Month Two - Safari, Horrendous Bus Journeys and barefoot luxury

Month Two - Safari, Horrendous Bus Journeys and barefoot luxury

How is it nearly February? I know one day follows another, until they don’t, but you know what I mean. The world is zooming by, and if we don’t zoom with it, then we will miss out. 

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a chilled person. My nan told me that being chilled was for people who didn’t have any hobbies.

This second month of travelling, my favourite hobby has involved thousands of miles of travel. Some of it by plane as, we flew into Kenya on New Year’s Eve, and the rest overland. As I write this, I’m in Ponta Do Ouro, which is in the south of Mozambique. Mozambique is about 5 times the size of the UK, and we took the bus from north to south – a bit of a challenge – more about this later.

Why fly into Kenya on New Year’s Eve and in fact not just NYE but my birthday? Money. I’d like to claim there was some other reason, but it’s pretty much always cheaper to fly on days when no one else wants to travel. I’m not complaining, it was a fun thing to do on my birthday, and I’ve never been a fan of the evening of NYE as it always feels like people are cheering the end of my birthday. 

If you’re interested in the freakish story of my birth – the start of it all – then check out this post here



We arrived in Nairobi around 11 pm. We’d been told to watch for this city and heard it described, more than once as “Nai-robbery. “

The ‘bus station’, a chaotic mess, where the buses gather to make noise, was a fun introduction to the city. Our first night there was spent in a 10x10ft windowless cell with no aircon or fan and surly staff. Plus side, we didn’t see any of the fireworks celebrating the end of the day. 

New Year’s Day we got in an Uber and headed off for a shopping centre. When you travel a lot, certainly in hot countries, finding some nice aircon and a decent coffee is one of those small pleasures. 


 We were in Nairobi as it’s the jumping off point for a safari to the Maasai Mara. Both Alex and I are animal lovers, and we often focus our trips around them. More so underwater stuff, both of us being diving instructors, but we’d both rather see animals on land than we would people.

 

Usually, whenever there are local people and culture, there are fewer animals. We travelled down the Amazon once, and the guide said ‘there are 5 different tribes living along these waters’ – most of the group seemed excited. We both sighed as 5 tribes, 5 groups of people all fishing and eating everything in sight. So less fish and fewer animal sightings. And before you tell me that the ‘locals’ came first, they didn’t - the animals did.

Anyway… I’ll step off that soapbox now, or I’ll start on the idea that it’s madness that scuba divers eat fish, well it’s madness that anyone does, but much worse if you’re a diver…. (ask me about it on Twitter).

In the Mara (as the locals call it), we saw lions, giraffes, buffalo, elephants, lots of random deer-ish things and a cheetah. Can’t complain. Much more about this trip here. 

After a fleeting visit to Mombassa, we got the flight out of Kenya, over Tanzania and onto Pemba. 


Pemba is a city in northern Mozambique. There is very little written on Mozambique, certainly not about how to travel around it as a backpacker. With this in mind, we thought we’d start at the top and see how hard it was to get around.

Hard is the answer, really hard. Well not that bad, just not easy. Everything online says either ‘hire a 4x4’ or ‘go by plane’ – It’s pretty much impossible to do the former, you can do it if you start in South Africa and head north, but not the other way around. 

As for the plane, our next stop after Pemba was a town called Vilanculos. The flight to here was £250 – the bus when we eventually found it was £35. Madness to take the plane. 

Many thought it was madness to take the bus though tbh. We set off at 4 am in super cramped seats, hammered on through the day and at 9 pm we pulled to a stop. I can’t say it was a bus station, more a giant concrete shed with the front missing. 

No one on the bus said what was happening. We’ve been doing okay with Spanish, the language here is Portuguese so though similar, it’s super confusing when people actually answer our questions asked in Spanish. 

Half the bus got off and settled on the floor, from nowhere they pulled out blankets, wrapped themselves up like mummies, most likely to protect from the ravenous mosquitoes and went off to sleep.





We sat on the bus while the remaining passengers chatted loudly, or played music to themselves on their phone. By play to themselves, I mean they didn’t bother with headphones so instead they let all of us enjoy the thumping, mind-numbing, makes me want to kill, dance music – sweet of them really.

At 4 am, we set off again. In total, it took 45 hours to get from Pemba to Vilanculos – can you see now why flying is suggested. 

We made it, though, and we didn’t kill anyone, and we have lots to write about.

We’d come to Vilanculos to work with two hotels. One very posh and lovely, one insanely posh that involved being transferred there by helicopter. Yes, that’s right, when we asked about transfers for the hotel they said ‘don’t worry we’ll send a helicopter’.

I’m not sure why but I expected the helicopter to be one of those you see on war films. Those that take about 20 people and had a gun. Perhaps I didn’t expect the gun, but I did expect something bigger.

The one we went in seated 4 and was tiny. A pretty amazing experience, but it felt like we’d taken off on a fairground ride. A big wheel cage perhaps, with a propeller. 

We sat on the bus while the remaining passengers chatted loudly, or played music to themselves on their phone. By play to themselves, I mean they didn’t bother with headphones so instead they let all of us enjoy the thumping, mind-numbing, makes me want to kill, dance music – sweet of them really.

At 4 am, we set off again. In total, it took 45 hours to get from Pemba to Vilanculos – can you see now why flying is suggested. 

We made it, though, and we didn’t kill anyone, and we have lots to write about.


On the island, it took us to a place where we were assigned a butler and told that food and drink were all inclusive. All-inclusive drink, not something you should let British people have access to. We basically spent the next two days eating as much food as we could, to stave off the fact we were drinking so much.

It’s not my fault that every time my glass was empty someone came and filled it back up – what? You expect me to have self-control – that’s just madness talking. 

The villa we stayed in at the hotel was bigger than any house Alex and I have ever lived in… £2000 a night – yes, £2000. We were asked by someone if it was worth it. Well, it’s hard to say. We were lucky enough to have been offered complimentary stay, and we don’t actually have £2000 for a night’s accommodation. However, if we did have that kind of money, then I’d have to say it was worth it. I think everyone, at least once in their lives, should experience real luxury if they get the chance. 

Back to the mainland and reality and after a 4-hour bus journey, we were dropped off at the side of the road. We were heading for Zavora, a tiny, tiny place that’s 17km down a dirt track from the main road.

After a 2 hour wait, wondering what exactly we were doing, a pickup truck came by and, we, along with 20 other people got on the back of it. Hard to imagine that many on the back but they kept cramming people on. 

As much as it’s amazing to stay in luxury places, it’s often these little adventures, the ‘what happens now’ moments that makes travel a real joy. 


We came to Zavora to dive and had a pretty great wreck dive. We then hung around for a couple of days to relax and then set off again. 

By relaxing, I mean work hard while the sound of the sea kept time with the clicking of our keyboards. 

It’s been an eventful month, one that’s involved lots of long, LONG bus journeys, but it’s been fun. Someone had told us before we arrived in Africa that ‘Africa isn’t for sissies’ – and they are right. It’s a challenging continent but well worth the effort. 

Saying that we’ve been in East Africa for about 2 months and in a week, we arrive in South Africa. We’ll get to spend 6 nights in a modern city, Johannesburg, and I honestly can’t wait to sit for a while in an aircon coffee shop, drink frappes and play on my phone with decent speed internet.  

 

Any questions or such why not comment below or find me on your favourite social media – TwitterFacebookInstagram.


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Month Two - Safari, Horrendous Bus Journeys and barefoot luxury



Month one  - Pyramids, the birth place of Jesus and the country that banned the internet
Month three - Killer Sharks, Leatherbacks and postcard perfect beaches