Following our return to Maputo from Kruger National Park, Cathal and I laid a plan to go to Tofo, a small beach resort 450Km north of Maputo.  Mozambique is huge – this distance represents a tiny portion of its eastern coastline.  Cathal booked a “shuttle” bus from the local backpackers.  We caught the bus at 6am on 6th November…and then the adventure began.

 One might think that a shuttle bus would be a direct route…well not in Mozambique!  We settled into what we thought would be a handy 6 hour trip up the coast.  Our illusion was quickly dashed when we pulled into the local Chiapa bus station on the edge of town.  You may have heard the saying “an African bus is never full” – well this saying truly came to pass!  We waited there for 2 and a half hours until the bus was well and truly full.  During that time, Cathal spent an hour arguing about the placement and cost of transporting his surfboard (he won in the end!), and we witnessed a fight between our ebullient bus driver and another driver over a lady customer and her child – they were dragging the child between them!  Hawkers were at all times offering their wares through the window – coke, bread, bags, etc…all at a price!

We eventually set off at 8.15.  We were 20K out of Maputo when we heard a loud bang…a blown out tyre!  So, we stopped…and waited 2 hours while the bus driver and his sidekick tried to source a spare…this is a frequent occurrence apparently.  The locals were non plussed, Africa time allows for delays such as this.  Cathal and I on the other hand had not quite got into the vibe and regarded it as a total waste of our time!  We soon had to mellow and realise that we might not arrive at Tofo any time soon.  

On the road again after a wheel myseriously appeared from a local house…and another blow out at the 100km mark.  Unbelievable.  So, after 6 hours on the road we had not gotten very far…

The rest of what turned out to be a 15 hour journey was eventful.  A chicken was revealed at the back of the bus, there were frequent stops for the driver to have a chat or buy some food, stops at petrol stations where the driver blithely filled up on diesel with the engine running…and then the mother of all thunder storms to end the day!  We arrived in Tofo, 15 hours later, shattered by our experience!  We enjoyed several beers with a Basque couple and 3 Americans who had shared our ordeal! 

Bus to Tofo 

Getting out of the Bus Mozambique-style – over the seat and out the driver’s door!

We spent three nights at Fatima Nest Backpackers, a haphazard bunch of huts and a central bar area for hanging out.  Cathal had a great surf on the beach on day 1 – a good thing since the board had caused such hassle on the way up!  The second day, we headed out into the Indian Ocean courtesy of Tofo Scuba.  We had a fantastic experience snorkelling with whale sharks – they are enormous, but very gentle, and then a dive in a reef area called the Chamber of Secrets.   Another mad storm set in as we were speeding to shore.  Lightening struck accross the bay – one of the posh resort hotels went up in flames!  We watched in horror as the flames spread rapidly – thankfully away from the village.  There were explosions as gas canisters and fridges were engulfed.  The worsening rain helped douse the flames, nobody was injured but several guests lost all their belongings. 

Tofo Beach Tofo Beach 

 Whale Shark Whale shark – not our own pic unfortunately!

Fatima Nest Fatima’s Nest Backpackers

We left Tofo on the 9th, thankfully the journey was the standard 8 hours back to Maputo!  It did mean a 3.30 am start though – and no electricity meant that we had to use our IPods as torches to make sure we left nothing behind!   

1 Response to “2 Tofo, 6-9 November”


  1. 1 Jean Whyte December 5, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    What a journey! I think you could swap tales with Barbara and Luzi who once hasd a similar adventure in a remote province of (I think) China with a taxi!


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