My intention of a continuous journey down the Swahili coast – from Lamu Island in Kenya to northern Mozambique, via Tanzania – ground to an abrupt halt at the Mozambique embassy in Dar es Salaam.
Due to politics, Mozambique required travellers coming from Tanzania to have a visa beforehand. Every other land crossing was just a visa on arrival. So after wasting time in the Tanzanian capital over a closed weekend and an Islamic holiday, I went to the embassy to face a bureaucratic brick of a woman.
After viewing the visa rules – $100 for visa and a 5 day wait, usual passport pics and forms, invitation letter as to why I wanted to go to Mozambique, bank statements declaring that I had $US 5000 in my bank and other petty shit; I just walked out muttering obscenities. I knew that a week-plus of more waiting around in Dar es Salaam, would be too much frustration.
I knew there were better options. Studying the map, I found an alternative.
But not without an extra 1500+ km added to my already long Cairo to Cape Town overland trip. New plan: cut south-west from the coast across the highlands of southern Tanzania and down into northern Malawi, then across the lake to remote north-western Mozambique.
I would arrive at the tiny settlement of Cobue on the eastern shores of Lake Malawi and hope for a visa on arrival. And from there, travel east to Mozambique Island and the Indian Ocean.