Piece of paradise

Our Mozambican holiday started with a leisurely drive from Johannesburg to our overnight stop at Komatipoort, about 3km from the Lebombo border post.

The border post opens at 6am, but we were advised to be there at 7am when most of the waiting vehicles would hopefully have passed through the border.

We had already bought our compulsory Hollard third party insurance at a filling station in Komatipoort. Cost of the insurance was R150 per vehicle, plus R50 for completing the necessary customs documentation for us.

Proceedings at the South African side went smoothly and then we headed to the Mozambican side. The Hollard agent at Komatipoort arranged with his colleague at the Mozambican border post to be our “helper”. The latter takes your passports and documentation and for a fee of between R150 to R200 per car, and arranges everything for you while you wait at your vehicle. For us a worthwhile expense.

Proceedings at both border posts were completed within an hour and we were on our way.

We were warned to obey speed limits as you are spot-fined if caught. There were also stories about corrupt traffic cops. We were very careful to stick to the traffic rules and managed to avoid being caught and fined.

You have to pass through the outskirts of Maputo, which can slow you down as the roads are narrow and packed with vehicles and locals.

The road up to Xai Xai is very good, but a bit frustrating is the fact that you have to slow down to 60 km/h every time you pass through one of the many villages along the way. That is where the cops lie in wait for you, so we obeyed the speed limits.

The first 100km north of Xai Xai is a bit of a challenge as you have to avoid potholes – as well as other traffic also avoiding potholes! But never drive at night in Mozambique – bad road markings, overloaded vehicles, people and animals on the roads.

Spending some time at the Palm Grove Lodge first, we were concerned about the fact that both the Morrumbene website and the reservation confirmation stated that one could only reach the resort, farther north, by 4×4. We were also warned that if we got stuck it would cost MT1000 per hour to get us to the resort.

We decided to play it safe and arranged with the Afriventures Dive Centre manager at Palm Grove Lodge to take us to the resort by rubber duck. We would arrive in style!

So, at 7am the next morning we were ferried off in the rubber duck and headed for Morrumbene Beach Resort. The rather bumpy trip took just short of an hour and we were dropped off on the beach in front of the resort. I guess we were the only visitors ever to arrive by rubber duck!

The manager of the resort was on hand to take our luggage and us to our chalet. It must have been a strange sight, seeing us sitting on the beach with all our luggage!

The resort boasts typical Mozambican-style chalets giving a “situated in paradise” feeling. All have brick walls and thatch roofs. The furnishings were tasteful and the interiors spotlessly clean.

The chalets come comprehensively equipped for self-catering. For the fishermen there is a large freezer in the kitchen, which indicated the possibility of good catches in the area. My wife was thrilled that the showers were tiled and as spotless as the rest of the bathroom.

Electrical power is provided by generator, so power is only available between 6am and 11am and between 5pm and 10pm. The stove and geyser run on gas.

The resort has no restaurant, so one has to arrive fully self-sufficient. Charcoal is available at reception for MT25 a bag. The nearest supermarket is at Maxixe, about 90 minutes’ drive away. The water is safe to drink.

Having arrived at the resort by boat, I was unable to check first hand whether I could actually reach the lodge by road with my two-wheel drive double cab. The manager confirmed that if you are not an expert at sand driving, rather come with a 4×4.

So, now you have arrived in paradise, so what do you do here? Bring your fishing tackle. If you have a boat or jet ski, bring that as well. Otherwise, just come and take long walks on the white beaches and look for shells.

Television is not available in the resort, and some people think it would be out of place in an idyllic setting like this. Who wants to know what’s happening back home anyway?

A few days later we were again sitting on the beach with our luggage, waiting for the rubber duck from Palm Grove to come pick us up.

Some local fishermen were rather amused at the sight, and even more so when we pretended to hike! We enjoyed the last laugh when our transport arrived and whisked us off the beach.

Reservations: ACT Travel 012 425-1000 or [email protected]

GPS coordinates: S23′ 37″ 32.5, E35′ 25″ 32.7

Cellphone reception is stated as limited, but we had no problems phoning from our chalet.

Remember that this is a malaria area, so please take the necessary precautions.