PONTO DO OURO, MOZAMBIQUE – I’m not the outdoorsy type. Never have been. I would like to think that I can handle a brief hike, provided it’s a warm sunny day, or one night of camping, with the absence of bugs.
So when a friend proposed an eight day camping trip to this Mozambique outpost, let’s just say I wasn’t keen.
Her suggestion to visit here came while we were on a luxurious six-week driving tour of South Africa, which included delicious wine routes, beautiful guesthouses, magnificent game drives and scenery like nothing I have ever seen before.
So crossing the border into “rural” Mozambique, to stay at a scuba diving camp, wasn’t really my idea of a luxurious vacation. Plus, scuba diving is another outdoorsy thing I’m just not into.
But my friend knows Mozambique well. She grew up in South Africa and spent many summers in Mozambique – she has camped and scuba dived almost her entire life.
A side trip to Mozambique was just another summer holiday for her.
For me, it was going to be an adventure.
We left Johannesburg in a 4x4 at 5a.m.; just two twenty-somethings driving across the country in the darkness of dawn. The plan was to drive the seven hours to the South African Kosi Bay, also known as the Farazela Border Post, just outside Ponto D'Ouro. We would then be required to drive over 20km of dirt road and sand dunes, (that’s where the 4x4 comes into play).
As we approached the border on the South African side, with only sand dunes for as far as we could see ahead of us, I began to get nervous. The plush percale Egyptian cotton sheets of the guesthouses we’d stayed at throughout our holiday were far behind me. My future consisted of sleeping bags, hot water bottles and outdoor showers.
The border guard lifted the beam. There was no turning back now. What was I thinking committing to this?
We arrived at Devocean Dive Camp in Ponto Do Ouro, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that our tent was not exactly my definition of a tent. It was more of a small house, with two single beds, linens and electricity – maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad.
Then the rains began.
While other campers scuba dived through the thunderstorms, I spent lazy rainy days reading, painting, strolling through the local artisan markets, and walking on the beach, when the sun decided to poke its head out.
Above: The sun burn bright on the Mozambique plans.
One evening, my friend convinced me to hike (hiking is something else I don’t regularly do) up the sand dunes for a prime spot to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. After visiting over 30 countries in my short life, I can safely say that there is nothing quite as beautiful as an African sunset with a cold Savanna in hand.
Another highlight of my time in Mozambique was a day spent at Tembe Elephant Park in KwaZulu-Natal. The 300 kilometre reserve sits on the old Ivory Route between Mozambique and South Africa’s Zulu territory , and is home to the Big Five as well as hundreds of bird species.
The stars of Tembe are without a doubt the African elephants. Over 200 of the largest elephants in the world roam freely here and let visitors get close enough to count their eyelashes.
We entered the reserve and quickly parked ourselves in a hideout at the watering hole, watching the elephants go about their daily routines for hours. It was the most peaceful and rewarding moments I’ve ever experienced.
Above: A parade of elephants.
I went to Mozambique as someone who certainly did not embrace adventure. After eight days of sleeping in a tent through the rain and thunderstorms; trailing wild elephants across game reserves; and hiking up giant dunes with my feet sinking into the hot sand, I left with a heightened sense of adventure and a new outlook on the type of travel that interests me.
Bring on the bugs!