We hit the coast just north of Xai-Xai as it began to get dark. The GPS showed a campsite a few kilometers further and warned us about soft sand on the access roads. As we took off from the highway a sign told us to air down to 0.8 bar (about 11 psi). We took the rental car down to 15 psi and the Patrol down to 25. For the story it would probably have been better if we bogged down, but we had no problems. The road ended literally on the beach, and the camp sites were in between the trees.
Late June and early July is the South African school holidays, so we were expecting lots of people and crowded camp sites. Not at this site. We met a group of students that had booked in for a week to do some fishing. I suspect they were imagining a bit more action, but they had been the only campers here for several days.
Early next morning we were on the move again. We were on our way to Inhambane, and to the beaches on the peninsula just past the town. We had recommendations from a2aexpedition.com to see Barra, and we had also heard nice things about a small village called Tofo. After stocking up on food and drinks in Inhambane we drove towards Fatima’s Nest Camping in Tofo. This is a quiet little town almost directly on the beach, and with several backpacker places and small restaurants.
We stayed here for a couple of days playing on the beach and eating out in the local restaurants. As this is a village there is of course a lot more people around at all times. It could be quite annoying trying to relax on the beach when the sellers disturb you ever five minutes, and they are not very good at understanding the words “no thanks”. Most of these sellers are kids trying to sell you necklaces and bracelets, and their small selection looks suspiciously enough identical. It doesn’t take much imagination to think there is somebody behind this irritating “business”.
From Tofo we drove a few kilometers further north to the tip of the peninsula, to Barra. The resorts are basically located on the “inside” of the peninsula, and when we were there this was perfect for the weather. There was a camp site at the lighthouse, but with no direct access to the beach, and also we were the only ones there. In our maps there was supposed to be another camp site directly on the beach not too far away, so we went to look for this. No luck, it was gone. Fortunately, we found a place with the same name, so we drove in to check if the just had moved location. Here we met a very charming lady explaining that, no, this was not so, but as her bungalows were empty, actually from this same morning, we could get a “camping rate”. Deal! We moved into two bungalows (unURBANs in one and friends in another) and settled down for a few days. Fantastic place!
The bungalow place had their own bar/restaurant, also on the beach, and here we ordered the big prawns that Mozambique is famous for. There is only one thing to say about this meal: OMG!!!
Another beach activity, and I guess slightly more productive than working on your tan, fishing. We came across these guys just after they had put the net in, and were just starting to pull it in. They put it in by using the dhow (a small sailboat), and drop the net parallel to the beach. In each end are long ropes that are brought to shore, and then two groups of guys are slowly pulling it in. We were allowed to help pulling, and the whole process must have taken two hours. The net is not hauled all the way up on the beach, but when it is more or less closed, the fishermen swim out with snorkel and diving masks to take out the fish that is big enough to end up as food.
Our final stop before splitting up with our friends from Norway was Paindane. This is a place where the reef is close enough to access from the beach, and it is also one of the few beaches in Mozambique where you are allowed to drive. But only for the brave…
Unfortunately the weather made it difficult for us, and a big swell coming in created a current too strong to swim in along the beach. Snorkeling in the Indian Ocean was postponed. Early next morning we drove back to the main road, and our friends turned south towards Swaziland and eventually Jo’burg to fly home. And we turned north…