T24 Adventure Diaries: Taming the 4x4 roads between Zululand and Santa Maria

2018-08-04 10:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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4x4 vehicle on a track through african grass lands

Traveller24 took an 8-day, 4x4 break a from Zululand to Santa Maria in Mozambique. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

One of the best parts of living in Southern Africa is that you don't have to travel far to get a wide range of experiences - from bush to forest to beach to mountains, all just a drive away. 

In just 8 days, you can take a 4x4 break from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal to Santa Maria in Mozambique, and along the way the beauty of the African wild will make poets lyrical and stoics contemplative while adventure on the coastline awaits around every corner.

QUICK GUIDE: Visa-free travel to Mozambique

You pass through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the genetic home of every white rhino in the world and where efforts to protect the species still going strong. The fight against poaching has left many casualties in its wake, including orphaned rhinos, which the park takes care of with minimal human contact until they can be released back into the wild.

Travelling northwards up the KZN coast you'll soon hit the border of one of our Southern Africa neighbours - Mozambique. After navigating the arduous customs inspections and prayers for a smooth ride through passport control, the roads through the once war-torn country becomes less tarred and more of an off-road experience. The construction of a new road from Maputo to South Africa holds hope for the non-high rise vehicles, but for now its a bumpy drive to Maputo Special Reserve.

The fact that only 4x4s can drive through this reserve is testament to the wildness of the area, which is administered by the Peace Parks Foundation.  The reserve is in the process of recovering from decades of poaching and its elephants are extremely wary of, and even aggressive towards, humans. While other animal numbers are still small, the landscapes in the park range from coastal dunes to Savannah grass to almost jungle-like forests.

ALSO SEE: Mozambique Escape: From bush to coral coast

To get to Santa Maria by road, we had to travel through the whole park, through mosquito-infested mangroves and past small villages with lots of household gardens, until we finally saw the outline of Inhaca Island across the bay of this isolated paradise.

Santa Maria offers many ocean adventures - from deep-sea fishing to snorkelling along the protected marine reserve on the island to paddling through rivers lined with mangrove trees that somehow manage to survive in these salty waters.

At Bemugi's Place, you'll be treated to the best seafood cuisine that Mozambique has to offer, washed down with a little R&R - the classic local rum cocktail mixed with Sparberry. All of this while watching the most beautiful sunsets, making it hard to leave for the long drive back home.

SEE: 4x4 Adventuring across Southern Mozambique's conservation corridors

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