Até logo Maputo !

Trip Start Feb 04, 2011
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Trip End Nov 11, 2011


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Flag of Mozambique  ,
Monday, June 6, 2011

The border between South Africa and Mozambique went pretty smoothly and after an hour we were on the other side. The only thing that caused a bit of hassle was the third party insurance that one has to buy at the border if traveling by car. Most tourist have a one month visa for Mozambique so the car insurance works accordingly, one month. Our problem was that as we have a three month visa we also needed a three month third party insurance which they don't issue. One can apparently purchase a new more expensive third party insurance somewhere along the way or go to a border, which we don't intend to do. After some pleading and finding the right officer in charge we somehow managed to get three one month insurances with different dates on. Muito obrigado!

We had heard that Maputo was chaotic and not worth staying in for longer than necessary. Well, in our eyes Maputo was a lovely city with lots of contrasts. On one side there is absolutely fantastic old Portuguese style architecture of which many houses are unfortunately totally dilapidated while the ones that have been renovated are stunning. On the other side there are massive communist style blocks everywhere around the city. Maputo also has a bustling live music scene with a never ending night-life with a large selection of restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs. The best thing about Maputo was that one can peacefully stroll around which is a nice change from the big cities in South Africa where one is completely bound to cars. At night taxis are recommended but during the day Maputo is safe except for a few parks and insane traffic. It's a challenge to cross the street, cars flying from every possible direction while most traffic lights don't work.

We were able to put up the roof top tent at Fatima's Backpackers from where we had a nice street view.  We met a bunch of cool people with whom we checked out Maputo's night-life but also went to see the football championship league final. One of the people we met was Emma, a Finnish girl, that had previously lived in Maputo so she was a great source of information and entertaining to hang around with. The big difference between the travelers we met in Maputo and the ones we had met in South Africa was that everyone in Maputo was traveling with local transport and most of them alone. Most of the people we had met before were on organized tours and none of them had taken any local transport whatsoever. Even though we have Toro, meaning that we are not taking local transport, we have both traveled around Africa in minibuses with chickens on your lap and goats on the roof, so it was fun to share stories. Mike, a Dutch guy that had driven alone, through West Africa, on a motorbike from Holland had quite many juicy stories to tell.

Anna and Jeroen, Toro's previous owners, told us that is might be a good idea to get a specific document from the tourist office in Maputo, which you can ask corrupted police men to fill in when they stop you at one of the many road blocks and ask for money for whatever reason. We thought that was a great idea so we went to look for the paper. We went to the tourist office which had moved so we kept on walking in the direction we were told to go. On the way we found the “Ministry of foreign negotiation” or something like that, which was a fancy building so we decided to enter and ask there. Next building! Alright, we went to the next building which was the Ministry of Fight against Corruption, also fancy building, but not the one with the specific paper. Next building! Alright, so off we went and got to the Ministry of tourism. We explained what we wanted and were sent from one office to another. Finally we were put in a conference room and two ladies came to take notes of our explanation. They were super friendly but said that they don't unfortunately have such a paper but they did think it sounded like a great idea. They could only encourage us to stay strong and never pay a bribe. So finally we never got the paper but we did get a nice tour of many ministries and everyone we met on the way were super friendly and helpful. After the ministry tour we went to the famous fish market. One buys the fish of choice and then gives it to one of the eager guys who then prepares it for you. We bought a kilo of prawns for less than 6 euros which felt pretty  alright. But the trick is that then the preparation, the rice and the drinks are outrageously expensive so even though the prawns were absolutely delicious we felt quite ripped off. The fish market used to be good and cheap, but nowadays it is just good. After the tasty meal we had no more money and must have looked quite bummed out, as a guy came up and asked if he could help. He was very nice and actually gave us a ride back to Fatima's. Talk about friendly Mozambicans!

After a week of strolling around it was time for us to leave. We had decided to go south, to Ponta do Ouro, before heading north along the cost. The road between Maputo and Ponto do Ouro is famous for being really bad with deep sand. We started the journey by taking the ferry over to Catembe. From there the road was sandy but not bad at all, great stuff. We got to some tar, with potholes measuring meters in diameter. There were roads in every direction but we trusted the GPS. I mean the GPS knows, right? The road suddenly got extremely shitty. Bump after bump with deep sand. One can't drive too slow in order to not get stuck so due to the speed and the bumps everything kept on flying around in the car and it felt like ones teeth would break into pieces. As it was hot day all windows were open so pretty quickly our ears, nose and eyes were filled with sand, not to mention everything in the car. Everything was covered in a layer of sand. The road just got worse and worse. I was thinking of signing us up for the next Finnish Rally championship. I think we wouldn't do so badly! After a few, stuck in the sand moments, with Toro still being able to get out, we were getting quite sweaty. We stopped a few times and asked for directions but everyone just kept telling us to continue straight ahead. Really? This just can't be the main road to Ponto do Ouro from Maputo! Well after a good 3 ˝ hours we started to see some tourists and a little street bar. Faycal runs in to get a beer and this is where we were told that noooo, this is not the main road, this is the really bad road. Well, no shit! Apparently the GPS thought it would be fun to pass every sleepy little town on the way with roads from hell just to see if we would make it. Well we did, and were quite relieved once we finally got to Ponto do Ouro, 6 hours after leaving Maputo... We still don't know where we had taken the wrong turn but now looking back it was quite a nice little sightseeing. We were also quite impressed with Toro, who just managed to pull itself out sand even though it was kind of stuck. Of course the driver also deserves some credit!

Ponta do Ouro turned out to be a little holiday paradise, especially in low season. It apparently gets crazily busy during peak season. The beach is absolutely beautiful and we found a campsite from where we can hear the waves. There are quite many resorts as it is a very popular South African holiday destination and everything, to our surprise, can be paid in Rand. Everything, from bread to beverages are more expensive than in Maputo, but cheaper than in South Africa. The nice thing is though that, next to all this there is also a normal little town. It is not just a resort. There is a town with a market, schools and all kinds of people. We couldn’t imagine living somewhere where there is only a resort and no town nearby. So Ponta do Ouro actually looks quite promising even though we are looking for something more remote and further away from mass-tourism. Faycal found a nice dive shop and did a great dive; seeing turtles, dolphins, loads of rays, potato bass etc. After 5 nights here we could definitely imagine staying much longer. Tudo bem!
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