Beach bumming Mozambique

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Xpat, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 7 & 8 - Tofo beach, rest days


    The originaly planned rest day turned into two when I run into some problems with my credit card on the day I arrived. I have basicaly tried to pay in the restaurant and it got declined with the slip saying so, tried again with the same result, and then repeated the whole process in reception in an attempt to pay for the accommodation. So far so good (I had cash reserve), but then I received confirmation SMS from my bank that all the payments went through. The receptionist tried to validate with their bank and they said the transactions went through. As a former bank employee with good idea of internal bank operations I dived into the call center people with gusto, but to no avail. The helpfull lodge manager found out somewhere that some kind of interbank payment interface went down in the whole of Moz and said it hopefully will be resolved next day. So I was into a waiting game.

    Main objective next day - the first rest day - and one of the main objectives of the whole trip was to go and swim with a whale shark. I have tried and failed on my prior two visits here due to no shark on the first trip and bad swell on the other, so I was very keen to settle that score. I went first to the nearby diving shop, but they were fully booked for the day - not a good sign.

    At least I have scored some malaria treatment pills from their doctor - I was feeling funny few days back in Bilene (no I wasn't taking any prophylaxis - though I had the pills on me :peepwall:) and it did remind me a bit of malaria symptoms - I had malaria 12 years ago in nortnern Mozambique of all places, so had personal experience. But it went away, so I just assumed it was just normal flu from getting soaked on the ride from Macaneta to Bilene. But I mentioned it to the Saffers with the lodge south of Tofo (the one they are selling), and they said I should rather get malaria treatment course which isn't expensive and take it anyway - it is not going to harm even if I don't have malaria. So that was the plan and now I had those pills to execute later on.

    With that sorted I moved to the other diving shop across the town and there I got lucky - they had place available for their afternoon 'Ocean safari' tour and I booked it. Here some pictures of Tofo town to break the long text:


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    #41
  2. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    I have spent the rest of the morning lazing about the beach getting more and more grumpy. I have a confession to make - I am not a beach bum at all. I can tolerate it for a day, but I get bored very quickly and the forced tranquility and cool leisuredness and joviality of the cats and kittens on the beach gets to my nerves. Yes, I am turning into old grumpy man. But after the exquisite riding that filled all my prior days, this felt like a letdown and waste of time.

    Anyway, I distracted myself my taking pictures. I got particularly interested in what looked like surfing school for local kids - that looked pretty cool:


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    Finally the time has com to go and see the shark, so I grabed whatever I needed for that and headed to the dive shop still in foul mood. The dive shop was a hive of activity, they had plenty of people coming for the ride, most of them Euro backpacker types, many of them exprienced beach hoppers by the look of it (with their own fins and gopros strapped to their bodies and shit). We got the briefing, I got my fins, snorkle and googles from the shop and we walked to the beach, where we launched a boat and jump in. We have been riding (do you ride a boat?) around for a long time without so much as a glimpse of shark, dolphin or manta and in my mind I started to reconcile myself with the fact that this is going to be another failure.

    But then other boats pointed us to a whale shark and the whole boat turned from tense searching to hive of excited preparation. When we got to position and got the go ahead we jumped into water and I got lost straight away. Clearly there were some pro shark swimmers who set-off at the speed of torpedo, while I was trying to figure out how the frigging snorkle works. It's been also long time since I have swam with fins (probably 12 - 13 years) so I was flailing hopelessly around, and of course I had water in my google. Neithless to say - I saw fuck-all. Some of the other managed to follow the shark for a while, but I just bailed and got back to the boat by now reconciled with the failure.

    Luckily the tour guys, once everybody was back at the boat, took us for another turn getting ahead of the shark in the boat. This time I was slightly more successfull and sighted for a brief moment big shadow diving into the depths as one of the other tourists must have got too close. Not great, but better than nothing - especially as I was trying to leary how to use this whole snorkle/google contraption in the process.

    Again - kudos to the tour company, they took us for third turn. This time I smartened up and left the stupid googles and snorkle. I also misuderstood the guide and heard her sceam 'wait' already flying over the side of the boat. That turned out to be an advantage as I was first in the water, and within seconds found myself face to face on colision course with moerse big fish. I flailed out of its way and to the side and succeeded in not freaking it out and turned around and tried desperately to swim with the shark for the next minute or so, which wasn't easy as that thing had some kind of turbines under its fins. I couldn't see them, but the sharks tail fin was almost motionless, and yet the thing was moving through the water at the warp speed. What also doesn't help was that as I had to turn now I was last in the row of overexcited tourists getting kicking in my face along the way.

    But all that couldn't dampen the experience. I had a goose-bumps and all the grumpiness and foul mood were gone in an instant. I tried my best to keep up but eventually lost the animal, but I was completely satisfied and contentedly swam back to the boat with big smile on the face. That German guide chick probably haven't seen such pleasant eastern european yet (well if they saw the shark she might have). I have done the white shark cage dive about 4 times and been in most national parks in Africa and seen all the big 5 and stuff, but I have to say this was special.

    Unfortunatelly I didn't have camerat that I can use under water so I asked an English guy who was on honeymoon and had some kind of cheapo casio camera on him if he could send me some footage and he kindly obliged. It is not great, but better than nothing:


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    And a little shaky video:




    The rest of the day I spent in the lodge restaurant in perfect contentment. I even almost started to like the beach. When the lodge manager informed me appologetically that the credit card snafu hasn't been resolved, I said no worries, I will wait one more day. And that is how I ended up with the second rest day in Tofo.
    #42
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  3. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    The next day, rest day number 2, I opted to change the oil. Originally I wanted to do it at the halfway point in Vilankulos, but there wasn't anything else to do apart from chilling on the beach and by now I was already super cool and chilled up the wazoo. So nice little oil change - which with my mechanical abilities has always potential to turn into melodrama - would help to keep me real and grounded.

    So the first order of the day was to go and get the oil. I rode up to the garage with little strip mall about 10 km outside Tofo. They had some Catrol 10W-60, which - at least in terms of specs - is even better than required 10W-50, but only in big 4 liter container. I needed only 1.5 liter, so I headed out to the next major town Inhambanne about 30 km away, confident to get what I want there.

    Well my confidence was not rewarded - I tried everywhere, but couldn't get anything close to the required specs in Inhambane, only heavy duty car and 4x4 oil. The lack of sidestand made parking often tricky around the oil shops and I had to make an ass of myself couple of times leaving the bike on the pedestrian walkways leaning against random stuff:


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    Unsuccessful, I rode back to the first garage, bought the 4 liter cannister of 10-60 oil and headed back home to the Casa Barry. At the lodge I asked their mechanics for a bowl to drain the oil into, took the bashplate off and run into a problem straighaway. No matter how hard I tried with my little T wrench, I couldn't losen the 13mm drain bolt at the bottom of the engine. After many attempts in vain and seeing that the bold is getting slowly chewed up, I headed back to the mechanics for a rescue.

    They couldn't find bigger wrench in their tool box at the lodge, but the head mechanic had one at his home, so we jumped into his minivan and drove to his house about 5 km out of town. The house was right by the main tar road, with noone around and completely open. I don't mean unlocked, I mean with doors left ajar all day and with his - I'm guessing - quite valuable tools laying about for everybody to see. No, he wasn't worried that somebody it going to steal something. I have seen this lack of concern for one's property many times in Africa and elsewhere, but it is always a good reminder of how safe the world actually is outside the paranoia of modern media (and outside of South Africa with it's undercurrent of racial tensions).

    Back at the lodge I was able to losen the drain bolt, but run into another problem straight away - I couldn't get the oil filter out, as it is sitting snug in the oil casings and there is no easy way to grab it (and of course it is oily). Yes, I have changed the oil and filter before few times, but forgot the wire I used to get behind the filter lip to be able to pull it out. So the head mechie came to my rescue once again (luckily he kept straight face and I couldn't read what he was actually thinking) and with a little piece fo wire he got somewhere was able to get the filter out.

    After that I was finally able to finish the rest of the procedure on my own. Feeling that I might have lost a little bit of the coolness in this botched attempt at mechanicking, I retreated back to the beach and restaurant for the rest of the day to re-chill a bit again.


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    The credit card snafu still wasn't resolved by the end of the day, but I was too chilled to care anymore, so I just exchanged contact details with the lodge manager to be able to deal with the matter remotely and packed up to continue push north towards Vilankulos early next day.
    #43
    River Rat, Davidprej, mbanzi and 9 others like this.
  4. Junya

    Junya Adventurer

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    :lurk
    EXCELLENT
    #44
  5. FishHunt

    FishHunt slow poking...

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    Great pictures and journey, thanks for sharing!

    <>< Fish
    #45
  6. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    Completely enjoying this RR. Just brilliant.

    Was expecting lots more sand when I started reading...and there it was.

    I headed to Maputo last year but it was getting late after border issues so we went to Ponta Malongane instead.

    Your photos are fantastic and I sure appreciate you stopping to snap them.

    Sorry to read of your border issues. Man, it can get frustrating for sure. And, yeah...that bash plate would’ve been just fine for the smaller mines...
    #46
  7. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 9 - Tofo beach to Pomene


    In the morning I set-off early to utilize cooler morning temperatures as much as possible. Objective for the day was Pomene national reserve about half way up the coast between Tofo and Vilankulos 240 km away:


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    First 100 km was tar - the longest tar section I was to do in Moz - because I had to circumnavigate Baia de Inhambane to be able to hit the shoreline again north of Maxixe. I hoped I will be able to cut it much shorter using about ferry running between Inhambane and Maxixe across the bay, but when I arrived I was told it is for passengers only, so I had to go long way around the bay.

    After hour and a half including refuel I have made it to the point past Maxixe where my track finally turned off EN1 and I hit the sandy tracks again. It was more or less the same variety of tracks and surfaces I have ridden so far up, it was just less populated and had a bit more remote feeling:


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    Wonder if these were locals or some old settlers from times long gone:


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    Finaly after few dozen km I came to the main dirt road running between Maxxinga on EN1 and Pomene national reserve. After short break I cross the road and continued on my concoction of little tracks I have plotted at home.


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    #47
  8. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    The tracks I have plotted got more and more remote the further north I was heading. The are was much less populated that further south with vast swathes of dunes untended and bush left alone. The sand got deeper and more coloful, ranging between white and deep reddish orange:


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    I was heading for a place called 'Paradise Beach Lodge' that I found on googlemaps. As I came closer to the Pomene national reserve there were number of track veering off into the dense bush and heading for the shore. I took a wrong turn (probably at the crossing at the next picture) and eventually got to little UNICEF camp, which clearly wasn't the lodge I was looking for:


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    Initiall the camp looked deserted, but eventually a local emerged from one of the tents and pointed me back to the right track I had to take to the lodge which was few km further north.
    #48
  9. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    I had few more km of deep sand to navigate. By now it was about noon and stupidly hot, but 500 made everything much easier:


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    Eventually I arrived to the cringly named Paradise Beach beach. Initially the place looked completely deserted but I found some workers doing repairs on the other end of the resort. They pointed me to a bar, where a local guy told me they are open but he doesn't know the prices. I wasn't going anywhere in about 50 degrees Celsius so he made call to his boss, who told him to give me one of the thatched huts for R200 (or about less than third I usually paid) and all was dandy again. He even had a cold beer for me and promised to cook me a dinner. Score!

    I was the only guest and I settled into my hut for a lazy afternoon on an indeed paradise like looking beach:


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    Me casa:


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    #49
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  10. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Some more paradisy kitsch to finish off the day:


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    #50
  11. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker Super Supporter

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    I may have missed this but what language are you using with the locals? Portuguese, English? The local language is Bantu, correct?
    #51
  12. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    I speak only English (apart from my native Czech), so that is what I have to get by. In tourist places like the resorts this is perfectly fine, but out in the sticks most people don't speak English (nor Czech surprisingly) so the pantomime and speaking slower and louder English has to do.

    The only official language in Mozambique is Portuguese, which is a bit ironic as they didn't part with their former colonial masters in particularly nice way. But I guess locals speak variety of different local Bantu languages, so Portuguese helps to bridge that (though not all speak Portuguese either as far as I have seen).
    #52
  13. WHYNOWTHEN

    WHYNOWTHEN where are the pedals?

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    How easy is it getting petrol?
    #53
  14. Dillard

    Dillard Seeker Super Supporter

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    No Czech, huh? That really is surprising. Thanks for the info.

    Great report as always.
    #54
  15. DesertRatliff

    DesertRatliff Tinker Tinker Ride Ride

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    Always wonderful to follow along on your adventures, Xpat. This one is no exception. And I like the new bike. You and I are on a similar trajectory these last few years. Heavy 650 Japanese thumper, 690, and now the lighter 500.

    Inspiring journey. Thanks again.
    #55
  16. rides2little

    rides2little Braaaaaap Supporter

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    Thanks for the great report so far, really appreciate the time you have taken to put it all together. I have been looking on Google Earth at the tracks and the wooden bridge, it all looks like fun to say the least.

    What is the land ownership situation in Moz relative to the tracks, are they through private property or areas of limited use? Can you ride on the beaches or not?
    #56
  17. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    No problem whatsoever. I have 20 litre tank that is good for about 350 - 400 km range. The whole coast ride was probably 650 km over 6 days, so strictly speaking I needed probably just one refill, though I believe I had two. If you look on the first map on page one, you could just spot route called EN1 running few km inland along the coast i was following. That is the main 'highway' running through Moz (more or less the only tar road) so most of the traffic runs along that road and in every bigger town there is petrol station. I stayed off it except on day two when I had to getover Limpopo river and had to use the highway bridge - so I filled up in Xai Xai which is major city on that road. And then once more later on when the highway got closer to the coast I made quick run to a town there for petrol.
    #57
  18. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks DR - yes, I started on heavy hippos like GSA1150 on which I rode from Europe down to CT and gradually downsized over few bikes to 500. I still have 690, but over the last 2 years I've done probably 6 days on it, while I have spent months and months on 500, which fits best my riding needs. On 690 I still occassionaly found myself in places where I rather turned back as they were too gnarly, very remote and as usually I was on my own - or just getting too tired dragging heavy 690 (with rally kit) - you might have noticed that I have tried this very route few years back on 690 and managed only about half of the tracks, because of fatigue.

    On 500 the only place where this can happen is Lesotho, home of Roof of Africa, and even there I have managed to conquer things on 500 I never though I would be able to do.
    #58
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  19. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks :thumb

    Private land owership, or rather lack of it is the main reason why poor third world underdeveloped countries like Mozambique are ideal for DS (and reason why they are underdeveloped I thinkg). Most of the land is public/community land and one can ride whereever they want. Very occassionaly one may stumble upon some plantation or oil field, but generaly one can ride wherever they want.

    For example this track I have plotted myself on the satellite images just following whatever patch I could discern and I have had over 1000 km of free riding.

    This is stark contrast to South Africa, where vast majority of land is private property and off limits for riding (I guess similarly to USA) - which makes SA much less attractive for proper DS. Luckily from Johannesburg where I live it is relatively close to Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana (and from there further on north across whole of Africa), where most of the land is free to ride on.

    That said, riding on the beaches in Moz is off limits, except in some specific areas where one may secure a permit. You would probably not get caught apart from near the main tourist spots, but strictly speaking it is off limits. I have followed the high dunes flanking the coast on the inland side for long portions of this trip.
    #59
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  20. Xpat

    Xpat Been here awhile Supporter

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    Again, thanks all for following and comments :thumb
    #60
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