Wednesday, 27 February 2008

A Visit to Praia do Farol

Okay so its time now to dip in and give you some idea of what the locals are like on Inhaca Island. Well to say the least, if hospitality is what you're into then you'll get more than you bargained for in Mozambique. The people are friendly and all so welcoming that you'll never feel displaced even if you're not at all familiar with Portuguese culture or the language.

Dsc02528On our second day on Inhaca we decided to seek out "Fabio", a guy made famous by his natural ability to be the best tour guide on the island. I heard of Fabio from my aunt who had visited Inhaca about two years ago and was really touched by Fabio's entrepreneurial skills that she promoted them back in South Africa.

Eugenio Fabio is only 16 years old and owns his own Yahama buggy vehicle which he uses to take tourists around the island to visit many a splendid destination. He has been taking people on tours since the age of 8 and he is well-known to all on the island. I admire young entrepreneurs that are making the most of what they've got and Fabio is considering the opportunity to expand his business so he needs all the tourist encounters he can get ;-)Dsc02527

A trip around to the Lighthouse Beach with Fabio will cost roughly R260 and its well worth every penny as you not only get through the mangrove bush area is the zippy buggy, but the scenery up at the lighthouse is just amazing. Only Simoa, the lighthouse keeper seemed to be around when we visited and he was gracious enough to allow us a tour of the actual lighthouse, which is not for those scared of the dark as the steep, spiraling staircase up to the top of the structure is pitch black so be sure to keep your torch or cellphone handy.


The view from the top of the lighthouse was great as you could see the peripheral beaches on the island, and Simoa says sometimes in the summer months, one can spot dolphins and whales. There are no rapid currents and the waves on Farol beach looked idyllic and calm, just the perfect atmosphere to take a dip in ;-)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Inhaca Island Heaven

During my weekend trip to Mozambique, it was my visit to the Inhaca Island, which is across the mainland of Maputo that really left an impression on me. We spent 2 and half days at Inhaca Lodge which is the only hotel type place on the island. It is well run by the Pestana Group and is the gateway for travelers visiting Inhaca from sea and sky. There are also other accommodation offerings on the island for budget travelers so you just have to inquire about camp sites or backpackers when you make a booking.Dsc02475

For those wanting to visit the island be sure to book your 15 min domestic flight at Mozambique International Airport with Transairways as they organize trips across the ocean to Inhaca island.

Now if an island getaway is just what you're after then you don't have to look further than your stay at Inhaca Lodge.

I'm not an extreme beach lover but this holiday definitely changed my mind about beach breaks.

The island is home to roughly a 2,500 population and in total, I must have only come across about 300 people on the island during my stay. The beach sand is so soft and the warmth of the Indian Ocean will definitely have one coming back for more ;-)

Dsc02535There are a few tourist attractions to visit during your trip to Inhaca. We checked out the Portuguese Island which is a divine destination if you're looking to just chill on the beach, suntan and swim in the sea as much as you want. Then there's the Lighthouse beach, which Mozambique Airlines' in-flight magazine, Indico, has named one of the 10 best beaches in Mozambique. If you Google, 'Praia do Farol', you'll get more info on this one.

In my next post, I'll let you in on the culture and the people of Inhaca.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Visiting Mozambique

Dsc02458Last weekend I got the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful yet war-torn country's in Africa. Mozambique, once a Portuguese colony, now a recovering victim of civil clashes is still as magnificent to eye as it is off a travel brochure.

Being from Johannesburg, South Africa, it isn't easy to let down one's guard when you're in foreign territory, but during my long weekend in Mozambique I thought best to let down my hair and just soak in the scenery.

I visited Mozambique as part of my 10th anniversary celebrations with my boyfriend, and we decided to treat ourselves to an tropical getaway. I've always wanted to visit Mozambique and the favorable exchange rate from South African currency to the new Mozambican meticais (MT) made it all the more irresistible.

Mozambique has kept its heavy Portuguese influence and really embraced it as their own. I got the feeling that colonization did not leave quite such a bad taste in one's mouth in this country as it has had in South Africa, for example. This was a refreshing and somewhat cathartic experience as being a South African visiting a country that is more Third World than ours, was a real eye opener as well as a good lesson learnt.

In South Africa, it is not so much that our youth want to take on and adopt every facet of Western culture as it is the fact that we,as a nation were conditioned to, and that is why there is a lot of resentment and hard feelings towards the changes that need to be made in order for our country to truly feel like "home" to all of us.

Most of the Mozambican population speak Portuguese or dialects of the language so European travelers will not have difficulty trying to communicate. Being an English speaker did mean that I had to listen carefully and carry along a translation book in order to correctly understand what people were saying, which also adds to the fun of traveling to a foreign destination.

Be sure to practice key phrases before your visit as it will help orient you better when you arrive. Just remember it is always nice to embrace some of the culture of the place you're visiting as it is a positive sign in the sharing that will happen on your trip. You're bound to pick up some new things just as the locals are bound to learn a lot of new habits from you too so enjoy it and embrace it ;-)

In my next posts, I'll go into more detail on the two places I visited on my trip, the Inhaca Island and the Polana Hotel in Maputo.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Vic Falls

Found this in a Travelstart email and thought I should share as there are some awesome specials and deals to Victoria Waterfalls right now so go check them out.

Mosi-oa-Tunya or the Smoke that Thunders.

Victoria Falls has been mesmerizing visitors for centuries. Dr. David Livingstone, during his journey from the upper Zambezi to the mouth of the river, was the first recorded European to see the Falls back in 1855. The Falls were so breathtakingly beautiful Livingstone felt compelled to name the Falls after his beloved Queen Victoria.

The region boosts a UNESCO World Heritage Site with abundant wildlife & exotic vegetation. The Falls also forms a border between Zambia & Zimbabwe, each having fantastic facilities & accommodation.

In recent years, the Falls have been a mecca for adrenaline junkies offering array of extreme sports, including bungie jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge.

The best time to view the falls is while they're in full flood, between November & April. During this time the Fall's spray can reach over 600 metres & can be seen over 50 kms away.

Info courtesy of Travelstart SA

Sunday, 17 February 2008

The economic jewel of SOWETO

The south western township of South Africa (SOWETO) has for a long time been entrenched in this South Africa's road to freedom. As you drive in to Soweto it is hard not to notice the past that our country has emerged from, tin shanties surrounded by emerging developments draped with reminders of South Africa’s political past still seen in some of the graffiti that line building walls.

Driving casually into Soweto taking in the scenery, I found myself thinking of how proud I am of being South African. As the road straightened, I saw in the emerging distance Maponya Mall for the first time.20_past_1

This shopping mall was opened in September 2007 by visionary, Richard Maponya who actually bought the land in the 1980's and awaited the African Renaissance to 'make his dream come true'.

You may ask if it’s just another shopping mall that caters for your retail pleasure and the answer would be yes. Maponya Mall comes into its own as a destination that must be seen. When you are here, you start to realise were this beautiful country has come from. You can still see the broken chains that once bound its progress. Now free, South Africa an emerging nation that welcomes visitors into what was once considered the political centre for South Africa’s uprising.

Maponya Mall has an expansive parking space and is well secured. As you enter you can’t help but notice the grand elephant outside, surrounded by the glass, stone and steel, this is the feeling you are presented with, a modernistic Africa but still Africa. The large amount of natural light that is seen, softens the interior that otherwise would normally have been like any other mall. However Maponya Mall shines as the central meeting place where Africa open up her arms to learn and even mingle with the West.

There are trendy coffee shops and at least one very popular cocktail lounge and if its retail therapy you are looking for then designer and fashionable couture is what you have to have, Maponya Mall delivers this with a twist of Africa. At the moment all you will get to for fill your gastronomical requests would be fast food stores and popular SA restaurateurs catering to your needs, do keep in mind that the scene has been set for some fine African dinning.

Post courtesy of Mervyn Sigamoney

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

A Virtual holiday

Have you ever thought of taking a virtual holiday?

Well I was looking through some fantastic travel blogs within the south African blogosphere and I came across This is a fantastic kids site by the way and also their latest podcast is what got me thinking about virtual holidays.

The podcast is narrated by kids between the ages of 4-10 years old and it is actually really great to listen to Sarah and Nina's trip to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in South Africa

So if you have kids and are looking for an affordable holiday, why not put out those feelers for great ideas on fantastic sites, like 123listentome! You could learn a lot from the gang as to what kids actually like doing on holiday and also get tips on how to spot wildlife when you're in Africa, for example ;-).

Also Note: The South African Blog Awards 2008 has currently opened for nominations and voting so the race is on to find the best Travel blog for 2007. If you want to nominate the Travelstart blog, please do so here.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Madiba's second home

A few years ago a huge six metre bronze statue graced the ground at the then Sandton Square, a tourist destination located in the Sandton CBD. Now called, the Nelson Mandela Square, the significant big brother to Sandton City has become a gateway to luxurious shopping and feasting for the ordinary consumer.21122007036

South Africans call the Square, Madiba's second home because it is Nelson Mandela's life-like statue that graces it. One can find just about any type of fine eatery at the Square, which makes the day- and nighttime settings reminiscent to that of European cities that have similar versions called plazas.

Regular updates on the entertainment listings ensures that one will not go bored on a starry Summer's night at Nelson Mandela Square. Be sure when you visit to stop off at the Hagen Daaz or Baglios stores for some delectable and mouthwatering ice cream flavours that will titillate your taste-buds.

If shopping is what you planning to do then one floor up from the main entrance to Square are some of the best clothing stores that you can pick up a bargain or two. Young Designers Emporium or Y.D.E. as it is known has an awesome selection of young, hip local designers that you should check it if you're hunting for a once-in-a-lifetime outfit that you can be sure no one else in the world will be able to own once you buy it.

If opulent accommodation is what you're in search of then look no further than the stunning Michaelangelo Hotel. I have not yet had the opportunity to stay at the hotel, but the raving reviews that I've heard, definitely puts the Michaelangelo up there with some of the best hotel chains in the world. Lastly, one has no choice but to try out the hotel's scrumptious Afternoon Tea so if you have a few hours to spare. be sure to relax and catch up on a good cup of tea and a scone ;-)