Pafuri to Swimuwini, Gonarezhou National Park
1 June 2018
About 180 km, 4 border posts, 3 countries, 2 river crossings, 8 hours
We left the comfort of Pafuri ready for a long day. The Pafuri border post opens at 8 am, and we were the second group of people for the day to leave SA.
No queue, simple procedure, cursory vehicle check, and off we drive a few metres to the Mozambique side. Slightly more run down, building one to do the immigration procedures – simple form, passports stamped, then pay the guy literally sitting under the tree R280,00 for Third Party Insurance, then across to the blue building for the Customs process. We have a Carnet de Passage, so no payments required from us, but these quiet border posts are not 100% knowledgeable on the Carnet, but still it presented no problems. Two young guys inspected the vehicle, much interest shown in the goodies in the car – mercifully I am a nerd, so many books in my backseat bookshelf were not tempting enough. We gave them our apples, which made them happy, and off we went into Mozambique.
The Holloways led the charge down the most diabolical road – 4×4 is the most comfortable way, but we saw scooters and clapped out sedans driving at snail’s pace along the track. We had received word from the guys at Dumela Wilderness Safaris that the Limpopo was now crossable, and we did not have to drive all the way to Mapai to cross on the dodgy pont there.
So we bounced our way to the given GPS coordinates, through incredible scenery, including the most beautiful fever tree forest.
The mighty Limpopo indeed posed no problem getting across,
and on we bounced, through dusty Mozambican villages, hugging the border with Zimbabwe – which is unfenced.
We arrived at the Nuanetsi River – I walked it – basically okay, but soft under foot in places, and was about to tell Rich, but he had leapt on in. He stopped on the sandbank in the middle as I was trying to tell him about a soft deep area that he needed to be careful of – MISTAKE – on trying to move forward, the poor Toyota sank into the sand, wheels spinning.
We had also forgotten to deflate our tyres a little. ALL the mistakes in the book. Live and learn. The boys leapt into, now able to use all the recovery gear Rich and Patrick had spent hours buying. Patrick, in his trusty Nissan Patrol, eventually had to tow us out, with local villagers looking on rather non-plussed as we had disturbed their washing day in the river.
On we forged to the border town of Chicualacuala – now afternoon, and we had no problems going through the border post despite the somewhat surly attitude, and again, the customs guys looking for something they could take. They got a fruit juice each from us.
The Zimbabwe side was an absolute pleasure. Smiling faces, helpful, interested, friendly, well-spoken. Thank you – it really was a pleasant experience.
A couple of kilometres down the road we entered the southern gate of Gonarezhou – this road runs parallel to the straightest railway that seems to go on into the horizon.
We eventually peeled off to the left to Mabalauta to check in, buy wood, and purchase a fishing licence for a now, very happy Richard. Back into the vehicles for a shortish drive to the Swimuwini Chalets overlooking the Mwenezi River.
Absolutely beautiful. Comfortable, clean, neat accommodation with basic kitchen equipment – no fridge though. Perfect way to end a long day, watching a herd of Nyala coming to graze in amongst the chalets.