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


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.


Missing Moz already

After 3 nights at Areia Branca Lodge, we started heading south towards Maputo. On our last afternoon, we had a long visit from the Lodge owners’ 7 year old son Eric. He had a lovely time playing with the remote controls for the LED lights in our living area, changing the lights’ colours and making them flash, and arranging all the stuff on our carpet-lined walls. He told us that he’d had malaria and so had his mum, dad and brothers. The next morning he showed me his fish tank which had 2 newly-caught prawns, 4 puffer fish, a sand fish and some other fish.

We spent another night at our favourite Moz ‘resort’, Sunset Beach and yes, I had another crayfish dinner. Then last night we stayed at Esperanca do Mar, a coastal ‘resort’ about 30kms north of Maputo. Our GPS took us down a very sandy track to the back entrance of the place – we missed the sign pointing us down a much better, more direct road but we used it this morning to leave. We were shown to a campsite with a private bathroom, but Clancy couldn’t get past a low-hanging branch, and a longer, alternate route was completely blocked by thorny branches. I told the caretaker that we really just wanted a place to park for the night, cos we’re completely self-sufficient. She agree to let us camp outside a 2-bedroom cabin and use its bathroom for R200 AUD$20, which was a vast improvement on the R520 AUD$52 that she wanted to charge us for the campsite with the private bathroom. That’s a ridiculous price for a campsite! We wouldn’t have paid it, would have gone elsewhere. I’d misinterpreted the pricing, thinking she was quoting in Moz metacais, and there are 4 MZN to the Rand. I should have realised that the pricing in MZN was too cheap, but it just confuses me when prices aren’t quoted in local currency.

We drove through the outskirts of Maputo this morning and headed west to the Moz/SA border at Ressano Garcia/Lebombo. There’s a well-known scam on the Ring Road just out of Maputo – the road isn’t finished yet and there’s a bit of a detour through a few side streets. Local teenage boys try to earn money by ‘showing you the way’, and we had several offers including one on my side who tried to hang on to Clancy for a while. With 2 GPS and a few vehicles in front of us, we didn’t need any help.

The border crossing was fairly smooth, although there was some confusion about the stamp in my entry visa. I think the Immigration officer thought it should have been embossed rather than just stamped, but as we’d come in through a very small border post with no fancy stuff at all, he finally accepted that the stamp was legit and I hadn’t just done it myself. Ha! As if!

Just outside Immigration and Customs on the Moz side, a table was set up with 2 workers offering free malaria testing. We’ll do that, thanks very much. Drop of blood on a slide, mixed with 3 drops of solution, wait a few minutes, read the results. Both negative, thankfully, but we do have antimalarial treatment medication if we need it.

The South African side was fine until we tried to get a TIP Temporary Import Permit for Clancy. We’d read that it can be a bit like extracting teeth, getting one at Lebombo, so we were prepared for a degree of difficulty.

Up until now we have used a Carnet, sort of like a passport for the car, but it expires in November and we have to return it to the AAA Australian Automobile Association. We want to leave Clancy in SA until early next year, so need to switch to using TIPs instead, which allows us to bring Clancy into South Africa for up to 6 months at a time. The first Customs officer wasn’t sure about any of it, so she called her colleague, who informed us that we must use the Carnet, and then go to Pretoria to get it sorted out. Um, no, we’re not doing that. First woman called her supervisor, who was incredibly helpful and understood exactly what we wanted after it was (again) explained. He also took the time to explain it all to the first Customs officer, so hopefully she is now better informed about the process. From then, it was easy, we got our TIP and were on our way.

And hey, we got through a whole country with no flat tyres. Hurrah!

We called into a shopping centre in Nelspruit and went grocery shopping at Checkers. Wow, there was so much choice and so many things and stuff we hadn’t seen in a while. We’re staying just out of Nelspruit tonight at the Hippo Waterfront Lodge. We’ve heard hippos but haven’t seen any.

So, a few thoughts about our time in Moz. When we first arrived, I asked Greg what he wanted to do while we were there. He wanted to spend time at the beach. I wanted to eat seafood and spend time at the beach. I’d say we achieved what we set out to do. Even though Moz is a much poorer country than Angola, we saw far fewer beggars. Having noted that though, both countries have a large percentage of their populations living at subsistence level.

As we were driving south from Pafuri, I really couldn’t work out what the locals ate apart from beef and goat – they weren’t growing any crops. When we got to the coast, we saw a lot of agriculture, mostly small plots being grown for the household’s consumption. Lots of cassava, which we also saw in parts of Angola. Here’s an interesting article about how to prepare it safely to avoid cyanide poisoning. I saw it for sale at the market I visited in Inhambane with Johnny, but didn’t buy any.

There’s a general election next month and the ruling party, Frelimo, has plastered the country with posters, flags and banners. I predict that after the election, the majority of those flags and banners will become shawls, skirts, sarongs and home furnishings. We’ve already seen one woman wearing one as a skirt and another using one as a shawl. You read it here first, folks.

One of my abiding memories of Moz will be the red and white colours of a lot of the shops in towns and villages. 3 brands have used bars, food shops, restaurants, cafes and mobile phone shops to advertise their products. Vodacom, Mac Mahon beer and Coca Cola have all plastered their advertising over buildings everywhere. We drank 2M ‘dos m’ beers a few times and  enjoyed them.

Just one of the many groups of sellers that line the main road in many towns

Crossing the Limpopo River

Toll both before the Limpopo bridge at Xai-Xai


Cashew sellers with many bags of cashews for sale

Cashew sellers with many bags of cashews for sale

Bus stopped before the toll at the Limpopo River bridge surrounded by sellers


the beach at Sunset at Sunset Beach Lodge

A very hand made fence of branches from African thorn bushes. This fence was about 100m long in total

Locals use these boats to fish out from the coast of Mozambique

Camped at Esperanca do Mar

the beach near Esperanca do Mar Mozambique

Two kids running towards us as soon as they saw us, to hound us into taking their “directions” to get off the half-built ring road around Maputo (for money, we had been warned before). We had two GPS’s with the route, we did not need help.

The still under construction Maputo Ring road (its been about 6 years)


Camped at Hippo waterfront

could not see any Hippos but we heard them later


Still at the beach

We are now staying at our 4th ‘resort’ in Moz. This one, Areia Branca Lodge, is at Praia da Barra, north east of Inhambane. We got here yesterday and will stay until tomorrow or maybe Sunday. Very nice campsites with individual thatched shelter, outdoor sink with large concrete bench, braai (of course!) and indoor bathroom. Again, we are the only people here, but Sth African school holidays are in a couple of weeks so it will fill up then. 

It’s overcast and raining off and on today … first rainy day we’ve had since we arrived in Joburg 6 weeks ago! We’re now as far north in Moz as we’ll travel on this trip – we’ll head south from here and cross back into Sth Africa next week.

Prior to arriving here yesterday, we spent a couple of nights at Paidane Beach Resort south of Inhambane and were the only ones there. They were having trouble with their water pump, which didn’t really worry us as we travel with plenty of drinking water and other water. They gave us water for flushing the toilet. Very, very sandy campsites, with lots of warnings about lowering tyre pressures. We had a site that overlooked the  beach and Greg got some sunrise photos as he was awake early one morning. There are a couple of different ways to get to Paidane – a shorter, more direct route and a longer but much easier route. You can guess which one we took, but we wouldn’t recommend it … low-hanging branches on trees that had Greg getting out his 20V reciprocating saw, soft sandy track. We lost the track at one point and the locals kept on pointing ‘over there’. One helpful young man actually walked for a km or so to show us how to get to the right track.

Yesterday when we were in Inhambane we met Johnny, a young electrical engineering student. I was walking to a local grocery shop and said ‘hello’ to Johnny and a younger boy Manuel. Greg stayed with Clancy and when I got back, he had a group of 5 or 6 boys and young men around him. Johnny offered to take me to the local market to buy some fruit and vegetables and he told me about his studies, his favourite food (Matapa – cassava flowers or leaves boiled with peanuts, coconut milk, seafood), where to find stuff at the market and general chat. He had been very interested in how Greg built Clancy and we told him that once he had his engineering degree, he could get work in Australia.

a town on the way that we found a vegetable market in to get some supplies

Cutting low tree branches with the reciprocating saw to clear the way through down the “short-cut”

On the “short-cut”, a tiny track between villages mostly used by people walking

Camped at Paindane. We got there close to dark because of the problems with the “short-cut”

Dawn over Paindane

Looking up from the beach to our campsite at Paindane

the beach at Paindane


We suddenly came upon a very low electricity cable strung across the road. Judy guided me past it and everyone else in town came out to look

the commercial/industrial outskirts of Inhambane


The northern end of Inhambane

Mozambique is covered with election posters for the October election. Most of the posters are for Frelimo the ruling party since independence

main street of Inhambane

camped at Areia Branca Lodge

a Dhow boat of the coast

the clouds come over and the rain starts at Areia Branca Lodge




At the beach

We’ve spent the last few days at a couple of ‘resorts’ on the coast a couple of hundred kms from Maputo, the capital of Mozambiqe. The first one, Montego Resort at Xai Xai, was … okay and a very welcome break after the long dusty drive down from Pafuri border. The campsites were all deep sand up a steep hill, with power but no water. Washing up sinks and taps were located a fair way up the hill, and there was one tap the gardener used down the hill. The shared ablutions were fine, the beach across the track was okay at low tide and we had a nice meal at the restaurant.

We paid $40 per night which seemed on the expensive side, but then, on our last trip we paid USD$100/night for a site at Third Bridge campground in Botswana. A week or so ago, we paid AUD$70 to camp at Kubu Island in Bots. Our free wild camps help to dollar-cost average it all.

Now we’re just a bit further up the coast at the Sunset Beach Resort at Chidenguele and it’s lovely. I do laugh at the choice of name, though. The sun will never, ever set on this beach! Our campsite is grassy sand and each site is powered, has its own shelter that has a washing up sink with hot and cold water, and a bathroom with a really good shower (plus toilet and handbasin). There’s a lovely pool, the beach is good and the restaurant is excellent. We ate there last night – Greg had ‘line caught fish’, I had grilled crayfish. The fish was less than $10, the crayfish was $17 and our site is $20/night. We’ve already extended our stay here by an extra night. Might be hard to leave! 

We’re planning on going to Inhambane, which is about 200kms further north along the coast, and that’s as far north as we’ll go on this trip. Then we’ll head south to the border at Komatipoort and re-enter South Africa. We have to be back in Joburg in a couple of weeks.

Judy’s crayfish dinner at Sunset Beach resort

afterwards – not much left!

Abandoned homes along the coast near Xai Xai. Probably beach houses that date from Portuguese times

Locals out fishing on the rock reef at low tide

Locals bringing their catch back in as tide comes in

Our campsite at Sunet Beach Resort

The “horizon pool” at Sunset Beach Resort

Doing more repairs/maintenance to Clancy

The journey from Botswana through Mozambique so far