Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Seven Wonders of Modern Zobue

This travel blurb is dedicated to Kristen Sloyer and Vikram Rastogi, who were fantastic guests, intrepid explorers, and model site visitors.  Thanks guys, and congratulations on your new site placements!

Site Visits:  November 2012


Zobue (actually spelled Zóbuè or Zobwe) is a town of approximately 8,000 people in eastern Tete Province, hugging the border between Mozambique and Malawi.  The town itself is small and unassuming-- the main stretch of road is about one kilometer in length-- and stretches from the border post in the east to the edge of town in the west.  After the hospital and Catholic Church, the town seems to fall away, and the landscape becomes one of expansive low vegetation, rocky outcroppings, and towering baobab trees.  Villages between Zobue and Tete City (127 kilometers-- 2 to 4 hours) are simple and sparse, giving Zobue an air of isolation and self-sufficiency.

Although Zobue seems small and unremarkable, don't be fooled.  Beneath its simple exterior is a town bursting with good food, culture, and good hikes.  The dedicated tourist should consider staying for at least two days (if not more) in this charming country town.

Weather and Seasons:

The Tete/Malawi border is known for its "fresco" weather and for its fertile soil.  A wide range of crops are available throughout the year, and most families own and maintain their own fields and gardens.  The rainy season provides natural irrigation between October and March-- the time period in which Zobue is most green and productive-- and the dry season hosts a short, brisk winter between the months of May and July.

Location and Accommodation:

Because Zobue is situated along a main corridor (Route 103 from Blantyre, Malawi to Harare, Zimbabwe), there is a healthy amount of cross-traffic and visitation.  Visitors will often stay for a night en-route to Malawi, and Peace Corps Zobue has hosted quite a few long-distances travelers.  Based in a safe and bustling bairro on the upper edge of town, Peace Corps Zobue boasts room enough for 8-10 visitors, six of whom can sleep in relative peace and comfort.  Accommodation is complete with bedding, mosquito nets, all-you-can-drink filtered water, and a free egg sandwich in the morning.

The Seven Wonders of Modern Zobue:

Though Zobue has been carelessly neglected by the likes of Frommer's and Lonely Planet, it deserves to have its own special travel description.  Inspired in part by our site visitors, who stayed for four full days in early November, I have decided to write my own description of Zobue, outlining the must-see aspects of our rocky little town.  Peruse and enjoy-- The Seven Wonders of Modern Zobue.

(Now with Printable Postcards!)

#1:  Quinta Monte Zobue

Located in the fields at the far end of town, Quinta Monte Zobue rests in the shadow of the Angonian Plateau.  Tables in the gazebo offer sweeping views of the foothills and exposed, weathered domes, including an opportunity to spot two of Zobue's famous international border markers.

Supply at this restaurant/hotel is occasionally limited, but visitors can reliably find good prices on chicken and gazelle.  The beer is usually cold, the nsima is usually hot, and their nightly projector show (music videos, Titanic, or old Kung Fu movies) is not to be missed.

#2.  Sunset Rock

No trip to Zobue would be complete without a hike to the fabulous Sunset Rock!  Arguably the best sunset spot on the entire Planet Earth, these domes are located in the hills of "No Man's Land" on the border between Mozambique and Malawi.  Quiet, peaceful, and warm to the touch, these black rocks are relatively isolated from the rest of the town and offer expansive views across the mountains of Tete Province.

#3.  The Nyau

Unpredictable and fierce, the Nyau are the cultural dancers of the Chewa tribe.  A lucky visitor might spot these dancers in the early evening hours, running armed and rampant through the bairros.  It is customary to flee before a charging Nyau, and "dancing days" generally result in general panic, excitement, and a town-wide game of hide-and-seek.  To find the Nyau, listen for drums, shrieks, and rattles.  As with animals on safari, a sighting cannot be guaranteed.

#4.  Malawi

With the nearest Malawian town located less than 8km away, a day trip into Malawi is a fantastically tempting option.  Among its many perks, Malawi offers good food, cheap Coke, and English-speaking residents.  The taxi ride between the borders is just one highlight of the trip, where the views of the countryside are usually glimpsed at 150km per hour to the tune of Chewa Rock.  After your exciting, ten-person taxi ride, don't forget to check in at the second border station on the Malawi side of "No Man's Land".    From there, you are free to explore the BOMA (central market area) and surrounding neighborhoods.  It's fun to greet people in English and to identify differences between Mozambican and Malawian culture.  Even better, it's fun to say that you've been to Malawi.

#5.  Abandoned Seminary and Other Hikes

For the long-term guest or adventurous visitor, Zobue also offers a spectacular suite of hiking options, from the precipitous climb across the "Back Zobue Spine" to the beautiful Seminary hike.  Visitors looking for a more in-depth experience should state their preferences to the proprietors at Peace Corps Zobue.  Hikes on offer include:

  • The Back Zobue Spine (5 kilometers to a series of cliffs and boulders overlooking the surrounding hillside)
  • The Seminary Hike (8 kilometers to a hidden, abandoned Catholic Seminary.  Spooky!)
  • The Village Meander (10 - 30 km through the countryside and nearby villages)
  • The Land Mine Prod (a 100 km march straight through the surrounding bush)

#6.  The Zobue Secondary School

A quintessential part of the Zobue Guest Experience is a quick side-trip to the Zobue Secondary School!  Just three minutes from the Peace Corps Zobue house, the Secondary School offers a glimpse into student life in Mozambique.  Visitors are welcome to enter the classrooms, take a seat, and receive a demonstration of Mozambican school protocol!  This is immersion tourism at its best.

#7.  Monte Zobue

The crowning jewel of the Mozambique/Malawi border, Monte Zobue is the ultimate Zobue destination.  Visible from more than 40km away, it is the world's only triple-dome mountain (located within the town of Zobue).  A hike to the top of the smallest dome can be done in fewer than three hours, and every local child knows the way. Longer hikes probe the depths of the cloud forest between the domes, so keep your eyes peeled for monkeys and parrots!  Proper footwear is recommended.

Congratulations on finding Zobue, Mozambique:  "The Best Site in Eastern Tete!"  Drop us a line, give us a call, or come explore with us today!

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I enjoy your serious attempt at promoting somewhere local. How does one get to Sunset Rock from Quinte Monte Zobue? Ill be there on Saturday and need to organise a sundowner. Thanks and regards