Sowetan

Mozambique’s hidden treasure a bargain find

For a very reasonable price, Sowetan deputy sports editor Daniel Mothowagae and a group of friends experience­d an extraordin­ary week-long excursion in Mozambique recently. Mothowagae also took the pictures

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THE R1 199 five-night stay for two in a casita more than made up for the 18-hour drive that started at 2am on a chilly Sunday morning in Johannesbu­rg and ended in Inhambane – 960km away.

The sleepy historic town is located in the south of Mozambique, about 490km north of the capital Maputo. The dorpie’s rusting colonial architectu­re almost obscures the picturesqu­e coastline of Ponta da Barra, our final destinatio­n.

After a 30-minute drive from Inhambane town, we uncovered a paradise the minute we checked in at Casas Delight resort at around 7pm. The journey took longer because of zero tolerance in 60km zones along the route; I counted 11 in all.

The resort owners – South African couple Anna and Andre Greyling – were happy to see us because we were among a few guests in what was supposed to be peak season because of South Africa’s school holidays.

Our accommodat­ion, built of natural materials only, was basic and rustic but all clean. And it was a minute’s walk from the beach.

We dozed off to the sound of the waves with just the odd mosquito to worry about because it was not yet hot.

There was never a dull moment after we had marked our first sunrise. We hit the beach because the view was so tempting and skipped breakfast. The sea breeze that hit us felt therapeuti­c.

The warm Indian Ocean waters and stretches of striking clean, white, powdery beach sand were a delight.

The sight of a fisherman and hawkers, including a 14-year-old who went by the name of “Mr Price”, were a daily occurrence along the beach. Add to the mix sunbathers and jogging tourists.

We observed a few fish species dangled our way by fishermen. The most common catch was the barracuda (a ray-finned monster of a fish) and dorado (a rare golden fish) that these men brought in by kayaks or self-made boats, having raided the sea as early as 4.30am and only getting back at noon.

A kilogram cost between 180 metical (about R51) and 250 metical (R71) depending on the species. The fish added great variety to our braai, for a bargain price.

Apart from the local beer 2M (or dosh-em in Portuguese), we fell in love with a Mozambican phenomenon known as “tipo tinto” (rum and raspberry).

Marcos, a barman at our lodge, unlocked even more discoverie­s for us outside our base.

He connected us with Armando dos Santos, an 18-year-old tour guide who arranged a dhow trip to nearby islands.

It set us back R395 per person for a full package: transport and lunch all included.

We experience­d a different world at “Pigs island”, where we met arguably the most humble people who are at peace with their surroundin­gs and, of course, their pigs – hence the name.

Back at Barra, a local named Safrimento hosted us at his house, which was on the other side of a dune that divided us.

His humility reminded us why Inhambane is known as “Terra de Boa Gente”, Portuguese for the land of good people.

Barring overloaded, battered jalopies and menacing minibus taxis along main routes, it’s 4x4 or nothing in Mozambique.

Volkswagen SA had offered us the Amarok to take for a test drive.

The TDI 4motion double-cab had all the right buttons to navigate the sandy paths with an effortless performanc­e from its 2-litre turbodiese­l engine.

Selecting the “offroad mode” option bailed us out of challengin­g conditions a number of times, including a drive to Safrimento’s house at Murongulo village.

With its reasonable fuel consumptio­n over long distance, we spent about R2 000 on diesel to and from Johannesbu­rg, all thanks to Mozambique’s struggling currency, the metacas, or “mets” in local slang.

 ??  ?? BLENDING IN: The restaurant at Casas Delight is steps away from the beach
BLENDING IN: The restaurant at Casas Delight is steps away from the beach
 ??  ?? PRETTY AS A PICTURE: Dhows stationed in the water at Ponta da Barra in Mozambique
PRETTY AS A PICTURE: Dhows stationed in the water at Ponta da Barra in Mozambique
 ??  ?? ENCHANTING: A dhow trip at dusk
ENCHANTING: A dhow trip at dusk
 ??  ?? CATCH OF THE DAY: Barracuda is a common species
CATCH OF THE DAY: Barracuda is a common species

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