Mozambique – Getting there

Our intended route was to go all the way up the east coast and enter Mozambique at the Ponta do Ouro border.

We left home as a new cold front arrived, bringing extremely cold and wet weather, which accompanied us to Wilderness. We camped the night at the SAN parks Ebb and Flow resort in the south camp as our favourite north camp was closed. Another annoyance was pensioners discount was cancelled until 20th August due to public holidays. We contacted an old friend from our Randburg days, Eleanor Glover, now living in George, and shared coffee and a “catchup chat” before continuing to Knysna.

Margot Paulsen from Gordon’s Bay had recently acquired “The Oaks on Main” centre and was busy leasing premises to new tenants after doing an amazing makeover to the place. The place had been rundown and painted a drab grey.
Not everybody in Knysna was happy with her improvements as can be expected. There are always those that detest change in every community.

Oaks on-Main Centre

We spent a comfortable night at Woodbourne Caravan park near the Heads where they do apply a pensioners discount. The friendly receptionist asked whether we were birders as they get so many staying there. We said it was surprising that we weren’t as so many of our friends were!

Carol and David were on their way to Somerset West the following day and joined us at Oaks on Main for coffee before we each went our separate ways. As we never have any fixed plans we decided to try a drier and hopefully warmer inland route instead and took the Prince Alfred pass out of Knysna through Uniondale to Willowmore.

On the way we stopped at “Angies G spot” at De Vlugt in the pass, run by a pair of ageing hippies like ourselves, Angie and Harold Beaumont. We skipped the Road Kill Burger or Jou Pa se Roti and had the coffee instead. They cater for bikers mainly who don’t drink too much coffee I guess, as the coffee was chicory in a plunger!

Angie’s G spot

Plaaskind se Kombuis, also at De Vlugt, was closed unfortunately.

The Prince Alfred Pass, built around 1860 by Thomas Bain, is the longest in the Cape at around 68 kilometers

After the pass we drove through a beautiful poort before reaching Uniondale. While exploring the town we found this beautiful old stone church.

Stone church in Uniondale.

We decide to spend the night in Willowmore at the caravan park we’d stayed at a few months earlier instead of staying in Uniondale. That night our wish for better weather didn’t quite work out how we’d wished…A bitterly cold night followed. Fortunately our hotwater bottles helped for part of the night. The morning was a beautifully sunny -2° and water left overnight in the basin was frozen!

Frozen basin.

We visited Sophies Choice, a not to be missed attraction in Willowmore, and enjoyed some real coffee.

Some of the decor at Sophie’s Choice

A number of people we’ve met on our travels insisted we bought lamb pies at Kapoet farmstall if ever in Willowmore. We visited there after Sophies Choice and bought two pies for lunch later in the day. We also bought Marmalade. The marmalade excellent…the Lamb pies… rather give me pies from Peregrines anytime.

We’d thought that by moving inland we’d avoid the weather but we were better prepared to handle rain than cold. We had packed clothing for the warmth we expected to find in Mozambique. So back to the coast we went!

We studied the map and chose to take the route via Steytlerville and the Gamtoos valley with its citrus farms to Yellowsands, a favourite of ours.

The road between Steytlerville and Willowmore.

The trip through Grahamstown, Peddie and King Williamstown took longer than we expected and we arrived after dark again! Every night so far! The reception was closed but we knew our way around the caravan park and headed for our usual spot, but it was taken!

We left earier the following day, not even visiting the beach which we love so much, wanting to reach Kokstad before sunset! We managed to get ahead of the rain and enjoyed a wonderful drive through the Transkei.

Beautiful, sparcely populated, Transkei landscape!

It was like being in our neighbouring African countries again whenever we passed through a town. We achieved our goal in reaching Kokstad before sunset!

Another beautiful stone church, this one’s in Kokstad

Returning to Stoneybrook B&B and restaurant out of town where we’d stayed with Steinar and Kristin some years before. This time we bushcamped!

Bushcamping at Stoneybrook

We took the N2 towards the coast where we’d lost our caravan in the storm know as Demoina (sp?) that lashed Mozambique and Natal in the 80’s when we travelled as a family with our boys, Dukken, Rolf and Birgitte, in our Safari 4×4 and Sprite Musketeer caravan.

We both agreed the South Coast has lost a lot of its charm since days spent there at the Zoutendyks in Port Edward. We remembered the many resorts that dotted their way towards Durban, but battled to find a place to stay now. Everything had been replaced by apartment blocks! But that’s progress I suppose. At Karridene we found a Protea Hotel with a lovely caravan park and beach access across the railway line. We were amazed that the Metrorail service actually worked, and with beautifully clean and well maintained coaches, something we had not seen for ages!

A visit to Wozo Moya, a previous supplier, was something we always do in Hillcrest.

Wozo Moya , Aids Craft Centre

But the main reason for visiting Hillcrest was to visit cousin Ruth and Keith and catch up with family news. We always enjoy the time spent with them. Refreshed and stimulated by the conversation and always something new learnt!

Sunset at Ruth and Keith

We parked our van on their driveway to spend the night. They didn’t even argue with us as they knew we were comfortable in Twiga Penthouse. It was great to enjoy a beautifully prepared home cooked meal, wine and more stories.

The following two night were spent in Mkuze. We were really reliving our caravaning days! The last time there Clinton and Haldane made the breakfast. Sven was too young to assist!

In camp that night Solveig broke into song! “ Raindrops keep falling on my head….” Something she never did. A monkey was in the tree above relieving himself!

We enjoyed the hides which had been upgraded (fortunately)

Pictures taken in the Mkuze hides

and the day spent revising an old favourite haunt was something special.

The Lake at Mkuze

What we thought would be a short trip to what we used to call Kosi Bay turned out to take much longer than expected as our GPS could not find the way. Names had changed since we were there before, but fortunately I knew the way. Finding a campsite not run by the extremely expensive iSimangaliso was another matter. Luckily we spotted a signboard to Palm Tree Lodge which offered camping too.

What a find! Wonderfully run by such special, friendly people. A member of their staff, Jan Schoeman, was exceptionally helpful and also turned out to be a very special and interesting person.

At last! We’d reached the border. The formalities were over in minutes and none of the anticipated hurdles took place. It’s got to be all about attitude

Maun and surroundings

After the CKGR we headed for Rakops. The road out was sandy but not nearly as long or difficult as our entrance route. In Rakops we refuelled and inflated the tyres and then we headed for Planet Baobab for hot showers, flushing loos, a pub and a swimming pool.
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We’d stayed there before with Keith and Ticks so we knew what to expect. We needed a few days of relaxation and reflection..
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These two creations on the highway draw you in to find what Planet Baobab is all about. It’s not just another campsite in the bush. The owners have gone out of their way to be whacky, different and to make your stay memorable.

I worked out my fuel consumption for the past 8 days of mostly deep sand driving in 4×4 high range and I’m impressed. I used 17.57 l/100 km (or did 5.69 km per litre). I didn’t know what to expect not having driven such a distance in these conditions before. The vehicle is a pleasure to live in. Very cool and breezy in our sleeping area. Its also very quick and easy to setup and breakdown camp. With Solveig and I both setting up we’re all done in under 5 minutes. Including the awning !

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The pub is a very welcoming venue to chill and connect to the Internet.

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Here I am cooling off in the huge pool.

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All in all, a great place to come down to earth again.

We passed the entrance to Nxai Pan Game Reserve and the Baines Baobabs on our way to Maun. We’d decided to give it a miss for now as advanced booking is a requirement. Maybe later in our wanderings??

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The view from our campsite at Maun Restcamp alongside the Thamalakane river.

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Juvenile Kurricane Thrush

No wild animals but plenty of birds, cows and goats, but then all animals need to drink.

We visited one of our suppliers of African fabrics who lives here in Maun, Birgit. She and her husband, Ryno, make frequent trips into Africa to make purchases. We get mainly Mali cloth from her. They have a lovely home under giant Leadwood trees. Both of them have created magic using their talents and skills. Furniture from their travels into the depths of Africa, huge leather Taureg cushions, coloured bottles set into walls in such a way as to illuminate the interior. Imaginative light fittings all creating a comfortable living space anybody would be happy living in.

After stocking up the following day with mainly liquids and ice, we headed for the Okavango pan handle on the western side of the swamp. This was only after a lengthy coffee stop at a curio shop, The Red Monkey. We met the owner Mel Oake, an ex Zimbabwean. Other locals, from the Wilmot family, were also there having coffee and cakes. We chatted and they filled us in with so much of the area’s history and background.
Mel was making and marketing a Kigelia product, made out of an extract from the tree of the same name, commonly known as the sausage tree.

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Kigelia has number of uses, all relating to skin ailments and treatments.