Most of the time we would drive from Pemba to Nampula (5 - 6 hours) and spend the night with friends. Then we would proceed to Mocuba and spend the night either with friends or at a guest house (6 - 12 hours depending upon road conditions). The next stage of the journey was either to Mulanje, Malawi where we would visit friends, or directly on to Blantyre where we stayed in a guest house. Usually the choice was based upon road conditions. It could be 4 - 8 hours to the Malawi border (Mulanje is just across the border) or 6 - 10 hours all the way to Blantyre. From Blantyre to Lilongwe was about a 4 hour trip on a good road.
(Click on map for larger view)
Sometimes, when the road conditions were "good" we would take a northern route from Nampula out to Malawi. This route would take us through Cuamba, Moçambique, across the border through Mangoche, Malawi and on to Liwonde, Malawi where we would spend the night. This would usually be about a 10 hour trip.
Friends discovered an economic place to stay in Liwonde that was clean and comfortable. They introduced it to us -- Warthog's Wallow.
Warthog's Wallow was a collection of rondavals on the bank of the Shire River. There was one for eating, an observation "tower" and several individual sleeping quarters.
A wooden walkway was constructed over the swampy bank of the river out to the water's edge.
Although we never saw warthogs or any signs of warthogs, hippo sign (and sounds) were abundant. From the walkway one can regularly see fresh hippo tracks in the mud. At night the grunts of hippo can wake all but the soundest sleeper.
The observation tower is a good place to observe the hippo during their nocturnal wanderings. Although we wanted to observe the hippo, we were always too tired to stay up until they arrived.
There's even a small pool at Warthog's Wallow. We never used it. It was usually so late when we arrived that we would just eat our evening meal and go to bed. We would usually continue our journey early the next morning. The staff were always nice enough to have breakfast ready for us by 4:00 A.M. so that we could start in the dark and arrive at our destination before sun down (usually).
I don't miss driving for hours on the horrible roads, but I do miss the beauty of Warthog's Wallow and surroundings.