A dhow sailing and kayak adventure in Mozambique

Posted on 11 January 2011

There’s something about Mozambique that makes me thirsty. It could be the stinking hot climate or extreme humidity and the fact that the sea is so warm it doesn’t refresh like it should. The influence of the local culture isn’t much help either. It’s commonplace to see people sipping beer at nine in the morning. I think it’s because they have nothing really important to attend to. Everything happens slowly here, so I figure why not join in?

Not long after arriving in Pemba, I find myself with a beer in hand, unwinding and feeling far, far away from daily life. Early tomorrow, I will be transferred three hours drive north to Mocojo, the start of my epic dhow sailing and kayaking adventure. I order another cold one and stare out at the choppy sea. I can see a few dhows sailing in the distance, but the black clouds on the horizon look ominous. At least there is a cool breeze, so I decide to go for a walk. There are kids singing in the street and there’s a serious football game being played on a sandy field with lots of cheering spectators. Outside of their mud huts, mothers are cooking chicken kebabs on the world’s smallest braais and the men are sitting under trees, drinking beer.

Soon enough, we were sitting under our canvas gazebo with another cold one. This one was particularly sweet and refreshing. We had taken our transfer, met Harris Mupedzi, our knowledgeable and friendly Zimbabwean guide and sailed Vagabundu to our current location on Mogundula Island. Apart from the crew and the two other guests, Caroline and Katy from Luxembourg (pinch me), this island is completely uninhabited (pinch me again). It’s surrounded by sand so white it looks like snow and the water screams ‘come to me’. There is a magical inland lake too. It fills when the tide drops and empties on high tide. Weird. Coconut crabs scuttle around and there is the prettiest bird I have ever seen. Harris tells me it’s a Paradise Flycatcher. We had explored the island and tested out the kayaks in the bay and now we were sitting under our canvas gazebo, watching the sun disappear after an incredible day. This beer was particularly sweet and refreshing indeed.

The sun rises at 4.30am. We followed shortly after, had a coffee and jumped into the kayaks for a 25km journey south to Ulumbwa river mouth. Paddling is hypnotic. The rhythmic splish slash sounds sent me into a calming trance. My mind wandered. I thought about how paddling was a lot like life. When a swell arrives, it becomes easy and you can ride along with it. Then it passes and a little more effort is required to keep going. It’s nature’s rhythm and I was in sync. I was also getting hungry, so it was back onto the dhow for a hearty breakfast and time to set sail. The wind was up and we were cruising.

We spent two nights at Ulumbwa, exploring the mangroves on kayaks, reading, eating, drinking and snoozing. We walked to the local village and watched fisherman go about their business. I’m not much of a twitcher, but the highlight here was the Crab Plovers in the thousands – apparently a rare sight.

I have already completely lost track of time, but I know what the tide is doing, where the wind is coming from and that it’s time to move on. We headed for the south tip of Matemo Island for some awesome snorkeling. But there was an even better surprise ahead – a sand bank, in the middle of the ocean, that sticks out at low tide. No footprints, just us, and prawns for lunch. Am I dreaming again?

I thought I’d be disappointed arriving at Ibo Island, but the adventure continued. The island oozes history and culture, which is immediately obvious upon seeing the exstar-shaped fort. We went on a fascinating guided tour, learning of ancient times and going into the homes of locals. Back at Ibo Island Lodge, we lazed by the pool and indulged in a life of luxury.

Reflecting on the trip, I’d have to say that it’s an adventure of a lifetime. The setting is breathtaking, it’s rich in culture and history, the sailing, kayaking, fishing and snorkeling are fantastic, the food delicious and the hosts excellent. Oh, and the beer’s not bad either.

Book now

Ibo Island Lodge Central Reservations?
Tel: 021-702-0285  
Fax: 021-702-0692
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.mozambiquedhowsafaris.com

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