Nairobi to Cape Town through nine African Countries & and to the world cup
October 29, 2010
Florian Keller, Enchanting-Africa's managing director sent us this letter from the road, written after the FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa. Florian travelled overland to support the German team, and ended up falling even deeper in love with his adopted home: Africa.
After almost 10 weeks travelling through Africa, we are on the home stretch - I am writing this email from the Mozambiquen-Tanzanian border on the Rovuma River (although I probably will only be able to send it once we are back in Nairobi).
We are in absolute No Mans’ Land – 180km of rough 4x4 road from the nearest Mozambiquen town, Mueda, and 100km of dirt road from the nearest Tanzanian town, Masasi and until two days ago, we didn’t fully understand how to cross the mighty Rovuma River over to Tanzania because nobody who we asked could tell us, as no one seems to have ever crossed this border. Some told us about a new bridge, others about loading the car on two canoes that are tied together and act as a makeshift ferry.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t meet a single vehicle on the 180 km from Mueda, and when we arrived at the Mozambiquen side of the river last night two hours after sunset, there was – nothing!
Nothing except pitch black darkness as the moon hadn’t risen yet and we could only see some lights on the far Tanzanian side of the river. We didn’t quite make it to the river before the border closed and therefore had to camp overnight on the Mozambiquen side, a lonely Mozambiquen soldier allowed us to pitch our tent right in front of the immigration building. This didn’t, however, solve our question of where to get some food as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and when we asked our soldier (seemingly, there was only this one soldier to secure the Mozambiquen border) what to do about this, he allowed us to cross over on foot to the Tanzanian side to get some food there. So, we approached what looked like a monstruous sight in the darkness and walked for about 1km over the bridge towards the scattered lights on the Tanzanian side, occasionally looking down trying to recognize the features of the river below.
Reaching the Tanzanian side of the bridge, we first encountered a couple of love birds who had chosen the solitude to the bridge and a bit later were suddenly stopped by a Tanzanian soldier who emerged out of the darkness to question what we were doing. We explained that empty stomachs had caused us to embark on our night border crossing and fully understanding this motivation he pointed to some lights where he said we would be able to get some food. We thoroughly enjoyed the local food in the company of some local youth truck and afterwards returned the way we had come, back over the Ponte de Unidade or Unity Bridge.
Now, the sun is up and we can see the huge bridge spanning the wide river – it is not quite clear to me why this bridge was build in such No Mans’ Land, 200km inland from the coast, instead of building it on the coast allowing a more direct connection between the coastal Tanzanian and coastal Mozambiquen road. Also, the lack of border traffic appears to have resulted in a very relaxed attitude of the Mozambiquen immigration and customs personnel towards border opening and closing times. An hour after the official opening time of the border, there is still no one in sight - this gives me the time to write this email and to reflect on this trip...
10 weeks of travelling by road through Africa, first 3 weeks from Nairobi to South Africa, via Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, then one month in South Africa, following the German team during the World Cup, and now 3 weeks back from South Africa to Nairobi, crossing the entire length of Mozambique.
An amazing trip that has brought me to countless beautiful places - the deep blue of Lake Malawi, floating in a canoe past hippos on the mighty Zambezi river, getting drenched at the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, watching hundreds of elephants drink and play at sunset on the banks of the Chobe River, discovering the once and hopefully soon again popular Hwange and Matopos National Parks in Zimbabwe, experiencing the spectacular and ever changing landscapes of South Africa, seeing Leopards on a night game drive in Sabi Sands, diving with Great White Sharks in the Western Cape and cruising with Southern Right Whales in Kwa Zulu Natal, behaving like a teenager after Germany beating England 4:1 and Argentina 4:0, skiing in the mountains of Lesotho, climbing the dunes and enjoying the incredible views and colour contrasts in the stunning Bazaruto Archipelago in Southern Mozambique, enjoying the picture postcard beaches and turquoise sea on tiny Medjumbe Island and dancing the night away in a local disco on Ibo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago in Northern Mozambique.
I look back to these last ten weeks and am grateful for having had the opportunity to embark on this journey, which was great fun and has given me an appreciation and understanding of Southern Africa.
Beyond the places visited, I met many interesting people and countless moments will stay with me - many evenings under the stars that triggered philosophical or just obscure thoughts and questions, such as the question of how many stars there are and how many sandcorns there are on earth. During one evening under the stars, we made an earnest attempt to quantify the latter – the figure we calculated is 50,000 quadrillion sandcorns on earth.
I challenge all of you to come up with a more accurate figure!
Amimo & Florian
To see Florian's photos from this trip, visit our facebook page.