Thursday, 13 October 2016

My road trip from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi

PART 2

I became quite nervous upon reaching the Ruvuma river. The water was dark and choppy with our ferry a tiny wooden boat. I wondered if it really could take all of us to the other side. On top of that, it was my first time taking a border crossing via ferry. My fears soon disappeared though as the tiny tugboat coasted to the Mozambican side smoothly in less than a half hour. Upon reaching land, public transportation picked us up and brought us to the immigration offices

One of the boats I used to cross River Ruvuma to Mozambique.
Locals were the first to be inspected at the office. I was last. Patrons were checked pretty quickly, but my inspection lasted a lifetime. I had never been checked so much like this. All my bags were completely emptied. They saw my money and asked how much I had. My friend had warned me earlier to hide my money because these guys are not ashamed to ask it from you. When they realised I had nothing illegal, one of the ladies with a gloomy face asked me for money to buy soda. I told her I did not have money, still my friend had advised me never to hand them any money. She hung on to my passport waiting to see if I could give her anything until the driver came and told her something and she gave it to me hesitantly. Mozambique Police are so corrupt and not afraid to show it.

We continued our journey to Palma which was the first town from the boarder. The drive was so long, and the roads were the worst I have ever seen. Some roads had been broken off by rain and there were young boys who had created an alternative path. Of course you could use these paths but you had to pay them. It was interesting because the driver had to make a stop every time to give the policemen some money even when he was not in wrong.




Broken road.

Statue of Michel in Mocimboa de Praia


 I spent my first night in a quiet town of Mocimboa de Praia. I had officially entered the Portuguese speaking country and it was quite a challenge. The driver helped me find accommodation. I had to speak a little Swahili and English. The North of Mozambique is full of Muslims and Swahili is spoken by most. To catch an early morning bus, you have to be up really early at 3 am. I got my bus that morning, the driver was really nice to me and oh boy he was so fast. I could not hold my breath but everyone on that bus that morning seemed more calm than I was. I was happy to get off on my next stop at Macomia. It was hard to get the next transport to my next stop but after about 30 minutes, I got a truck with the locals which dropped me off on the road going to Quissanga. The drive was quite nice because we drove through the forest, I was a bit nervous because everyone got off the truck and there was me, the driver and two helpers behind the truck. But fortunately, they dropped me off to my stop and were really helpful even though English was a problem and also I paid about 60 cents.

I got another truck to Quissanga which was a longer journey. At this moment is when I started to experience the squeezing that goes on in the trucks and mini buses. The road was very dusty and took forever and I couldn’t wait to get on the next boat to Ibo island.


The truck that I took to Quissanga

A very packed truck that I was on.

This is how I covered up to protect my self from the dust, it didn't help much though.

 When I got off this truck, I was so relieved. I was full of dirt and I could not wait to get a boat to Ibo island. Unfortunately the boat we had to use was being worked on which meant we were gonna wait longer. I made friends with a young man who was heading to the island and his friends had a boat. He talked to them and they allowed me on their boat and I did not have to pay too much for it.
When we got on the main land, this man and his friend walked me to the hostel that I wanted to stay at called Campsite Karibuni. It was the cheapest for me at about 5$ a night, with breakfast only 60 cents. It was a good place for a budget traveler and the owners were really nice even though they could not speak English. It was at this moment I realized that language was gonna be a problem.


I went to find some street food and then later had a walk on the island. This place makes you feel far away from the world, quiet and peaceful. People are nice and no one will come to sell you things. The island is like a ghost town, few people and old buildings of which some are ruins from the Portuguese colonial times. I really loved it here and had the best relaxing moments here. The sunsets here are out of this world. It is a favorite place to take walks around the island because there are no cars here.


My arrival on Ibo Island.


A street on Ibo island

Sunset over the ocean

Street in Ibo

Ruins

 I had planned to visit Matemo beach, do some snorkeling and watch dolphins. This was one of my best days! I set off with my guide in our boat in the morning, the ocean was very blue and calm. After one hour on the boat I got to see Dolphins for the first time swimming in group. We stayed to take some photos but they kept running away from us, but it was worth it. From there we went to Matemo beach and this was gorgeous! A wide spread out white sand beach with no crowd. It felt like Paradise. I stayed there taking a lot of pictures of course and swimming in the crystal clear, clean ocean. Go here before it starts to be infested by tourists.


Matemo beach

Basking in the sun

White sand beach - Matemo

I love floating on the ocean

I left Ibo island after three days and I proceeded on to Pemba. There is nothing to do here and it’s quite expensive. My travel mate and I stayed for a bit, had walks at Wimbi beach which is very nice and the people here are really nice and it is one of the reasons I stayed longer yet I did not do much. I loved the atmosphere here.

I continued to Mozambique Island a couple of days later. This island is absolutely amazing except for the boys who try to sell you stuff. I was amazed by the architecture from the former Portuguese colonialists. The island is only 3 kms and I walked the whole of it, taking pictures and witnessing the way of life. It is not as cheap here but you can eat street food, there is also a lot for bread sold on the streets in Mozambique. I went to visit Fortaleza Sebastiao, a big fort which was built by the Portuguese, there is a also church museum though I did not visit. I had a day trip from the island to another beach which hosts the Coral lodge, very beautiful beach and a nice place to go for a swim.


Wimbi beach

Such cute little swimmers

Mozambique Island streets

Fortaleza Sebastiao

Pier by the Island

After Mozambique Island it was time to say goodbye and head to Malawi. I thought it would take me a day to get there but I was wrong. My day started early at 3 am, but it was a such nightmare to find transportation to the Malawian boarder. It took me hours at Nampula to get my first transportation, I used two trucks in between and I did not even reach the boarder. I slept at Cuamba in a really bad guest house and I got there on a 40 ton transport truck. It was cold and very dusty because the road was so bad. The next day I hitched another truck owned by a member of Parliament but it broke down. It took us nearly 6 long hours for another to arrive. This time the drivers were nice and let me have a front seat. I was so happy. I took a rest in the town next to the Mandimba boarder and I crossed to Malawi the next day. The commute in total was 48 hours but I was so relieved upon arriving! Driving in the country was beautiful but tedious.


Beautiful view in Mozambique country side.

The 40 tonne truck that I used, such transportation is common.

So excited to be in Malawi and using a bicycle after many years.
Once I entered the Malawian side, I felt the warmth of the people right away. Malawi is known as the Heart of Africa. People were so nice as they welcomed with big smiles. There was a less hustle for me here compared to Mozambique. I got on a bicycle that took me to the nearest location for a sim card, pickup, as well as money exchange. It is amazing how inexpensive everything was (a great find for backpackers). I had to meet my friend at a place called Monkey Bay, a body of water located on the south side of lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. Its water is blue and green just like an ocean. Snorkel and diving is welcomed. While there our stay was at Mufasa lodge, a clean lodge that was peaceful and quiet. very nice place and quiet. It less touristic here and hence a good place to cool off. I stayed here for one day and headed to Cape Maclear.

Cape Mclear is really cool and very touristic, so it is not as quiet. But I loved it here because I met really cool people. The sunsets were majestic. The highlight was canoeing on a genuine Malawian canoe, which was different from anything I’ve ever experienced.  The locals stared at me as my little boat caressed the water, something women don’t usually do.



Monkey bay

Sunset at Cape Mclear

Enjoying the canoe
Just chilling by the beach

Tanning time
From here we had to proceed further up on the western side of the lake. Unfortunately the transportation was sparse. You can’t get to one particular place in one day. If you don't have much time in this country, then it’s bad news! Also, expect to be squeezed in the minibus. No mater how claustrophobic, the bus will always stop to pick up passengers. Best tip? Always wait and sit at the front with the driver.

It got dark before we reached our destination and we decided to find a cheap guest house to stay. The next day the plan was to go to Nkhata Bay, but we decided to make a stop at Kande Beach. This was one of the best beaches I saw, but again, it was bloody expensive here. We stayed one night, and we got our meals by the village and then came back to sleep.


Next day we went to Nkhata Bay and it was different from the south. It is more rocky and beautiful as well. I did a lot of snorkeling here and swimming. We stayed at Mayoka village. Pretty cool place, I had to ask for a discount because I am an African and it worked. The food was great here, there is free wifi, free tea, and free usage of boats and snorkeling gear. I wished I had more time in Malawi, I met nice people on this trip and they made me feel special. They said they had never met a female African backpacker so I felt special! 

My travelling buddy who helped and taught me a lot on this trip.

Kande Beach

Nkhata bay

Group of mates for lunch

Ramadan caught me up on the road and I had to rush back home. I would have wanted to go to Livingstonia but there was no time. It is very beautiful up there. I drove through the north of Malawi and the landscapes were amazing. I got out of Malawi via Mbeya in Tanzania. From Mbeya, I went to Dodoma and from there I took a train to Mwanza. From Mwanza I got a bus to Bukoba, I spent there a night and drove to Uganda the next day. It took me about 5 days to cross through Tanzania. This whole amazing trip took me 40 days. I could have spent more time there but it was time to say goodbye. I have never done something this crazy all by myself! I would do it all over again if the opportunity presented itself. I look forward to more adventures in the future. Got any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask. There’s lots more I would love to communicate with you!