You may not know this, but we have a tropical paradise right in our backyard. As you exit Mpumalanga and make your way up to Mozambique’s province of Maputo, you can see the vegetation change. The landscape changes significantly with rolling hills and palm trees that become more evident the further north you travel.
Mozambique is a fairly large country with an awful lot of outdoorsy things to do. Diving, fishing and top class R and R is what you can expect to experience in Moz. Because of the large distances involved to travel to numerous provinces in Mozambique, this article will focus on three provinces fairly close to South Africa.
We start our journey in the bustling city of Maputo, based in the Maputo province. It is a beautiful city with old buildings that will make the retrophiliac in you come alive. The strong Portuguese influence, even post-war, has left an array of gorgeous European style buildings that will leave you walking the streets of the city all day. Maputo is relatively safe. Police patrol most of the popular areas, but the general rules apply. Don’t show off any expensive tech or cameras. Another important thing to be reminded of straight away is that it is very offensive to take photos of locals – especially law enforcement. Get to know some basic Portuguese and you will be appreciated for it if you do happen to encounter a law enforcement official.
Mozambicans are proud people who have a deep respect for their country and people. They have been through an awful lot and till today many poor are still suffering the consequences. Hotels are your place of choice to stay when you are in the city. Easy access to Wi-Fi and international amenities – should you wish to have them. Staying close to the centre is a good option especially if you are going on an architectural joyride – this is your best bet.
On my last visit to Maputo I was lucky enough to stay at the Pestana Rovuma. A 4-star hotel only a two-minute walk from Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception). This art deco church is one architectural dream not to miss. Try and catch it open to sit down inside for a few quiet moments. The Polana Serena is also a must-see. The hotel is beautiful with views for days. Have a quick lunch but be prepared to pay in US Dollars. The food is as fancy as the prices suggest. Use the opportunity to take many beautiful photos here.
Besides a large variety of international hotels, restaurants are also easy to find all along the coastline of Maputo. A family favourite and regular visit is Costa do Sol. Their food has been consistent since we started visiting in the mid-90s. Don’t miss this gem. And although many may argue that it is here where you get the best peri-peri sauce – I beg to differ. This is what leads us to another favourite spot in Xai Xai.
As you leave the city behind, the landscape quickly suggests that you are heading to smaller towns and quieter beaches.
Xai Xai is in the province of Gaza. This bustling town alongside the Limpopo River is the capital of Gaza Province and is situated 200 kilometres north of Maputo. It is a relatively large province known for its beaches and wildlife reserves if you travel more inland. The next stop brings you down a crammed, bushy dirt road, over a few dunes and into – the place of the rising sun. Pun intended. For the best sunrises and sunsets, Nascer do Sol is where you will want to be. The name means the birth of the sun in Portuguese.
Their beach (Praia de Chizavane) is quiet and a silent refuge from the usual busy beaches we are used to in South Africa. The lodge is equipped with self-catering accommodation paired with a family restaurant to serve everyone, including the vegetarians. Their seafood platters are known well by tourists, and so is their iconic peri-peri sauce. Stop by their little convenience shop, Coco Loco, to pick up a few bottles. It is the best you will ever taste. Here you can also find touristy buys sourced and made by locals from Mozambique in the near vicinity.
The lodge has a stunning pool area. The sea is safe to swim in, but beginners beware. These waters are not manned by lifeguards and with many rocks and currents, your best bet is to stay in the shallows and swim out during low tide. Watch this video to see Nascer do Sol up close and personal from the Africa Travel Channel.
Xai Xai also recently finished their international airport, making it even easier to travel to. Now you can skip Maputo altogether and start your trip in Xai Xai. The lodge shares a long list of useful information to take careful consideration of before you travel to Mozambique. See the list here.
Inhambane is the next stop and the furthest I have been privileged enough to travel up to in Mozambique. Also, the most tropical of the previous two locations. Well-travelled tourists say the more north you travel, the more beautiful Mozambique becomes. This is all too true for Inhambane. Tofo beach is a popular destination nearby making it a true, tropical dream-destination.
Tofo is a quint beach town that lies on the Barra Beach peninsula in Inhambane Province and is an easy 22 kilometre drive from Inhambane city. This small fishing village is famed for its curved Tofo Beach (Praia do Tofo), coral reefs and friendly locals. It offers a unique Afro-Latin cultural experience boasting world-class diving, big waves and the chance to enjoy local seafood.
Turtle Cove is the perfect getaway for those seeking a mind and body retreat. They are known for their yoga retreats all within walking distance of the beach. This little resort is approximately 450 kilometres north of Maputo.
Inhambane also has a wide variety of places to wine and dine, although tourists enjoy the shack-style food possies the best. Nothing beats a beach braai with local Mozambican beer. Branko’s, Guju’s Beach Bar and Tofo Tofo are all great places to enjoy local food and generous portions.
Get your vaxx, pack your bags, and head to tropical Mozambique.