3500 kms d'aventures en Afrique du Sud & au Mozambique

Story of 17 days exploring the kilometers of tracks between the north of South Africa and its majestic parks, and Mozambique and its wild southern coast, aboard our 4x4 and tents on the roof. The Chipiron Family tells you.

When we decided on this trip, everyone's desires diverged a little between the desire to discover the Big 5, surfing, white sand beaches, canyons,... In 17 days, in view of the size of these regions, choices had to be made.

Already, where and how to sleep? 4x4? Camping car? Guest houses? Aibnb? You are starting to know us, moving around is part of our way of traveling. Considering the roads (which turn out to be more tracks than roads, especially in Mozambique :)), we find the perfect compromise: the 4x4 with tents on the roof . (count around €100/day with insurance). This will allow us to experience some folkloric moments, a little sweat during daily assembly and disassembly, but above all to be as close as possible to nature and with family. Boardbag, 2 backpacks with the minimum, binoculars and other accessories. adventurers, we embark, heading towards Johannesburg to collect our carriage.

After a smooth Biarritz-Paris-Paris-Johannesburg flight, the rental agency picked us up directly at the exit. We discover our Nissan 4x4, its compartments, its tips for setting up and taking down tents, the steering wheel on the right, the off-road options... Damien quickly takes control and we set off on the South African roads, heading towards Sabie to a first stop. After 4 hours of driving (and a few coffees to stay awake), we arrive in this village located at an altitude of 1200 meters in the largest planted fir forest in the world (timber exploitation being the main economy of the region), We discover how to set up camp and take advantage of a pleasant night to gain strength.

The next day, wake up to the sun and the sound of birds around 5:30 a.m. We repack our things, for Lone Creek waterfall . After a few kilometers, we arrive in the natural park, and quickly, in front of us, a waterfall more than 60 meters high, no tourists, lush vegetation. The children are speechless.

How to feel tiny in the face of the elements...

After discussions on the route, the children have only one idea in mind: to go see the animals. Noted! We leave on the 2nd day for Park Kruger.

First sensations after getting off the plateau: it’s hot. Even VERY hot. Bucket hats and caps won't be too much on this journey. Away from the big cities, the country retains this wild and natural aspect. The kilometers by car are an opportunity to appreciate the landscape and roadside life (dodging cows and other herds that may cross at any time).

We arrive at the Paul Kruger gate, located in the southwest of the park (which still has an area of ​​20,000 km2, almost double the size of the Landes). After the various paperwork completed and the warnings included, we are off on the trail of the Big Five! The adventure can begin.

In search of the Big Five

In a few hours, we see huge elephants, monkeys (and their babies (hearts with hands)), impalas (do you want some, here you go), warthogs, zebras, giraffes,... The Lion King live.

We decide to pitch the tent at Skukuza camp, then be able to do a loop of several kilometers the next day. Among warthogs and kudus, we spend our first night in Kruger.

The next day we decide to set our alarms at dawn to increase our chances of seeing the most beautiful animals of the savannah. And it was definitely worth it. On the program: lions AND lionesses, leopard napping, elephant charging at us, mini croc, and above all HYENA! “no, a hyena is not cute, Téo!” With such success, the afternoon break is well deserved. This time we stop at the Crocodile Bridge camp . This one is a little more basic but we are facing the African savannah, with its wild sounds. We are in the heart of chicken. The atmosphere is so crazy, indescribable. The next day, we get up at 3:30 a.m. for even more adventures. And once again we will be rewarded. Again our hyena friends, a cheetah (well satisfied from its hunt), again massive elephants (which we no longer approach too much after yesterday's fright).

Julie - "I didn't think I would be so amazed by it. The children were amazed by the beauty of these animals."

On the way to Mozambique

We had been warned: crossing the border into Mozambique could be a little tense. Bianca Buitendag had notably listed several things for us to add in our vehicle to avoid any attempt at backshish: 2 ZA stickers (South Africa), international birth certificates for children, copies of passports, vaccines,... And that 'you'll have to wait between 2 or 3 hours... We then arrive a little tense, at this "famous" border, at Lebombo...

We go to the South African post, we get our passports stamped, and we go to Mozambique. We get catcalled here and there, "yes, I'm part of the government", "look at my badge, stop."... so many people who stop us. We finally arrive at the border post. The policeman asks us to open the trunk. One pack of cold beers down, we are ordered to move on.

We look at each other, we move forward and Mozambique opens up to us. Even with the experience of traveling, with the added Portuguese, it is true that we lost our bearings a little. It will only be after several kilometers that we realize that we do NOT have a visa????. What to do? We call our contacts in Mozambique and South Africa. We will get out, with a little patience.

Our first stop in Mozambique will be in Xai-Xai, a bustling little town on the coast. Surprised to find a campsite open at this time (end of school holidays for them), we land facing the ocean. There might be a wave... we'll see tomorrow. First, a swim in the sea with the locals. 4 little palots on vacation ???? The people are adorable. Téo quickly feels at ease and does not hesitate to play with the children in the water. The next day, we decide to go explore the surroundings before heading back to Tofo.

Damien is like a kid with his 4x4 in his hands. The sandy slopes take us to sublime beaches, offering superb swimming pools with translucent water. We stop in front of an old hotel abandoned in the 70s, when Mozambique gained independence. Our Robinson Crusoe apprentices go straight in search of crabs and other moray eels hidden in the rocks.

Direction Tofo

The road is just as much a part of the journey. From south to north, the national road extends in good general condition, but we especially loved venturing on the perpendicular tracks. Near the houses, don't hesitate to stop to enjoy a pineapple, a few bananas or other coconuts, and why not take a bath in one of the lagoons between Quissico and Chidenguele. At the end of the day, we arrived at Tofo, a Sunday afternoon.

Well, we are a little far from the small, quiet fishing village described on the various blogs. In the middle of summer, every weekend, the village fills up with partygoers, locals and tourists. Fingers crossed for a lull the next day...

We settle in the backpackers' parking lot. We are once again all alone in the great outdoors, which is not to displease us :)

This will be our spot for the next 3 days.

We finally take the boards out of the boardbag. We took a 6'0 khaki green Bonito , and a 6'4 Prawn. The first morning, we head towards the small beach of Tofo and its few lines. The swell doesn't seem to be there but we take the opportunity to make the children surf, happy to be able to surf in swimsuits AND t-shirts, given the heat. Finally, Damien decides to go around the point to go see the Tofinho spot which looks a little more interesting.

We won't see him again until 2 hours later, thirsty and all red???? But he will have chosen the right surf option, with beautiful long straights to maneuver. (Unfortunately we will not have any photos from this session). The world being so small, he will even come across Landes surfer Maud Lecar , present for a photo shoot.

Some photos from this stay in Tofo

During these few days in the small fishing village, we got to know the Surfers not Street children association that we had been told about. We brought some school materials and Chipiron t-shirts. But all that will be the subject of another blog article, as there is so much to say. With our visa problems, we had to get back on the road, but after several searches, it will be towards the south and the border of Punta do Ouro.

Before leaving, we treat ourselves to one last session in Tofinho with Mini (the association manager). It won't be the session of the century but a few bits were good to take. A few waves, a little meeting with the Blue bottles, 2-3 coconuts later, we hit the road for a stop at Inhambane to find some beautiful wax to take home for another project...

On the road south, we walk the tracks perpendicular to the National Road and thus find every afternoon a place to refresh ourselves and pitch a tent. Zavora beach, new passage to Xai-Xai, Bela Vista on the edge of the Maputo estuary, to finally land at Ponto do Ouro for a beautiful & noisy adventure...

Do you know Ponta do Ouro?

After passing Maputo without incident, we head towards the seaside resort Ponta do Ouro. A friend from Hossegor tells us about her memories of this beach, at the foot of an enormous rock, its slab creating terrible currents, its powerful waves, its calm... but that has changed a lot in 35 years. With the new road, in just 2 hours, all of Maputo's revelers meet in the village's dozens of open-air clubs. But we will only learn this information in the evening, seated in a parking lot facing the beach, stuck between 3 nightclubs.

Before crossing the border, we take the opportunity to stop in the Maputo nature reserve . At the entrance, the sign announces “entry only with 4x4. Deflate to 1.5”

I can already see Damien all smiles...

The journey is magically eventful. There are only sand tracks. We are told about an elephant reserve. After our scare in the Kruger, we hope not to come face to face with a new specimen who is a little tense...

The reserve is so wild, there are very few passages and even fewer tourists. We had a wonderful time, shaken in all directions in the middle of a real jungle. We finally cross the border without too much trouble, feigning incomprehension at the entrance, not speaking Portuguese... We are doing very well, with a few meticais handed over to customs officials, and paying the price of the visa (i.e. $50 /person). We're doing really well!

Welcome to Kosi Bay

If my paradise could be anything like here, it would definitely be this place. We stop at a sublime lodge , with top-notch camp areas. We are guided to the nearby reserve. We pay the entrance fee of €10/person for the day and arrive at a landscape of incredible beauty.

At low tide, the estuary empties to leave natural pools of translucent blue. So on the snorkeling program for the boys and mini surfing for Damien (until he realizes that he is in the middle of the great whites' pantry). We spend 2 dream days discovering manta rays, colorful fish,... while letting ourselves be lulled by the currents of the Indian Ocean. We end this African journey with Hwuhwule and its reserve known for its rhinos. Ahhhh, we are still missing the rhino and the buffalo on our Big Five challenge. Let's go! We found them!

Magnificent rhinoceroses napping and a herd of buffalo. The boys are delighted.

We will be left with a bitter taste in the face of this image which quite well sums up the state of our current world... When will we wake up?

17 days, +3,500 km traveled with our beautiful 4x4, 15 bbqs, more or less good sandwiches (never try the French Poliny hahahaha), hundreds of smiles, hundreds of animals, a few scares...

It's time to go back, a new season awaits us, including the opening of the new shop in the Pedebert Zone in Soorts Hossegor, the shop in the town center of Hossegor and the resumption of surf lessons. This trip will have been very different from what we were used to looking for. Little surfing but a lot of time with family, unique experiences, an opening to the world for our kids. We are happy to have been able to offer them this chance.

And if not, in 2021, where do we go? Offers?