South Africa & Mozambique

A magical combination

South Africa & Mozambique

After a smooth start at Schiphol, I board the plane with eight travel agents for a study trip to South Africa and Mozambique. TAP Air Portugal’s Economy Extra is really worth the price difference with nice legroom and comfort. In Lisbon we can use the Premier Lounge with good food and drink, good wifi and plenty of seating.

Upon arrival at Maputo, we are immediately met by a representative of our local agent to assist us with a visa on arrival. But “this is Africa,” so this takes time and patience. It is entertaining to see how many people are walking around and standing by. After a few stamps, photos and friendly smiles, we are outside with our bags. We drove to the Ressano Garcia border post where we had to stamp to exit Mozambique and enter South Africa. Fleetingly, our printed QR codes from the vaccination certificates are reviewed. We experienced no problems at all.

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

At the Malelane Gate we enter the Kruger National Park and then our safari adventure begins. How fantastic to spot plenty of wildlife on a transfer already. Our first overnight stay is immediately a special one; the Kruger Shalati Train on the Bridge. Beautifully situated on an old railroad bridge over the ever-flowing Sabie River, old train compartments have been completely refurbished in style with large panoramic windows so you can fully enjoy the magnificent view. On the long bridge, the rooms/compartments are back to back with a small lounge in the middle with two terraces with a plunge pool. What a top spot for a drink. The decor is African modern which gives it a nice accessible atmosphere. During the game drives we see lots of wildlife including lions and a wonderfully relaxed leopard hanging in a tree. We have the sundowner on a bridge overlooking a narrower river, with a Gin & Tonic and biltong in hand enjoying the view. What more do you want in life? Back at the lodge, we join a bush braai.

LION SANDS GAME RESERVE

And then it’s time for our next safari adventure; we are met by our guides from Lion Sands Game Reserve. The safari vehicles are open and very comfortable with room for guide, tracker and up to six people. Lion Sands River Lodge is also located on the Sabie River, is spacious with a very luxurious, modern South African design, friendly staff and is suitable for both couples and families. After a delicious lunch another game drive is on the program and that will be an unforgettable drive; we see a kill of wild dogs where the hyenas immediately take over… goosebumps. This is the added value of a luxury open safari vehicle in which you can drive off-road and have a tracker and guide at your disposal. Back at the lodge, enjoy a delicious dinner with the personal service of the chef at the table. The next day we express our desire to see a rhino and we succeed. Sad to see the horns being sawed off but unfortunately this is a dire necessity.

MJEJANE PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

We drive through Hazyview and White River to the Mjejane River Lodge, located in the south between the Kruger Park and the Crocodile River. A perfect location to/from Mozambique and it is widely used for that. Mjejane is located in a private Big Five reserve, with a spacious garden with pool and right on the river. The lodge will be renovated and expanded by the end of 2022. We have an afternoon game drive in the private concession, here with ten people per vehicle, but I am very surprised by the varied landscape and we see a lot of game. The sundowner is by the water where we have to be really quiet so as not to disturb the hippos. Beautiful location and nice to be in a totally different place.

MOZAMBIQUE… ANOTHER WORLD

After a smooth ride, we cross the border again into Maputo. The atmosphere in Mozambique is wonderful and you immediately feel as if you are in another world, partly because Portuguese is spoken there. Along the main road, which is in very good condition, many people walk from young to old. We are dropped off at the Maputo Marina; a few boats and a dilapidated wharf. But with a friendly porter, suitcase boys, a fine speedboat and a nice skipper, things work out and we are taken to Machangulo Island. Depending on the tides, that’s about a 45-minute boat ride. This beautiful peninsula is known among the Dutch because King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima had a vacation villa here.

MACHANGULO

Upon arrival, you must walk a short distance through the water to get to shore. Not a punishment at all and what a lovely welcome this is. The suitcases are unloaded by the men but lifted by some strong ladies and on their heads. The Machangulo Beach Lodge is beautifully situated against the sand dunes and the nine suites all have phenomenal views of both Maputo Bay and the Indian Ocean and Inhaca Island opposite. Due to the big difference between low and high tide, the landscape changes regularly and the sunrise and sunset here is spectacular! The intimate lodge is connected by many stairs so there is a lot of climbing to be done but you are rewarded with stunning views everywhere. Everyone agrees that Machangulo is an absolute must for a relaxing beach stay in Mozambique.

We enjoy a delicious fresh breakfast and a long beach walk before returning to Maputo by boat. The transfer to the White Pearl Resort takes about 2.5 hours, a fascinating drive via the new suspension bridge over Maputo Bay, the longest suspension bridge in Africa. The last part of the route is off-road.

WHITE PEARL

The sun is already beginning to set, but fortunately we arrive just in the light at White Pearl Resorts, beautifully sheltered in a bay in the southern part of Mozambique just thirty kilometers from the border with South Africa. The suites, connected by wooden boardwalks, exude luxury and comfort. Everything is stylishly decorated in modern African style and each suite has a private butler who provides everything the guest asks for.

Waking up under the outdoor shower and walking on the endless beach, what a peace and quiet! There are plenty of activities to do such as paddle boarding, horseback riding, sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving (own PADI center) and spa treatments. Also, a guided walk “Save our Seas” where there is a lot of focus on the conservation of White Pearl. We end the day with stargazing, delectable lobster and shrimp from the grill and African lounge music at the beach bar where, fortunately, there are warm blankets, as the sea breeze is very chilly. The next morning after a last walk on the beach and a delicious breakfast in the sun we are sorry to leave here… paradise gets used very quickly!

MAPUTO

We drive back to Maputo and then it’s time for a city tour of this fascinating city. We stop at an old fort and get a tour of the magnificent train station; one of the most memorable historic buildings in the city. We visit a craft market and a local market hall with plenty of food items such as nuts and fish. Of course, we can’t skip the gigantic statue of former president Amora Machel Moisés in Independence Square. To counterbalance China’s enormous influence in Mozambique, the United States has commissioned the construction of a state-of-the-art embassy, opening in 2021 and already iconic with its seaside location. We stay at the Southern Sun Hotel, a large but atmospheric hotel right on Maputo’s beach with a nice mix of vacationers, business people and also many locals who come here to eat at the excellent restaurant. At the nearby beach bar, we explore the local nightlife scene and I feast my eyes on the colorful and cheerful people. Maputo has a familiar and pleasant atmosphere, definitely a must-see when in Mozambique.

Unfortunately, it is time to say goodbye to Africa and after a fine flight we arrive in Lisbon where we have a delicious dinner at the beautiful Espelho de Agua restaurant during our stopover. After a short night in the new modern Lumen Hotel, we fly on to Schiphol the next morning. What a fantastic trip this was with goosebumps moments to spare. Where the world can’t find you…

Mariëtte Boomsma

Born and partly raised in Johannesburg I am closely associated with South Africa. At the end of 2017 I started at Untamed Travelling as a travel specialist in southern Africa. During my many travels I have been introduced to the special sand dunes in Namibia, the white water rafting on the Zambezi and the vast Okavango Delta in Botswana. How can I briefly display my Africa feeling? The intense colors, the pungent smells, the welcoming people and the sun that always shines. Africa is coming home to me. I would like to take you on a journey of discovery to this unforgettable continent.

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