THE ‘MINI’ AFRICA DIARIES – MOZAMBIQUE TRAVEL VLOGS
For episodes 5 – 9 of my new ‘Mini’ Africa Diaries, I’m takin’ you to Mozambique!
These five new mini travel vlogs are chapter two of the series, so if you haven’t watched the first four episodes from South Africa definitely consider checking those out first! You can watch them all HERE.
If you’re ready to dive into episodes 5 – 9 then feel free to scroll on down and start watching. If you’d like a little more context first, here’s a quick overview of what the series is about:
The ‘Mini’ Africa Diaries is a new, monthlong content challenge that I’ve created for myself (and any other travelers/content creators out there that wanna give it a go) as a way to bring a little wild adventure and positive vibes into my life — and hopefully yours — during these crazy times of COVID-19.
Throughout the series, I’ll be sharing short (roughly 3-minute or less) vlog-style videos that will be a mix of past Instagram Stories, never-before-shared travel video clips, and other wild moments from some of my past African adventures, starting with my husband’s and my 7-month, 7-country road trip around the continent.
With that, welcome to Mozambique…
After a little post-Kruger R&R in South Africa, we were ready to hit to road for country #2 on our 7-country African road trip itinerary — beautiful Mozambique!
We had heard plenty of mixed feelings about driving through the country — everything from corrupt cops and border agents looking for bribes to theft behind a major issue throughout the country. But for whatever reason, it seemed like everyone we spoke with left out what might have been the most helpful thing to share with fellow travelers, which was that the roads in Moz (especially after rain) are ROUGH AF!
Sure, I guess if we had gone through the capital city of Maputo — instead of some off-the-beaten-path “alternate route” — it may have been a different story regarding the road quality. But since everyone said to avoid the city because it’s where most tourists tend to get hassled, a heads up as to what we were in for would have been awesome.
Either way, after an insanely stressful drive (on top of the hecticness of first getting ourselves across the border and having to make a portion of the trip at night — something I highly advise against) we had finally made it to our first Mozambique pitstop, a sleepy port town called Xai-Xai.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a gentleman named Shobi on his Suzuki Quadrunner and escorted to our little ocean view hut that we wouldn’t get to enjoy because it was back on the road for Zander, our Land Rover, Hettie, and I come sunup. The next stop was going to be Tofo Beach, where Z and I would be working on a special Project:Conservation film project…
The mission of our 7-country African road trip was twofold: to go on an epic wildlife-inspired adventure across our favorite continent (which also happens to be Zander’s birthplace) and along the way find people and projects doing inspiring conservation work and then volunteer our time to help tell their story.
When we started mapping out our itinerary for Mozambique we were told we had to visit Tofo Beach for its amazing beaches, great diving, and poppin’ beach bar scene. But when I dug a little deeper I found that there was a lot more to this beachy tourist town than meets the eye.
Turns out, Tofo Beach is a world-renowned hub for marine conservation, and just so happens to be one of the Marine Megafauna Foundation’s (MMF) key sites for its research and community outreach projects. So before heading to Tofo I reached out to MMF’s local team and offered to create a short film about the marine conservation work they were doing in the area.
I was elated when the local MMF team got back to me and were excited to tell us more about their work and help make a short film happen (shoutout to Marina Coelho, Mark Kelly & Aline Oliveira)! During our meeting, they told us about an incredible group of local Mozambicans known as the Ocean Guardians, and as soon as we heard about their work we knew this had to be the story we helped tell.
So for the next week, Zander and I followed these awesome guys around, documenting their work with kids from the local community as well as their individual stories and passion for the ocean. You can check out one of the short films we created for them HERE. (As a side note, all my conservation film projects are done on a volunteer basis in partnership with Project:Conservation — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to conservation storytelling — and all such media projects are produced on a pro bono basis for the people and projects that our small team of storytellers chooses to feature.)
After wrapping the shoot and spending a couple of days getting a jumpstart on some editing, Z and I decided to stay in Tofo Beach a little longer to do a lil’ exploring. To see what wild fun we got ourselves into, check out episode 7 below!
After we wrap filming with the Ocean Guardians, Zander and I knew we had to try and catch a glimpse of the megafauna that Tofo is renowned around the world for. So we hit up Peri-Peri Divers (who came highly recommended by our new friends from the Marina Megafauna Foundation) and went out on an ocean safari.
Turns out, Tofo’s waters are home to their own version of the ‘Big 5’, which includes whale sharks, manta rays, devil rays, sea turtles, and dolphins (humpback whales are an added bonus around July through September). What makes Tofo a hotspot for such megafauna is its location.
The waters of the Mozambique Channel (which flows between mainland Africa and Madagascar) are heavily influenced by cyclonic (cold) and anticyclonic (warm) eddy currents that draw nutrient-rich water up from deep down in the ocean — and this enables zooplankton (aka fish food for the filter-feeders) to bloom. And these plankton blooms are what draw marine megafauna species, like the whale sharks and manta rays we were hoping to spot, to these waters.
Ultimately, we only spotted 2 large manta rays during our two days of ocean safaris, which don’t get me wrong, was still so worth it! For what it’s worth, we went out knowing that our chances of spotting megafauna weren’t the best given that we were there towards the end of ‘the season’ (which we were told was October through March — we were there late March). All in all, the ocean safari experience allowed to me cross another item off my wild bucket and left me with the perfect excuse to go back (before I die I just have to see a whale shark in the wild).
Last but not least, to properly cap our time in Tofo, Zander and I hit the local town for one last hurrah on our final night. We ate (something other than canned beans), we drank, and we even found ourselves in a beachside drum circle — a pretty awesome end to this leg of our African road trip if ya ask me. Up next, a new beachside stop for some more ocean adventures — and this time there may even be some private island explorations.
The drive to Vilanculos (or Vilankulo) from Tofo felt like a breeze compared to our previous Mozambique road adventures.
Along the way, Zander and I even had enough time to stop in a local town and do a little market shopping and watch the community’s annual Palm Sunday procession, which was pretty amazing to witness (picture miles of people walking in a single file line while holding up flowing palm leaves and singing in harmony).
When we eventually made it to our new temporary beachside digs (where we planned to stay for a short week in order to get some work done and sleep in a proper bed) we even had enough time to properly catch the sunset, which was a very pleasant change from what was becoming our (very bad) habit of driving at night — something everyone had advised us against when we set off on this adventure.
While we knew our time here was just a ‘working stopover’ before heading back to the bush, there was no way we couldn’t take at least one day to explore the nearby islands. So the following morning we set off with the awesome crew from Casa Chibububo on a traditional dhow boat named Lisa. (For the record, we seriously considered extending as soon as we drove up and saw the place it was that amazing — even more tempting was the fact that we’d probably never get to stay in a 3-bedroom beachside bungalow like this and pay just $45/night anywhere else).
To make the most of our ‘off day’, the plan was to sail around the Bazaruto Archipelago — a collection of 6 stunning islands: Bazaruto (the biggest), Benguerra, Banque, Magaruque, Santa Carolina, and Shell whose waters are part of a national park that is home to a ton of marine life, including East Africa’s last viable population of dugongs — and then eventually dock on Magaruque Island, which we were told we might find completely empty if we were lucky.
While we didn’t spot any dugongs during our dhow adventure, as you’ll see in this episode, we still got pretty darn lucky.
For the last leg of our African road trip’s Mozambique chapter, we decided to head back to the bush.
The destination? A very special place called Gorongosa National Park. But first, @zandrover, @hettieinafrica, and I had to make it through another day on Mozambique’s lovely roads. This time, instead of thick mud and faulty navigation the challenge came in the form of potholes — and a sh*t ton of them.
After 10-ish hours of bumping along (and lots of pee breaks), we had finally made it to Gorongosa National Park, where’d we spend the next week exploring and learning more about its incredible conservation comeback story. Knowing that the park’s infrastructure and wildlife had been nearly decimated during the country’s more than decade-long civil war, we were blown away by what we saw and experienced.
Thanks to the Carr Foundation ( in partnership with the Government of Mozambique) and its special team of dedicated scientists, innovators, and other conservationists, the park, its wildlife, and the local community are once again starting to thrive — the kind of inspiring wild story that I wish we heard about more often.
As tourists, we all have the ability to make our dollars count for something greater than a photo opportunity, especially when it comes to protecting wild places and the people and animals that call them home. For Zander and me, seeing the numerous community-based projects supported by the park was enough for us to know that our time in Gorongosa was well spent (potholes and all).
But for whatever reason, the universe was feeling extra generous during our stay, and as you’ll see at the end of the video, we were gifted with one of the rarest wildlife sightings either of us will probably ever have (be sure to watch until the end to find out what it was).
As you can see, Mozambique set the bar pretty darn high for the rest of our African road trip.
When we started this road trip (which if you haven’t seen the non-mini version of the Africa Diaries — South Africa vlog, actually started in all the way down in Cape Town) Zander and I had no idea what to expect. As tourists, it’s one thing to fly into a country like Mozambique, but it really is a whole different ballgame to drive in, around, and then out the other side.
That said, Mozambique would ultimately be just a warm-up for what lied ahead in the coming months (especially in Tanzania and Zambia). But before we got our butts kicked by more crazy roads, faulty directions, and a whole new set of challenges like wild storms, and corrupt cops and border patrol agents, it was more chillaxin’ (and laptop work parties) in beautiful Malawi…
Chapter 3 of The ‘Mini’ Africa Diaries coming soon. In the meantime, be sure to check out the ‘Related Posts’ below for more content from Mozambique.
Thanks for watching!