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Offline Xpat

Beach bumming Mozambique
« on: January 29, 2019, 08:48:51 pm »
Intro

Few years back I tried to ride on the little tracks I plotted on sat images along the Moz coast from Marracuene just north of Maputo all the way to Vilankulos. I have managed way less than half of the planned tracks and had to chicken out the rest on EN1 tar as I was just not good enough to drag heavy ass rally kitted KTM 690 through all that sand in the available time. That failure has been recorded for posterity here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=188438.0

So I had a score to settle. Being few years wiser I upgraded to KTM 500 to avoid big bike fatigue that defeated me last time. The plan was simple - start home in Midrand, make it to the coast at Macaneta in Mozambique through Swaziland to avoid Komatjipoort, and then hit the tracks I have plotted along the coast all the way to Vilankulos. For return leg Runner gave me a pipeline track that shortcutted inland almost straight from  Vilankulos to Komatjipoort and then back to Midrand via whatever dirt roads there are. Like so:




I pinged Straatkat and JustBendIt, whom I used for company on my last trip through Kaokoland, but they both used elaborate and improbable excuses to stay out - I'm pretty sure they wussed out because they were just scared of the sand and myself. So solo it was.

With that sorted, I packed up and set-off on November 5th.


Edit: All the GPS tracks from this trip are too big to be attached to single post. Hence attached to this post are the GPS tracks for the Moz portion of the trip along the coast up to Pomene. The rest of the tracks from Pomene, through to Vilankulos and then back to SA are posted here: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=233639.msg4206141#msg4206141
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 10:31:56 am by Xpat »
 
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Offline silvrav

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 08:50:52 pm »
 :sip:
 

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 08:51:43 pm »
Sub.....
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 09:17:24 pm »
Day 1 - Midrand to Maguga dam (Swaziland)

Day 1 was just a long liaison, something to get done and over with as quickly as possible. To ease the pain of the long commute I plotted what I thought will be shortest route on as much dirt as possible.




To my dismay that route turned out to be about 80% tar as most of the little roads I expected to be dirt have been tarred or cemented to handle the heavy mining trucks traffic. I hit the dirt properly only few dozen km before Swaziland and followed it to the Bulembu border post.

I have managed to score my first flat within first 50 km near Bapsfontein when I stopped off tar for a piss. That must be my record as it was so far all tar, except that little dirt on the side of the road. I could not find more scenic spot - to be fair, at least there was garage on the other side of the road so I didn't have to pump the tyre up once fixed:




I run Tubeliss, so the flat was quickly sorted with one plug. The only problem was that I didn't have that rough piercy thingy that is used to make the hole bigger before inserting the plug - luckily there was tyre repair shop behind the garage and I could borrow one there. The plug was leaking a bit, but nothing that pumping the wheel up a bit in the morning wouldn't fix.




From then on it was just sheer boredom through the SA mining heartlands until the mountains at the Swazi border popped up ahead and I fiinally hit proper dirt. The track along the border to Bulembu is very scenic and enjoyable.










A crossing where the dirt track I rode hit the tar road between Barberton and Bulembu. This is not an art - something went wrong with the colors in this picture when I exported it.










The border crossing was a pleasant non-event and I hit the dirt road down to Piggs Peak and from there tar down to Maguga dam for an overnighter at Maguga lodge.

The road to Pigg's Peak runs through the big forestry area and I was surprised at the method they use there to harvest the trees - they basically flatened huge areas of forrest giving the whole place an eerie post-apocalyptic look. I know nothing about forestry, but where I'm from in Europe they usually cut certain usually long and narrow stripes, that are intersped with lines of standing trees, so they never cut the big huge area. No idea what is better, but our way at least looks better.













I arrived at Maguga lodge in the late afternoon, settled into a chalet and after early dinner retreated to bed early:





« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 09:22:36 pm by Xpat »
 
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Online Offshore

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 09:35:00 pm »
 :thumleft:
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 09:39:31 pm »
Day 2 - Maguga dam (Swaziland) to Macaneta (Mozambique)

The route for day 2 had three distinct parts. First to follow in reverse a track I haven't finished few years back on one of the JustBlipIt's Swazi hardcore weekends due to flat tyre. The track ended in the middle of Swaziland and from there I would take whatever dirt / tar would take me fastest to and through the border in Namaacha. From the border I plotted dirt tracks to Macaneta, circumnavigating Maputo from the north via Moamba - I have been to Maputo twice before and I knew better than to get stuck in it again. It was a long day and I hence I started early at around 6:00 am.




Mark's track running for about 40 - 50 km turned out to be quite tricky in places due to mud and land errosion. But I managed fine and it had plenty of fun. Maguga dam lake behind:




And onwards east.



















Some sections were properly washed out and required a bit of scouting to find a way around:










And onwars I rode:










I made an half-assed attempt to ride over this palm tree instead of doing the clever thing and ride around it and paid the price - those things are slipery:






« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 08:35:07 am by Xpat »
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 09:48:26 pm »
There were few more tricky sections before I hit the main dirt road heading east towards Namaacha, but nothing 500 wouldn't take in its stride































Eventually I have emerged from the bush and hit the main dirt road heading east towards Namaacha. Here crossing the Komati river (I think):


« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 09:51:06 pm by Xpat »
 
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Offline lone riderer

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 10:04:22 pm »
Nice. How tough was that first day mostly sitting in the saddle or did you upgrade the stock seat?
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Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 10:07:18 pm »
Nice. How tough was that first day mostly sitting in the saddle or did you upgrade the stock seat?

No, I have a stock seat. It will toughen you up - for one day it is bearable. But after 12 days I did sit in very funny positions just to make it back. May have a look at the Seat Concept seats one of these days.

Offline aka.Goliath

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2019, 10:48:27 pm »
Definitely have a look at the AirHawk seats. The 690 seat must be made of the same teak wood as the 500 and the AirHawk makes a huge difference and is  a much cheaper option.
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Offline dirt rat

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 07:20:56 am »
See you are making peace with Tubliss.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2019, 09:18:13 am »
Definitely have a look at the AirHawk seats. The 690 seat must be made of the same teak wood as the 500 and the AirHawk makes a huge difference and is  a much cheaper option.

Thanks - you reminded me that I actually have that AirHawk somewhere in my cupboard. But to be honest, I don't like to clutter my life more than absolutely necessary on trips like this (its just one more thing to carry, adjust etc) so will probably prefer different seat even at high price (it is still probably cheaper than just new windshield on CRF250Rally from what I have seen). But most likely, being lazy and all, I will just suck it up and keep the standard seat  :)

Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 09:21:11 am »
See you are making peace with Tubliss.

Peace is such a big word...   ;)

As we will see, Tubeliss came to bite my ass on this trip big time. That said I kind of habituated myself to it by now (i.e. carry spare inner tubes) and will stick to it as it seems to fit my kind of riding where I want solution that is less prone to puncture (or easy to fix if one gets one) and at the same time be able to variate pressures for tar (to save knobblies) and dirt (ability to ride extremely low pressures all the say down to 0), best.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 09:21:41 am by Xpat »
 
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Offline I&horse

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2019, 09:40:42 am »
sub
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Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2019, 10:33:51 am »
I arrived at the Namaacha border at about 14:00. I prefer this normally very quiet border crossing to the hustle and bustle of Komatipoort - on my prior two visits it was always pretty smooth going, even though I didn't have visa arranged upfront and had to go through the whole visa issue procedure at the border.

But this time it came to bite me in the ass properly. It was pretty quiet, except lots of trucks loaded variety of second hand cars. That straight away gave it a bit dodgy feel, as I would bet at least some of those vehicles were not obtained legaly - seemed to me like the totsies found a new route to smuggle stolen cars from SA.

More relevant there were quite a few bored touts milling around who naturally immediately zoomed in on me. Now I have done by now dozens and dozens of African border crossings, so I'm pretty adept at keep them at bay, but these clearly worked in cohoots with the border officials and I was badly outnumbered. The immigration was no issue (this time I got visa at the consulate in Pretoria), but the piece of c&*t officer at customs pretended not to speak English and one of the lingering touts conveniently swooped in to help fill some new customs form. I kept being an asshole as much as possible short of punching the guy, but I was clearly coming short in this game. The racket was, that I had to declare the value of the items I had on me and if it was over R1000, I would have to pay some kind of deposit on the border (like 30 - 40%), supposedly refundable on the exit of Mozambique. However if I kept the value less than R1000, I didn't have to pay any deposit.

Now the tout who adopted me explained this to me (whether correct or BS I had no way to check as the officer was just incommunicado) and proceeded to change the value I have put in (about R3000 which was BS of course, but at least remotely believable) to R400 under watchfull eye of the piece of shit custom officer. Where they had me by the balls of course (unless they were bluffing all along and there was no such a thing as custom deposit), was that there were other custom officers waiting outside by the barrier who would according to the tout check the content of my luggage and easily estabish that my crap is worth way more than R400 (the smartphone on its own would probably suffice as evidence for them). So I had to fork out coule of hundred rand to grease the snakes to avert their eyes. From pure business perspective I would merrily pay that if it saved me hassle with the deposit (yes I'm pragmatist, not a moralist), but of course the whole episode left me with the sour taste in the mount as the situation was just stacked too much against me, and I felt that there most probably wasn't any such a thing as import deposit.

I have somehow managed not to punch anybody and not call anybody too outrageaus names (except probably the tout, but he merrily took it for the cut he took from the bribe), but shot out of the border at pretty foul mood. The weather wasn't helping either - there were heavy low clouds rolling about threatening proper tropical downpour every minute.

I rolled into the Namaacha town and stopped at the cash machine to get Meticais. Namaacha is a stark contrast to anything on Swazi side. It is very desolate and decreipt, looking like the war finished only a month or two ago. I've been here twice before so I knew what to expect, but with the bad weather closing in, it just looked particularly shitty.

This can be actually extended to the whole of Mozambique. It is sunny day country. Meaning, when the weather is good it looks like tropical paradise with green palm trees, red dirt roads, white sand, deep green grass, turquoise seas and colorful houses provide myriad of dazzling colors and contrasts. People smile and even the neglected buildings widespready everywhere have nice latino kind of charm with sun shining on them.

But as soon as the sun hides behind the consistent cloud cover, the place gets much more omnious and unpleasant feel. All the colors disappear into dark mush of grey and brown, people seem distinctly gloomy and the abandoned carcasses of ghostly moldy buildings (that has previously been clearly nice big properties) many of them with bullet marks that dot the landscape everywhere make one inevitably wonder about who built them, lived there and what end did they meet.

In short, Mozambique didn't welcome me with a nice vibe, so I just put my head down and focused on getting to my planned overnight spot on the beach of Macaneta as fast as possible.  I have made the mistake of riding to Macaneta through Maputo twice before, so this time I came ready and plotted a route bypassing Mapute in wide north west angle through Moamba. I thought I plotted it on tar, but to my this time pleasant surprise it turned out to me mostly very remote double track runninig up to Moamba mostly on rocky/muddy tracks along the Swazi hills and later from Moamba on sandy tracks roads towards the coast.










I got caught out by quick intense downpour, that turned tracks in one section into a bit of clay nightmare. Even on light agile 500 I was sliding all over the show and duckwalking the bike for km or two. I don't know how to ride mud - I guess speed is key to keep tyres cleaning themselves, but I didn't have cojones to try that one out.







So the sand after Moamba was a welcome change. I followed my track for about 20 km until I came upon two guardhouses with slits to shoot out from and was met by two soldiers with AKs and stuff. They didn't speak English and kept saying something about quarter or some such - which I figured is either prison or military camp (I couldn't see any other buildings in the bush though). What was clear was that I was not allowed to pass so I backtracked few km to a little settlement where I turned onto another much less used track that was heading towards another track I have remembered from my map research. After getting lost in the bush few times I have eventually found the other sand road connecting Moamba nad EN1 past Maputo and about 10 - 15 km short of Marracuene and pushed on as it was getting late.
















On tar I filled up and headed for Marracuene where I turned off and crosse Inkomati river on the newly built toll bridge. I have finally arived to Macaneta already in dark and headed for one of its oldest establishments (that I have never visited before) - Tan-N'-Biki lodge. It turned out to be big establishment and to my surprise it was almost completely empty. I got a chalet and rushed to the restaurant as they were about to close due to lack of clients I assumed. That would have been a disaster after testing day as I eat only once a day in the evening and the idea of that proper meal in the evening kept me going all the way from that bloody border.




Anyway, I managed to get my obligatory 4 - 5 courses evening meal, so at the end of the day all is well that ends well.   O0
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 10:36:44 am by Xpat »
 
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Offline Flouw

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2019, 10:35:51 am »
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Offline Black_Hawk

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 10:38:38 am »
Now this looks like a awesome adventure, thanks for sharing  :thumleft:

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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2019, 10:54:29 am »
Nothing grates my Arse more than those corrupt Mozambique Custom Officials. Thanks for sharing.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2019, 11:54:27 am »
Day 3 - Macaneta to Bilene

The original plan for the day was to make it past Xai Xai along the coast and find a lodge or bushcamp somewhere on the beach. However when I woke up the weather was still pretty shitty with heavy low clouds all over the place promising plenty of rain soon. Which is not necessarily a bad thing on this track as this section to Bilene is probably the heaviest sand I have seen anywhere and the rain will make it easier to ride. But being wet through and through as I eventually ended up being gets old eventually, so I ended up calling it a day in Bilene where I retreated in heavy rain to my favourite there Complexo Palmeiras.




I waited a bit in the morning to see if the weather wouldn't clear up a bit, but if that didn't happen I just geared up and set-off. First half up to Machubo I managed to stay dry, but afterwards the heavens opened up and very quickly I was soaked through and through.

Leaving Macaneta:







Then I hit the first set of dunes. Last time on 690 I battle here quite a bit, but this time it was a breeze:













At places the track was quite a bit overgrown, but nothing to worry about too much:





























« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 12:03:08 pm by Xpat »
 
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Re: Beach bumming Mozambique
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2019, 12:03:04 pm »
 Last time on 690 I battle here quite a bit, but this time it was a breeze:

The sand being wet helped a bit too and the lightness of the 500?
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