After 8 days in Tofo we realized that if we did not leave now, we might get stuck there. After our Barra trip where Bertus proved to be quite the beach buggy, we decided to head to Pomene, a destination listed everywhere as only 4×4 due to the sand tracks. Marcia innocently posted a picture of Woody and Bertus on the Barra lighthouse track on Drivemoz, along with asking for recommendations for lodges and the conditions of the road to Pomene.
Good grief, people can really overreact and ASSumed that the photo was taken on the beach. A special thanks to Rob Turpin who came to our defense and pointed out that the road we were on was in Barra.
- Another superstar was Carol and Francis, the owners of Paradise Beach Lodge in Pomene. Carol offered us a special rate and also arranged that her husband, who was coincidentally in Massinga, wait for us to show us the way to Paradise. Unfortunately we subsequently heard that people sent her very rude messages about suggesting that a Beetle would be able to make it, even asking her if she is willing to sell a kidney for business. To those people: please do not insult us by assuming that we would just blindly go where people suggest. We do in fact have the ability to judge the risks for ourselves.
The first part of the road was a smooth-ish dirt road that got progressively worse as we made our way through coconut trees and through small villages, filled with very curious people. About halfway there the road turns into a jeep track and then eventually into a sandy jeep track where we stopped to prepare the cars. Francis engaged diff-lock on the Land Cruiser bakkie while Matt dived under the car to put it in 4×4. Our 4×4 preparation consisted of me making sure the door is unlocked and taking my shoes off in case I had to jump out quickly to give Bertus a push. We had to stop a couple of times because the boat that Francis was towing managed to shake lose every now and then. This time was also spent making sure that Bertus, who slowly but surely followed at the back, was still there. Whenever the road condition would change, Francis would get out and tell us, then drive through to the bad section where he would stop to wait for Woody who was soon followed by Bertus without issues. The trip took about 3 hours to do 45km – not because Bertus was getting stuck, just because we stopped quite often.
With Clayton’s steady but surely driving Bertus continued to surprise everyone, including ourselves. Not once was there a moment we thought that we might have to engage our 4×4.
It went up and down hills and drove through sections where the middle section almost touched the bottom of the car. We finally made it to resort and it was immediately clear why it was called paradise.
From the hill above the resort you could clearly see the pristine white beach hugging a lagoon that had just about every variation of the colour blue and the huts made from local materials scattered between the coconut trees. We immediately realized that our intended 1 night stay would turn into an indefinite period of time.
We drove down to the entrance where we were warmly greeted by lodge staff and other guests also from South Africa. After unloading the cars, Francis treated us to a boat trip – he had other guests arriving by boat that he had to meet behind the wave break and guide back into the lodge through the ever changing sand banks of the lagoon. The sea was quite rough and the ride got our heart rate going. At one stage I could barely hold on when we would ride a wave that just suddenly disappear from below us, making us slam back down on the water that felt like several meters below us. Francis was luckily an excellent skipper and we made it there and back safely.
We spent the next days doing what we do best which was relaxing. We managed to muster enough energy to take walks up and down the beach which was full of life – every shell that you picked up had something living inside.
After our boat ride the first day we were quite amped to go for a second one to Pomene point which Francis, who had to go back to South Africa, said was breathtakingly beautiful. The rocks around the point formed blowholes and when the waves crash on them the water would spurt from the holes, several meters high. We asked the manager to take us and the other guests but apparently there was something wrong with the boat that day but he said we could go the next day at about 12:00. We woke up early that morning and went for a quick snorkel, hurrying back to be in time for the boat trip. However, we could not find the manager and later heard that he felt a bit sick so he could not take us.
Since we did not have time to do a quick shop in Massinga the day before and because we thought we would only be there for 1 day, breakfast and lunch proved to be challenging. Dinner the first 2 nights were spent at the restaurant but the service was extremely slow even for Mozambique standards. Only later we were told that we had to order dinner by 14:00 for it to be ready at 18:30-ish. Luckily the South Africans invited us for a braai on our third and last day which turned out the be the best meal I have had since Clayton’s mom and dad left us in J-bay nearly 2 months ago. Perfectly braaied lamb chops and pure south african boerewors, with sweet patato and a green salad that even had feta (!) and olives. Our potato bake that we managed to make with our meager ingredients seemed pitiful in comparison to the feast.
The meal got even better when they offered us proper red wine and Lindt chocolate. If I did not know any better I would’ve sworn I died and gone to heaven. Red meat, red wine and chocolate, what more can a girl ask for?
The weather the last couple of days were hot and the mercury was not about to drop on the day we decided to leave. We got up early, packed the car and said good bye to our friends. We wanted to go to Vilanculos that was about 4 hours drive away (in the Beetle) once we reached the tarmac which was also a good couple of hours away.
Bertus, the hero that he was a couple of days ago did not even make it 200m before we had to stop. The one tyre we deflated on our way there, came off the rim. Luckily no damage was done to the rim or tyre and with the help of the lodge manager, we were able to get the tyre back on. The unfortunate part was that this happened on the worst section of the road where keeping momentum was critical in order to reach the top of the steep incline 200m away. Struggling to get up to speed and with the air pockets trapped in the sand, the hill proved to be too much for Bertus. Not wanting to damage the engine that was still cold and needing to get as far as possible while the air was still coolish, we had the manager pull us out till we reached the top of the hill. Not the most dignified exit to an epic trip but sometimes you just have to choose your battles. The road back to Massinga took 2 hours with the sun reaching a whole new level of hot, turning the red little beetle into an oven, especially while we stopped at the local clinic to buy some Malaria cure tablets (just in case). We eventually reached Massinga at 11:30.
With Vilanculos 200km away and the heat getting worse by the minute we decided to get a place nearby where we could spend the night. After restocking our depleted food supplies, we set off to Morrungulo. The lodge wanted more to camp per night per person than what we have been paying to stay in a house the last 3 days so we went in search of another camp site. We found Shirley Shoal that despite the very big sign advertising that it is open for business was very much deserted. We considered wild camping but the place had an eerie feeling to it. The last place on our list was Bonita Bay lodge, built on a hill overlooking the ocean. They did not have camping but offered a wooden structure that vaguely resembled a chalet for Mt400pppn.
Our intended 1 night stay, turned into 2 and then 3. I blame it on the pool that overlooked the ocean and captivated us the moment we saw it. To add to the beautiful scene, whales would breach every now and then. When we eventually made our way down to the beach it did not disappoint. During low tide we were able to swim to a nearby reef to go snorkel after which we would lie down in shallow, naturally formed pools filled with water warmed by the blazing hot sun.
The security guard was also a fishmonger and we bought the most delicious fish from him on our first night. He cleaned it and even deboned it for us. We basted it with fig jam, butter and garlic and grilled it on the fire in foil. Beyond delicious.
Despite having no electricity most of the time, hardly any water and on our last night they decided that the best time to load bricks onto a bakkie was at 12:00 and then at 02:00 and then the last load at 04:00, it was still nice.
Our stay would however be remembered by the fact that Clayton and I became uncle and aunt to Luka and Gian on the 9th of September. 2 Healthy, beautiful boys who we cannot wait to meet in 4 months time.