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Weeks 78 & 79: Tofo, Mozambique to Sodwana Bay, South Africa via Swaziland

Week 78 started with New Years Eve, Tofo was extremely busy and there was lots of loud music. New Years Day was very strange, I walked through the village looking for a place to eat breakfast and the streets were full of broken glass, empty beer bottles, people sleeping and the ones who were awake walked around like zombies. Not exactly the tropical paradise that I am sure Tofo is for the rest of the year. I had met a South African guy on New Years Eve and he had offered to let me dive with him on the 2nd Jan, but unfortunately he didn’t turn up, so I headed back to Maputo on the 2nd. I had missed the shuttle bus so had to take a bus to the nearest town and then a boat to the nearest city. From there it took around 5 hours to get to Maputo.

I stayed in Maputo for the weekend with Thiago and his friends, actually I stayed for two nights at Fabio’s place. I had a great time with them, as always, we went out for meals and two house parties, then on the Sunday we actually appeared in a music video. The song is sung by two African artists, Matias Damasio (from Angola) and Valdomiro Jose (from Mozambique). The song is due for release in a couple of weeks so I will link to the video when it is available.

I started week 79 by leaving Mozambique and heading into Swaziland, staying in the best hostel I have ever visited. It is in Mlilwane National Park, but is as cheap as most of the normal hostels (around 10 Euros), but as this hostel is inside the park you are constantly surrounded by wildlife. A family of Warthogs regularly wandered about on the lawn and Zebra were never far away. You can actually wander around the park on foot to see the animals as there are no Lions in the park. This is where I met up with Nofar and Emanuel again, we originally met in Cape Maclear in Malawi and had arranged to meet again in South Africa.

From Mlilwane we drove south, into South Africa to a place called St Lucia. They had heard that this was a great place to see Crocodiles in the wild (over 90% of South Africa’s wild Croc’s are there). Unfortunately as we arrived there the weather turned for the worse, with storms and rain for a couple of days, so we didn’t see any wild Crocodiles, but did go to the Crocodile Centre to see a selection of captives. To make things worse we ended up in a hostel which had a group of 60 volunteers staying there, they were all about 18 years old and were drinking lots and listening to loud, terrible music.

On Saturday I split with the girls again and headed north to a place called Sodwana Bay. I had first heard of this place when I was staying in Cape Maclear, I was told it was the cheapest place in Southern Africa to do your Scuba Diving qualifications. I was very happy when I arrived here and found that the camp is inside another National Park, there is a really nice beach and the camp is also very comfortable and is home to lots of monkeys who are always wandering around the roof of the main building. There are a lot of Coral reefs here in Sodwana Bay so the diving should be really amazing. I start my Open Water course tomorrow, which should take around 4 or 5 days, after that I am thinking I might stay to do an advanced course which will allow me to dive to 30 meters.

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Week 77: Tofo, Mozambique

This week has been slow and relaxed, I stayed at a lodge called Turtle Cove which is just outside of Tofo. On the 25th they did a hog roast and had a live band, the only problem was that instead of a big pig we had two small pigs. I have stayed in three different lodges this week, first there was Turtle Cove, then I moved across the road to a really nice place called Mozambeats. Mozambeats was a really nice place to stay, quite a new hotel and decorated with a retro (60’s/70’s) feel. They only had dorm beds available for two nights so I moved down into Tofo itself. Now I am staying in a place called Tofo Beach Backpackers, which is very over-priced, but I guess that is to be expected over New Years eve.

I went out on an Ocean Safari on Friday with the hopes of seeing Manta Rays and Whale Sharks. Unfortunately we didn’t find any, but we did see two different types of dolphin and did some snorkeling on a section of reef. But for £30 I would have liked to have swam with the Whale Sharks.

New Years Eve starts early here in Tofo, about 48 hours early, last night there was loud, crappy, music on all through the night, even though there was a power-cut. It’s a shame that the people with the generators have the worst music. On the 2nd I’ll be heading back down to Maputo on a local minibus and sticking around a few days before heading to Swaziland.

Happy New Years Guys!

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Week 76: Maputo and Tofo Mozambique

I started the week hot, annoyed and exhausted after a 25 hour bus ride from Tete to Maputo. The bus dropped me on the edge of town at a little after 5am, after waiting for a minibus into town and seeing how full they were in rush hour (people hanging out of the doors), I decided to take a taxi. I met my new CouchSurfing host in the city, he collected me in his car, we dropped off my bags at his place and then we went to get breakfast. Luckily Thiago was kind and trusting enough to leave me sleeping in his house all afternoon while he was at work. In the evening we went out for a meal in a restaurant that is popular with CouchSurfers in the area. After about 30 mins, our group had grown from 3 people to 11 and everyone was having a good time. It was a really great evening and a great way to relax after such an awful journey.

I stayed with Thiago, another Brazilian Vale employee, for a few days and had a really good time. We went out to a restaurant each night and met up with some of his friends, they were all really friendly too and I am now quite excited about visiting Brazil, when ever I actually make it that far.

After staying with Thiago I left most of my luggage in his flat and stayed one night in a hostel in Maputo so that I could get the shuttle bus from there to Tofo. This bus was also a little crowded but at least I had a real seat. I booked a dorm in a nice lodge called Turtle Cove and was really pleasantly surprised when I arrived to find that it is pretty much a private twin room.

For the last few days I have been chilling out in Tofo, walking down to the beach and drinking in a small street bar. I’m hoping to snorkel with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks, but I need to do a little more research before choosing a company to go with. The only complication is that I don’t have any accommodation arranged from the 27th December and all the places here seem to be fully booked, but before that, I think I will be attending a hog roast for my Xmas meal, here in Turtle Cove.

Merry Xmas to those people who celebrate it!

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Week 75: Mangochi to Maputo

I was sad to leave Cape Maclear and the wonderful people at Malambe camp, but I got up early and managed to get a free lift to Monkey Bay. Then I took the local minibus to Mangochi, which broke down several times on the way into town, from there I took another minibus to Zomba.

I had met an American guy in Lilongwe who was running a charity which brings second hand bicycles from the US to Malawi. He had offered me a place to stay if I came to Zomba, but unfortunately he had left town that week. He was a great guy though, so he contacted his expat friends and found me a place to stay, so when I arrived in Zomba I was picked up by Mike, another American guy who works in Zomba for a research company. I stayed with Mike for two nights, on the Tuesday I climbed up onto the Zomba Plateau to do some hiking. The journey up onto the plateau was a two hour hike in itself so I just wandered around a little while admiring the views and stopped to read next to the reservoir before hiking back down to Mikes place.

From Mangochi I headed to Blantyre and stayed with a CouchSurfing host who was also called Mike, although this guy was from Brazil and works for a mining company called Vale. I stayed with him for another two nights in his awesome house (provided by Vale) while I applied for my visa for Mozambique, which is only $45 from an embassy but is $86 if you get it on the border. Both him and his housemate have spent time in Mozambique, so they gave me some great advice on places to visit. On the second evening we went out with some other Brazilian expats for some drinks and food. The next morning Mike dropped me at the bus station and I started the 7 hour journey over the border to Tete in Mozambique.

Again I stayed with a CouchSurfing host who also was from Brazil and worked for Vale, she was really nice and we went out for a few meals together before I had to leave on the bus to Maputo. This journey was awful. When I went to get a ticket they explained that they had no seats left, but had other tickets for stools in the walkway. The bus left at 4am and took 25 hours to arrive in Maputo, all this with no backrest. The bus was hot and with 12 people extra on board it was noisy, there was also a guy on board who was the second driver, each time we stopped he would push the passengers around and shout at them, then the bus would start to drive away before the passengers were back on board.

I arrived in Maputo at 5am on Monday morning and was picked up by another CouchSurfing host, again he is Brazilian and works for Vale. I went to his flat and slept most of the afternoon, but now we are getting into week 76 so I will tell you more about this in my next post.