Posts Tagged With: Mozambique

Defeat Is Not So Bad 

A shared public transport vehicle in Mozambique is referred to as a chapa. Chapa is a general term and can be anything from a Toyota mini bus to a pick up truck. On this occasion the chapa to Garué was a battered old wagon which had to stop every hour to refill the water tank. Being a Mzungu, you’re in a position to pay a bit extra for the front seat, didn’t fancy getting severely sunburned. 

The driver

Garué is a mid-altitude town of around 700m asl. There’s a lot of piss heads in the town, and apart from a cinema showing American B movies there’s not a lot to do. The surrounding countryside is the main reason to come here. A short walk from the town there is a river where it seemed like the entire village congregated for laundry day. While the women washed, the kids played and the place reminded me of the Wet ‘n’ Wild water park. Minus teenagers up to no good in the jacuzzi of course. 

Wet ‘N’ Wild

Garué is Mozambique’s leading tea growing region. A walk past the factory through the  Chá Zambezi Estate is very scenic as you pass through the tea plantations and small villages. The problem here was that every single local you passed asked for money. Maybe because it’s very rural and they don’t see many Mzungus so they thought they’d try their luck, it made me feel like a walking ATM. Anyway, how can a woman twice the size of me carrying a hundred bananas on her head claim to be hungry? 

Continue through the plantations and you’ll eventually arrive at Cascata de Namuli where you can cool off in one of the swimming pools and admire the views over Garué. 

One of the main problems with travelling in Mozambique is that long distances sometimes make it impossible to travel from A to B without having to overnight in an anonymous backwater town. On this occasion Caia served as that town, and the quality of the lodgings were much to be desired. The bathroom looked like a scene from horror movie, and it was only intended for small people. 

This is after I brightened the photo

The Catapu Forestry Concession is a 250 square km private concession dedicated to sustainable forestry and indigenous trees. They say that this place is for trees what the Ngorongoro crater is for mammals – which means if you’re a tree lover, it’s absolutely class. I’m not a tree lover but I did love the excellent value lodge there, Mphingwe Camp. The camp has lovely cabins and excellent food all for very reasonable prices, so this was a great place to recharge my batteries after all the traveling recently. I’ll always find something to moan about though, at 40 degrees it was a bit too hot and I didn’t like having to spend two pound a day on bottled water. 

The Cabin


Catapu is an excellent birding spot if you can bare the heat. My spots included numerous sun birds, crowned hornbill, green wooed hoopoe and top sighting – the African cookoo hawk, named so because it resembles a common cookoo but is, well, a reptile eating hawk. 

Collared Sun Bird

Crowned Hornbill

African Cookoo Hawk

Like some kind of miracle, when I left the forest reserve a long distance truck stopped to pick me up that was going all the way to Vilanculos, saving me the horrible journey in a packed chapa and having to overnight in yet another backward Mozambican town. The downside was that I had to spend the entire 14 hour journey sat next to another passenger’s feet, that possibly hadn’t  been washed in weeks. I’ve made the joke before that it was Desmond Tutu’s chiropodist that said “dee feet, is not so bad”. I can rest assured that ‘dees feet’ were very, very bad.  

Categories: Mozambique | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beauty In Decay 

After two days too long spent in Nampula dodging pickpockets, it was time to move on. The chappas broke down five minutes out of town, that has to be some kind of record. On the plus side, while we were waiting for the man from the biscuit shop to repair the vehicle, I bumped into my first Mozambican Newcastle fan. 

Ilha de Moçambique aka Mozambique Island, was the capital of Portuguese East Africa and the most important Indian Ocean port in the Southern hemisphere for four centuries. Only three kilometres long and no more than 600 metres wide, Ilha as it’s more commonly known, is tiny. When the Portuguese moved the capital to Maputo in the 20th century, a lot of the buildings were left to rot marking Ilha a weird place which doesn’t feel like Africa but doesn’t feel like Lisbon either. Some of the old colonial buildings have been restored in the oldest part of town, granting Ilha UNESCO World heritage site status.  

The old hospital

The Cinema

It’s easy enough to take yourself on a walking tour of the Island to admire local life and the decayed architecture. Fortaleza De São Sebastião was built from Limestone shipped from Lisbon between 1546 and 1583. It managed to hold off attacks from the Turkish, Dutch and Omani fleets. 

The locals don’t seem to have much to do on Ilha. Some play Ludo, the most boring unskillful game ever. Some play carrom, a game of Indian origins which is a cross between drafts and pool. But most just sit all day doing nothing, not reading or talking, absolutely nothing. This is something I’ve noticed happens a lot throughout Africa, groups of men get to together to simply sit and stare into space while all the women graft like mad. 



The kids on Ilha were especially excitable. Following, shouting, hissing and asking for their photos taken. The Macua woman of Ilha have a tradition of wearing a natural face mask called musiro made from bark, this is to soften the skin and protect it from the sun. Obviously the woman won’t let you photograph them without payment so here’s one of someone much better looking anyway. 

He doesn’t have a gammy arm that’s just his pose, and yes that is a football

Spider boy

The guys who are actually doing something are the local fisherman, who fetch in their daily catch, which you can buy. £10 for two lobsters was most likely a tourist price so I declined, much to his disappointment.  

Chuffed to bits with his catch

We took a boat trip out to Goa island to do some snorkelling, which was non existent as there’s no coral and was far too rough. The island’s beaches are relatively nice though and we got to explore an old derelict Portuguese lighthouse. I was half expecting a zombie to burst through one of the doors but the scariest thing about the lighthouse was the used condom on the top floor, and the fact the toilet was in better repair than the one in my hotel room. 

During my self guided walking tour I was accompanied by a dog who started following me from the Hindu temple. At the end I was amazed that he never asked for money or a tip, as sometimes there’s a catch with offers of ‘free help’ in Africa. 

Amazingly on Ilha I bumped into another Newcastle fan making it two in two days, this one had a striking resemblance to former Cameroonian flop Geremi. You wait six weeks to find some Newcastle shirts in Africa and then two turn up together, if only either of them knew exactly what they were wearing, one was the local Sunday league referees and the other had the nickname ‘Northern Rock’. 

Categories: Mozambique | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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