Classic Overland Trip to Maputo Elephant Reserve 2002

This classic overland trip was the second  Legends trip that I went on. These trips were legendary. It was only Series Land Rovers. The idea was to visit a cross-border offroad destination, which demanded complete self sufficient travel, and which wasn’t too far. The destination was in Southern Mozambique and was the Maputo Elephant Reserve or Milibangala as it was also known

This was a really special trip for me. It was the first Overland trip that I did with my wife Candice who was my girlfriend at the time. The last time I did this trip was in 1974 with my family as a 5 year old. It was the first trip our family did in our Brand New Land Rover Series 2A. I was keen to see if I could recreate any of the old slides my Dad had shown me of that trip.

Hlane Game Reserve Swaziland

This classic overland trip would take us vis Hlane Game Reserve in Swaziland and enter Mozambique through the Lomahasha Border post. Then we would drive south down the Mozambique coats towards Milibangalala. The route home was different as went South and out the Kosi Bay Border post back into South Africa and then back home via Pongola.

We were traveling in my Series 2 camper that I had rebuilt from and ex army vehicle. I had fitted it out inside with a full camping setup including a double bed, kitchen and storage cupboards. It was powered by a Land Rover 2.5L turbo diesel engine with an overdrive fitted. It was a pleasure and perfect for a remote overland trip like this. The plan was for everyone to make their way to the Hlane Game Reserve in Swaziland where we would all meet. Once we had all arrived and setup camp we spent the night around the campfire. It was great to catchup with everyone again and enjoy the local dancers and singers.

Into Mozambique

The next morning we were off and crossed the border at Lomahasha into Mozambique. The first stop was the town of Namaache where we had to stop to get dome Mozambique beer 2M. We also stocked up on some other fresh supplies that we needed like bread. We regrouped just outside of town and waited for everyone.

It wasn’t long before we left tar and had to air down our tyres. We were expecting some bad corrugations and thick sand.

On the way we passed a typical Mozambican roadside pub. It was a good excuse to stop, stretch our legs and have a chat.

Maputo Elephant Reserve

The next stop was the entrance to the park. This is where I was super excited to get a new photo to compare to the one from our first trip here. After almost 30 years the entrance looked exactly the same with the elephant heads out front and I got the same picture again.

Once in the reserve, the track got interesting. Soft sand, sections through coastal forest

The reserve is located on Maputo Bay, approximately 100 kilometers southeast of the city of Maputo, Mozambique. The Reserve is 1,040 km² in extent and was originally proclaimed in 1932 to protect a small population of coastal elephants resident in the area, estimated at 400. The reserve combines lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests and we saw all of them as we followed the tracks to the coast

The reserve will eventually form part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which includes national parks from South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. Currently it forms part of the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area.

As we pass the Maundo lake I immediately recognise it from some early photos of my parents classic overland trip.

Back then they tried to cross the marsh area below the lagoon and ended up getting stuck. Later they found the route around which ran on the edge of the lagoon. This sand was firm unlike the bog they had been stuck in

Milibangalala Campsite

Eventually, the sea appeared. Camped in the beach bush we were the only people there. This was where I caught my first fish as a kid. This time I wasn’t going to be fishing instead it would be kitesurfing.

Camp life was fantastic as we just relaxed and enjoyed the sea and spent time cooking up some great meals.

We just stayed a few days and then we were off again. This time heading out Southwards down the sandy tracks towards the Kosi bay border post.We expected this route to be more challenging as it was up and down the soft sand dunes. The old landies had their work cut out for them and they all managed. Fanies Range Rover with the trailer that need some help up a dune.

It was magnificent to see these old Legend vehicles in their element performing the way they were designed to. What a sight it was with the convoy weaving up and down and in and out of the tracks.

This was another epic classic overland trip with a great bunch of people most of whom have made lifelong friendships and gone on to many more overland trips.

Watch the full video of this classic overland trip on our Youtube channel @theoverlandlegend

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