Every fishing trip starts many months (sometimes years) before the actual trip. First you have to dream up a destination. Second you have to convince your wife a little “rustic” adventure on white sandy beaches is a good idea (can be a challenge) and thirdly.. Err is there a third? Oh that rights, the planning! Duffed step 3..
The Plan (should have done this better)
Our plan was to spend a week in the elephant Reserve in Mozambique, camping at Ponta Dobela. Our friend Rat & Dale were going to head up to Dobela 3 days before Dick, Dane, Kerry, Stace & myself (Wez). There were 3 cars in total: Rat & Dale in a Defender 110, Dane & Kerry in an X-Trail and Dick, Stace and myself in Dick’s Lada Niva.
Given the limited packing space, we loaded Rat’s Landy with as much as we possibly could. All our food, all our spearing gear, tools, heaps of water and juice, sleeping bags, tents, generator and more!
Confident in modern tools I “Google Earthed” the place out and found a great intersection in the sand roads where we would meet up on the 26th December (3 days after Rat & Dale arrived).
Our plan was solid, we’d spend Xmas with family all the while Rat & Dale setup an epic campsite and catch us some fresh dinner.
Day 01 (day 3 for Rat & Dale)
Dick, Stace and I leave Durban at 02h00 packed and ready.. Meet up at the Umvoti Shell with Dane & Kerry. Before we kick off, this was not even a month after Dick bought his Lada…
Ready set go!
We took the Sodwana/Kosi turn off from N2 as the pitch black of night slowly started to break. Giving Dick just enough light to notice the massive speed bump a mere 20m ahead! BOOM!!!! The roof racks rip the steel gutters of Dick’s new Lada right off! Our two kayaks come smashing back down still strapped to the roof racks creasing the roof inside centimeters above Stace’s head.
We pulled over to asses the damages, it was NOT pretty.. There was no gutter left to re attached the now semi broken racks. We were not even half way to the border (weep weep). From this point on until we got back to Durban a week later, Dick and I had to literally hold the front roof racks down by HAND! One arm out the window as every bump along the way tried to double bounce our yaks to the road.
“To hell with it, we’re still going to have a jol!” Coz that’s how the Freaks do it..
We got to the Kosi Border only to meet another 100 000 South Africans eager to get to the promised land. “DOH!”
Eventually we got through the border (arms out the window holding our precious yaks) and headed straight to Sunset Shack in Ponta Molongane for a well earned 2M beer(s).
Beers down, back on the sand road to the Elephant Reserve.
“Oh $#!t!” Said Wez… “What?” replied Dick.. “I have no clue where the reserve is!! I only have a GPS mark for Chemucane.”
And that’s where the real fun started.
After serious delays with a smashed roof, busy border, Sunset Shack beer and getting lost, we finally found the Elephant Reserve. When we signed in we noticed Rat had signed in to camp at Chemucane and not Dobela as agreed back in Durban.
We set off through the beautiful and remote jungle of Southern Moz. Still in our convoy of two (Dane & Kerry in the X-Trail) we set off to get hopelessly lost. As the sun started setting we continued our drive north until we reached the Maputo bay.
Now completely pitch black we tried in vein to follow my fishing GPS to the only mark I had, the Chemucane campsite (which I pulled off Google Earth).
We had totally missed our meeting time with Rat and had no clue where we were going. In the distance we saw a cars headlights. Our spirits were immediately lifted! “Rat has come to look for us!” But, as with most events on this trip, it wasn’t meant to be.. Instead we intercepted a VERY drunk and VERY lost family with GP plates.. As they came screaming past us on the 3m wide sand troff called a road his car slammed into the side of Dick’s “new” Lada. That poor car took such a pounding on this trip.
After hours of darkness and failure we decided to pitch a tent right on a hill. Absolutely shattered we slept, hungry and lost.. in the wild.
Morning of magic. All was reveled in the morning light. We woke up to a bright orange, pink and purple sunrise. We trooped on only to get the X-Trail stuck in some very soft sand a few meters from Lake Maundo and a rather curious hippo.
We finally reach Chemucane after 2 days of traveling. What do you know, no Rat! Instead we met a very weird guy on the beach with what looked like a crew of slaves. We high tailed it out of there and headed to Millibangalala (campsite 2 of 4).
Milli was jam packed with only one campsite left. We set out on foot through the campsite & beach to find any local knowledge of Rat.
Still no Rat so we setup camp with the few items we had between the 5 of us. Time to eat, Dane & Kerry had brought 2 spatchcock chickens but between us we had no grill..
What followed was our discovery of our new best friend, Doug.
Dane had brought his dog poop spade, which I spent the better part of the afternoon scrubbing with beach sand in the shorebreak. Doug became our grill, pan, stove top and poop management scooper. The spatchcock chicken was cooked to delicious perfection and quickly scoffed up. Between Dane, Dick and myself we knew we had to provide food from the sea via our kayaks the following day.
We launch in perfect conditions. Past backline and the wind had picked up. Not a pull all morning 😦 First launch and our first blank.
We decided to continue our search for Rat. We NEED food and comforts!! The next campsite on our list of 4 potentials was Ponta Membene, one stop north. No Rat to be found! We left a note on a tree and headed back to our campsite in Milli with emptying fuel tanks (and empty stomachs).
By now the westerly blowing was up at about 30 knots! Impossible to launch we decided to paddle a bait out and fish from the beach. Our local neighbour told us of a fish that often hangs around the mid break reefs called a Matahari. Delicious to eat and no steel needed for the trace. Our mackerel baits were now well defrosted and stinky!
I drew the short straw and had the task of launching. After dropping the bait past backline and drifting very far north very quickly I tried to get back to the beach. Instead I got slammed by the pumping surf!
On the beach we soon got bored of holding the rod as the bait drifted down wind at a healthy walking pace. An hour later, some kilometers up the beach the reel finally started screaming “Dinner is ready” zzzzzzzzzzz.. And in that moment I got bitten off! “You don’t need steel..” was repeating my now fuming head.
If losing a fish wasn’t enough that humping west I mentioned brought with it buckets and buckets of rain! Remember Rat has our tents and sleeping bags.. That night Dick slept in a wet hammock, Stace and I in the X-trails boot and Dane & Kerry in their small tent.
Wake up ready to slay a few fish in the tail end of that cold front. Fishing was slow, with no bait left we jigged till our arms fell off. The disappointment continued..
Back at camp, our cars almost dry of fuel.. Our friendly neighbour offered to take us 4kms south to Dobela, the last campsite (which might I add was considered BANNED at the Reserve Entrance).
Along the way there to Dobela from Milli was a small “shop”. We scratched together 10 Rand and bought 1 cold coke which got shared.
Enter Dobela. WOW what a beautiful spot, right up against the river from Lagoa Piti. “Rat, RAAAATT!!” No one was there. What we did find was an old smoking fire and Landy tracks out of there! “DOOOOOOH!” We had just missed Rat & Dale, by an hour or two.
Back at camp the realization that there was not going to be ANY comforts we decided we’d leave the following day.
No Spatchcock chickens left, Dick and I hit the beach in search of Ghost Crabs. Let me save you the effort, to full up on crabs you’d need to catch no less than 100 crabs each and boil them in water only to suck a microscopic amount of meat out and onto your tongue only to have it dissolve before reaching your empty stomach.
Get our sad faces out of there (if we can get the Lada started). The one and only piece of electronics on Dick’s Russian beast was the immobilizer. And what do you know? The rain had totally destroyed the button..
Eventually we were back on our way in convoy, Dane, Kerry, Dick, Stace and I (the Lada fuel gage bearly above empty). Somehow we got out of the Elephant reserve and were now in full search petrol.
Believe it or not, we found a hand pumped “Petrol Station” somewhere I’ll never be able to find again. We paid about triple the price of fuel but would have paid more just to get back to South Africa.
Arms out the window still hanging onto the kayaks we crossed the border back into South Africa. Many Rands were spent at the Kosi Steers. I can’t tell you what we ate, but we ate a lot of it!
You would think the story ends there.. but it didn’t. We were busy fixating on the things we’d enjoy back home when Dick’s Lada started slowing down and jerking.. We were about 5kms from the Tugela off ramp. “DOOOOOOOOH!!!!!!” we ran out of fuel.
Now what? The sun was setting, we were sitting on the side of the N2 in what I called a “%$#$ing dodgy area!!” We called the last person you’d expect to be able to help us.. Yip we called Rat!
As it so happened on his return home he stopped by our friends backpackers, Sensayuma, in Tugela. He was road side within the hour with the spare fuel WE had packed in his Landy.
We arrived home late that night. Not a peep between us..
Soft girls entered Moz that trip but returned as masters of survival. And as for Dick and I.. we returned as Freaks!
It’s funny how as time goes by I look back with fonder memories of our Milli adventure.
Moral of the story: Always bring Doug