Sun setting over the Kruger National Park. Shot from the viewing deck across the Crocodile River at Ngwenya Lodge, Marloth Park near Komatipoort.
Being a fan of solitude, I usually embark on my road trips alone. This time however, I invited three friends to join me – the thought of driving all alone through a previously troubled African country at the back of my mind.
We arrived at Ngwenya Lodge, our stop-over point to Mozambique in the early evening, after a leisurely 5-hour drive from Johannesburg. The Lodge which is separated from the Kruger National Park (KNP) by the Crocodile River, is a sort of home-away-from-home with all the mod-cons and more. There are many features and attractions within the complex to keep the average person happily engaged for a week, even a beauty salon for the women.
My first sighting of wildlife that night was right on the porch of my chalet. I discovered the reason this bird was clinging defensively to the wall, the next morning when I spotted its nest in the porch rafters up near the thatched roof of the chalet.
The next morning, we were visited by this rather noisy raft of wild geese who were intent on getting in on some of our breakfast action on the porch.
Later that morning we noticed this Common Iguana surveying its surroundings after emerging from the dam about 20 meters from the chalet. Incidently, a few years ago during one of my previous visits to the lodge, I woke one morning to find a hippo in the dam which had strayed onto the resort property from the KNP.
After spending some time on the viewing deck of the resort that overlooks the KNP, and spotting no animals across the river, we spent the rest of the day driving around aimlessly around the little town of Komatipoort, and did some shopping in preparation for our departure across the border into Mozambique, the following day.
The Mozambique border post is about 450 Km from Johannesburg, just outside the little town of Komatipoort. Xai Xai in Mozambique is a further 290 Km north-east, using the toll route passing by the Capital city of Maputo.
My eventual destination, the beach resort of Zona Braza, was a further 40 Km away, 10 Km of which consisted of a hair-raising drive along a winding dirt road through dense bush. This road is best suited to a 4-wheel drive vehicle, although my front-wheel drive car managed fine, except for the night of our arrival when we got bogged down in the soft sand right inside the resort.
A little pre-trip preparation is necessary to cross the border from South Africa into Mozambique when travelling by car. Here are a few quick tips to prepare:
- Passports must be valid for at least six months.
- Make a copy of your vehicle registration papers. Have it certified at a police station or other organ of justice. You will also need a letter from the bank authorising you to take your vehicle over the border, is still under loan contract.
- Purchase third-party and travel insurance for the duration of your stay.
- Have two sets of breakdown warning triangles and reflector jackets on the vehicle. These can be purchased at most camping gear stores. A decal with the symbol “ZA” is required to be stuck on your car, preferably at the rear to indicate South African Nationality. Appropriate decals for vehicles that are towing trailers or caravans are also necessary.
- Keep all documentation, including passports handy in a folder inside the cabin of the vehicle, as regular checks are performed my the Mozambique Police, all your route.
- Adhere to the speed limits as they are enforced very strictly. Trust me, it is unpleasant enough being stopped for routine checks; being stopped for a transgression could be much worse.
- It is advisable to consult your medical practitioner about taking malaria tablets before the trip. These are not available over the counter at pharmacies and require a prescription.
In the next installment, I will describe my short stay at the Ngwenya Lodge resort just before the border post, which adjoins the Kruger National Park. This stop was necessary to break up the long journey to my eventual destination, especially since driving at an average of 80 Km/h in Mozambique is very tiring.