Ponta d'Ouro

Maputo to Ponta d'Ouro
- 20 July 2013 -

Mozambique Beach

The first thing I did when I heard we are traveling to Maputo was started making arrangements to travel by car. Mozambique is a beautiful country, Maputo is not the most beautiful cities despite their continued efforts to rejuvenate the city. So if you want to get out and see the beautiful country we would need a car, more specifically a 4x4.

We arrived in Maputo on a Wednesday, after an eventful day getting stopped by just about every cop that sees our skin colour and vehicle number plates. I was eventually stopped for speeding. Whether I was actually speeding I couldn't say, but it was possible. After going through a rocky conversation with the cop and many bribe hints from him (which I declined) I travelled to the nearest police station to pay the fine. Unfortunately, they kept my drivers license until I had paid the fine, so while we navigated the maze of dodgy streets on route to the nearest police station we were wondering if the cop with my license will still be there when we returned. Luckily he was..... I could have just paid the bribe, which would have cost me less and saved us at least 2 hours of our day, but I wasn't in the mood to give into the corruption that has plagued Mozambique so badly. 

We weren't planning on doing much until the week-end arrived, we had work to do.... When the week-end arrived we were ready. I had planned our route to Ponta d'Ouro, the shortest was to travel by ferry to Catembe, and then drive pretty much straight on dirt and sand roads. We left the hotel at 5:15am, we wanted to catch the first ferry at 6:00am.

Getting over via the ferry was an effortless process and we were quickly on the other side, we drove about an hour and a half to Bela Vista where we searched for the nearest petrol station filled up, then headed on. The total journey distance was about 110km, but the first 40km had taken us a while, this was going to be a long drive. The road surface was bad so driving faster wasn't really possible, and the closer we got to Ponta d'Ouro the more deep sand and less dirt road. I eventually I pulled over and let some air out of my tires, I only set it to 1.2bar, but further down the road when we were driving in only deep sand I dropped it to 0.8bar.

After 4 hours of driving, we eventually arrived. We had no issues in the deep sand and didn't get stuck once.... The Diahatsu Terios was doing well!

Mozambique Beach People Walking

There was 3 of us on this journey, Johan, Vaibhav and myself. Vaibhav was testing his Samsung Note the whole journey to see if we had cellular signal and surprisingly the majority of the route does! Our journey was a bit boring, but we did play some games to pass the time, when we arrived we headed straight to the beach, Vaibhav grabbed his Samsung Note and joined us, I think he starts getting withdrawal symptoms if his is separated from it for more than 15 minutes.

Mozambique Mobile Data Signal

Mozambique Beach

Mozambique Beach Swimming

Mozambique Running Swimming

The beaches are clean and unspoiled. For the majority of the population this place is inaccessible, there are some 4x4 taxis, but for the most part of the year Ponta d'Ouro is relatively quiet, hence the good condition.

Although Ponta d'Ouro and the surrounding area is quiet this time of the year, it is an active scuba diving hotspot, so all year round you will find plenty of boats filled with drivers heading out to the reefs for a magical day under the ocean surface. 

Mozambique Diving Boat

Mozambique Diving Boat

We didn't stay on the beach long, Vaibhav was hungry, he had missed his morning breakfast, so we headed back to the main road and found a place to eat, but we were soon back on the beach. A while ago Ponta d'Ouro was a victim of a serious fire, and due to it's proximity getting assistance is not a quick thing, so the damage was severe. Whether the buildings I photographed was actually due to the fire, I don't know, but they look like they had fire damage.

Mozambique Fire Damage The Salty Sun

Mozambique Fire Damage The Salty Sun

Diving is not the only activity here, due to good waves and warm sunny weather all your round complimented by the warm"ish" Indian Ocean, surfing, fishing, beach sport or just laying around in the sun, there is quite a lot to do.

Mozambique Point of Gold

Mozambique Beach Dog Sleeping

Mozambique Surfing Waves

Mozambique Beach Cricket Indian

Mozambique Ocean Fishing

Mozambique Fishing Casting

I also ventured in-between the rocks. The rocks are pretty sharp so I didn't explore too much.

Mozambique Hole in Rock

Rock Life Mozambique Ponta do Ouro

Once done on the beach we headed back to the car to explore the surrounding area a bit.

Beach Walking MozambiqueMozambique Pintos Beach Bar

Mozambique Motel do Mar

We headed about 5km up the road (sand road) to Ponta Malongane, but it wasn't really accessible to us as it is a boomed-off area, so we decided it was probably best we start heading back to the ferry, the ferry runs quite late, but we didn't feel like navigating the sand and dirt roads in the dark. We worked out a new route from Ponta Malongane. We arrived at Catembe at about 4:45pm, but in record time, this time where I could, I picked up the speed and just hoped no big bumps or dips caught me by surprise (they did).

As we approached the entrance to the dock for the ferry to Maputo, we were surprised by a queue of cars, but it was only until I took a walk when I realized how many cars were in the line.

Mozambique Maputo Catembe Ferry Queue

I counted 30 cars and based on the amount of car we saw on the boat in the morning (about 10) we realized we could be there for about 3 hours. I decided to get some photos to pass the time.

Mozambique Maputo from Catembe

Mozambique Catembe Fishing Boats

Mozambique Old Fishing Boat

Mozambique Fishing Boats

When the first ferry arrived, they managed to squeeze 20 cars onto the boat, which was good news for us because that meant we would on the next ferry in one hour.

Mozambique Catembe Ferry

While waiting I decided I would probably need a ticket to get onto the ferry so ventured out to find out where I could buy one, when I found the right spot it was closed, but I decided it was best to get into the queue early because when the ferry arrived we wouldn't have much time to get onto the boat. 

While standing in the queue I noticed a few port officials approach our vehicle where Vaibhav and Johan were waiting. They seemed to single out our vehicle from the long queue of car, I watched while they had a discussion with Vaibhav. Soon Vaibhav came to me in the queue and told me that they wanted the car papers. So Vaibhav took my place and I went to scratch for what they wanted. The official's story changed when I arrived and now they wanted our passports, but when one of us didn't have our passport on us, this was exactly the opportunity they wanted. At this point we had now lost our spot in the ticket queue and were led through to a broken room a distance away from our vehicle. They were soon threatening us with jail time until we could produce the missing passport, but it soon became evident that what they actually wanted was for us to pay a "fine". So after an extended discussion we paid the "fine" in fear of jail time and missing our ferry. 

When we returned to the car I had now lost my spot in the now very very long queue.... there was no way I was going to get a ticket in time, but I went to the back of the queue anyway. Soon a man who I met earlier came up to me, he had seen that we were harassed and as a result lost my place in the queue. He grabbed me and took me straight to the front of the queue, some of the other people in the queue weren't happy, but when others started vouching for me they gave me the opportunity to get in front. I couldn't get to the counter though, the queue is a game of pushing and shoving, this combined with my inability to speak portuguese made it difficult. I asked the friendly man that came to collect me earlier to get the tickets I needed, which he quickly did for me. 

If it wasn't for this very friendly man we would have been in Catembe for another hour, but with the extortion by officials who knows what can happen in an hour, we just wanted to get to the other side. Soon we were on the ferry heading back to Maputo.

It is amazing how an excellent day can be destroyed by a couple of selfish individuals. But the silver lining was the friendliness of the locals that without my request, helped me out very selflessly. 

My theory is that Mozambique would be a prime holiday spot, it has beautiful beaches and friendly people, this place could be buzzing with tourists, bringing much needed income into the country, but the government officials stop this from happening with their selfish illegal actions. Although I will still visit Mozambique, I will avoid it as much as possible. I am planning a trip to Ponta d'Ouro later in the year, but this time I will avoid Maputo and enter the country at the Kosi Bay border post which leaves me with a very short distance to drive, therefore minimizing the our involvement with officials.

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