Mozambique Travel Warning

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Sofala Province, with the exception of the provincial capital, Beira.

The Government of Mozambique has confirmed that a military operation, targeting the Renamo opposition party’s Santunjira base camp in Sofala Province, took place on 21 October.

The situation in Sofala Province remains tense and on 22 October there were reports of armed attacks in the region, including against a vehicle travelling on the EN1 road. Further attacks can’t be ruled out.”

They have had twenty years of peace and now, now, the country starts to develop civil unrest. Will push the run a little further north, maybe as far as Tanzania, and taking in Malawi. Might have to simplify the challenge to reaching the east coast, to give us the freedom to adjust as we go.

Emma’s knees and her route requests

My mother is worrying about Emma’s knees. She hasn’t met Emma but she’s worrying about her knees and threatening to not sponsor us … I promise to allow Emma days off.

Handily, Emma turns up at the climbing wall and we can chat about the route and her knees. I discover I have been wrong about her terrain preferences.

Gravel and sand – yes, tarmac – no more than a few kilometres. She likes up hills but running downhill is bad for her … knees. How am I supposed to get her up a hill and not down? Anna, who’s listening, suggests roller skates. Perhaps we should change the challenge to 3000km uphill, then we can justify putting her on a sledge to go down.

Emma: “Can we include Kilimanjaro? I quite fancy running up Kilimanjaro.”

Me: “Are you serious?”

Emma: “Yeah”

Me: “Ok, I’ll have a look”.

Fortunately, Kili is north of northern Tanzania, I estimate an extra 1000k detour and Emma agrees to go some other time. Phew!

Maps B

I’ve lost Zimbabwe again. I found it at 8.30pm and now it’s lost at 11pm. Rustling through layers of maps, it’s under Botswana. All the maps laid out end-to-end do not fit in the house. I am looking for a route that is comfy underfoot and flatish. There are snippets of information about road surfaces on Trip advisor and in Traversa, which I am now rereading as a guide for runners, highlighting words like ’gravel’.

According to the Lonely Planet guide there is a tempting ‘unexplored’ area in Eastern Botswana. It is more direct but few roads, which leaves us, potentially, a little stuck.

Mozambique High Commission Part 1

“So you will be running? Just running?” The friendly person who answers enquiries at the Mozambican High Commission is clearly confused.

“Er, yes.”

“Hold on.”

He comes back in a bit and invites me along to the Mozambique High Commission after 4pm. After they are shut. I hope they are not pranking me. I am ridiculously excited about going to the Mozambican High Commission for a chat.

Maps A

Maps, I’m deep in maps (literally, they take up all the space and have to go on top of each other), and I’m worrying about political unrest, bad roads, dangerous animals and mines. Should we go north through the Caprivi strip or cut south beneath the Okavango delta? South means cutting across the top of the Kalahari Desert, through the middle of Zimbabwe and into Mozambique, onto the road which carries a warning from the Foreign Office. Alternatively, we could go through the Caprivi Strip. Hopefully, the bandits have disbanded and the lions will be well fed or very sleepy. But what happens when we reach northern Mozambique? How good are the little roads through the mountains? Is there still a risk of mines?

The route options are pinging back and forth. I call the Mozambique High Commission and email the Namibian Embassy and the Foreign Office.

ETA: African Summer

The weather, during an African summer, is not what I want for Emma’s run. I want it to be dry and mild, a bit like a good English summer/ autumn. Warm enough to camp in, cool enough to run in and dry enough to banish mosquitoes. Given that its Africa, I’m willing to accept dry and hot in the middle of the day. But summer is also the rainy season. Mozambique will be, according to the Lonely Planet, “soggy and sticky“. And hot. Several people have now warned me that it will be hot. Very hot.

Randomly, I’m also thinking, if we do get publicity, that its not fair on Mozambique to be shown to any potential visitors in its most unwelcoming months. A bit like posting photos on face book of a beautiful friend, when she has a hangover.

We shift the departure 3 months earlier.

The current plan is to go from late August until November: Emma will have to run fast to avoid Africa’s summer.

Head over Heels

We have a new name! Head over Heels.

Its all about joy, bounding excitement, the practical importance of keeping a clear head and the potential for falling a… over t…