I was lucky enough to visit Mozambique for the first time recently. Never having been anywhere else in Mozambique before, I can’t really compare Ponta do Ouro is only a stones throw away from sunny South Africa (an hour away from Kosi Bay on the North Coast), so why not take a long weekend and indulge in a little R&R (rum and relaxation).
1. Swim with dolphins
There are other places in the world where you can swim with dolphins, butPonta do Ouro‘s dolphin tours stand out as being firstly more personalised and secondly more aware of conservation. The companies that run the trips have built up a ten-year relationship with the 250 resident dolphins in the area, meaning that they are particularly sensitive to the animal’s behavioural patterns and can easily identify when the best time is to get in the water. We were even told that some of the dolphins recognize the tour leaders after numerous encounters. The 30-minute pre-briefing includes a short segment on the conditions in which they will not disturb the dolphins. This is when the dolphins are mating, resting or travelling and it is nice to know that the dolphins are respected in this way (observing them from the boat is permitted during these times). Somente Aqua Dolphin Centre offers two-hour long boat trips, which includes a snorkel at one of the beautiful reefs along the coast. We were lucky enough to go during whale season and stopped off twice to view whales that were about 5 meters away from the boat. Somente Aqua run their ocean safaris throughout the year and they cost R300 including all snorkeling equipment and a boat ride across the bay.
Contact Somente Aqua Dolphin Centre, tel +258-21-90-1189,www.somenteaqua.com
Ponta is a fantastic diving destination for South Africans. There are around 8 diving centres in Ponta which all offer diving trips for both beginners and advanced divers. Some centres also offer courses from PADI and NAUI, available up to Dive master level. The reefs along the coast are from 12 to 50 meters deep and there is plenty of ocean life to see. Plus the added bonus is that you will be swimming in the warm Indian Ocean so Western Cape divers can relax and leave their dry-suits at home. There is good visibility with clear aqua-coloured water. Many dive centres in Ponta are within walking distance to the beach and offer accommodation and diving packages. If you want to go during quieter times, avoid December holidays when the dive schools take over.
For a list of dive centres in the area visit www.ofroadandsea.com
3. Beach walks
If you’re like me and aren’t really a diver and a bit nervous when it comes to the sea (living in Cape Town in shark territory!) you can enjoy walking along the white sandy beach. Taking in fresh sea air while walking along a beautiful beach is always a relaxing way to spend an afternoon and you can walk pretty far (in both directions) admiring the clear blue waters and possibly be lucky to spot a few dolphins or a whale along the way. We spotted some local Mozambique kids playing around and jumping down the small dunes and spent some time photographing them much to their delight. You can also pick up some lovely shells and stop for a swim in the warm shore break.
If you’ve ever visited Mozambique then you will know all about the local beers, 2M and Laurentina, which in my opinion are huge rivals to South African beers when it comes to taste. They not only are pretty cheap, but they’re also on par with other boutique beers like Brewers & Union. Especially because there are also so many varieties to choose from. As a Mozambique beer novice my colleague ‘forced’ me into trying the Laurentina Clara (a light lager), Preta (dark lager) as well as the Laurentina Premium (and all at least a few times a day!). If beer isn’t really to your taste then they try Mozambique’s notorious rum called Tipo Tinto, best served with fizzy Sparletta Raspberry and lots of ice. This is called an R&R and is a popular choice on all menus across the town. Warning: You may be coerced into nailing your driver’s license or bank cards into the furniture and walls at Fernando’s. We left our handy Getaway business card nailed to the bar for good luck. Some popular drinking holes are Pintos Beach Bar, Pinto (in town) and Fernando’s Bar all within walking distance from each other.
5. Shopping and Eating
While you’re in Mozambique don’t forget to bring back some souvenirs for those unfortunate friends and family members who got left behind while you were on holiday. While it’s definitely not a Sandton City, you can enjoy the experience of a local Mozambique market on the sandy main road heading towards the beach. Here you can buy everything from wooden statues to necklaces and brightly coloured t-shirts. Bargaining is definitely advised (I managed to pick up two funky necklaces for R80). There’s also a food market as you walk up the hill into town where you can buy fresh fruit and veggies (and of course Tipo Tinto rum for only R50). My favourite spots to grab some food after lots of shopping, walking and swimming are Kaya Kweru Backpackers which serves great thin-based pizzas. I also had some lovely fresh calamari at Bula Bula, washed down with some more Laurentina Clara (perfect combination!). Don’t expect lots of fresh vegetables and fruit in Ponta (if anything replace these with beer). Due to the rough sandy road conditions (you need a 4×4 to get there) and the fact that it’s quite isolated from other parts means not much gets brought in and so ordering a salad will not result in a satisfactory meal. I just used this as an excuse to indulge in a lot of seafood, carbs and beer. The detox can wait.
Contact Kaya Kweru www.kaya-kweru.co.za
Original article can be found here: http://www.getaway.co.za/