For a change of scenery and an excuse to go away for holiday, we decided to head off to Niassa Province, and Lago Niassa in particular, for our year end adventure.

Car packed, (some) reservations made we headed for the hills of Lichinga and then Cobue, a far stretch away from Nampula. We split the drive over two days. The first day we drove nine hours to get to Mandimba, the town on the border with Malawi. There we spent the night in the Massinga Accommodation which consisted of a small round bungalow in the back yard and a basic restaurant. Entertainment was free as we watched an endless ant stream of “helpers” carry stock that had just arrived when the truck got stuck in the mud out front. Two beers or an hour later and we could still make out the strange shapes of people with boxes on their heads bent over in the pouring rain. What Massinga lacked in luxury was made up for by the staff. Our waiter impressed us hugely when he was able to accommodate us on our vegetarian meal request and organised a delicious meal of leafy greens and tomato relish with nsima.

Day two was far more exciting as we drove through virgin territory (for both of us). From Mandimba to Lichinga took two and a half hours but it felt like we had crossed over into a totally different country. The road was tarred and wound its way around and over hills. There is plenty of farming going on here (mainly maize and tobacco) and the villages are very different to what we are used to in Nampula Province, they are large and ordered with brick huts lined up neatly next to one another, overlooking the hills. Lichinga itself promises to be a very pretty little city in the right season, there are Jacarandas lining the roads which must look spectacular in October. Arriving in the city we drive through a mini pine forest which adds a special touch but it is small and the outskirts busy and dusty and so after a short stop at the supermarket and drive by buying of bread, we carried on to Metangula and Cobue.

on road between Cuamba and Malema











view of lake Nyassa

Carrying on up and up the hills we eventually arrived at the top and looked down on Metangulo and our first view of the lake. From this distance it could be a small harbour town anywhere in the world with its pretty bays and buildings peeping out on the green hills. Up close many of these buildings are semi ruins and the town is quiet but there is evidence of houses being fixed and Metangulo seems a chilled place to be but as it was only just after lunch time, we decided to go ahead to Cobue and get the journey over with.

We were very lucky that President Guebeza had visited Cobue only the day before and so the roads were new and with no or little traffic, in perfect condition. (plenty of people had warned us that the roads here were bad so we felt especially lucky). Just after Metangulo we passed through some very pretty villages with pergolas set up to train blinding pink bouganvilleas and passion plants. Then the villages stopped and we wound our way through woody wilderness, completely alone until finally spotting the lake again before a particularly steep descent. And then we were in Cobue, the furthest point in the north west of Mozambique, the far corner of the country, the end of the road, literally.

Cobue is a small town right on the shores of the lake. There isn’t much here except the road down to the lake, the ruins of an old church which the guidebook tells me is Catholic and others working here say was Anglican, and a small immigration office in case you’re going to Malawi, which we were, but more on that later. We spent the night in Cobue right at the water’s edge at a relatively new local run place called Khanga Beach. This included very basic grass huts with bed and table, a communal long drop toilet and separate shower but was well run with personal touches. Having drinks in the evening at the main bar area, the owner sat down with us to discuss what we would like for dinner and the meal we got was fabulous. In the morning there was heated water waiting in buckets by the shower and coffee afterwards. Just the day before our arrival the president and his ‘men’ stayed at this very place so we felt honoured. The only problem we had at Khanga was the lake flies slipping through our mosquito net, actually dropping through and landing on our skin, not a very nice sensation, until the lights went out at around 10 (and we put a sheet over the top of the net). All in all, Cobue was a very pleasant surprise.