Immediately upon leaving the South African side of the International Transfrontier Peace Park, the landscape changed dramatically. We’d gotten used to seeing wildlife fairly regularly along the road..mostly impala and other antelope species, but as soon as we crossed over into Mozambique, they were no where to be found. According to Neil, our guide, during the Mozambique civil war both sides had come to depend on bush meat for sustenance. In addition, there are quite a few tiny villages still in the Mozambique side of the park, and between the hunting and the human presence, the wildlife just hasn’t returned.
Despite the lack of game, driving thru the back country was definitely interesting. We were going on roads barely wide enough for our vehicle, with branches coming in the vehicle that would quite easily take out an eye, or even remove your head if you happened to not duck in time!
For the next four nights we ended up camping at very primitive campsites with no facilities. Showers were basically wet-wipes, and toilets were pretty much pits that we dug in the ground. We did spend one really remarkable evening with a local family who had built a very primitive campsite for overland trucks. The head of the family was a friendly gentleman, but it was impossible to guess his age or his wife’s age. The husband was blind in one eye, and spent much of his time sewing on an old manually operated machine that he had under a thatched hut. We had a few things for him to repair, and for the most part he did a great job. We spent the afternoon playing boccie ball with the kids using “monkey-apples” for balls..tons of fun, and lots of laughs when the fruit finally couldn’t handle it anymore and exploded in a sticky mess on someone’s hands.
Still, despite the dust, noise, discomfort and the lack of amenities, it was a good couple of days, although I don’t think any of us would have chosen to delay our upcoming beach holidays in order to extend the experience!