Tofo to Vilanculos
We took a chapa (minivan) to Inhambane which is 20 minutes, then at the port we took a boat to Maxixe. There are many people trying to sell you boat tickets or tell you to go by bus, but don’t do this. Just stand in line, it’s really not that long. The boat takes about 20 minutes too. Try to take the 9:30 boat at the latest to make it to Vilanculos before dark.
In Maxixe you go to the ticket office next to the KFC (yes really) which is next to the port. The bus will go at around 12:00, you can buy tickets to Pambarra for about € 4,50 per person at the office or in the bus.
At first the bus might be full, but be patient, if you’re lucky you can sit after about an hour. We couldn’t…
But anyway, in Pembarra you take an open chapa to Vilanculos and yay you are finally there!
We took the chapa from Tofo at about 8:00 and arrived at 15:00 in Vilanculos. We paid about € 10,- pp for this trip with free amazing view and a lot of locals.
As soon as you cross the Tropic of Capricorn you’ll see beautiful baobab trees… makes you feel like you’re in a whole other country. The nature changes along the way and so do the roads, getting worse and worse.
Vilanculos is a lot bigger then Tofo, a real African looking town but it hasn’t got the same vibe as Tofo. There are a few restaurants but the only one we ended up eating at was at Baobab Beach Backpackers, where we also stayed.
We liked this hostel a lot, great vibe and right on the beach. It’s got a bar/restaurant and a pool!
Our first two days in Vilanculos it rained like the sea was upside down. Our cottage flooded and the power went out so it was very cozy under the roof of the open restaurant with all the other guests.
Next day should have been as wet as the others but no, we woke up under a bright blue sky! So we walked into the village looking for a supermarket, nope. Nothing. There was a guy who told us where the supermarket was but because it’s sunday it would be closed. Ok, we’ll try again tomorrow.
We walked back to our hostel over the beach, meeting different locals. They don’t speak English so there is no conversation possible other than hands and feet.
A young boy follows us from a distance and when I take his picture he smiles at us. It takes some time before he understands our question, but then he says his name is Encinio. We walk along the beach together with the boy. It’s low tide and the beach is huge, so we look at the stranded boats and take pictures. When we show Encinio a picture of himself, he laughs.
In the afternoon Jos relaxed at the cottage while I went back to the beach to stroll around. A local guy called Serge wants to show me how to find clams, he will teach me he says. We find a big bag full and talk about different subjects, his English is alright so most of the time I understand what he’s actually saying. We also find some oysters and a very big crab who was just about to have my toe for dinner.
Back at the cottage we prepare the clams and have them for dinner. They taste amazing with beer and some garlic-bread.
What an amazing day this has been!
Vilanculos to Chimoio
Now this is a long way…
The N1 between Vilanculos and Chimoio are terrible, they fulfill all your pothole fantasies, therefore it took us 12 hours to get there.
We took a taxi with four people to Pemberra, which is about 20 minutes. We paid about € 3.75 per person. Then we waited for a big bus, but because that didn’t come we decided (after two hours) to take a chapa to Inchope. We paid about € 7.50 each. With too much people in a small van zigzagging through pothole-hell we arrived there 10 hours later. Then again a new chapa brought us to Chimoio, which was another one and a half hour. Ugh… we’re dead. In total we paid about € 12.00 per person for this exiting day.
Our two friends we shared a taxi with hitchhiked to Inchope and then took a chapa, they arrived at the same hostel 3,5 hours later than us, for the same money. Just saying.
After our 12 hour horror trip from Vilanculos we finally arrive in Chimoio when it’s dark. At the bus station we meet a guy who wants to take us to our hostel. For some money of course. We know whereourhostel is and it’s only a kilometre away but sure, lead the way.
The guy is very chatty so we learn a lot about Chimoio and his life. When we get to our accommodation we give him a 100 metical (€ 1.30) because we don’t have anything smaller, but that’s not enough. He wants 500, which is the same as we spend on our 10 hour bus trip, haha. So no.
We sleep at the Pink Papaya Backpackers, it’s a great place for one night. A family room, double room and a small dorm. There is a shared bathroom and a kitchen.
Down the street we find a cafeteria so we order a pizza (again) and buy some beer from the fridge at the hostel.
After a night on our old mattress we wake up in a dent. Ugh… sore back, feeling old.
After checking out, we wanted to buy some breakfast at Cafe Chimoio just at the end of the street, but we only have a 1000 metical bill which he can’t break. So we walk on to the bus station and immediately get flooded by people selling bus tickets. We try not to get distracted and walk into a small bakery where we buy bread and cookies. We also buy some bananas on the market at the bus station, so we’re well provided today.
The chapa to the border at Machipanda will leave when it’s full, because it’s still early and we don’t mind the wait, we get into an almost empty chapa. We can choose our seat which is preferably in front or the second row behind the driver. They put people opposite to the first row behind the driver so the most comfort is not to be found there. When we finally leave there are 24 adults and three children on the van… and we are quite happy with our seat choice. Halfway a woman behind us gets dropped of by the roadside near a market, she doesn’t want to get out of the bus and yells at the driver (in my ear). The driver and his helper start unloading the big packages that are on top of the bus.
But the lady keeps on yelling at the driver. When she finally gets our she’s crying and tears the drivers shirt in two. Oh oh…now it’s really escalating. The guy next to us explains that they promised to bring her packages into the market, as they are to big to carry. So she’s pissed. After some money back settlement, the lady cools down and the chapa finally drives on to the border. Another hour to go.
At Machipanda we get out and walk to the border with Zimbabwe. We ignore the money changers and buy a bottle of whiskey with our last Meticals just before we pass the border of Mozambique.
Chimoio to Mutare
We took a chapa at the Chimoio bus station to the border which says Machipanda, the town just before the border. You get out of the bus and walk through the border. Have some US dollars with you for the visa. Ignore everyone without a uniform!
When you’ve crossed the border you can take a taxi to Mutare centre for 2 dollars per person, of course they’ll tell you that is not enough but just act like you’ve done this trip many times and you know what you’re talking about 😉
There is poverty everywhere, no slums, just huts and cottages all through the country. Because of the political situation there is not enough focus on the right subjects, like this poverty and health care for example. Wearing a torn and worn out t-shirt is nothing new here and shoes are luxury. Mozambique gets a lot of second hand clothes from Europe, but this doesn’t always reach the needy. Many of these clothes get smuggled into Zimbabwe to be sold there.
As a foreigner you’ll stand out right away, whatever you do. The colour of your skin, your clothes, nice shoes, a camera… that means money… fortunately not everyone wants a piece of that wealth but there’s no reason to flash your expensive camera around all the time.
In some areas it’s not safe to go out at night, take a taxi or a tuktuk. You’ll stimulate the local economy ánd get home safely.
The language in Mozambique is Portuguese, for this was a Portuguese colony until the mid seventies.
There are not many people who speak English so communicating can be a bit hard sometimes, but they are willing to try. Young people are taught English in school and love to let you know they are still learning.
We met a 19 year old boy on the beach in Tofo, he was selling bracelets. At first we were annoyed with him being the 14th seller in ten minutes but when we tried to make a conversation he told us about school and him wanting to go to university next year in Maputo. His ambition is to become an English teacher and return to his town to teach English to the older people and teach them how to write. Amazing dreams!
The temperatures were between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. We’ve had some hot and sunny days, the sea temperature was just perfect and the fresh breeze made everything complete. After a few days the weather changed to cloudy and more windy and then came the rain. And it never stopped… No it did, but that just sounded so dramatic 😉
We’ve have two days of rain. And not some rain, it was like the sea was falling down on us. A LOT. Our cottage flooded and the electricity went down, but we survived.
It was pretty cool because we got to meet so many different people while waiting for the rain to stop. They expected it to rain for five days, so for the locals it was a disappointment because of the drought, but for us… phew, back to the beach!
Crossing the border was easier than we thought, get out of the bus, walk to the immigration office to stamp out of South Africa, walk to the next office to get your visa checked and stamped, and you’re in.
We’ve heard it is an advantage to travel by bus, because your in a group and for some reason they are not interested in picking you out of the line.
The taxis in Maputo are ok, the regular tariff is 200 Methical in the city, which is about € 2.90 but agree on the price before you leave.
Don’t worry about the technical state of the vehicle, as long as you arrive at your destination it’s okay 😉
You can also find tuktuks in al lot of towns. We paid about € 1.50 for a ten minute trip in Vilanculos, which I’m sure was too much by the smile on the drivers face when he dropped us off at our hostel.
In total we’ve spend:
- Transportation: €93.85
- Accommodations: €314.95
- Eating and drinking: €221.35
- Entrance fee: €0
- Other: €130.00 (Visa)
That brings us to a daily budget of: €95.00 for two persons including everything except international flights.
In these 8 days we have stayed in beachfront or city center hostels and lodges, we had a private room with private or shared facilities.
We’ve celebrated Jos’ birthday of course. But we were also in places where the food was scarce so everything was quite expensive, which surprised us. The supermarkets in the bigger cities have everything you need, but if you don’t have a car it’s hard to reach them. There are mini-markets everywhere but they barely have any products, the things they do have are overpriced.
Fortunately you can buy cheap fresh fish the beach and some accommodations have their own vegetable garden where you can shop. Not every accommodation has a self catering facility or even pots and pans, that makes it very difficult to prepare that yummy fresh fish.
We’ve also collected our own clams from the sea bottom, which was not only only a great way to spend our afternoon but we had a fantastic meal for free!
Just add some garlic bread and beer…
Some examples of products and prices in euro:
- 4 small sandwiches in mini-market: € 0.50
- Pizza in lunchroom: € 7.00
- Instant coffee (yuck) in lunchroom: € 2.25
- Bottle of wine in a restaurant: € 12.00
- Beer in a cafe: € 1.25
- Bottle of beer (500 ml) supermarket: € 0.35
- Meat in restaurant (300 gr steak): € 10.00
- Dinner in restaurant: € 6.00 – € 10.00
- Liter gasoline: € 0.90
- Simcard with 5 Gb data: € 7.50 (yes really!)