Mozambique – Park Nacional de Gorongosa

11th July 2011 W/P 771 South 22’ 04.262 East 035’ 08.617 Altitude 23mtrs

We could not pay…and negotiated with the American park Manager Todd…..for S50.00 plus Todd gave us a Sticker….thanks but still very expensive for us

FIFTY BUCKS poorer with left without seeing anything!!!!!

It was late arriving but we could not pass this newly re vitalized iconic wildlife park. It was impossible to understand the entry park guard, but one thing I did understand we had another 28klms to still drive and it was limited to 30klm per hour……It was almost dark when we arrived still the rain had eased off just enough for us to pop Victors Dingo dozer tent which had performed perfectly for 4 ½ years and we have no doubt after some 1000 days camping in this green canvass home it will make a few more years yet.
Local campers invited us over and we spent a fabulous night next to a large camp fire and all those hospitable South Africans campers again proved true.
It was not until we asked the fees when all went very quite our end….NO WAY….it worked out to be around Usd 74.00 per night for camping…….We dived for the showers and we both spent several hours cooking away…….This was a ridiculous fee as the Bradts guide book 2010 page270 had put the camping fees around Usd 4.00 per person this is the Chitengo Safari lodge…..!!!! BUT>>>>>$ 74.00 and you were still not in the park….in total we would need around $92.00 that’s way out of our price range and we will need to see the management come morning and explain our predicament.

Todd the American manager was very helpful as we explained our predicament….the camping fees are way too high for us and it should have been explained at the entrance gate some 30 klm back.
We had a USD 50.00 note and that was all we were prepared to pay!!!! And that was far to much just for camping and a hot shower. Todd the manager asked if we would wait until we could all pose for a few departing, something Todd could post on there Gorongosa website. Todd told us we may run into another intrepid traveller heading also to Gorongosa National park, his name Nick North who was raising money for Charity …..his website but he was quite Mad …..running the length of Mozambique… that’s tuff.

Nick North runs the length of Mozambique…..phew we get puffed thinking about it….well done Nick
Todd shook hands and we waved our fare-wells ,not the most fascinating visit to an international Game Reserve we thought…2 hot showers and fifty Usd poorer.
WE left the park somewhat disappointed, unable to afford a trip round the park in Victor, and see that wonderful wildlife.
It was not going to be, and again proved these National Parks/Reserve are tooooo expensive to visit for mere mortals like us.
Honey Honey and more Honey the EN-1 was full of Honey in every shape container you can imagine So nice was the taste even after you ate a few bees along with your porridge.
A never ending supply of wonderful fruit and veg the En-1 was kilometres of small roadside make shift arrangement of sticks and Palm fronds selling all manner of tasty delights.
Mahogany was the real sad sight, logs again stacked high along the road side dragged from the interior with what ever means possible ready for transportation.
There was so much we beg the question where was it all going…but that question I wanted to find the answer, but the reality was the locals need to survive, but where was all this beautiful timber disappearing to????

MOZAMBIQUE roadside goodies pull up no queues no bags and get served in your car.

My favourite Tomatoes

Baskets every shape and size

Young girl selling Thatching Material

Rocks and stones for sale

Rocks and Victor

Victor and the crew getting mobbed (or just a warm welcome!)

Charcoal Production Mozambique style

Happy Charcoal production Workers – MOZAMBIQUE

Elayne cooking lunch with interested locals appearing from nowhere???

We take for granted how we have access to some many different types of fuel we use for cooking but seeing so much charcoal being manufactured along this road, kilometre after kilometre smoke clogging our lungs the air quality plummeting, our eyes watering from the constant smoke the irony for us is huge power lines hang over head but we can see no info structure for the locals below.
Mozambique is a vast country the resources are huge, but being attacked in a way which looks totally unsustainable (from our roadside observations).
It’s not for us to judge but we hope all goes well for the future management of Mozambique’s resources, hopefully leaving a sustainable future for the next generation will be a great challenge.
Wild camping on the side of this road is reasonable hard to do , so many villages so many plantations crops growing along this main artery with just the moped and walking tracks leading of into the bush interior getting Victors wide berth is a near impossibility down one of these small tracks . There is no doubt the coastline is a fantastic camping opportunity, but most require back tracking to the main road the EN-1 heading North in our case …this costs fuel and time ….we will need to chose our place of interest to visit the coast.
Our drive around Mt Gorongosa was great scenery with those one rock mountains wonderful huge monoliths scattered around the horizon poking through the vivid green jungle, colourful small wooden huts plastered with mud and dung scattered throughout the forest. Woman would haul so much weight on their heads it was staggering to see. Everywhere you looked woman would be hauling huge logs on their heads …..I know I could not lift what I saw from the ground let alone walk through the jungle miles from a hill-top village balancing several 7 metre long poles 100mm thick on my head!!!!!
Termite hills of every shade of soil colour you could think of, from grey white/ black to vivid dark red towering some 4-5mts high we estimate.
Roadside stores with the most magnificent display of fruit and vegetables you could of imagined, but you could also purchase everything from baskets, beds, cabinets, thatching, Mahogany, Charcoal, coffins, bicycles, rocks off different sizes, all homemade the artisans next to their work in most cases.
Still it was always a strange sight to see a young woman with just a few bananas for sale sitting by the side of this Chinese made road in the middle of nowhere talking on her mobile phone.
At first observations the piles of rocks looked bizarre ………left standing in small piles along the roadside. We stopped and investigated their purpose …Construction ….making concrete and road ballast was my conclusion, but to see appearing from the dried out river bed next to a small pathway leading down to plumes of smoke rising into the atmosphere were 2 small girls ( we guess around 7years old) carrying 15-20kgs of rocks on their heads!!!!
They both smiled placing the rocks onto the ground and returning to the smoke to fetch some more. Sure enough the fires burning in the dried out river bed where made so as to crack the bed rock making it possible to extract the fractured rock to be processed and hauled by the young girls along the roadside.
They started Chipping away with a small hammer the young girls broke their rock’s down into various sizes to be sold in piles of various sizes according to their application.
It was a pretty sad occupation we thought these young girls working at their young age breaking rocks to make a living.
Our hearts went out to there smiling faces swinging their little hammers sat amidst piles of stones and dust their bright coloured skirts and wound cloth hats (padding for the large stones they carry on their heads from the riverbed) their bare feet crossed leg chatting to each other as they continually swing there hammers …It was hard to take a picture.
We leave them smiling away waving their farewells as we leave them some food. It was afternoon long drive trying to find a campsite off the road , but every track we could take eventually lead to a small village and we caused some young women to flee off in fright as we approached sometimes grabbing their children under arm and running into the bush. So frightened they looked, something to continually repeat itself time and time again.
W/P 729 South 18’58.72 East 034’21.090….overcast 15c at 8.00am
We camp at another Micro-wave tower and find some peace and quite no villagers no frightened young women. We are some 20klms from Caja and one of the great rivers of the world the mighty Zambezi.
Our map shows a 22 tonne ferry crossings between 05.00 and 18.00 hrs and further to the N/W Dona Ana Bridge (the longest railway bridge in Africa) either could be an option we think but to-morrow will tell.

We know the Micro wave tower is not the perfect camping location but we are tried and you need all your concentration during the day to drive, any quite spot will do…being constantly barraged by thousands of people every time we stop people trying to sell their produce wanting money ,or just curiosity takes its strain.
Yesterday we found a quite place to stop along the road for lunch….. No body around I say this will do.
It had rained as we were packing our tent away in the morning and we wanted to dry out our folded tent before the dreaded mil-dew attacks, the weather had cleared and the sun was out in full swing. I pop the tent while Elayne makes some noodles and tea.
Not to embellish the numbers but within 10 minutes we had a collection off 30 plus people ( Elayne in her dairy states 50) which had appeared from nowhere, some had stopped their heavy laden bicycles as the crowd increased donkey carts and a truck, most had wandered out of the bush. They come closer and closer almost to the point of peering into our noodle pot so interested are they in our cooking and car with a very strange house on top. They stand in silence cautiously watching every move. There is a large Oooooh as I light the petrol cooker with our flint lighter, one man holds his hand out to see if the cooker is hot (the cookers pale blue flame hard to see in the bright noon light), his hand retreating fast nodding to the crowd as if to confirm it really is hot more Oooh’s and Arrrh’s and laughter are expressed.
What we did no know when we parked (fortunately for us) that only 3 mtrs in front of Victors wheels the local village had dumped several bucket piles of excrement in shallow holes covered with dried grass…….guess what several of our inquisitive on- lookers had managed to step in the mire the contents sticking to their feet stirring up the sleeping smell much to the entertainment of our other un invited guests. The smell was terrible the antics of those trying to remove the sticky smelling brown stuff brought so much amusement to the others ……BUT for us watching the sticky brown stuff being flicked, scrapped, and elegantly removed as possible brought another meaning to noodles for lunch on the side of the road. They all waited until finished and re-packed our strange house on the roof, they all wave good-bye and disappear once again.
The peace and quite of the Micro wave tower is what we need as evening falls, we are undiscovered by any locals or frightened local women as the sun sets the grey sky turns purplish red the air temp drops.
Elayne cooks up a wonderful one pot tomato curry and rice and the world looks great as we relax listening and watching the jungle scene.
Just the sounds emanating from the thick jungle which lies meters away from us, screeching birds, Monkeys flying through the canopy beyond, cracking tree limbs fall crashing to the jungle floor causing hidden wildlife to flee their noises all so strange to us.
The buzzing insects are in full song as the fading light brings the night creatures out the atmosphere changing as the night shift start there racket.
Monkeys and birds come to make their last inspection of the new arrivals, a large baboon and Spotted Eagle Owl are perched not far away both looking on intently their inquisitive eyes following our every move.
Elayne dishes up a great meal from her one pot wonders and I don’t care how many tomatoes I eat I just love the ones in Mozambique.
Elayne retreat’s to our tent for the night our Micro Wave tower campsite not so bad after all I thought brushing my teeth while I make a final inspection around Victor Machete in hand as I zip up our plastic windows my eyes peered into the thick undergrowth wondering what was around.
The jungle sounds intensify the cicadas start their high pitched screaming on and off like somebody operating a switch, the humming and eerie sounds continue as I lay awake listening to the jungle darkness the endless strange sounds all so different Africa was here.
All was safe we awake in the early morning light with the Monkeys close by crashing over us as they eat small nuts, the discarded shells tumble to our tent we are sure they just want to wake us up.
We leave our Micro wave tower its modern symbol the changing face of travel so many towers we spot high atop of hills and mountains the landscape scared forever in my view.
CRIKEY…….that’s a bridge we where not expecting a huge new 2.3 klm long bridge spanning the Zambezi river. We stop and take some pictures midway across admiring the majestic river scene.
The old 22 tonne ferry was moored at the rivers bank on longer in need this new concrete marvel taking some of that romance off distant travel away just like those Micro wave towers…. we think.
Victor was running well and all that Swazi care and attention was paying off. But we are concise of our fuel stops people we had meet had told us Malawi was out of fuel completely and this contagion may spread to Mozambique although we had not see any fuel station with signs stating ….NO Fuel….So we are trying to keep our fuel as full as possible, not knowing if any fuel shortages may occur at anytime the further north we head.

Zambezi River Moxambique

What a termite hill!
Every time we stop and fuel, (in most cases just to top up quarter of a tank approx 500klms from a total range of 2000klms) we inevitable cause the security guards (which most fuel stations have) a worrying time as hordes of people come to say hello and inspect Victor. We are always as courteous as possible but the security guards do not take kindly to there petrol stations being invaded by the locals trying to sell their wares.
We have covered over 3,000klms from Swaziland and Mozambique looks as if we will never get to its end just crossing the Zambezi River, this long country does stretch a huge distance the coastline covering more than 2,500klms in length.

About Adam

Site admin and son to Chris and Elayne Clash. :)
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2 Responses to Mozambique – Park Nacional de Gorongosa

  1. Leon says:

    Hi John and Elayne!

    We met on Sannie pass with the white Toyota Land Cruiser and you explained to me how your vehicle was made of ARB bull bars of cuts…amazing. Hope everything is well and you and Elayne are still going strong and good luck.


  2. Harvey says:

    Love reading all the stories of your travel. Where are you guys from? I am in Austintown, Ohio and would like to know where ou got the tent?

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