Hello again my friends,
I just returned from another amazing run, however, this time I was running along a beautiful stretch of white sand and turquoise water in Vilankulos, Mozambique. The air is a little thicker and the temperature has increased comfortably to 28ºC. This past week I have been traveling north along the beautiful coastline of Mozambique. The last time I wrote, I had just crossed over from Swaziland to Mozambique. The border crossing was again very easy and proficient, however expensive! For a single entry visa it was $80 USD! Incredible, but as I have come to find out, completely worth it. Also just a little side note- make sure to always bring at least $200 USD cash for border crossings. I am not exactly sure why, but most of them only accept USD.
As soon as I crossed the border, the difference between the two countries was immediate. All of a sudden, there was more of everything- more tropical (even though we only traveled 50 meters into Mozambique), more people, more poverty, more police checkpoints. It was simply more…Africa. Swaziland was so very calm, rich in culture and crafts, but yet very modern and efficient. Mozambique, on the other hand, is much more raw, but at the same time so much more exciting. It was different and pushed me out of my comfort zone by not knowing what would come next. I loved it immediately and could not wait to see what treasures and adventures this country held for me.
Our first stop was Maputo, the capital. The city was exceptionally crowded due to the commencement of the African Games and most of the hotels were booked solid. The energy and excitement was palpable in the air and I was excited to walk around.
The first thing I noticed about the city was the coastline of beautiful, upper class hotels. However, directly behind them was the real city- a city teeming with run down and poorly maintained buildings. The Portuguese influence and era was visible everywhere and there seemed to be very little new development. I was also forewarned that crime in Maputo has been on the rise and that all foreigners need to be cautious when walking around the city. Of course, it is advisable to only walk around the city during the day and not at night.
Despite the façade of dirty buildings, I found Maputo interesting. We visited a very large garden, which is used as a large outdoor craft market. Here you can find everything from paintings to beautiful woodcarvings.
It definitely is a highlight of Maputo. We also ate at some fantastic restaurants along the coast. If you like seafood, then this is the place to be. Make sure you try a delectable plate of prawns followed by Sangria or a bottle of 2M, the Mozambican local beer. Unfortunately, my two days in Maputo seemed to be not enough, however, I was eager to get the coastline after hearing so many alluring stories of white beaches and turquoise waters.
We arrived in the town of Tofo late Friday afternoon. We quickly settled into a rustic A-frame hut at Zamboozi Accommodation and Campsite and then practically ran to the beach.
Believe me when I say that the stories are all true. Before my eyes I held miles of beautiful white beach and a turquoise ocean that seemed unending. I was in paradise.
After dinner, we went for some drinks at a popular local bar called Dino’s. They had a great live band and the atmosphere was very laid back and beachy. Locals mixed with tourists from all parts of the world. I met a Spanish journalist, students from South Africa and a Brazilian doctor. Despite being from all different parts of the world, all had come to Tofo to enjoy the beautiful beaches, exceptional diving, and friendly atmosphere.
On Saturday we decide to take an ocean safari with Liquid Adventures. A group of three South African Couples, two local divers, my friend Gert, and I all embarked on a very fun, but bumpy boat ride about 500 meters of the coast. Within a few minutes we had spotted a whale shark! I immediately jumped into the ocean with my snorkeling gear and there I was, swimming along side a MASSIVE whale shark. I could not believe how large this fish was and honestly, was quite frightened by the size of it. However, I quickly remembered that these types of sharks do not have any teeth and are completely harmless (however they are still a little scary…) At the end of two hours, we had spotted more than 12 whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and humpback whales. It was an incredible day!! A couple of side notes, if you ever visit Tofo, make sure to get plenty of cash beforehand. Mozambique is predominately a cash economy, and very few places outside the cities accept credit cards. Also, make sure you try the coconut buns from the local markets- they are delicious!
We ended our adventures in Tofo and continued northward to Vilankulos, another popular beach destination. I can’t wait to tell you about another great adventure on the high seas. However, I fear this posting is already too long and will just have to save this story for next time.
Until then, travel well and travel often friends!