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Issue 13
Africa Travel> Issue 13
UPDATED: March 6, 2015
Turtles in the Sand
Glorious sun, sea and sand in Mozambique
By Jo Kromberg


"Oh for goodness sakes! Come with me!" I have to shout to make myself heard above the thundering rain. We run for cover to the only dry place nearby – the ablution block - to carry on our argument. We glare at each other in the dim light, completely soaked.

We've been on the road for many, many hours – including being held up at the border for a good hour - and it rained almost all the way from Pretoria to where we find ourselves now – the camping area of Malongane in Mozambique. We are tired, hungry, fed-up and as miserable as the drowned rats we resemble. Since we are not here in our own 4x4, our argument centers around how to get a mere 700 meters up the road to the sanctuary and safety of Tartaruga luxury self-catering tented camp in this weather with all our luggage.

We are here with friends who have decided to come for the annual FORR music festival and they have all disappeared into their tents out of the rain. Our friend Anthony saves the day by giving us a ride. The wind nearly knocks us off our feet as we make our way up the wooden walkways to our tent. We burst into the door and collapse on the chairs, catching our breath. There is not a single dry spot on my body and despite this being early summer, it is already dark outside and I am frozen to the bone. I hop into a wonderfully hot shower, which immediately makes me feel human again, and I slowly become aware of my beautiful surroundings.

Luxury tents

Tartaruga (which means "turtle" in Portuguese) luxury tented camp is perfectly designed to blend into the surrounding coastal forest. The tents are housed on raised wooden platforms with veranda decks and consists of eight suites (five double tents, two three-bed tents and one three-bed log cabin, the latter two for families with an additional bed or cot added on request). The interiors are sheer luxury and the furnishings and decor are all wooden and reed, painted in a white wash throughout to give it a beautiful, contemporary and natural summer feel.

Each tent has an en-suite bathroom with hot and cold running water, heavenly beds with mosquito netting and beautiful crisp white linen duvets, a discreet overhead fan as well as an electric kettle and coffee and tea-making tray. All suites are also equipped with in-room safes. The weather makes it impossible for us to venture outagain so we dig into the cooler box and after a satisfying make-shift dinner of sardines, boiled eggs, fresh rolls and a bottle of wine, we literary fall over into bed and slumber like the dead with the furious ocean as our soundtrack.

After approximately ten hours of magnificent sleep, I leisurely and lazily wake up in my sumptuous, gargantuan bed with the first light of dawn sneaking trough the trees and the birds announcing the break of day outside. We cannot wait to explore the beauty of this amazing place so we head out over the walkways to the beach, about 50 metres from our tent. The rain has washed the world clean and the vermilion sun rises slowly over the sea. The beach is deserted and I greedily breathe in the salty sea air. I feel like a child again... This area between Ponta do Oura, Inhaca Island and Maputo is a nature lover's paradise due to its totally unspoilt, undeveloped coastline and low population density.

Peaceful beaches

The beautiful beaches, inland lakes, warm water, all-year round sub-tropical climate, coral reefs and adventure trails provide an eco-system close to civilisation for nature lovers and adventurous families who want to get away from the madding crowds. The Mozambique current, flowing very close inshore from north to south, brings in all year-round clear blue warm water to the beaches of southern Mozambique. Surf temperatures in the Malongane bay and the surrounding areas vary from 25°-28° C in the summer months (up to April). The sub-tropical conditions provide hot and humid weather conditions in summer and warm but less humid conditions in winter. This makes for excellent all-year swimming conditions.

The beaches are relatively flat in inclination and hence are ideal for wading out without fear of being dumped in the surf. Another relatively sheltered area is Mimoli, some 5kms north of Malongane.

It's time for breakfast and we make our way back to the communal dining and living area which features a large deck with a spectacular sea view as well as a bar area with a bar fridge and glasses.

There is also a dining area with tables and chairs that are set by the staff for breakfast and dinner with tablecloths, crockery, cutlery and candles for dinner. The fully equipped kitchen has an oven, stove, toaster, hot plate, pots, pans, all crockery and cutlery needed, fridges and deep freezes. There is also a gas barbeque on the large communal deck and a beautiful 'boma' area with a fire pit for you to enjoy the ambience of the bush at night. For those who wish to braai with wood, there is a Weber braai as well. Wood can be bought in the local village. The kids would love the small circular pool, which flows into a 3m deep diving pool.

The staff is delightful and no request is too big or small. They do all the washing up and cleaning and the tents are also fully serviced every day so all you have to do is cook up a storm and relax!

After breakfast we take a stroll to the offices to meet our charming hosts and managers of Tartaruga, Werner & Chantelle Smith. The weather is acting up again so we have to postpone the photo shoot which Chantelle has organised for us and instead we join our friends and their kids for a trip into "town". The roads are sand and therefore require 4x4 vehicles to adequately traverse them. However, use of vehicles of any description is strictly prohibited along the beaches.


Good restaurants

There are several surprisingly good restaurants either in Malongane or in neighbouring Ponta do Ouro and they are well worth trying - not only for their exotic fare but also for their beautiful and relaxed settings and almost all have kiddie menus.

'Come to See' Restaurant and Pub is situated in the local village and is within walking distance of Tartaruga. Prawns, calamari and Portuguese chicken are but a few of the local dishes offered while we watch the sun set over Lake Sugi. Quaint little hamlets and villages dot the roads. There is still evidence of the devastating civil war during the 80s and the country is extremely poor but despite this, the local people are very friendly and laughter is the order of the day.

After a slap-up brunch the next morning, we all head for the beach for a picnic with the kids and spend the best part of the day lounging in the sun, laughing and swimming in the gorgeous warm water. There is so much here for the adventurous visitor – snorkelling, fishing, dolphin and whale watching, hiking, 4x4 excursions, a visit to the nearby The Maputo Elephant Reserve and of course the turtles! The Maputaland coastline is the nesting ground to the famous Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles and they nest along the beach every summer from October to December.

We boogie up a storm that evening at the FORR music festival – an annual music event featuring South African bands and it is proving increasingly popular every year.

We leave with a heavy heart the next day but this piece of paradise with its beautiful people makes my heart sing and certainly guarantees a return visit

Fact file

SA Rands are the preferred currency. Tartaruga is only accessible by 4x4 vehicles and is 665 kms from Johannesburg and just over 500 kms from Durban.

What to bring:

• Passport (with visa for non-South African passport holders)

• Vehicle licence documents

• All foodstuffs, beverages and condiments

• Enough ZAR cash as the closest ATM is in Ponta do Oura and very few facilities take credit cards

• Fresh drinking water

• Beach chairs

• Mosquito repellent

• Binoculars and bird book

• Diving, snorkelling and fishing gear

• Beach umbrella

• First Aid kit


Northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique are considered a low-risk malaria area. The risk of malaria infection is much higher in the warm summer months as opposed to the cooler winter months and similarly the times around sunset and sunrise the higher risk times.

NB: The border between South Africa and Mozambique at Kosi Bay opens at 08h00 and closes at 17h00 daily.

Visitors require a passport, which must be valid for at least six months after the intended date of return from Mozambique.

South African passport holders do not require a visa for Mozambique.

Contact details

Werner and Chantelle Smith

Kangela Estate, Mozambique

Cell: 00258 84 373 0067

Fax: 0866 214 991

Email: tartaruga@mweb.co.za

Let the music play!

The annual FORR is so much more than just a music festival; it is a shared adventure in the beautiful coastal village of Malongane, Mozambique. During the festival you will not only have the opportunity to listen to some of the best music currently on offer on the southern African scene, you will also be able to enjoy fantastic beaches, swim in the warm waters of the Indian ocean, scuba dive on some of the best reefs in the world or go test your 4×4 skills in the sand. Bands for the festival are selected for their musical talent and their ability to entertain the crowd. Acoustic sessions during the afternoon will showcase some of the best singer/songwriters while the bands in the evening will have you rocking in no time!

You can join their mailing list by subscribing at http://www.forr.co.za/lists/?p=subscribe. More information about their events will be published on their blog at http://www.forr.co.za. This year the festival will take place on the 3d of September 2015.

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