Crossing east to west in northern Mozambique brings the intrepid traveler to the border with Malawi. Within Mozambique there are few main east-west highways and only a limited railway. Part of the reason for inadequate international roads in southern Africa is that most of these countries were occupied by European powers that wanted to keep their colonies separate from rivals’ territories. So virtually all main roads led to the capital city of a colony and not to other countries.
After independence most of the warfare that happened (and is still happening) was between intra-territorial tribes fighting for political control (and hence the money in the treasury). Little fighting was carried on between countries—the opposite of Europe.
Getting from northern Mozambique west to Malawi is not an easy ride. Partly by train, partly by crammed minibus, partly on bicycle and some on foot, the journey is only for the fearless, the patient or the foolhardy. Count on averaging less than twenty miles -–35km–per hour. Most comfort-seeking tourists fly from one country to another.

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One of the few trains in northern Mozambique goes from
One of the few trains in northern Mozambique goes from Nampula to Cuamba in about ten hours.
The train is mostly hard class with wooden benches.  There
The train is mostly hard class with wooden benches. There was one second class car with slightly padded berths and no first class.
As usual, crowds of food and merchandise vendors show up
As usual, crowds of food and merchandise vendors show up at every stop.
Waiting for another train to pass. The trunk line has
Waiting for another train to pass. The trunk line has only a single track.
Crew member riding in the freight car.
Crew member riding in the freight car.
Unscheduled stops are common during which third class passengers stretch
Unscheduled stops are common during which third class passengers stretch their legs.
Markets spring up wherever there is a regular train stop.
Markets spring up wherever there is a regular train stop.
Young boys at a market with their hoes.
Young boys at a market with their hoes.
A disabled man with no hands begging for handouts.
A disabled man with no hands begging for handouts.
Young boys at a market with their hoes.
Young boys at a market with their hoes.
Children watching the train; girls appear better dressed than boys.
Children watching the train; girls appear better dressed than boys. This boys is dressed literally in rags while the girl is dressed in colorful clothes.
Children along the tracks; the girls learn at an early
Children along the tracks; the girls learn at an early age to care for their infant siblings.
Kids play along the tracks and often are not supervised
Kids play along the tracks and often are not supervised by an older sibling or adult.
Adolescent boy selling pineapples.
Adolescent boy selling pineapples.
Young child in an oversized jacket sitting on the tracks.
Young child in an oversized jacket sitting on the tracks.
Mud brick and thatch houses are common throughout the countryside.
Mud brick and thatch houses are common throughout the countryside.
Bicyclist on a path near a mud brick and
Bicyclist on a path near a mud brick and thatch house.
From Cuamba to Mandimba via decrepit crowded minibus.  Here
From Cuamba to Mandimba via decrepit crowded minibus. Here the driver and helper re-attach the side door that fell off when the driver recklessly made a sharp U-turn and almost threw the helper out of the van.
Our bus had to stop at the local tire shop
Our bus had to stop at the local tire shop for air.
Police checkpoint on the edge of Cuamba; took about half
Police checkpoint on the edge of Cuamba; took about half an hour to get all the necessary papers together.
Local store in Cuamba.
Local store in Cuamba.
After a four hour delay in Cuamba we were on
After a four hour delay in Cuamba we were on our way to Mandimba via a muddy rutted and very bumpy road. It took 7 arduous hours to go about 100 miles (150km).
An abandoned rail line that functioned during the later years
An abandoned rail line that functioned during the later years of the Portuguese occupation 1505-1975 (470 years).
A stop for repairs as the lug nuts came loose
A stop for repairs as the lug nuts came loose on a front wheel. The van then had to be jump-started with some passengers giving the push.
The rough road caused the back door to pop
The rough road caused the back door to pop open further down the road spilling out one passenger's bag of onions. Children suddenly appeared from the corn fields to help pick up the onions, then ran off with their hands full.
Colorfully dressed girls along the way watching us;  often they
Colorfully dressed girls along the way watching us; often they are married with children before they are twenty.
Local young man along the way watching the train go
Local young man along the way watching the train go by or staring into a blank future.
Local kids selling drinks at a stop.
Local kids selling drinks at a stop.
Local village people hanging out with their bicycle taxis;  man
Local village people hanging out with their bicycle taxis; man on left in red shirt holds a live chicken for sale to bus passengers.
Workers laying cable along the road.
Workers laying cable along the road.
Mandimba bus terminal; only bicycle taxis or over-priced private cars
Mandimba bus terminal; only bicycle taxis or over-priced private cars available to the border 2 miles away.
From Mandimba across the border to Malawi via bicycle taxi.
From Mandimba across the border to Malawi via bicycle taxi.
Passing by a municipal office.
Passing by a municipal office.
Waiting out a rain downpour halfway from Mandimba to Malawi.
Waiting out a rain downpour halfway from Mandimba to Malawi.
Approaching the border gate between Malawi and Mozambique.  Bamboo shed on
Approaching the border gate between Malawi and Mozambique. Bamboo shed on left is a shelter for police guards.
On the road to Kigali city, the capital of Malawi.
On the road to Kigali city, the capital of Malawi. Note the paved road as compared to the same (dirt) road in Mozambique in the previous photo. Mangochi is the first town in Malawi on this route.
Crossing a bridge on the way to Mangochi, Malawi.
Crossing a bridge on the way to Mangochi, Malawi.
Holiday Inn in Mangochi, Malawi: the best in town.
Holiday Inn in Mangochi, Malawi: the best in town.
HIV/AIDS information brochure in each hotel room at the Holiday
HIV/AIDS information brochure in each hotel room at the Holiday Inn.
Basket weaver taking his wares to the Mangochi, market.
Basket weaver taking his wares to the Mangochi, market.
Small convenience store in Mangochi, Malawi.
Small convenience store in Mangochi, Malawi.
Unpaved street after a rain in Mangochi, Malawi.
Unpaved street after a rain in Mangochi, Malawi.
Womens organization office.
Womens organization office.
New Age Computer shop in Mangochi, Malawi.
New Age Computer shop in Mangochi, Malawi.
Supermarket in Mangochi, Malawi.
Supermarket in Mangochi, Malawi.
Interior of supermarket.
Interior of supermarket.
Phone booth with a phone that works.
Phone booth with a phone that works.
Local Resthouse and Restaurant in Mangochi, market.
Local Resthouse and Restaurant in Mangochi, market.
A stripped truck frame in the front yard of a
A stripped truck frame in the front yard of a house; children used it for playing.
Bed and coffin shop in Mangochi market.
Bed and coffin shop in Mangochi market.
Number 69 is a bicycle taxi very common in Mangochi,
Number 69 is a bicycle taxi very common in Mangochi, Malawi.
Colorful red plastic merchandise in Mangochi, market.
Colorful red plastic merchandise in Mangochi, market.
In Mangochi market.
In Mangochi market.
Colorful blue plastic merchandise in Mangochi, market.
Colorful blue plastic merchandise in Mangochi, market.
Textiles for sale in Mangochi, market.
Textiles for sale in Mangochi, market.
Man stitching clothing with his son.
Man stitching clothing with his son.
Salt for sale in Mangochi market.
Salt for sale in Mangochi market.
Various kinds of dried beans at the market in Mangochi.
Various kinds of dried beans at the market in Mangochi.
Boys at a market in Mangochi, Malawi.
Boys at a market in Mangochi, Malawi.
Cute little boys at a market in Mangochi, Malawi.
Cute little boys at a market in Mangochi, Malawi.
Children along the roadside.
Children along the roadside.
First billboard praises paved roads: ???????Tarred roads a milestone in
First billboard praises paved roads: ???????Tarred roads a milestone in development??????? with face of the Malawi President. The second billboard advertises automobiles and parts.
In a vain attempt to reduce corruption Britain shut off
In a vain attempt to reduce corruption Britain shut off funding to the government hoping to find about 70 million kwachas (US$10m) that could not be accounted for.
Roadside billboard advocating against child abuse.
Roadside billboard advocating against child abuse.
Egg vendor selling hard boiled eggs.
Egg vendor selling hard boiled eggs.
Laborer waiting for work.
Laborer waiting for work.
Arriving in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe minibus station is
Arriving in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe minibus station is chaotic and crowded with taxi hustling, junk vendors, miscellaneous loiterers, front men and locals including pickpockets. Bewildered travelers are confronted by a swirl of men trying to get them into their taxis, legal or not.