Niamh and Giles Sacramento pull on their hiking boots and set off to conquer Mt Binga
Southern Mozambique offers far too much to squeeze into a small blog entry: Maputo’s funky modern vibe, the escapist hideaway at Quissico lagoon, swimming with whale sharks in Tofu, fresh seafood cooked on the beach, honeymoon luxury at Pomene Lodge, enchanting diving with dugongs and turtles in Vilankulos to name a few. The list goes on and on. I am, therefore, going to concentrate on a lesser-known experience: climbing Mt Binga, the country’s highest peak.
Driving from Chimoio towards Chimanimani National Park, the roads initially are excellent, but closer to the park it deteriorates to rough rocky tracks. After some rather exciting driving, we arrived at the base of the mountain where we met Robert who was to be our guide. There are plans to build a campsite, but we were also able to sleep either in one of their traditional dwellings or to camp in tents. I must stress the importance of bringing all your own supplies. Robert’s family really have very little and we were humbled when they insisted on sharing with us. That moonlit night, sitting around the campfire under the watchful gaze of the mountains was one of the most memorable of this trip. It is worth travelling to Chimanimani just to meet Robert and his family.
But let us not forget the mountain. We set off just after dawn and started to trudge behind Robert as he nimbly made his way along the path; he ended up gracefully adjusting his pace to suit us. On our way to base camp, we bumped into an unfriendly puff adder. Agitated by the fact that we had stomped into his territory uninvited, he reared up and warned us to watch our manners. I spent a little less time admiring the view and became very interested in the path directly ahead of me.
After a few hours of beautiful and varying scenery, we arrived at base camp: a rock beside a river. No more, no less and all the better for it. We felt thoroughly satisfied with ourselves as we gazed into Zimbabwe, and eventually we peeled off our sweaty and smelly footwear and dived into the pool, washing away the aches of the day. Later, we heated ourselves by the campfire and watched the full moon rise.
The following morning, we returned to Robert’s home where, again, he insisted on sharing a hearty meal with us before sending us on our way. We left feeling tired, satisfied and honoured to have met such generous and welcoming people.
Top tips for southern Mozambique
- LaGoa Eco Lodge & Backpackers in Quissico offers unspoilt beauty. In spite of its location not far from the main road, it has a remote feel. Relax by the calm lagoon or watch the waves crashing on the beach.
- Swimming with whale sharks is not to be missed! In Tofo, it’s also possible to attend talks by marine biologists, which are entertaining and informative – for example, Manta Ray Mondays, Whale Shark Wednesdays and Fauna Fridays!
- Diving in Vilanculos is an incredible chance to see dolphins, turtles and dugongs. We highly recommend Odyssea Dive Centre.
- Be careful when arranging cheap dhow trips on the beach. While we were in Vilanculos, tourists that were offered a bargain found themselves in rough seas with no working engine. Luckily a professional tour operator came to their rescue.