Plan a Trip to Mozambique
Suzanne and I have been selling Zimbabwe since we started Vayeni. Given our background, that made total sense. Botswana and Zambia naturally followed suit, but there was always this nagging in the back of our minds that we should get to know Mozambique better. We wanted to offer a truly special beach experience as part of our offering. So at the beginning of May this year we finally got round to it, well shall I say, I got round to it.
A blissful week in Mozambique was arranged before We Are Africa where we have exhibited as Vayeni since 2015. Suzanne often tends to draw the short straw when it comes to who gets to go on these exploratory style trips. It’s kind of by design really – two gorgeous but demanding little girls and an incredibly busy sales office – means someone gotta maintain the bread and butter on the home front. I’m of course not complaining and am often told that I just get to go on holiday whilst Suzanne does all the real work. I hate to admit it, but there’s an ounce of truth somewhere in there.
So on May 5th I made my way to OR Tambo International for my connecting flight to Vilankulo (Vilanculos). In early April I had told my buddy, Mike from Malawian style, that I had been invited by African Luxury Hideaways to visit Rio Azul Beach Lodge, their new property just north of Inhassoro. He got offered a ticket to come along too, so it was great to have a good mate and colleague in the industry join me for part of my Moz discovery week.
Once we got to Rio Azul Mike found out that I had also arranged to visit Santorini and Azura Benguerra. He couldn’t resist tagging along a bit further and so I called in and we managed to get him late invites to both of these incredible properties too. In the end we spent three nights at Rio Azul, one at Santorini and then I had two at Azura Benguerra, whilst Mike left after one because he had to get to a friend’s wedding in Natal. I was quite relieved to have one night without Mike especially after he posted an instagram picture of us with hearts in the background – jeez loo-eez this guy – haha!
SA Airlink kicked the trip off with a bit of a shocker out of Joburg. The plane was full and so my cabin bag needed to be moved to the hold after we had boarded the plane. I scrambled to get all my valuables out, but forgot my wallet in one of the small zip pockets of the bag. I realised this too late and the bag was loaded. I then stressed all the way to Vilanculos because I had arranged to carry exactly the right amount of US$ cash for the visa fees, tips and extras I would incur. I don’t normally carry cash, opting like most to use my card, but as with most African countries its best to carry some cash for the list I mentioned above.
After sitting in a hot aircraft we took off an hour late, which was due to the fact that the pilots said they were balancing the weight of the plane. On our plane there were also about 30 men and women from the Brazilian army, who were on a mission to go and assist with the recovery efforts in Beira following the devastating cyclone that had hit that area just weeks before. When we arrived in Vilanculos there was much dismay because a lot of bags had been left behind in Jo’burg. Fortunately for me my bags were there.
I quickly found my wallet and breathed a sigh of relief until I opened it to find that all my cash was gone. Thankfully my cards were all still there. Alex Lindley, from Hideaways who was leading our trip, was brilliant and straight away came to my rescue by lending me some cash to sort my visa out. I laid a complaint at Vilanculos Airport with SA Airlink ground staff, and whilst I did not expect to get my money back, to this day I have never received any kind of written acknowledgement, feedback or apology. This was promised by the Airlink staff! Bit of a shame really, but they got us there and back safely, so I have just put this down to a bad travel experience.
I kick myself too because I travel extensively and should have been better prepared for this type of scenario. Mike’s bag was left behind in Joburg, but the Hideaways team managed to get it back within 24 hours – A huge feat considering that Rio Azul is 2 hours from the airport, the roads are rough and communication options are both intermittent and limited.
At the airport we met the rest of the crew going to Rio Azul, a really great bunch of people, all running top level Africa specialist travel businesses. At the end of 3 days together we had built new and lasting friendships – definitely one of the great benefits of being on these trips. From Vilanculos we travelled north by road to Rio Azul. The badly potholed roads on the initial stretch were testing, but definitely part of the adventure.
With a full box of cold beverages, good company and new scenery to take in, before we knew it, we were crossing the last stretch of dunes and tidal mangroves. Usually guests will do the last hour of the journey along the beach, but as we were delayed, we had to take the back route – a bit bumpier. We arrived to a very warm welcome by the entire Rio Azul team, lined up to greet us like celebrities. Fresh coconuts were ready to drink and the sunset view across the estuary was simply breath taking.