International Travel

Mozambique, Pieter's Place

By Fiona McIntosh

If you haven’t been to Pemba, Mozambique, go soon before the secret is out – with its beautiful beach, largely undiscovered reefs and reasonable prices, Pemba offers all that southern Mozambique, Zanzibar and the other Indian Ocean islands offer – but without the crowds. And when you do go, hook up with Pieter Jacobs, the first man to offer diving in this piece of paradise. Pieter, a South African who’s never looked back since moving here, runs C.I. Divers. You can’t miss it – it’s the first place you see as you drive onto the road that runs along Wimbe Beach. It’s a great operation – in the 14 years he’s had the business he’s logged some 4 000 dives and knows the reefs like the back of his hands. I had time to sample but a few of these, but I’ve seen enough to know that I want to go back.

Mozambique, Ponta Do Ouro

By Amilda Boshoff

Ponta Do Ouro & Ponta Malangane: twice as nice! 

ImagePonta do Ouro & Ponta Malangane is two dive sites situated at the Southern tip of Mozambique. One will have to cross the South African border at Kosi Bay or also known as the Farrazela Border Post. There is a nicely tarred road to the border post but once you are on the other side, numerous small sand roads lead you to Ponta Do Ouro, Ponta Malangane and Ponta Mamoli. There is even one that lead you to Maputo. You will just have to figure out which one it is or even better, ask the officials at the border post which is the best road to take. The sand road to Ponta do Ouro is approximately 11 km long and the one to Ponta Malangane is approximately 15 km long.

Mozambique, Ponta Do Ouro, Brittlestar Guest House

By Johan Boshoff
Photos By Matthew Potenski

ImageA new guest house has opened up in Ponta do Ouro, and even though the area is known as a hub for scuba divers, the guest house is a mere 300m walk from the main beach and it overlooks the bay of Ponta Do Ouro. Brittlestar Guest House has nine air-conditioned bedrooms and can accommodate between 24-28 guests at any one time.

Seven of the bedrooms have shared bathrooms while two of the family bedrooms each have their own en-suite bathrooms. The lodge has satellite television (DSTV), Home Theatre Systems and secure parking. Brittlestar also boasts a fully operational roof bar with a pool table and dart board where you can enjoy delicious meals. Brittlestar is known for its cuisine that pleases even the most discerning palate.

Mozambique, Ponta Mamoli, Ariel's Hideaway

By Amilda Boshoff
Photos by Johan Boshoff

ImageNestled along a vegetated sand dune amongst a forest of Cassarina trees lies a quiet but luxurious lodge. At the appropriately named Ariel’s Hideaway your nerves will be soothed and you will be lulled to sleep at night by the gentle rolling sound of the waves teasing the long golden beach.

Ponta Mamoli is situated 25 kilometres from the Kosi Bay border post and 100 kilometres south of Maputo. The lodge is easily accessible with appropriately deflated tyres if you are driving yourself (there are clearly marked roads and turn-offs from the border post to the lodge). And for those not in possession of a suitable vehicle, resort transfers from the border post and back are available.

Mozambique, Vilankulo

By Amilda Boshoff
Photo's by Johan Boshoff, Andrew Woodburn, Vilanculos Beach Lodge
Map by Izelle Hickey

Sun, sea and endless white beaches...

Whether you’re in pursuit of leisure or activity, excitement or relaxation, the extraordinary mix of friendly people and rustic surroundings that Vilankulo has to offer will captivate you

ImageSituated almost 800km north of Maputo is the town of Vilankulo (formerly known as Vilanculos) in the tropical Inhambane province, a place with friendly people and a lively atmosphere. There is electricity, generated from natural gas at a plant near Inhassoro, the markets have fresh produce readily available and there are shops selling basic supplies. The town also boasts a petrol station and a clinic with competent doctors. A new pharmacy opened recently and can help you with medication for acute cases. There are also numerous restaurants serving a variety of fresh seafood and Portuguese cuisine. The town is easily accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles on the national En1 road, which runs between Maputo and Beira. The roads are tarred and a 4x4 is not required, however, be on the look out for potholes and ongoing roadworks. The International Airport in Vilankulo has fl ights arriving regularly from O.R. Tambo, Lanseria and Maputo, so accessibility is no problem. Vilankulo is also the gateway to the romantic islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago just kilometres away from the shore. Climate-wise there are many regional variations in Mozambique, but generally the hot, rainy season is from October to March with the average daily high hitting a hot and humid 31°C. The dry season runs from April to September and the average daily high tops out at 27°C on the coast while it’s somewhat cooler inland. 

My southern Red Sea memories

The southern Red Sea is an area lesser known than the northern areas around Sharm-el-Sheikh, Ras Mohammed and Dahab. Just like here in South Africa, where the North Coast is known for the aquarium-type dives and the South Coast known as the wilderness, the same applies to the Red Sea’s northern and southern parts. By Amilda Boshoff.

The southern half of the Red Sea is set amidst some of the most isolated territory in the world, with wild, barren countryside on both shores and crystal blue water in between. The Southern Red Sea plays host to the dive sites from Marsa Alam to Dangerous Reef in the St. John island group south of Port Bernice and north of the Sudanese border.

Namibia, Lake Otjikoto

By Johann Botha
Photo's by Steff Viljoen

Unravelling the mysteries of a heritage site in Namibia
ImageDue to the extremely bad viz on its long coast line, almost all recreational diving in Namibia is done inland in one of their many deep holes, dams and caves. To quote one of the locals: “The Namibians are in essence a nation of dam divers.”

Tsumeb has been a copper mining town for ever. It was given its original name, Tsomsoub, by the earliest inhabitants that we know of – a group of Bushmen who lived at an ancient sinkhole they called Oshikoto. They didn’t do a lot of diving in the hole back then, but rather spent their time mining copper and trading it off to the local Ovambo’s. In the 1890s, whilst Namibia was a German colony, professional mining started in all earnest and by 1905 enough people was drawn to this rich ore to start calling Tsumeb a town.

New Guinea, Loloata Island

By Jeanne Liebetrau and Peter Pinnock 

Image“Rhinopias species, otherwise known as the leafy scorpionfish, are covered with lacy appendages, extra skin flaps and bedraggled tassels.” 

As Greg surfaces he yells excitedly, “Wow, that was absolutely awesome!” Franco, the dreadlocked dive master asks, “Did you find one?” Greg shouts back, “No! Not one – three!” I look at Greg skeptically. Divers are like fishermen – always bragging about what they can’t prove. “What colours?” “Brown, black and green” he answers with a grin. Gazing at him I think, “How can a grown man get so excited about find ing a fish?”

New Guinea, Raja Ampat

By Peter Pinnock

ImageTales from the engine room

The mechanical needs of a coral reef are similar to that of a car’s engine. Raja Ampat in the Pacific Ocean is an example of a finely tuned engine.

Rich in diversity beyond imagination, scientists are constantly breaking fish-recording records on Raja Ampat.

During a Rapid Ecological Assessmentby Nature Conservation’s Indonesia programme, the renowned ichthyologist Gerald Allen broke the record for the most fish ever recorded on a single dive – 283. His mate, coral expert Charles Vernon, recorded more than 450 species of hard corals.

Quirimbas Archipelago

By Amilda Boshoff
Photos by Johan Boshoff 
Map illustration by Izelle Hickey

Quirimbas Archipelago the African Caribbean

The Quirimbas Archipelago has become known as the “African Caribbean” because of its breath-taking diving, snorkelling, fishing and surroundings. Natural beauty includes mangroves, coral reefs and palms and the islands have a story to tell – a story of slavery, pirates and ivory!

ImageThe Quirimbas islands lie in the Indian Ocean, offthe north-east coast of Mozambique and stretches for 100km along the coast. These tropical islands contain some of the richest coral reefs in the world and provide a habitat for an abundant array of marine life. The Quirimbas Archipelago consists of 36 captivating tropical islands stretching from the quaint city of Pemba and the capital of Cabo Delgado Province to the Rovuma River, which forms the natural frontier between Tanzania and Mozambique. The area is undeveloped and remains a largely unexplored tourist paradise.