Landing on Nampula Airport
After a 4am morning and two flights we finally made touchdown on Nampula airport! I will never forget that hot , humid and tiny airport. Little did I know that they barely speak any English, they only speak Portuguese or Makua,a primary Bantu language of northern Mozambique. In cases like these a very anxious and excited Mona turns into a mute and her eyeballs stretch twice the size. As for Marty on the other hand – he humbly speaks fluent Portuguese.
a Two and a half hour taxi ride later we finally made it to Nacala! We got dropped off at Libelula lodge and I finally got to meet The Kingsley clan! It was barely five minutes and I already felt like family. They are the owners of Libelula and Marty actually used to work for them years ago! These guys are the salt of the earth and they hold such a big piece of my heart today.
The Libelula life
We decided to visit Mozambique for three weeks – it was three weeks of freediving , hardcore adventure , Gin&Tonics and some serious sunburn. For the first week we hung around Libelula lodge, explored the reef off the beach below the lodge and chilled out with Nemo , Dory and their friends. I will still write a proper piece on freediving the reef in the Ocean section of my blog.
The Kingsley’s at the time was Ian , Mama PJ + Finn in her belly and Pippa the wild. Pippa is just the best little girl and she turned into our adventure buddy, if she wasn’t walking around with a bucket of chalk teaching us how to draw on tables and floors she was teaching us the importance of not loosing your child like spirit. She is wild , kind , pure , full of stories and she can swim like a fish. Ian runs the whole place like a boss and he is always up for a beer and a chat ! Mama PJ can teach you a thing or five about enjoying life and not taking yourself too seriously and she also taught us that apple cider vinegar and essential oils can fix and cure absolutely anything! We got to meet Finn a few months after he was born and I can’t wait to see how he will grow with a sister like Pippa.
The Kayak day
On a casual morning we looked down at the bay and Marty figured that it would be the perfect day to go Kayaking! We packed enough water , some rolls with butter and chips (That was our staple food , it’s the best) and I think we packed a mango or a pineapple. Off we went on our Kayak adventure! 2km’s in and I was still okay, Marty was flying ahead like a champ and of course I was slowing down and going into “I-don’t-want-to-do-this-anymore” mode, this means that I am pretty much having the worst time but I will not turn around and go home because mama didn’t raise no sissy and it looked like the destination was closer than turning back home.
Finally! The beach was in sight! With some sun burnt legs and numb arms I decided that I was done with this paddling situation and I will drag the kayak on to the beach. So I got off without estimating the depth of the water and started swimming/walking/semi drowning myself toward the beach while Marty just gracefully glided along with the swell toward the beach..just like any sensible water man would do. We sat on the beach in silence ; catching our breath, drinking some water and eating our mango or pineapple..I think it was a pineapple.
My second wind finally kicked in and it was time to go for a snorkel and explore the reef! The reef was so beautiful, it was really colorful and full of life. I was contently gazing down at the coral and the life when all of a sudden I felt a sting on my upper thigh which turned into a burn and then it turned into a scorching hellish sting burn right through my soul. I screamed blue murder for Marty and he helped me to get this blue bottle off me just to get stung as well. Bless this guy.
We figured it was time to head back home , a long paddle back and we finally saw our safe little beach. We parked the kayaks and just sat in silence with our sandwiches, licking our wounds and getting ready to climb the steps back up to the lodge. It was a day well and wildly spent.
Ilha de Mozambique.
Connected to the mainland by a bridge there is this extremely hot and beautiful gem of a little island. If you ever find yourself in the northern part of Mozambique you need to go and visit this island.
Getting there was interesting. Instead of paying a little bit extra for a proper taxi, we decided that we want to take a chapa you have to travel like the locals if you want to experience culture properly, right?
What is a “Chapa” you ask? Imagine a very flimsy mini bus, the mini bus can only take a max capacity of 16 people but due to the fact that the chapa industry is all about bums on seats they want to fit 30 people with the possibility of a pregnant goat in the chapa. The chapa then makes multiple stops to drop people off and pick more people up. Two chapas and 3-4 hours later with a numb bum and all we made it!
I do not recommend the chapa experience to everyone, but you should try it; maybe with a shorter distance. The people are generally kind and extremely curious about you. There was a point where the ladies didn’t want to stop touching my hair. Marty and I were pretty much giggling all the way and I am having a silent giggle right now by just rewriting that whole experience.
Ilha de Mozambique is made out of colonial structures , forts and chapels. The streets are packed with traders and kids racing around with bicycle tires. It’s such a happy and friendly little island.
We stayed at a backpacker called “Casa do Gabriel” it means “Gabriels place” . It was situated in a pretty busy street right across the Mosque. We went to bed listening to Makua chatter and socializing and 5am every morning we would be yelled awake by a call to prayer over a microphone. One morning the microphone broke and the poor guy probably stood on the rooftop of the Mosque yelling at the top of his lungs and I could hear him gasp for a breath after every phrase, I really hope that everyone came to pray because I could hear that he put a lot of heart into it.
We did a Dhow tour to a more isolated island called Cabaceira peninsula where we explored an old Swahili village packed with friendly locals , after saying goodbye to the village we explored and swam in the tangled mangroves. Then we made our way up to an ancient baobab tree to have some freshly grilled fish and other local foods. This was such a fun day trip!
The next day we went off to explore the mighty “Fortaleza de São Sebastião” which means “The Fort of São Sebastião” this is the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa. The construction by the Portuguese began in 1558 and it took 50 years to complete! This fort is packed with history and the views from the top are so beautiful!
After the Dhow tour and fort exploration my vision went blurry and I started feeling a bit off , Marty told me that I must watch our for Malaria or it could just be the heat doing funny things to me. The next morning I woke up feeling horrible, my head was pounding and I couldn’t keep anything down. Marty put me in the pool to cool down and then he went out to buy some water , a pair of earrings for my gran and to find a hospital. He came back and took me to the hospital for a Malaria test and we made our way through the busy, noisy and sunny streets. We got to the Hospital and the nurse pricked my finger for the test, I just wanted to cry..the test results came out negative and I felt about 60% percent better knowing that I do not have Malaria, it was just heat exhaustion.
Luckily I got sick on the last day of our trip and luckily the Kingsley’s came to meet up with us. They looked like saints walking through the door and I was showered with relief. After some shade , hydration and lunch we headed back to Nacala and the Libelula pool was welcoming us with open arms! It was one of the best swims of my life!
I fell in love with Ilha de Mozambique , it’s a hidden gem packed with history , architecture and some of the most friendly people !
Our time in Mozambique slowly came to a bittersweet end and I have found such a love for Africa after the trip. Mozambique taught me so much and trips like this one is the reason why I love culture so much! Apart from a few stings , burns and minor injuries it was one of the best trips we ever had!
I can’t thank The Kingsley’s enough for everything they did for us and I can’t thank the locals enough for teaching me what happiness really means. We arrived back in Cape Town a little bit more feral , super tanned and simply grateful. Mozambique teaches you that happiness is simple and it makes you so grateful for where you come from.
Thank you so much Mozambique.