The BEST Scuba Diving...

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
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Trip End Aug 09, 2013


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Sunday, July 21, 2013

20-26th July – Mozambique

As a result of not going to our first volunteering option and only staying at the 2nd one for a week, we had some cash that we'd planned to spend leftover. So rather than doing the clever thing and saving it, we decided to add another country to our list and go to Mozambique; a recommendation by the Scottish boys we met in Jay Bay.  If it wasn’t for the help and generosity from Louis once again, this wouldn’t have been such an easy idea.  Louis picked us up from the airport after we flew from Cape Town, we stayed at his again and he took us to the bus station the next morning.  Once again we were very grateful for his generosity.

The first part of the journey was an 8 hour bus ride with InterCape buses, from Joburg bus station across the border to Maputo in Mozambique.  This journey was majorly uneventful, and because we had got our Visa in advance, getting across the border was a breeze.  Whilst at the border waiting to get back on the bus, we started talking to two Dutch girls, Sophie and Parilla, who were headed to the same place in Maputo and in Tofo as us. As expected, the bus was running late and we arrived into Maputo and stopped at one stop after the next, with the helper on the bus telling us 'not this one’, ‘not this one’, our stop was the final one only 2 hours late!  Luckily I had organised a free pick up which Sophie and Parilla tagged onto and we arrived at our hostel in the dark.  The hostel was rather basic and took the piss a bit with price; it was 10 for a 14 bed dorm, without a lock!  A ssoon as we were in the hostel, the 4 of us were out again to go for dinner.  Parilla had had a restaurant pronounced ‘Mar-a-timo’ recommended to her by a local (a rather wealthy local it would seem) whilst on the bus so off we went.  We got a tuk-tuk (something I didn’t think I would get into again on this trip) for 1 each to the restaurant which turned out to be called Maritime Seafood restaurant – here was all of us trying to say it with a Portuguese accent!  The food was delicious and to top off the evening, we got a lift home from the owner when he couldn’t get hold of any taxis!

The next morning we were up at 4:30am to get a local minibus taxi to Tofo, our destination.  We were staying at Fatima’s who offered the shuttle for 14.  This is the only option to get there for tourists so the hostel definitely has the monopoly on this and charge more than if you were a local (I suppose the way it should be really).  The journey reminded me of our hell journey in Vietnam when we were all shoved into a minibus.  We were all shoved into a minibus once again, one to each seat at least but with bags in every gap you can see.  Sophie and Parilla did alright getting the front 2 seats, whilst Laura got an individual side seat and I was at the back in the corner.  It wasn’t too bad but I did feel sorry for the people on the fold down seats that only had a half back-rest.  This journey was another 8 hour journey but into the sun; apart from the fact it was raining and this was not why we were in Mozambique :(  Luckily as we arrived the sun started to make an appearance again, but this was as we found out our bags had been in the boat that hadn’t been shut properly and they were drenched.  A bad start to the day.

And problems just kept arising.  At the dive centre, Tofo Scuba, we started talking about the dives and were told that all the dive sites were deep dives of +20m.  With only the qualification of Open Water which only allows you to go to 18m, they wanted proof that I had done the deep dive in SA.  Panic; I didn’t have the certificate with me to prove it.  So onto the internet I went to get their number to phone them to get them to email Tofo to confirm I’d done the dive.  Fingers crossed.  And then another thing on top of this, our private beach hut we’d booked through the dive centre wasn’t as near to the dive centre as we’d hoped (and assumed seeing as they offered it) and was a 300m drive down the road.  But it turned out we could easily walk to the dive centre across the beach each morning so it was ok, and the hut had enough space outside for us to hang out all of our wet clothes out of our bags.

After a much needed shower and a quick walk to the local "shops" – not sure they can be called shops, they are more or less market stalls – for some water, we walked to the local hostel, another Fatima’s, for some dinner; a tuna salad and chorizo pasta which of course we shared.  And then we had an early night before our first day of diving.

The diving we did was phenomenal; it is the best diving I have done so far, better than the Great Barrier Reef.  We were doing 4 dives across the 2 days we were in Tofo, with the hope of seeing Manta rays, white sharks and humpback whales (the 3 animals that the area is famous for, so fingers crossed!).  The diving introduced a new water entrance to me that I have not done before (nor had Laura); literally a backwards entry and then just going!  Normally we would get into the water and inflate our BCDs, meet on the surface and then all go down together.  This was more or less ‘see you at the bottom’!  But as I did the 4 dives I became more and more confident doing this decent and by the 4th dive, I preferred this way of descending.  However, on the first dive, ready to go just go for it, no matter what I did I just wouldn’t sink and started to panic not knowing what was wrong and thinking that everyone else had gone down and I was just left floating on the surface alone.  Luckily, I then spotted that Laura and Magda were still bobbing around on the surface and Laura shouted ‘I’m not heavy enough’ which obviously was my problem as well!  With an extra 2kg of weight in my BCD pockets, it was finally time to go down and join the rest of the group.  This first dive was to 25m (max we’re allowed is 30m) and as soon as I approached the reef the vast amounts of colour, fish and coral was obvious.  The visibility compared to SA was brilliant, and the colour was just absolutely immense!  Then after about 2 minutes after being at the bottom, there it was, a 2m MANTA RAY :) :) :) OMG, it was absolutely amazing and sooooooooo big, the instructors said afterwards it was 6m!  Amazing amazing amazing.  Across the other 3 dives we saw a multitude of amazing fish: a lacey scorpion fish, white-tip reef sharks, sting-ray, potato bass, trumpet fish, trigger-fish, travellies, lobster, as well as a small-eyed sting ray that can only be found in this country – brilliant!

The high-light though, which I thought would be the manta, was on the way to our 3rd dive.  We were zooming along in the boat at 8:30 in the morning, all looking out to sea and hoping to spot something. Then I did; I saw a black blob in the distance appear on the horizon.  Afraid I’d seen nothing, I said nothing and then as we got a bit closer I realised it was a breaching whale and shouted out and everyone eagerly watched where I was pointing for the whale to do it again and again.  We went over to them and got to within about 40m of them, them being humpbacks whales competing by breaching about half out of the water and making a massive bang on the water as they land.  Absolutely unbelievable!  One of the high-lights of the whole year!

Whilst in Tofo, we made some friends as well which made evenings a bit more entertaingin than Laura and I spending 24/7 together.  Hannah and Magda were 2 girls who were on 3 of 4 of our dives, both of whom were teachers working in Dubai (and conveniently gave us some tips for when we go there!).  We also hung out with 3 of the girls who were on our mini bus to Tofo, Ella, Chloe and Sophie, all from England.  And, shock horror, on our first dive briefing, we walked up to the circle of people to be standing opposite the 3 Scottish guys, Harvey, Craig and Angus, who’d recommended for us to go to Tofo – they were still here: As if! 

Our 2nd evening we headed to Casa de Comer for lobster (which was a tad over-cooked) with the Scots and the Brits, with the boys on the rum, the girls nursing a hangover and us shattered from diving.  But the evening was great fun and continued late into the night by the others once we’d gone to bed.  The next night, all the girls went for dinner at Tofo Tofo for some more locally, cheaper food.  I had a seafood pasta (which I wouldn’t normally go for) which was amazing! 

The journey back to Maputo then back to Joburg was as uneventful and unreliable as the journey to Tofo.  The worst bit of the journey was when a little girl was chucked off the minibus, I’m assuming having not paid for her seat, to be taken by a paying customer.  The little girl was left on the side of the road in her beautiful little dress, crying.  You could tell that the guy organising all of this felt guilty but ultimately it’s all about the money!

Two days of travelling there, 2 days of travelling back for only 2 days in Tofo, but it was definitely worth it; beautiful diving, amazing beach, great people and a brilliant time.  I want to come back!  And this small detour has definitely made me think that my holidays in the future may have to revolve around going to more amazing dives sites!
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