#6 Mozambique, paradise destination to end the year

#6 Mozambique, paradise destination to end the year

“From 15th of December to 26th”

Border crossing, Ressano Garcia

We went to the border Tuesday early morning, we would like to do rapid covid test directly there. We heard in the news it’s a new way of testing to cross. It should be set up from the day before. It’s a good way to avoid expensive PCR test. Unfortunately, the test center at the border was not yet there delayed … After 1h of discussion at the Mozambique side of the border, we came to the conclusion the negative PCR from South Africa is a must. We have to turn back and delay our crossing to the day after.
On Wednesday, with a negative PCR in hand, we got stamped with our visa and temporary import permit for the van.
After less than 2 hours we are hitting the Mozambique road.

The seabed of Ponta do Ouro

We drive south to Ponta do Ouro, a famous diving spot. We meet Matthias and Stephie (Lost reception), a German couple we met in Cape Town. They are in contact with a research centre that offers a trip to the sea to swim with dolphins.

Here we go, the next day we get up with the sun at 4.30am for our 5am ride. The weather is likely to change quickly. We shouldn’t delay if we want to avoid the storm expected at the end of the morning. We jump on board of a zodiac, eyes wide open, in search of these beautiful marine mammals. After twenty minutes, still nothing. They may not be willing to meet us, explains the researcher with us on the boat. Maybe on the way back. In the meantime, we take a mask and snorkel to see the sea bed under our boat. We find some corals at a depth of 5 meters, many colored fishes are around. How beautiful it is! Unfortunately, we can’t see them very closely as they are still deep.. As soon as we get back on board, three dolphins appear. They play with the boat. We dive back into the water and without making a move, we let the dolphins surround us. They have fun approaching and circling us. Just like us, they observe us from every angle. It is a magical and intense moment! 

We only stayed 2 days at Ponta, we are expected in Bilene by our friends Delphine and Louis (Horizon Toubor). We met them in Cape town while starting our journey.

Kitesurf in Bilene 

We stop in Maputo, the capital, on our way. It is a lively coastal city. We try to make our way with Uyo between the cashew nut sellers, the window cleaners, etc… It’s a very lively place.

We continue our journey to the Bilene lagoon. Delphine and Louis have started to take kite surfing lessons and invited us to join them on this spot. This outdoor sport attracts us, so we decide to try it too. The beach of Bilene is perfect for beginners.We can walk everywhere, there are no waves and the water is azure blue at 27°C. The kite instructor, Guillaume, is a Frenchman who does his winter seasons here. He is very pedagogical and we learn quickly. Nevertheless the wind is a little bit capricious. It only shows up every other day.

After 4h of group lessons we master the kite, the next step is to do the water start. It means stand up with the board and ride. The lagune stays as flat as a mirror the last days. It’s magnifique but the kite can’t fly, riding will have to wait. However, for kayaking it’s much better. Paddling a few kilometers allows to cross the lagune and reach the ocean. In the distance you can see the waves breaking in the estuary of the lagoon. The ocean is much more agitated with beautiful waves crashing on the sand of the dunes behind the lagoon. Hundreds of small crabs run along the foam of the waves that break on the beach. We also met Emmanuel, Fayrouse and their two daughters Nora and Sophia who joined us in Bilene.

Bilene is a tourist spot for Mozambicans from Maputo and South Africans, but with the Covid we are almost the only tourists. In the streets, merchants sell fruit, vegetables and seafood. Colourful stalls with tin roofs serve as grocery shops. Most of the time these colours are the effigy of big local brands like 2M beer or the telephone operator Vodacom.

Christmas at Tofo

In the morning, we take the road to Tofo with our travellers friends. It is a popular tourist destination for backpackers. Known for its beautiful beach, Tofo has many activities to offer: diving, surfing, kitesurfing etc…

Our journey to this destination is punctuated with stops. Starting with the fruit and vegetable stalls, a profusion of exotic varieties. The trade is part of the game, the prices go from simple to double but remains very low in any case. Passion fruits, pineapples, mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers, aubergines and so on will delight us for the next few days.

Less than an hour after getting back on the road, bang! A firecracker noise surprises us. It’s strange, the car is fine, and we can’t see anything around. Laurène heard the noise in her left ear, Valentin in his right ear. So the sound is coming from the middle of the car. It takes us a few minutes to realise that the honey glass bottle at our feet has exploded with the pressure of the heat. The smell of flowers in the cabin should have given us a hint (or a nose for that matter). We quickly stopped to clean up before the honey spilled under the pedals.

A last break for lunch and 200km later we reach Tofo and its white sandy beaches. Despite the high season, there are very few tourists. We find a camp not far from the sea to spend the Christmas holidays. The night falls quickly and we get tired. The next day, we discover the city and its market of good products ideal to prepare the dinner of Christmas Eve.

Shopping here is an art. The locals love to chat and want to sell you a thousand and one wonders of the day’s (or past days’) catch. You have to stick to the grocery list, negotiate the prices and check that their scales don’t add too much. Emmanuel (Manu) and his family (Make your own trails) met in Bilene join us at the time of the negotiation. It’s a good thing Manu has a scale in his truck. We won’t be fooled.

For us it will be crawfish and oyster to accompany the tuna gravelax prepared the day before. We are pleasantly surprised by the price of the crawfish, less than 6€ per kilo. We take the biggest ones, one per person. Laurène supervises the dessert with the help of two little assistants. 

We miss our families, we are sad not to spend this Christmas with them. Fortunately we are not alone, but a good table of eight. The decorations are made with seashells and sea urchins are used as Christmas ornaments. The meal is delicious.

On Christmas Day, the sun is shining, the Indian Ocean and its 27°C are calling us to surf shortly after waking up. 

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year 2022!

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