Friday, February 25, 2011

Massingir Dam [Part 1]

Evening descending at a waterhole.

Part of the mystique of the Southern African continent derives from the majesty and variety of our wildlife.  Many foreign tourists come here solely with the objective of seeing 'The Big Five' (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros).  Indeed, a visit to one or more of our many game parks and wildlife reserves is regarded by many South African citizens themselves as a 'must-do' holiday destination.  Massingir Dam is one such spot.  It is a little more remote and less well-known than others and is located in the Gaza District of South-western Mozambique, bordering the Kruger National Park of South Africa and falling within the Limpopo National Park's Trust.

In April 2010, my husband and a colleague of his were commissioned to undertake an ecological survey of the Massingir Dam and the Olifants River.  At the time, I was unfortunately not able to accompany them, so my husband promised to take as many photographs as possible, of both the area and wildlife, to share with me afterwards.  It was the next best thing to being there myself and I thought I would share some of these delights with you, over the next couple of posts.
Please click the Read more button below to continue this post...

So... starting at the beginning, I'll show you Phalaborwa airport to which they flew and from where they collected their hired 4x4 vehicle in order to make the necessary roadtrip into Mozambique.

  This airport is so unusual I am sure it will be of novel interest to many of you!

Some additional seating within the Arrivals and Departures area...

With a view...naturally!
I have certainly never seen such a picturesque and unique little airport.  It sets the tone straight away for an adventure into the African, let's continue!

We have 5 or 6 hours of driving ahead...most of it on gravel roads!  Keep your windows up and I'll switch on the air-conditioning!
Fasten your seatbelt, sit back, relax and take in the passing countryside...

I'll worry about the traffic...

We'll pass by and through a number of little villages...

And there will be plenty of natural vegetation to look at along the route we're travelling!

These thatched roofed huts are typical of the housing built and occupied by the locals.

We will pass through fairly dense bush interspersed with more barren areas where the locals have cleared the bush for housing and grazing.

Pathways are lined with rocks in some of the villages...

In Africa, the women do the labour...the menfolk are often seen sitting smoking their pipes in groups!

These thatched huts all look different even though the basic materials used in their construction are the same...I guess it depends on how skilled the individual builders are!

When you drive through the bush in Africa, you need to keep your eyes's easy to miss a large, well-camouflaged bird (possibly a Kori Bustard) taking a leisurely nap!

Look's a sight you do not want to miss...these are the endangered and rarely seen African wild dogs (more of them in a later entry)'s your lucky day!

For now, I don't want you to get too hung up on the wildlife - those sights are being saved for another day, so make sure you pop back if you want to continue this excursion :)

Right now, I'm fascinated by all the huts!  Made entirely of local materials, each is unique in design and style.

Each serves a specific purpose...this is a little zinc sheet kiosk, where you can purchase airtime for your mobile!  Yes, right out here, in the bush...cellphone companies have a captive market in these remote places.

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony until it gained its independence in 1975.  Many years of devastatingly violent civil unrest followed,(1977-1992), until it finally held free and fair elections in 1994 and has operated as a democracy ever since.

A lapa at one of the restcamps in the Limpopo National Park.
Rural farmers are still herders and, as in most parts of rural Africa, a man's wealth is measured by the number of cattle, goats or sheep he has.  After almost 30 years of civil war during which the infrastructure of this beautiful country was almost destroyed, Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in Africa.

Women's work starts at dawn and ends with sunset.

The little villages, by western standards, are simple in tarred roads and traffic circles to contend with, here!  Everyone knows everyone else and there is a great community spirit amongst the villagers, despite their seemingly impoverished circumstances.

This homeowner has used rock in the construction of his home and has the additional comfort of a patio chair :)

No large supermarkets and busy malls to distract one here.  A fisherman is attempting to ply his catch to the local shop keeper. 

Fishing is the major source of income in this region. The locals themselves are great fish-eaters and export their excess catch throughout Africa.

These children grow up without computers and video games and yet some will aspire and rise to great heights once they leave school.

Life is simple and without the excessive temptations that face urban dwellers.

One of the more 'western' villages...

Yet the cows and goats still have free access to the homeowner's yard!

These large, umbrella-shaped trees provide essential shade in the heat of summer, when temperatures regularly climb to the upper 30s and mid 40s C !

Now, I think it's time to break our journey for today.  Please do check back if you care to continue, as I still have plenty to show you!




  1. Thank you Desiree for a wonderful ride in Mozambique!
    Lovely pictures! Looking forward to more!

  2. I always like your post !! Africa ia such a beautiful country...i am so glad you show us each time !! lovely

  3. When i see these pictures i long to go back to Africa. I have been to Kenia in 2005 for 4 weeks... I loved it...whe have seen the big five and then some.....i really want to go back some day....maybe not to Kenia but definitly to Africa....thank you so much for sharing this with us...i really love your blog...
    Bianca xxx

  4. I love traveling to your corner of the world through your photos.Hope you have a lovely weekend.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing these great photos with us, Desiree! Along with your excellent narration, they really make me feel like I am right there.

    Looking forward to the next leg of the trip!

    Have you ever read the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, set in Botswana? I know this isn't Botswana, but these pictures are just what I always see in my head when I read those books.

  6. Thank you once again for taking us on a journey that few of us will ever see first hand. It would have been wonderful if you had been able to go...
    Your husband took these pictures? Wow. He did a great job!

    Africa! What a gift you have given to me. Notice I take it personally: :)

    It's actually raining outside! And...there is talk of snow! I will believe that one when I see it.
    I always come back a couple of time when you post something new, because it takes that to absorb every morsel! :)

  7. The photos are great and the landscape beautiful. Those little villages look very tranquil and remind me of where I grew up.

    Thanks for sharing these, the pictures made it feel like I was there for a few moments.

  8. What a fabulous journey!
    We went to the islands off Mozambique (Benguerra Island) a few years ago and there were amazing huts like these. (Although Vilanculos airport was desperately dull compared to this one).
    It was a phenomenal experience and your pictures helped me recapture it.
    Thank you very much for sharing this with us. I shall now go and shout out about it on Facebook and Twitter so others can enjoy them too.

  9. wow!! i don't know where to start! it's see your side of the world! so different from where i am. i love it!!
    i have always wanted to go to Africa!! ever since i was in the 6th teacher was obsessed with your country and we had to do a report on Africa.
    what a beautiful land! the animals...the trees...the huts and the people...

    the airport is amazing. the!!

    thank's for the adventure! i'll be back to travel more...


  10. Just loved your last two comments you left on my blog. What a fruitcake I seem to have attracted. I'll try and report him. Thank goodness there are great people like you to cheer me up or I'd be horrified.
    You are more than welcome about being blog of the'll be up longer than a week as I'm going away and will leave you up there. I'll post about Hubby later today and all will be revealed. I might not be able to comment on your blog for a while but I will still be reading it and getting my fix.

  11. Desiree XOXOXOXO for your last comment. You are so generous with your compliments.
    I've put an explanation on my post as to where we will be but to save you having to trundle back over there we are off to dog sit in France for a few days. I'll still be posting whenever I can get into a McDonalds cafe with its wifi so stay tuned for more misadventures of 'Grumpy' and his wife.
    He's in a slightly better mood now he can see his case is filling up and at the prospect of being away but ten minutes ago he remembered that he has to insure the car when he gets back and he sank into a further gloom! You've just got to love them haven't you?
    Must go and write a lengthy list of instructions for Son which he'll no doubt ignore.
    Thank you again XOXO

  12. That was wonderful. I'm along for the whole trip! I'd never have guessed that was an airport, and as you say only the picturesque gateway to many more amazing sights.

  13. I love virtual tours like this. Taking photos is something I can't help but do whenever I visit something. I love to organize them as you have here - a tour for any who view them later.

    Thanks for sharing your husband's travels - that corner of the world is a mystery to me. I wonder how hot or cool those huts are in the high heat? They are very interesting to look at the different functional and creative styles.

    As for your comment on our blog about unsolicited blogging advice, I don't think you need any from the looks of it here - your blog is great. Stop by again any time.

  14. That is what I call REAL country living. I love seeing the thatched huts and sheds. We would delight in using them as potting sheds and garden houses, but these folks actually live in them. It really makes one appreciate what we have. But I think the children without television and video games are better off, in a way, than children who grow up without ever having to use their imaginations. That was a very interesting tour Desiree!

  15. Visiting your blog is such an adventure! This is such a different world from the one I live in and the contrasts are illuminating. I look forward to the next leg of your husband's journey.

  16. Wow you are taking us on a safari.

  17. This is so interesting. I love these insights into a culture so different from my own.

    (I'm playing catch-up by the way. I have had a houseful of youths for the last few days)

  18. Dear Desiree,
    I started this comment 3 times ... words fail me sometimes not for long apparently, ha ha !!. This trip is just wonderful.
    Your commentary for a start just sets us up for another beaut trip.
    The airport is beautifully designed - how peoples' jaws must drop when they arrive :)
    The little homes the local people have built, all in their unique way. So humbling to have a little peek at their lives.
    Your Husband's photos are wonderful - you make a great team.
    Popping over late, I can now go straight to the next part .... :D

  19. I was ready for a visit to South Africa today and what a visit it is! What amazing pictures that show what the people in those parts really live like. Looking forward to the next two posts.

  20. As usual I am blown away by your beautiful country as well s the way you write about it.

  21. What a fantastic post! The photos are great, but most of all I have enjoyed the commentary, how clever you are:) I cant tell you how exotic that looks to a girl in the 'burbs, looking forward to reading parts 2 & 3 now:)


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