“Friend, are you busy this weekend? “ these were my words to my best travel buddy on a Thursday evening. We have been to Turkey, Cyprus, Namibia and Upington together.

“if it involves you, definitely not, what are we doing “ she replied. Later she told me that when I asked her she knew straight away it was going to be an epic weekend !!!! and oh boy was it a weekend filled with fun, laughter and adventure.

Immediately we bought bus tickets and early Friday morning departed from Park Station in Johannesburg for what turned into a 12 hour journey. The border post was quick and easy. The little office on the Mozambican side brought back memories of the old post office system when I was a child. Standing in the queue we listened to officials stamp, stamp, stamp , the passports. The sound of the stamp moving from ink pad to passport gave one a warm, fuzzy nostalgic feel. The lack of the computer system makes the process quick and easy.

Sitting at the back of the bus we made fiends with Hazel, a young widowed Mozambican mom who works in JHB weaving ladies hair and returns home every 30 days. What a character, she had bought two cakes at one our stops to celebrate her child’s birthday when she got home. On arrival in Maputo her boyfriend collected us in his car with loud thumping music while we balanced cakes and bags on our laps he dropped us off at our hotel.

Saturday morning saw us jump out of bed and rush down to the Ferry stop. We had plans on doing a day trip to Inhaca Island. No signage and little to no order, some how everyone knew what to do. First class and second class was now one, for 200 Metica’s we were off at 7h30. The boat made me think of what it must be like for refuges, packed like sardines, not enough life jackets, no toilet and no food and rough seas. Not suitable for children or the elderly it was a true African adventure with the wind blowing through our hair, even if I looked as pale as a ghost.

Landing at the island that is flanked by long stretches of beach after 3 hours of being rocked back and forth on huge swells was not as easy as you would expect. The pier was built by the government but is not used. So little boats come and collect you from the ferry, they collect their 20 Metica’s a person before getting you to land. You wade through the water so its not advisable to wear any fancy pants or shoes. Once on dry land you pay another 200 Meticas for conservation tax.

We then met up with Paul and Thandiso who had also decided on a weekend in Maputo. It was Paul’s birthday. So we joined up, Paul was from Mozambique, having someone who could converse in the local language was an enormous help. We found Fernando’s who comes highly recommend and off we went on a 20 minute drive to see the light house. We climbed up with the help of Lettuce, he was our unofficial guide. What a beautiful view, the Portuguese islands are just a stone’s throw away.

This finished we had to brace the 3 hour ride back to Maputo on the ferry. As the sun set we sat back quietly and admired the beauty of the orange and yellow sky with the beautiful skyline of Maputo. This was an unofficial sunset cruise minus the champagne and strawberries but the simplicity made it surreal.

That night saw us join up with our new found friends and do a walking tour of Maputo. Our guides were Sheldon and Herminho from Maputo a Pe ( Maputo on foot ) We were introduced to a well know jazz spot, the Mosque all lit up in green lighting, a theatre, the red light district which by day is offices. The name of the road, Rua do Bagamoyo translates loosely “ Where I left my heart “. How sad that is but such beautiful words. We went to the historic train station, the Cathedral and ended off in a beautiful 4 star hotel on the balcony looking out on the city lights. In my opinion walking tours are the best way to see a city and the locals.

Sunday was when we let the Mozambican charm rub off on us, we felt it was mandatory to spend the day lying at the pool at the world renowned Polana Hotel looking out at the turquoise waters in the distance. Women clad in bikinis sipping on cocktails, men reading newspapers made me realise this was a real happy spot. The warm Indian Ocean breeze helped us forget that in actual fact it was winter in Johannesburg.

Sadly all good things come to an end and that evening all four of us where back on the bus after our whirlwind weekend in Maputo heading home. We arrived promptly at 4am on Monday morning at Park Station to a very chilly Jhb.

Plan your trip

Book your ticket online with Intercape Bus. We went on the sleep liner. Cost was R290 going and R350 return on the cheapest option. For those who need visa’s make sure you have them before buying you ticket, the bus does not wait for you at the border. There are also other companies that do the route.

Moving around

We walked a lot, it was perfectly safe. Taxis are green and yellow in colour and seemed to cost 300 metica’s wherever we went. The taxis are all over and easy to spot. They have limited English, Portuguese is the language of the country but they seem to manage.


At the time the exchange rate was 4,65 metica’s to a Rand. Money can be exchanged at the border, there are people all over selling, just check your notes. In the city there are plenty of different ATM’S to draw money but be advised that 90% of the machines do not allow you to draw from Mastercards, only Visa cards. All major stores accept card payments. The ferry ride only accepts cash. Rand’s are widely accepted.

Where to sleep

For an economic sleep, Fattima’s backpackers is a good choice. Bright and colourful this spot is well known by international tourists so best to book.

Middle to upper stay ( 4 star ) The Maputo Hotel is well located, with a buffet breakfast and unlimited wifi and very large rooms, this modern style hotel is good value for money.

A five star hotel, nothing beats the Polana Hotel built in 1922. This historic hotel with its Spa, beautiful grounds and restaurant is worth every cent. www.polanahotelmaputo.com


Maputo a Pe walking tours is a company that provides walking tours of Maputo. Jane Flood and her 10 Mozambican guys provide tailor made walks. They can be found on Facebook. They offer day and night walks.