Moçambique (Mozambique) - Swimming with Whale sharks
by Günther Eichhorn
In October/November 2017 I visited Southern Africa with visits to Malawi, Swaziland, and Moçambique (Mozambique). The part of the trip to Mozambique and Swaziland was organized by Go2Africa/Overland Africa. I had used this company before during my visit to Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. As before, the organization of the trip was very good, everything worked out perfectly. I was again very happy with Go2Africa.
I arrived from Malawi via Johannesburg at the airport in Maputo, where a driver picked me up and brought me to the hotel in Maputo for one night.
The next morning another driver picked me up and drove me to the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary in Swaziland for short stay.
After two nights in Mlilwane, another driver picked me up and brought me back to the hotel in Maputo for one night.
The next morning, very early, the crew from Mabeco Tours picked me up for a two-day/one-night tour to the Maputo Special Reserve. I enjoyed this excursion very much. Normally I try to avoid camping excursions, but this one was definitely worth it. The owners of Mabeco Tours were my guides. We drove to the Reserve, watching wildlife on the way, then set up camp. They have these camping trips down to a science. They think of everything, including a string of lights that they hang up to help you get around at night. They have a folding bed for the guests, so sleeping is very comfortable. They have a small toilet tent for privacy. After more game drives, we settled for the night around a camp fire with a great dinner, beer and wine. I had a great time. The next morning I made an excursion to the ocean with one of the owners. The rest of the crew stayed back at the camp to break it down. When we got back from the ocean, they loaded up the car, and we did more wildlife watching on the way back. On the way back we actually rescued a couple who were driving a regular passenger car and got stuck in the sand. They tried to walk back through the reserve, with angry elephants all around, not a safe thing to do. Elephants were actually charging at our vehicle a couple of times during the trip (see Mozambique Wildlife), so you have to be VERY careful with elephants in Mozambique. At the end of the two-day excursion I got back to the hotel in Maputo.
The next day another driver from Go2Africa brought me to the airport for a flight to Beira. From there I was supposed to be driven to Gorongosa National Park for two nights. Somehow this was changed to a charter flight in a Cessna 208, which was very nice. Instead of a 4-5 hour drive over sometimes bad roads, I was on a short flight of less than one hour in a small plane, a real treat.
Gorongosa National Park has some nice wildlife, but not quite at the scale of Tanzania or Namibia.
I was a bit less than enthusiastic about the game drives, they seemed to be quite rushed at times, but I did see quite a bit of wildlife. Again, we encountered angry elephants and where charged a few times.
The Gorongosa Lodge was not one of the better lodges. The dinner menu didn't have much of a selection. It looked great, but they did not have most of what was on the menu. They also closed the restaurant fairly early at 21:00. The bar was already closed by 19:00, so there was no place to socialize.
On the way back to Beira, I was not as lucky as on the way up, we drove back. Driving back from the Gorongosa National Park to Beira Airport took over four hours. The first 1.5 hours was on a terrible road with heavy truck traffic. I much rather be on dirt roads, than on paved roads with lots of potholes.
From Beira I flew back to Maputo for one night in the now familiar hotel. The next morning it was back to the airport for a short flight to Inhambane. From Inhambane I was brought to Tofo Beach for four nights. I wanted to have plenty of time to have a chance to see whale sharks.
On the first day in Tofo Beach I did a Scuba refresher course and a one-tank dive. It was great with lots of fish to see. The next day I went on a whale shark excursion. We went out just off-shore and cruised around, looking for dolphins or feeding whale sharks. They feed close to the surface. When the boat crew sees dolphins or a whale shark, they drive the boat in front of the animals, and we go into the water with mask, snorkel, and fins to look at them. The water was pretty rough, 3-5 foot waves, so I felt very uncomfortable in the rough water and got back in the boat right away. They solved the problem by giving me a life vest. With that I was comfortable. I got to see two whale sharks, I just missed the dolphins of the first swim. This was a fantastic experience.
Since the water continued to be so rough, I canceled the next days scuba excursion and instead did a walking tour of Inhambane.
The next day I flew to Johannesburg for an overnight stay before my flight back home. Since my flight was not till evening, I booked a day trip to Sterkfontein, one of the sites where human ancestor remains were found.
Pictures of wildlife and birds are on separate pages.