Self-Drive Adventure through Mozambique by travel professional, Leigh Kemp.
My earliest memories of Mozambique are of the crackling short wave radio signal that was LM Radio of Lourenco Marques.
With DJ's like Gerry Wilmot, Evelyn Martin, Frank Sanders, David Gresham, John Berks and Leslie Sullivan, the station was on air from 1936 until 1975, and brought fun to radio broadcasting.
Enjoy the Freedom and Adventure of the Prahia do Sol
In my formative years at the time I could picture the beaches, the sun, the seafood and the hippies. This was my earliest impression of the country that is Mozambique. Then in 1975 LM radio fell silent and was replaced by the horrors of a civil war that raged for almost twenty years.
In the 1990's the Mozambique people had had enough of war and the country turned to the road of recovery. Memories of brief flirtations with parts of the country are what I have today although my travels of the past were passed in the haze of youth and the doings of youth.
Recently my mind has turned back to Mozambique. With all the developments in the parks and wilderness areas there is a real buzz in the country. More and more visitors are streaming through the borders into Mozambique. New beach destinations are opening up and the game is returning to the reserves.
Investment in the road infrastructure has ensured that visitors can now travel further in a sedan car than in the past. Mozambique is no longer solely for 4x4 enthusiasts, although there are still more than enough 4x4 routes for the rough and tumble brigade.
Discover the beauty of the Mozambique coastline on your self-drive holiday
The roads have been improved dramatically in the past few years. In fact it is quite possible to reach Vilanculos - 750 km north of Maputo - in a 2 wheel drive vehicle. The South African petroleum giant, Sasol, has invested a great deal in the road infrastructure of Mozambique allowing visitors to the country more options for their beach holidays.
Enjoy the Cool Ocean Breeze and a Tantalizing Beach Braai
Today Mozambique is in a transitional period where the glory days of the past appear to be returning in the peace and development that has engulfed this once war-torn country. Parks that once hosted some of Africa's densest wildlife populations prior to the devastation of the civil war are being re-opened.
Mozambique's national parks suffered a great deal from poaching and mismanagement during the civil war resulting in the scarcity of animals and structural damage to tourist facilities and the roads. There is a massive push by the authorities to rectify this and open the parks up for tourism again. Most of the parks in the south and central regions of the country are accessible in 4x4 vehicles - and some in two wheel drive.
The Tranquil view from your private chalet at Tofo Beach.
Mozambique's premier reserve, Gorongosa National Park, is now accessible in a two wheel drive vehicle - in season - and other routes that were almost impassable with a 4x4 are now accessible in a two wheel drive vehicle. There is, however, still enough rough terrain to suit even the most jaundiced rugged rough-rider.
From Diving to Microlighting, You can Have it All
The zoning of the Limpopo Trans-frontier Park has opened up exciting new routes for the self drive and 4x4 enthusiasts. Incorporating South Africa's iconic Kruger National Park and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique the Trans-frontier park has become the 'next big thing' in southern African self drive.
Until a few years ago a holiday combining Kruger with the coast of Mozambique meant leaving Kruger at Crocodile Bridge then crossing into Mozambique through the Komatipoort border post and heading on to Maputo before deciding on whether to head south to Ponto do Ouro or north to Xai Xai and beyond.
Take to the air, or take to the sea... the possibilities are endless
Today two border posts allow for the crossing directly from the Kruger National Park into the Limpopo National Park before heading for the coast north of Maputo. Pafuri border post in the far north of the Kruger is a remnant of the past but has now been opened for tourist traffic. Giriyondo Border was built and opened in 2005.
Bite into the Flavours of Mozambique
Most people are under the impression that the Mozambique section of the trans-frontier park can only be accessed in a 4x4 vehicle and although this is advisable it is not set in stone. I have heard of intrepid travellers entering Mozambique through the Pafuri border post and heading on to the coast - in a Volkswagen beetle! Two-wheel drivers beware though - this must not be attempted during the rainy season from October through to May.
Best prawns on the planet and Portuguese wines.
Live Life on "African Time"
Besides the two border posts from Kruger there are a number of other check points where Mozambique can be accessed from. Three checkpoints in the south link southern Mozambique and the capital Maputo to South Africa. The main border from South Africa is at Komatipoort (Lebombo border on the SA side ; Ressano Garcia on the Mozambique side) and during peak holiday times the gates stay open 24 hours a day.
Chill out on the pool deck of your own private beach chalet
There are numerous border crossings from other neighbouring African crossings including Zimbabwe and Malawi. In fact one of the busiest crossings into Mozambique is at the Mutare border post from Zimababwe.
Rules of the road
As I was writing this article a piece of travellers information arrived in my inbox. It seems that the Mozambique authorities are getting serious. A comment from friend when told about the new laws was "now the police have more to harass drivers with". It is true that there have been incidents where the police have hassled tourists to elicit a bribe but this seems to be happening less and less.
Some of the new laws, as of April 1st, state that seat belts are now compulsory for all passengers, use of a mobile phone is not permitted while driving, speed control: maximum speed authorized inside towns: 60 Km/h, drunk driving: alcohol level limited, 0.6 g/l of blood, insurance certificate of the vehicle is compulsory and in addition all motor vehicles should be equipped with 2 warning hazard triangle and a reflective jacket. It would be wise to adhere to these new laws as the police in Mozambique can be very stubborn.
By Leigh Kemp
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