After four days of bouncing over some of the worst roads I’ve seen in the world (I thought nothing could beat Cambodia!), we finally arrived at our coastal destination in the town of Vilankulo. This was originally a small fishing village, but its proximity to the Bazaruto Archipelago has turned it into quite the backpacker hub. We arrived at around three in the afternoon, and promptly headed for the nearest beach…unfortunately the hotel that our tour company (Drifters) use was in a pretty lousy location, and it took a while of scrambling past half sunken fishing boats and broken glass before we finally found a small stretch of sand that was clear enough for us to strip off and head for the water. Once we got into the ocean, it was glorious! The water temperature was a little cool, but for winter in Africa it was absolutely refreshing. We splashed around for a while, and keeping in mind that we’d all had our tetanus shots, headed back to the hotel to explore the bar.
While the hotel might not have had the best location, the staff did a fantastic job of maintaining the beautiful landscaping, and the hospitality was superb. Our group composition was a bit older than most African overlandr groups, and that definitely showed in the evenings. We enjoyed a few beverages, had some dinner and then headed off to bed at a reasonable hour..definitely not something I’m used to on a trip like this.
The next morning we were up early for one of the highlights of the trip, a dhow trip out to Magaruque Island. It took about 45 minutes using the motor to get out to the island, where I was surprised to find one of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen in a long time waiting for us. Our itinerary was pretty simple…do a little snorkeling, some sunbathing, and maybe work my way through a chapter or two in the Wilbur Smith book I was working on. The snorkeling was pretty decent, although the water temperature made it a little less enticing than the warm sandy beaches. Lunch was served by the boat crew..they were offering some of the freshest barracuda I think I’ve ever had. I hadn’t tasted fish that good since one holiday back in Texas when a couple of us went spear-fishing on the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
After another nap in the shade, we headed back to the hotel, this time under sail. There was something really peaceful and relaxing about just chilling out, listening to the waves gently slap against the wooden hull, and hearing the fabric of the sails snapping in the breeze.
The next morning Ula and I decided to go horseback riding before we headed out for another day of driving. The riding was beautiful, although the guy we rented the horses from was a bit of a racist prick. He’d been kicked out of Zimbabwe a couple of years ago, and had resettled with his wife in Mozambique. He was full of opinions, mostly involving how lazy the locals were, and how they should be grateful for the white people’s generosity. Unfortunately this was something that we’d encounter several times over the next week or two. Still, despite his attitude, the beaches were beautiful, and we were able to get in a couple of great gallops in across the sands.