You dance around the road looking for a smooth patch, as do the trucks and buses.

One of the thousands of potholes

I was aiming for a wild camp just south of Chibamo, but the potholes slowed me down so much, I only just made it in daylight.

Camped in another quarry just before dark


Mozambique and its poverty

Its worth comparing Mozambique with my home State of South Australia to put its poverty in perspective. South Australia with a population of 1.5 million people is the poorest mainland state in Australia. Mozambique’s GDP is one third of the GDP of South Australia. Mozambique has 32 million people versus the 1.5 million of South Australia. Mozambique produces about two thirds of the electricity of South Australia and exports most of it to South Africa. Most of the population of Mozambique does not have access to electricity.

The sad thing is, that in the almost 3 years since I was last in Mozambique its seems that little has changed.

Inhassoro a rest and washing day

The beach below where I am camped

Since it was the first day I had been stationary for about ten days there were a few things I needed to do. I did some washing. I continued my search for an old phone I have packed away so well I cannot find it.  I threw out even more spare water containers. I walked down to the beach below where I am camped. I cleaned my bike, which had got covered in sand stored on the rear of Clancy.

After cleaning my bike I rode the 4km into the centre of Inhassoro. I went to a supermarket called Ana which supposedly had the best range, except it was almost bare. I wanted some protein so I bought two cans of “Corned Meat”. Its guesswork what’s in it.



I then rode around some more and found a better supermarket and Bakery that I will visit on Sunday to get some more supplies when I leave. Then I rode to the central market area and wandered amongst the stalls. I found potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, bananas (over ripe) ,onions, peanuts and more.

One of the market lanes
A market street
Group transport in Mozambique – hang on tight!
The start of the 4km road to the place I am staying
A school about 1km away


Lilli’s Quarry to east Machaila to West of Mabote to Inhassoro

The transit of the N222 is over. 380km of ‘road’, mostly at 30kph. Some of it only single lane sand track. It took 3 days from Mapai to Inhassoro.

From Lilli’s Quarry Slow to get moving this morning. I wanted to repack and check things from the chaos of tyre fixing yesterday. I also managed to get the new tyre set on the rim properly. Although it was cool at 6:30am it soon warmed up. I got going at 10:30am and plodded along the N222, at between 25kph and 40kph. I passed several Charcoal trucks going towards Mapai. Lots of Charcoal stacked by the side of the road. It looks like Charcoal burning must be big in this area. It reminds me of Angola where there was also lots of charcoal burning. The scrub either supports Cattle, or Charcoal burning. I passed a few schools, but lots of young kids (who should be at school) herding cattle.

One of the many slow moving Charcoal trucks

Eventually after lunch I got internet again at Machaila. I stopped and went through the pain of applying for my Malawi e-visa, which I will find out in a few days if I am successful. The hardest part is paying. Every payment requires and SMS from my Australian bank, and sometimes they take many, many minutes to arrive.

I got going after doing my e-visa, and headed though Machaila. It was larger, but not as large as Mapai. However I saw a woman carrying here baby, but clutched in her hand, was a smart phone. The internet reaches even here.

Collapsed bridge on the N222. And no there was not a replacement bridge.

The N222 got dramatically narrower. It became only single lane. My GPS wanted me to go down an even smaller road, but I thought I would stick to the N222. About 25km out of Machaila, I found a spot by the side of the road at 5pm and stopped for the day. The campers temperature inside was 29C.

Roadside camp east Machaila, its was 29C at dusk
the sandy section of the N222

Next morning I got going before 8am. The sandy single lane N222 continued. About an hour in a little car was coming the other way. I stopped to let them pass, but they got out and chatted. One was a South African who was trying to teach agricultural techniques to Mozambique, the other was his Mozambique assistant. We spent a long time talking about the problems in Mozambique, and how you couldn’t develop a project unless you had extra money to bribe the government officials with.










After my chat stop, its was onwards, with eventually the N222 getting better as I closer to Mabote. There was internet in Mabote, but it was Vodacom, and I had a Movitel sim. Onwards through town and about 40km out I stopped to pump some water into the hot water container on the roof, so I could have my first shower in 3 days. 50 minutes later it was about get get dark fast, and I am desperately looking for a campsite. The scrub was too thick, and at the last minute I found an overgrown track into the scrub. I squezzed down it, and I has pretty hard to see from the road.

Camped on an overgrown track West of Mabote

The morning was pretty damp, lots of condensation. I am closer to the coast so maybe the nights are colder. I was only 50km from the N1.  I got to the N1 at Mapinhane. I then started looking for a seller to sell me a Vodacom sim. Lots of stuffing around, but an hour later I had a working Vodacom sim and some internet. I headed up the road aiming to get to a campsite about 82km away at Inhassoro.

Driving on the N1 north
A police stop on the N1, but they didn’t stop me

About 4pm I arrived at the campsite “Star of Mozambique”. Looks nice so far. I am going to stay for at least 3 nights. Weather is great Max 27C Min 13C.

Camped at Star of Mozambique


West of Mapai to Lilli’s Quarry

I was up just after 6am since it was such a terrible campsite. I topped up the clutch fluid (why haven’t I replaced the clutch slave?). I headed out the way I had come in. I stopped at a school and asked the teacher which way was Mapai, and he sent me on another 15km down a 4wd drive track that ended at Mapai. I stopped about 10km in and had breakfast in the sun.

Roadside stop for Breakfast west of Mapai

At Mapai I looked for someone to sell me a sim. Firstly I found an ATM, where I withdrew what I thought was $A125 but actually turned out to be about $A10. I was very confused with the exchange rates. Anyway $A10 was plenty to get me a sim, and a very helpful seller (Arlindo on Whatsapp +258 87 343 4345) got me set up with a sim, programmed my phone, and even answered questions later on Whatsapp.

Parked next to the bank in downtown Mapai

I drove down the road to park out of town and use the internet, and make sure it was working properly. The it was of to the service station to top up my fuel. Five attempts to pay with 4 different credit cards, and debit cards I finally paid them. Diesel is about $A2.10 a litre. I then went back into Mapai and tried to get a proper amount of money out, and with about 3 attempts I was finally successful.

Then I headed out of town. About 8km out I realised I had forgotten to stop and apply online for my Malawi e-visa. So I turned back a couple of kms, took a side track, reversed in meaning to stop for lunch first, and bang – I blew out my rear left tyre. Split in the sidewall, totally destroyed, even the inner tube. This is the hardest tyre to remove because of the bar that acts as a step, which has to be removed. It is also very hard to jack up when the tyre is totally flat. It takes a while. I decided to replace the tyre with a new tyre I was carrying on the roof. This was a mistake. I had to split the rim, and I was a bit out of practice. I struggled to get the new tyre on. During this whole process I was slowly gathering an audience of kids. At the end I had nearly 30 kids watching me, I mean I was the best entertainment in town. Of these 30 kids several were coughing. To go back a bit in time, the sim seller in town had a mask around his neck. I asked him why he had a mask, which he said ws sort of required (the Police were wearing masks). I asked him if everyone was vaccinated, and he laughed – nobody was vaccinated. So back to the tyre fixing I am surrounded by kids, absolutely none who had been vaccinated against Covid. So I decided the daylight was fading, and the Covid risk was rising, so I got the rear spare off, put the partly assembled new tyre on, got one of the kids to do up the bolts, and high tailed it out of there.

It was 28km in fading light to a sand quarry that Lilli ( had put on iOverlander 3 years ago when she travelled this way. So I headed up the rough road, and got there just before it got dark. Nice campsite.

Almost dark at Lilli’s quarry

Escape from South Africa, or Nthakeni to roadside north of Mapai

It was a bit of a cool morning. I think I have become to used to having power and turning on the heater in the morning. I thus shamefully started the diesel heater for a while. I got moving a bit after 9am, visited the office for payment and a chat. Then it was off to Pafuri entrance to Kruger National Park. So after paying $A47 for the privilege of driving through 35km of the park to get to the Pafuri border gate, I arrived at the border.

I was very, very nervous. My TIP (temporary import permit) had expired 18 months ago. so I had specially chosen Pafuri because I didn’t think they had customs, who would question me on my expired TIP.

I was right. No problems getting my passport processed, and the Police gave a cursory inspection of Clancy, and I was on my way to Mozambique! At the Moz side I paid 1000 rand for a visa ( Facebook said 550R or 850R but who was I to argue). Then 200R for a TIP, and 100R for some other piece of paper from the Police. Then it was the cursory inspection of Clancy plus the request for soft drinks, to which I provided 3 cans of coke that I had prepared earlier for this very request.

Stopped for lunch along the Limpopo, it was too deep to ford.

Onwards towards Mapai. It is a rough slow road, barely a 4wd track in places. 25kmh most of the time. I was looking for places to stop for the night when I suddenly arrived on the hand operated ferry across the Limpopo. Another chance to be very, very nervous. I asked the guy in charge about shifting the diesel drums of the roof, to lower the centre of gravity, but he thought it unnecessary. So 700R (Facebook said 500R) I gingerly drove Clancy on the boat that did not seem big enough to support the 3+ tonnes of Clancy. However all went well and they poled it across the Limpopo and I reversed off the other side.

Crouched at the front of the boat, trying to not get in the way of the guy poling the boat across the Limpopo


It was getting dark and I was driving down tracks in the growing gloom. I got completely lost and ended up parked by the side of a track between a couple of villages. I would have to figure it out tomorrow in the light.

Almost dark, parked on an uncomfortable slope between a couple of villages – lost
My unsatisfactory camping spot early next morning
This is what it looked like on someone else’s crossing who had a drone.