On the road, Vilanculos to Ilha
The road from Vilanculos to Ilha do Mocambique was a long one but there wasn't really much in between that was on our to do list, Gorongosa National Park might have been if it had been open but at this time of year it is closed for the rains. I guess the highlight of the trip would be the scenery and our first crossing of the great and might Zambezi river.
The roads north of Vilanculos were surprisingly good and we sped along making it to Caia just before dark (small town on the edge of the Zambezi). We'd made a some what silly mistake and had just assumed Caia would have a petrol station as there had been so many on our route so far. As we entered town there was a Petromac but it was still under construction, we stopped some policeman and asked if there was any petrol in town and they directed us towards the river crossing which they said was about 7km away, Kal's petrol light had been on for about 40km outside of Caia, I kept my fingers crossed in the back for two things, one that we would be able to make it the 7km and two that there would be petrol. Sadly when we got there their was no petrol stations but guys with big yellow tanks said they had 'super' at this point we weren't sure that this would be the unleaded petrol Kal needed so reluctantly turned round and headed back to Caia. At the turn off to our camp site there was another stall with lots of yellow cans selling 'petrol' it was slightly cheaper than at the ferry so we went for it giving one of the guys one of our jerry cans, he disappeared for about 10mins but came back with an empty can they didn't have any! What to do? We decided to head for camp and see if they had any ideas, thankfully Kal got us all the way there, which was just as well, the last couple of kms were on a muddy dirt road through local villages with some rather large puddles, it wouldn't have been much fun getting stuck or worse still running out of petrol here.
Unfortunately Caia Lodge and Camp was not quite what we had in mind but as we arrived they turned on the generator which lit up the small buildings and they were happy to help and let us camp for the night. Our first priority was finding out whether they could help with our petrol situation, they were sure they could and for 50mtn (one pound) one of the guys offered to go into town on his bicycle with two of our jerry cans strapped to the back, even better the price for the fuel he thought he could get was about 50% cheaper than we'd been given in town. We couldn't believe how friendly these guys were being, check out the picture album, so with a bit of relief we went about setting up camp and making dinner.
It took quite a while but we were in for more bad news, our friend returned after going to three different sources all with no luck, at this point I was getting a bit nervous but he agreed to go to the river in the morning and try to get us some there, no mean feat on a bike it would be about a 9km ride there and back, on the way back it would be with 40 litres of fuel on the back of his bike!
Next morning there were more nerves the guy was supposed to be back by about 8/9am, at 10.30 I was wondering whether he would come back we'd given him a lot of money to buy the fuel with and to be honest I wouldn't blame him if he'd just disappeared with it but by now I should have had more faith in the people of Mozambique. He'd managed to get us the fuel but had had a flat tyre on the way back, his friend on another bike had to take the jerry cans one at a time and bring them back for us while he walked back. What a relief though, fuel that should get us to the next station; we'd learnt a lesson and would always check for fuel stations in future. I don't think our friend realized what a favour he'd done us, we ended up giving him and his friend a total of 150mtn and some coke, a beer and some pasta all which made them grin from ear to ear and we were certainly happy to be back on the road again!!
The Zambezi wasn't quite as impressive as I had in my head but it sure was very wide and fast flowing!! We had a very short wait for the ferry and on we went one of only two vehicles. They wouldn't let anyone but the driver stay in the car so we all piled out and walked onto the ferry with the 30 or so locals while Paul drove Kal on. It was a pretty big ferry, just a flat bottomed drive on drive off sort of thing. Once we got going it was evident how strongly the river was flowing as we had to head quite far up river before it turned to actually cross and we were quickly swept down stream to our destination. I'm sure it will be a very different Zambezi that we see in April in Zambia!!
We made it to Quelimane to refuel properly, quite a big town but none of the banks were working, it was very hot and the place seemed very run down so it was not long before we were back on the road.
We spent the night in a simple but very adequate hotel in Mocuba, the rooms had there own bathrooms with showers and best of all there was air-conditioning. We had a great nights sleep, it was a relief to wake up to being a bit cold rather than covered in sweat!! If you are ever in this part of the world we recommend Sao Cristobal.
The next day we had breakfast in town and then headed for Nampala. The first section of road was dirt with a lot of little detours, it was quite frustrating as we could see the new road, so very close to being complete running parallel to us most of the time, but eventually we were back on tar and on our way.
Nampula was nothing to write home about, we had a good dinner and managed to get access to a not so slow internet connection and after one night we were ready to head to Ilha do Mozambique!