Cape MacClear – Lake Malawi

I got Clancy carefully out of the campsite I had at Mufasa Eco Lodge. It took a 10 point turn to get out. One of the camp workers names Sunday asked me if I come back next year can I bring a bicycle like mine with me for him. This bicycle that I bought from Big W in Australia for $A80, being the cheapest bike I could buy. I have had so many people want this bike, from Policemen at roadside stops, to lots of Malawi and Mozambique people.

I went and paid for my campsite and got talking to two South Africans Mike and Rick who where driving their 1956 (!) Land Rover to London.  While having a long chat, a couple of young female Irish backpackers came over and asked if anyone was going to Cape MacClear, and so I volunteered to take them. It was only a 20km drive to Cape MacClear. I had decided to stay at “Fat Monkey’s”, mostly because they had good reviews on iOverlander, and because they offered power. I had really struggled to get enough solar at Mufasa, the days were too cloudy. The two Irish girls decided that Fat Monkey’s was too expensive, so they headed down the beach for cheaper digs. I am camped under a tree, with  Lake Malawi about 4m away.

Camped at Fat Monkeys
Street in Chembe, the village next door
Fish drying racks Chembe
Newly made mud bricks Chembe
Kids fishing in a dugout canoe, good 50,000 year old technology

 

 

 

 

Monkey Bay – Lake Malawi

I have been here (Mufasa Eco Lodge) for two days so far, and I probably will stay some more days. Its only costing me $A5 a day.  I am eventually going to drive north to Cape Maclear, but so far its pretty nice here. I can ride my bike to town, which is only a kilometre away. After 3 attempts at the ATM machine in town, I managed to get some money out. When I was waiting at one of the ATM attempts a Malawi man Patrick offered money exchange with USD.  That’s the reason to carry USD with you, its great emergency money. In the end I didn’t need it , but it was comforting because I was down to only about $A10.

I have shifted Clancy out from under the tree, because I need more sunlight for the solar panels. I am getting too used to the weather. It was cloudy and overcast this morning and 19C, and I thought it was freezing. Its warmed up now to 24C, with some patchy blue sky.

I have a flat tyre, but I have it jacked up so I might do that today or tomorrow.

Camped by Lake Malawi
My $A100 from the ATM. Each note is worth about $A3
Hot Chips from a wood fire for lunch
Washing day on Lake Malawi

 

 

 

Mwanza border Malawi to Monkey Bay (Lake Malawi)

I woke up in Malawi, in a hotel room. Very strange, I had been sleeping in Clancy for almost two months. So firstly I went to leave, but one of the staff said what about breakfast, its free with the room. This was a bonus – cooked breakfast! I should note that I was the only person staying in the hotel. I got Clancy organised, added reflectors, got my paperwork ready for the police stops.

These reflectors have been sitting in a box for 3 years waiting for the country that requires reflectors to be fitted – Malawi
Clancy in the hotel car park, notice all the other cars

I drove through the first town, thought about stopped at the servo, but didn’t thinking there would be more diesel available everywhere (big mistake). I arrived at a Police stop where I had to turn north, and asked the Police where I could buy a sim card. They pointed me up the road and I parked and found a sim seller who set up my sim and got me all organised with internet access.

My sim seller setting up my phone

Then onwards north with diminishing levels of diesel.  I rolled in almost empty at a service station near the intersection of the M1 and M6. However they would only take cash, and so I used almost al of my cash for a mere 10l of diesel. I wondered what to do, when I found a Puma service station that would take a credit card about 150m away, so my fuel problems were solved. I still had one problem though – no cash.

Onwards towards Monkey Bay. The Malawi roads were pretty good, but the road to Monkey Bay had more pot-holes. Not Mozambique level of pot-holes, just some. I wanted to head to Cape Maclear, but I had to stop at the only bank I could find at Monkey Bay. I get to the ATM at Monkey Bay (the only one for 100km), and its out of order. I decide I will have to stay in Monkey Bay and go to the bank when its open tomorrow. I head for Mufasa Eco Lodge, which is right on Lake Malawi. With some pruning with the Aldi reciprocating saw I clear a path so Clancy can sit parked right next to the Lake.

Monkey Bay or bust!
Camped on Lake Malawi Monkey Bay
View out of the door of Clancy Monkey Bay

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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 (lilli-to-go.com) 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