Cruising along the Mozambican coast

After surviving Maputo’s overwhelming hustle and a hectic journey up the coast to Nampula, Tracks4Africa traveller Lizette Swart enjoyed a restful two days on Ilha de Mozambique before tackling the journey north to Ibo Island. On the second leg of her enthralling journey, she discovered a glorious sunset at Wimbi Beach and a beautiful white beach north of Xai-Xai.

Lizette writes:

Departing from Ilha de Mozambique at sunrise, I refuelled in Metoro before turning north towards Ibo Island. A narrow but good tar road took me to the village of Muaguidee before turning east on a gravel track with some sandy patches to Quissanga. A few kilometres further, I reached Tanganyang where I left my trusty vehicle and departed for Ibo Island by ferry.

T4A travel tip: The toll fee to use the bridge across the bay to Ibo Island is only payable on departure. No toll fee is charged driving to the island, only once you leave.

From Tanganyang a ferry takes you across to Ibo Island, a crossing that can only be done in the two to four hours of high tide as the water is too shallow to cross at any other time. The phrase “come hell or high water” came to mind when I faced the public ferry from the private motorised boat I’d hired for the transfer. The ferry was loaded to the brim with goods to sell on the market and locals heading back to Ibo Island. Add to that a rather strong crosswind and the 10km-crossing to Ibo Island, even in a private boat, was a bit of an adventure.

A smaller, private boat is lighter and can attempt the crossing sooner than the public ferry, beached in the background. Pictures by Lizette Swart

Due to an unfavourable tide for the return journey to Tanganyang, I spent two nights on Ibo and used the time to explore the island. I found good coffee at Fuerte de San Antonio, made from the wild coffee beans that grow naturally on the island, and excellent ice cream, fresh cake and local curios at Saakata Café.

The children on Ibo Island are very friendly and love to pose for pictures.
Ibo Island’s Fuerte de San Antonio was built in 1817.

Prawns at sunset

A rather more sedate return journey to the mainland two days later saw me heading back south towards Pemba. From Tanganyang to Metuga the going was good thanks to a no-headache gravel road. Arriving in Pemba, it was time to stock up on some supplies at the new Shoprite Supermarket for the journey back south to South Africa.

I relaxed with a cold DosM and scrumptious Mozambican prawns at Wimbi Beach before settling in for the night.

T4A travel tip: Night-driving is not recommended in Mozambique.

Sunset on Wimbi Beach

My journey north was following a set itinerary, focusing mostly on culture and history, and it was a priority to experience as much of the Mozambican coastline as possible on my journey back south. The first stop was at Zalala Beach Lodge outside Quelimane – a blissful beach stroll and breakfast were the order of the day before departing for the small town of Caia.

Arriving early afternoon at the Zambezi River, I decided to continue a few kilometres past Caia and head to M’phingwe Camp. Not sure what to expect, the beautifully shaded camp had basic but clean chalets, a nice restaurant with ice cold G&Ts, and friendly staff. It was a pleasant surprise and welcome rest-stop before tackling the badly potholed EN1 back south the next day.

M’phingwe Camp

The end is near

An early departure and another long day of travel saw me turning off the EN1 to Inhassoro. Here I had the spotless Goody Villas rest camp all to myself for the night. I pitched my tent against the fence, right above the sandy white beach, and let the gentle crash of the waves lull me to sleep. In stark contrast, the next day’s stop at Tofo Beach was expensive and overrun by tourists and overlander trucks alike. The quieter Inhassoro was much more to my liking, and with a sigh of relief, I headed south towards Xai-Xai the next morning.

Zona Braza, northeast of Xai-Xai, has exquisite self-catering houses that invite a longer stay, but time was unfortunately not on my side. South Africa was calling…

Zona Braza beach

A final word

Despite some challenging experiences with officials, daunting roadblocks and nerve-wracking road conditions, the beaches, seafood and sights more than made the trip worthwhile. Mozambique, I will be back!

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