Mozambique - Big Game to Coral Reefs
9 night / 10 day (TENTED & BEACH CHALETS)
This spectacular palm covered coastline that was off limits to us South Africans for such a long time is now once again available for us to explore and enjoy. Warm crystal clear oceans, coral reefs, palm groves and some very interesting sand driving await us.
Starting in the magnificent Kruger Park, we travel east into the lush lowlands of Mozambique, we cross the mighty Limpopo and on to the coastal flood plains. As we travel overland, the land changes abruptly from broad belts of savannah and woodlands to a narrow, palm-studded strip of beach along the coast at Inhassoro, a small sleepy fishing village, which is directly opposite the northern tip of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Despite the brutal civil war and the floods, which have ravaged this poor country, Mozambique's sandy palm-fringed beaches and the coral reefs of the Bazaruto Archipelago still qualify as one of the most beautiful places in Africa. After almost a decade of peace Mozambique is returning to its rightful place as one of the jewels of the continent.
Declared a National Park in 1971, the whole area between the mainland and the 150-fathom mark is a protected world-class conservation area.
The Archipelago boasts 180 species of birds, various endemic butterflies, freshwater crocodiles, Samango monkeys and the Suni antelope. Around 2 000 fish species also occur here. The waters surrounding the islands are home to more than 80% of all marine fish families of the Indo-Pacific - around 2 000 species including the largest fish in the world - the whale shark. The protected reefs also support dolphin, the endangered dugong, game fish, marine turtles and giant lobster. The bird life includes the Madagascar Squacco heron, Narina Trogon, Nyasa Seedcracker and Green Coucal while Lesser Flamingos visit the islands as well.
Having obtained permits to do so, we explore the tropical beaches, discovering the wonders of the coral lined coast, and with luck, we may encounter the elusive dugong.
We will enjoy the tranquillity of the beautiful beaches and go snorkelling in the crystal clear water and a day island cruise will be the ideal way to explore the stunning ocean off the islands of the Archipelago.
We meet at either Pafuri OR Punda Maria Camp in Northern Kruger National Park, where we will spend our first night camping in tents. We will have paid the camp fees and you will receive your reservation number from us in good time.
For those of you who arrive early, you are welcome to spend the extra time “game viewing” in the park until we meet in the late afternoon.
In the evening, whilst sitting around the campfire, and before being spoilt with the first of many wholesome meals, your tour leader will elaborate extensively on what to expect over the next nine days.
We will also give all the vehicles a hand held two-way radio for the duration of the trip, to enable your guide to pass on snippets of biological, historical and cultural information.
After a good night’s rest and an even better breakfast we pack up and we make our way to the Pafuri Gate, where we cross the border and enter Mozambique.
We would have refuelled the vehicles on our way in on the day before and extra fuel should not be needed. On reaching the border post at Pafuri, it is a quick and easy formality to enter Mozambique.
Travelling through the huge fever tree forests in the Limpopo valley, along a two-spoor sandy track for about 80 kilometres, we reach the village of Mapai, where we cross the Limpopo. (Should the Limpopo be in flood – an alternate route will be considered).
Our route then takes us eastwards to the village of St. Jorge de Limpopo, and onward in the direction of Machaila. We have a light picnic lunch along the way and on reaching the banks of the Shefu River we set up camp for the night.
The camping will be “wild” but the crew will set up portable toilets, and the grub will be as good as ever.
Early to rise and after a hearty breakfast, we break up camp and continue on to Machaila. Still on a sandy two-spoor road, with some very interesting old steel bridges dating back to the old colonial logging industry, we continue eastwards to the town of Mabote, where we encounter our first signs of civilisation.
Now on a gravel road we continue eastwards until we reach the main Maputu-Beira “highway” and turn north to Vilanculos and then on to our destination at Inhassoro.
At Inhassoro we will be accommodated in chalets almost on the beach with a view of Bazaruto Bay, and there will be a communal cooking area where our chef will be practising his culinary skills and where we will enjoy our evenings together.
We do not go near our vehicles today – we visit the beautiful Paradise Island in the bay by boat. The boat trip takes about 45 minutes and hopefully we will get to see dolphins and turtles in the crystal clear water of the Bazaruto Sanctuary, with its bounty of marine life.
We spend the day exploring the island, relaxing on unspoiled beaches and snorkelling on beautiful coral gardens. A tasty brunch will be prepared on the beach. The snorkelling is safe for young and old and the wonders of this undersea paradise can be experienced by simply wading into the shallow water.
In the late afternoon we return to our camp as the sun sets over the palm lined beaches of the mainland.
Today we take to the road and head north onto the Inhassoro peninsula. We drive along the top of the dunes, with the sea on our right and the lagoon to our left until we reach the famous mangrove forests, where we must all be on the “lookout’ for the rare Mangrove Kingfisher.
A picnic lunch will be served at the northern tip of this spit of land at BD, where it is said that Diaz came ashore in search of fresh water. Here again we can explore the coastline, snorkel and swim.
With the necessary permits, we return to camp, legally driving along the palm lined beach below the high water mark and practising “good conservation” driving techniques at all times.
Back in camp, we can all relax. We can visit “Johnson’s Bar” which is situated right on the beach just down the coast. “Johnson's Bar” welcomes South Africans with “lekker boeremusiek” and his hospitality knows no bounds.
In the evening we are all treated to a magnificent seafood dinner.
We have the whole day to relax. As our beach driving permits are still valid, those of you who want to head up the beach will be more than welcome to do so. For those of you who want to go shopping in Vilanculos, it can be a very interesting excursion. There is also time to explore the greater Inhassoro area.
Days 7 & 8:
We have a long drive on the new, good tar road, down to our campsite, just north of the town of Xai Xai. This beautiful campsite is nestled in the dune forest only 200 meters from the sea. After the long drive, we spend two nights camping there and have a day to relax and enjoy the magnificent coast. The campsite also has a lovely restaurant and bar with a commanding view of the Indian Ocean.
From Xai Xai, we head inland towards Masingir and enter the new Limpopo Transfrontier Park at its southern gate. We spend about 2 hours driving through the park and camp at a magnificent camp site overlooking Masingir Dam with fish eagles constantly serenading us.
We spend our last night around the campfire enjoying the unique bond of friendship that can only be made by fellow travelers who, together, have experienced the magic of the African Bush. The campsite has basic flush toilets and cold water showers, but the magnificent view makes up for this.
After breakfast we sadly say our goodbyes and you make your way back into the Kruger National Park via the nearby Giriyondo border post, just north of Letaba.