Insider's guide: A Traditional Dhow experience in Tofo Mozambique

Solo Traveller Phakamile Hlazo shares her favourite experiences in Tofo, Mozambique

Mozambique is becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination for South Africans, with Ponta do Ouro and Maputo being the more popular as they are the easiest to access from SA. Anyone who has ventured further north however, will tell you that the true gem of Moz is Inhambane, the sleepy coastal province with white sand beaches and seafood to die for. Tofo is a small beach town, 24 km from Inhambane Airport and thus very easily accessible from SA, or 6 hours by road from Maputo. However you get there, the trip is absolutely worth it!

Tourism in Tofo, like a lot of the tourist spots on the continent, is dominated by Europeans and white South Africans, either offering various water sports or accommodation, businesses with great potential but which the local communities cannot afford to compete in. These businesses offer much needed employment, are the sole source of income for many locals, and for the traveler, they do offer some really awesome experiences. There is however one activity that you can do while in Tofo which is completely run by the locals and thereby entirely benefiting the community, the rustic sailing experience on traditional dhow boats. This restful day trip offers an authentic look into the lives of the community and how they interact with sea life and their environment.

Here’s the thing, we are not talking sailing the Mozambican coastline on luxury yachts, this is a very modest sailing experience with the local guides on their dhow boats. The day starts off early with pick-ups at your accommodation at around 7am, your guide will already have been to the market to collect the seafood which will be prepared for your lunch. Bring along some chilled music and drinks for the boat ride which starts off with a trip to Pansy Island. Pansy Island is named after the beautiful shells found on the island which have a gorgeous flower imprint on them.

Pansy Island is just heavenly, with starfish and seahorses galore! Once on Pansy Island you get off the boat to do some snorkeling, the guides provide the snorkels and guide you to some of the more interesting water creatures, or leave you be to explore on your own, you decide how to spend your time here. Definitely get off the boat and explore the sea life though. From Pansy Island you then sail on to Survivor Island whose name is derived from the modest village on the island which was a safe-haven for a few families during the civil war. The community prepares your lunch, consisting of very yummy seafood and rice prepared in the local style, and you may be lucky enough to have the chief of the village come and greet and spend time with you. Have on hand some change to give to the kiddies dancing for you as you enter or leave the island. The day trips ends with the boat trip back to Barra where you will be transferred, again, by very modest means of transport, back to Tofo.

This is a lovely experience, as we say at Zulu Nomad, “leave yourself behind” and immerse yourself in the experience. At the end of the day, you have had a memorable experience and contributed directly to the local community.

Phaka Hlazo

Founder: Zulu Nomad