The southern most stretch of Mozambique’s coast from Ponta do Ouro near the border with South Africa, up to Inharrime, covers a distance of about 500 kms. The area is characterised by lagoons and estuaries which have been cut off from the sea by tall forested sand dunes. The proximity to Maputo and its international airport make this area relatively easy to explore. Our favourite spot on this coast is the new White Pearl Resort in Ponta Mamoli, which is easily accessed from Maputo by helicopter. This transfer flies over the Maputo Nature Reserve and it’s possible to see the elephants down below.
White Pearl Resort is on a long stretch of relatively undeveloped coast line and offers everything from massage treatments, fishing, scuba diving, dolphin excursion, turtles in season and horse riding. You can also visit the lodge as an extension to a safari in South Africa or a self-drive in KwaZulu Natal.
Sightseeing in Maputo
A stopover in the capital city, Maputo, is recommended if time permits, as you get a good insight into life in a modern, emerging African city. Today its acacia-lined avenues have come back to life and you will find a friendly welcome in this atmospheric colonial city, with its rich architecture, Latin music and renowned Afro-Portuguese cuisine. Maputo can be reached by a short (3 hour) road transfer from Kruger Park, and makes an interesting stop en-route to the island beaches.
This is the home of peri-peri sauce, and a plate of Mozambiquan prawns is a must. At night, the Fere de Populare is alive with bars and discos and you can dance to seductive Latino beats. As long as you take care, and don’t wander on your own at night, it is a safe city in which to walk.
Parts of the old centre are reminiscent of the Havana old town, though not quite as dilapidated, and there are some interesting buildings including: the cavernous and largely empty Central Railway Station, its dome designed by Gustave Eiffel; the large white central cathedral; and, also by Eiffel, the Iron House. Built as the governor’s residence, its iron exterior proved unsuitable in a tropical climate.
There is a beautiful and somewhat overgrown botanical park in the city centre, laid out by an English landscape gardener in 1885, complete with tennis courts and café. The highlight for me was the Saturday morning crafts market – where I found genuinely original batiks, paintings, wood carvings as well as a whole host of items including picture frames, teak boxes and sculptured objects.
Place to stay in Maputo
Restored to its former colonial splendour, the grand Polana Serena Hotel is right on the bay and the place to stay in Maputo. Alternatively, there is the 4-star Pestana Rovuma, opposite the cathedral in the centre of town, which is more of a business hotel but comfortable.
Just across Maputo Bay lies Inhaca Island, with sunny beaches, warm seas and the very reasonably priced Inhaca Lodge.
There are regular flights from Johannesburg to Maputo or other international connections from Europe or shortly the Middle East. Alternatively, we can arrange a road transfer from Nelspruit, at the southern end of Kruger, to Maputo which takes about three hours. Or access by road transfers from White Pearl from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.