Intern goes to Mozambique
Since January 2019, I have been working as a Marketing Intern at the Once Travel head office. I’ve been able to understand their unique brand which focuses on sustainable adventures rooted in Fair Trade Tourism that open up the African continent for both locals and tourists. It’s completely unique and as my time here continues to go on, I feel more and more privileged to be working for a company with such a powerful mission.
I’ve been able to learn a lot about business marketing, including understanding the importance of a powerful and consistent social media presence, storytelling, SEO, and other forms of promotion. However, hands down, my most favorite part of this experience has been being able to create content while learning about the beauty of Southern Africa via cultural immersion.
Recently, I was able to travel to Mozambique to see a different side of Southern Africa. Although Mozambique borders South Africa, the differences are rather stark. South Africa is in an ever-transitioning state of modern, urban growth with big-city vibes, especially in Cape Town and Joburg. On the other hand, Mozambique remains rather untouched, with a focus on subsistence lifestyles due to the underdeveloped, rural lifestyle. Regardless, it was one of the most stunning places I've laid my eyes on.
It still seems like a dream that a girl like me from the midwestern United States was able to discover a place I would have never even known to visit before, but fortunately, I can check it off my bucket list.
I’ve compiled some beautiful photos from my trip that will hopefully allow you to grasp a sense of this beauty, however, pictures honestly cannot do it justice. Hopefully, this blog inspires you to explore it for yourself! Keep your eyes peeled for our Mozambique itineraries to come.
My Ten-Day Adventure!
I began my journey by flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the morning of March 21st. I was very eagerly awaiting this first flight and had never been to Johannesburg so was a bit nervous about what to expect. I had been counting down the days of this trip since a month prior so I had so many random scenarios about what to expect!
We started our journey by flying from Cape Town to Joburg quite early in the morning. I was pretty nervous about the flight and the adventure because the deadly Cyclone Idai had just hit, so I wasn’t sure what the state of the country would be. At the same time, I know the group I was with, VACorps, which hosts various interns from all over the world, would not let us go on this trip if they thought we would be in too much danger.
Once we arrived in Joburg, the interns met up as a group and drove in minibusses to Maputo, which is not too much further across from the border of South Africa. We crossed the border at Ressano Garcia, where we continued on a few hours to the country’s capital for dinner and a quick stay at Fatimas Backpackers.
My Minibus group!
After a very early 4:30 am wake up, we traveled from Fatimas by bus to Morrungulo, where we found the gorgeous, rurally hidden Bonito Bay. Bonito means beautiful in Portuguese and that was definitely an accurate name for the gorgeous place. The resort was completely unassuming as we traveled via unpaved sand roads in the underdeveloped rural community. The people were incredibly friendly, and literally, everyone we drove past stopped their work to wave hello. The vibes were amazing and I immediately felt welcome.
After long days of travel, having a few days to just spend vegging out at the pool, watch sunrises, and take morning dips in the warm Indian Ocean was the perfect remedy. The fellow interns and I enjoyed the beauty of our surroundings while sipping on the local cocktail, “R & R” or “Rum and Raspberry”.
The gorgeous Bonito Bay pool
The beautifully deserted beaches in Morrungulo
Our cabana at Bonito Bay resort
Gorgeous Mozambican sunsets...
Tourquoise blue waters...
Bonito Bay sand dunes overlooking the beach below
Our time after we left Bonito Bay was equally special. After taking a road trip a few hours South to Tofo Beach in the Inhambane province, we checked into our new accommodation, called Turtle Cove Lodge for March 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th. It felt like staying in a fairy forest. The food served was all organic and had a plethora of vegan options, and guests could also enjoy yoga classes on site.
A quick road trip stop at The Tropic of Capricorn!
Nothing better than lush greenery and this beautiful backdrop
Travel is always best with gal pals!
When we reached Tofo, we went on a kayaking tour to an untouched island called “Pig Island” by the locals who live there or “The Island” by others in Tofo. There are about 900 people who live a subsistence-based lifestyle on fishing and crabbing. It was like going back in time into a world with home-made huts made from land resources, unpaved roads, and makeshift schools and churches. Our group ate a meal served by the wives of the island chief made up of crab, fish, and traditional Mozambican dishes like pao and matapa. It was amazing and extremely eye-opening that there are so many people who live such drastically different lives than our modern ones.
Perfectly shallow, clear waters for kayaking
Matapa, rice, and fish with The Island's chief...It tasted better than it looked!
Matapa is a typical Mozambican dish, prepared with young cassava leaves, which are usually ground in before cooked in with garlic, onion and coconut milk. Many "Matapa" dishes add cashew nuts, crab or shrimp and can be eaten with bread, rice, xima or alone.
Freshly caught crab courtesy of the local natives...
Happy school children!
Some makeshift schools and churches
The kayak to the island was long and exhausting, so it was quite the relief when we were able to take a traditional Dhow wooden sailboat back to Tofo. It was still a slow ride, as the boat had no motor, but definitely faster than my slow kayaking technique.
A traditional Dhow boat
The next day we did an ocean safari, where we hunted for animals in a diving skipper boat. Unfortunately, we did not spot the area’s popular whale sharks, but we did help save a sea turtle! At the beginning of our safari, our guide pointed out a large sea turtle coming to the surface to take a breath. However, upon further investigation, he realized the turtle was caught in a massive fishing net that was weighing him down to the ocean’s surface. The turtle was struggling to survive, and it was incredibly hard to watch.
Thankfully, our guide was an expert scuba diver and flagged down another diving boat. As we were on the boat we helped spot the turtle and time when it would come to the surface and waved down the other boats to come help. Finally, our guide and the guides from the other boat got in the water and cut the net off the turtle, as we helped hoist the very heavy net onto our boat. The turtle was able to swim free, and the whole experience made up for the fact that we missed out on other safari animals that day.
Getting ready for our ocean safari, bakkie style!
On March 29th, we boarded our minibusses really early, 3 am to be exact, and headed towards our next leg of the journey, The Kruger National Park! I was sad to leave Mozambique and the beautiful beaches and lively people, but also excited to experience the infamous Big 5 hunt. We checked into Crocodile River Lodge and could still see the Mozambique border in the distance! As a visitor to South Africa, I felt as if I wouldn’t feel like I really experienced the country until I visited this magical place. And boy, was it magical.
On March 30th we woke up very early once again for a 4:30 a.m. start to our game drive. I was nervous after our ocean safari experience that we wouldn’t see much, but thankfully we did. We had several amazing elephant and giraffe encounters, along with baboon sightings, cheetah spottings, wildebeest, impala, Cape buffalo, hippo, alligators, beautiful birds, warthogs, and some very special rhino sightings. Our guide informed us that rhinos in The Kruger are being poached at an average of 1 rhino a day, so the fact that we were able to spot one was truly special.
Gorgeous Kruger sunrises and elephant greetings!
Observing these animals in their natural habitat is so much different than just observing them at a zoo. It almost felt like I was in a parallel universe!
After our long day, we had a delicious final farewell braai with borevurst sausages, ostrich meat, chicken, and some delicious sides. It was a perfect way to end our trip.
Braai night! Ostrich meat is my favorite
Wonderful interns who became not only travel buddies but family!
On March 31st we said goodbye to our lodge and the memories of the last ten days and made the drive back to the Joburg airport. Although I was happy to be back in my new home in Cape Town, I definitely left a piece of my heart in Moz and Kruger and the people I shared this special journey with.