Durban & KwaZulu Natal Coast

It’s a green drive down to Durban. The highway down from Hluhluey follows rolling hills.

The Green Hills of Africa

Durban is a modern port and home to many Indo-South Africans. We sample a local specialty – bunny chow.

City by the sea

We visit the KwaMuhle Museum. This building was once the headquarters of the City’s Native Administration Department. It’s now a mini-Apartheid Museum. 

Mural at the KwaMuhle Museum.

Downtown Durban has many Victorian buildings.

And lots of markets.

Small market

A Durban landmark is Moses Mabhida Stadium, built for the soccer World Cup in 2010.

On a sunny Sunday, we go to uShaka Beach.

Next stop up the road is Umkomaas. This is a main town for diving on the Aliwal Shoal.

Beach at Umkomaas

We use the services of the Aliwal Dive Centre. Our first night, we’re invited by the dive crew to join them for a braai.

The dive crew at Aliwal Dive Centre

I sign up for two dives. The first is a shark dive.

What would it take to persuade you to get into this water?

A bucket of sardines attracts the sharks.

The sharks, I’m happy to say, completely ignore you.

Cages are for sissies

To be honest, this breed of shark is not known for its ferociousness, like some sharks.

The second is a plain old shallow reef dive.

I return in one piece

One day, we visit the Oribi Gorge.

Among its delights is (what feels like) a death-defying suspension bridge.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We have lunch at the Oribi Gorge Hotel. On our way to the start of the hiking trail is a grassy field that contains half a dozen pigs.

I stand by the fence. One trots over. I pet him through the wire and he immediately sinks into a trance and tumbles on his side, eyes closed in bliss. A second pig rushes up – same thing happens. A thirds waits his turn to feel my magic touch.

The Hog Whisperer

From Moz to KwaZulu-Natal

We are back in South Africa.

With a sad farewell to Tofo, we drive south to Bilene, passing through some lively towns on the way.

Street life

Mozambican women move gracefully in their capulanas.

Corrugated steel is a popular building material here. It looks hot.

People sell cashews at the side of the road. Empty bags flutter in the breeze to catch your attention.

Se vende castanhas

Bilene is a popular beach for Mozambicans.

Praia Do Bilene

It’s a good place to spend our final night in Mozambique.

Bilene sunset

After driving through pullulating Maputo, we cross the Maputo-Katembe bridge to the other side.

This is the closest we care to get to downtown Maputo.

On the other side is a newly-paved road all the way to the South African border.

What used to be a 7-hour journey now takes a mere 90 minutes. The road passes through the Maputo Elephant Park.

Our experience at the border is much calmer than our entrance a month ago at a different border post at the height of the holiday rush.

On the border

The accommodation at Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is full. We stay at a private campground, Sand Forest Lodge, about a twenty minute drive away.

We are the only guests. We have the campground to ourselves. (Except for a resident herd of nyala on the property.)

Female nyala in the distance

The males are much larger and more striking in appearance.

The buck stops here

Hluhluwe is pronounced ‘shlooSHLOOey’. It’s Zulu for the plant Dalbergia armata.

The road to Hluhluwe

We see a family of warthogs. The young ones are pretty cute.

Some nyala cross the road.

We come across a black rhino. He seems as big as a tank.

In the middle of the road, a dung beetle does its thing.

Roulez Sa Bosse

Some weaver birds bathe in a puddle.

Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath…

Weaver birds make colonies of woven nests, like this.

On a sunny day, we visit nearby Sodwana Bay.

Like Tofo, it’s a famous diving spot. With the same heavy surf that makes launching dive boats a challenge.

The peak season is past. A few weeks ago, this would be heaving with people.

We are fortunate to have a vacant lifeguard platform to use as a sun shelter all day.

The beach is nearly deserted.

Thousands of crabs run into and out of the tide.

We visit the Imfolozi side of Hluhluwe–Imfolozi park.

First thing we see are three elephants socializing by the river.

A pair of young impala tussle in the road.

We stop at a game hide in front of a waterhole.

The waterhole in question. Nothing turns up, possibly because it’s the hottest part of the day.

We are rewarded at the end of the day with the sight of five white rhinos.

No Chinese around, we hope

This little rhino is nursing. It must be anatomically awkward to nurse a creature with a horn at the end of its snout.

We depart from our campsite and say goodbye to Cori and Godfrey, our hosts. And their six dogs: four Great Danes and two Jack Russells.

It would be difficult to fit even one of these dogs into Nelson.

And so it’s back on the road to Durban.

Sight or Insight of the Day

I mention in an earlier entry that I’m seeking a FRELIMO t-shirt.

I found one.

Unidade, Crítica, Unidade ‘

More precisely, Maria found it. She negotiated for it virtually off the back of a Mozambican man. It’s authentic, with holes and stains. Just what I was looking for.

‘Came so far for beauty…’

…I left so much behind.‘ – Leonard Cohen

We can’t seem to tear ourselves away from the beach. While in the neighbourhood of Tofo, we spend four nights at Barra Beach.

Roughing it

We camp in our tent, a stone’s throw from the beach.

Barra Beach

We decide to return to Travessia Lodge because it’s so idyllic.

Looking North
Looking South
Maria and Teekay

We spend three glorious days here doing absolutely nothing.

It’s a full moon while we’re here.

Full moon over Travessia

We return to Tofo to go on a snorkeling safari to see some whale sharks. We actually see some! We get to swim within a few meters of them.

We are so impressed with the Liquid Dive experience that I take a ‘Discover SCUBA Diving’ course. Stu (from the UK) is my first instructor.

Newbie in the pool

After learning some basics in the pool, we depart for a first open water dive.

Getting a boat out to sea against the surf here is a challenge.

Team effort

I enjoy it so much, we decide to stay on so I can get my PADI certification.

Meanwhile, Maria goes out for a snorkeling trip to see some seahorses.

Typical Tofo scenery

It’s a long walk to the water.

Joe, Hannah, and Alberto

Along the way, they spot a flock of flamingos.

The locals harvest shellfish at low tide.

Kids, too.

Oyster catcher

It’s a pleasure staying here for the time it takes to do this PADI course. We stay in the on-site accommodation.

Plenty of time for the beach, plus yoga sessions, plus exercise, plus….

Training is almost complete. This is Naomi (from the UK), my diving guru, and Chris (from the Netherlands), who is qualifying for his Divemaster certification.

Checking the kit

This is a shot after Maria gets everyone to wave for the camera.

Tori, Chris, Naomi, and Denis

And eventually, the day arrives that I become a PADI-certified open water diver.

The Life Aquatic
Underwater photos courtesy of Tori 🌞

Finally, we must leave the Liquid resort. It’s kind of sad – this place has the same family/community atmosphere we experienced at Zane’s in Sumatra.

In a world with so much disharmonious crap in it – we’re looking at you, Donald Trump – it’s rare to stumble onto a haven of niceness.

May such places thrive and grow. Bye-Bye, Liquid. <sniff>

Sight or Insight of the Day – Happy Birthday, Maria

One of the main reasons we return to Travessia is to celebrate Maria’s birthday. Which we do.

Maria’s birthday coffee, with flowers and small gifts.

In the evening, Adel makes Maria a delicious chocolate cake.

Happy New Year! – Vilanculos & Tofo

2020 is off to a good start.

After an enjoyable, low-stress Christmas at Travessia, we travel north to Vilanculos.

Because we left it until quite late to book accommodation – especially considering that Mozambique is a prime destination for South Africans over their Christmas/school holidays – we take what is available.

We spend three days at the perfectly-fine Casa Cabana Beach hotel.

Praia de Vilanculos

When our three days are over, we must move to the Bahia Mar Resort, just up the beach.

Bahia Mar

We snag the very last room. It’s kind of expensive. At first we thought this is because it’s New Year’s Eve.

Turns out it’s really because it’s the snazziest room they have – the ‘presidential suite’ or something. Which is probably why it is still unbooked.

We have our own private pool, with jacuzzi.

The bathroom is about three times the size of the average Japanese hotel room. You can take a shower while looking out over the ocean.

On New Year’s Day, we drive the nearly-deserted N1 road south on our way to Tofo Beach.

We drive through Inhambane on our way to Tofo. It has many colonial Portuguese-style buildings. These are rare in post-Independence Mozambique, at least from what we see so far.

We are booked for three nights in a place on the beach. However, as we approach town, there is complete and utter gridlock as people pour into Tofo for a giant January First festa.

‘…Vamos na Praia’

We make alternate arrangements and return next day.

I like to spend some time in Mozambique – the sunny skies are aqua blue…

Besides tourism, fishing is probably the most common livelihood.

‘… and when the net was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. ‘ – Matthew 13:48

We eat a lot of seafood while we’re on the coast. In Vilanculos, we gorge on enormous Mozambique prawns. Cooked in our ensuite kitchen.

Tofo has a large craft market.

What I’m really looking for is a FRELIMO t-shirt. FRELIMO is the natural party of government here.

Another specialty of the country are these brightly-coloured textiles called capulanas.

I try to remain inconspicuous as a policeman hovers nearby.

Sight or Insight of the Day

After the exotic Travessia Lodge and the deluxe Bahia Mar Resort, it’s a pleasant change to be in our simple grass hut on the beach in Tofo.

The simple life is an authentic life.” – Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Cheaper, too.

Kruger Park and Christmas in Mozambique

OK, enough is enough. It’s January 02, 2020 already!

After a long dry spell of no internet availability, we once more strive to catch up. We’re going to throw together a few photos and commentary until we get to more promising WiFi territory.

We spend a wonderful nine days in Kruger Park. Because it’s so fully booked at this time of year, we end up spending time in many different camps in different accommodations, including camping…

Camping in Berg en Dal

…as well as more sophisticated digs.

At Crocodile River Camp

We see many animals and take many photos, but we’ll just show a few highlights.

Elephant crossing
Endangered ground hornbills
A leopard kill up a tree

Eventually, we head for the Mozambique border.

We broil in our car for 8 hours as we crawl the last six kilometers to the border.

In Mozambique, like many places, most people walk.

If you don’t walk, you have to squish into severely overloaded pickup trucks.

Goats ride on the roof. We see this more than once.

We are met on the road by Ben from the Travessia Lodge.

We park Nelson at the local chief’s house.

This is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. If you ever win the lottery, book a flight to Mozambique and stay here for a week. Or three.

There are only five cabins. Besides the staff and our hosts Ben and Adel, our fellow guests are a pair of friendly couples from Capetown and Jo’burg and a lovely family (also from Johannesburg) and their delightful daughters.

There are friendly dogs on site. This is Essie, who keeps me company while I give the hammock a workout.

And this is Teekay getting the treatment from Maria, Ben, and Adel.

We spend a wonderful Christmas here before heading north for Vilanculos.

Sight or Insight of the Day – We Are Scatterlings of Africa

When we were in Johannesburg, I was sad to learn that musician Johnny Clegg died recently (July, 2019).

Johnny and friend – photo courtesy of People Bo Kay

His crossover style in the early eighties on such work as ‘Scatterlings‘ gave the world a vision of South Africa beyond tear gas and unrest. I still belt out a slightly off-key version as we drive across the African landscape.

See you in another life, Johnny.