Giriyondo, that wee border in Africa's middle earth, might seem more like deception valley than an legitimate passage between two of its finest countries (South Africa and Mozambique). But deception is the name of the game.
We approached from within the Kruger Park, heading down south from Mopani camp, which is situated in the northern wing of our most notorious conservation site, dodging some elephants and lions along the way. Directed by a sign we made a swift left turn into the bush and headed for the border, which was marked as being a few dozen kilometres further into the desolate and quite harsh terrain.
It was hot, humid and all those other nice things that define the Tropic of Capricorn's surrounds, but after some time meandering towards Portugal's ex-scorched Earth, a tiny green-roofed building appeared on the horizon and presented herself as the countries meeting point.
The border post is small and when we drove in there seemed to be no one even there - it was a welcomed break from Komatipoort and the like. A stack of broken chairs and twisted metal sat on the left hand side of the midway spot between the two countries (later we'd find out this was the border guard's post) and as we approached the hovel in middle earth, a child was playing on a plastic children's motorbike on the cement patio of the tiny building. The child had a hunchback that protruded from a tear in his shirt and appeared to have one of those oxygen inhalers from an American hospital in his nose, but the pipe that was supposed to connect the human to the oxygen had nothing attached on the other side. It was surreal, almost apocalyptic. The twisted metal, the heat, the rough and dry bush, zero cellphone signal and the child was something out of Mad Max.
But after all of that, everything went smoothly. We entered the tiny building to be greeted by pretty friendly staff who ushered us through easily during which no other border crossers came from either country. There were 3 border police in the main oval office area when our passports were stamped and a ranked official snapped the stamp on an open area in our passport books and beckoned Jesus to us by quipping that the son of God makes everything good in life. As we sauntered towards our Prado relieved with the ease of all of this, a border post guard who wasn't there when we arrived now filled the Game of Chairs throne at the mid way crossing point. He asked us politely about our vehicle's contents, spoke a bit in Portuguese about the animals he'd come into contact with at the border (lions etc) and then waved us off before returning to his desert throne; this was truly the most humble split between countries I'd ever experienced.
We passed through a tiny border gate alone, now moving further through the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and deeper into Mozambique facing a 3 hour battle with 70kms of some rough corrugated sand road as we made our way to Massingir dam... Giriyondo was a breeze.