Hi, I'm Andrew and I'm a photographer in Durban, South Africa. I work as a travel, commercial and event photographer, also offering portraiture, food, architectural and wedding photography. I also enjoy taking abstract, landscape and wildlife images. Please take a look at my portfolio, or contact me about doing a photo shoot.

Bilene break

Posted on: January 31st, 2013 by andrewrhb No Comments

Mozambique full moon

We decided this year to celebrate Christmas in Mozambique. We booked pretty late and were fortunate enough to get a self catering chalet at Palmeiras resort in Bilene.

For those who don’t know Mozambique well, Bilene is a town on the edge of a very large lagoon about 140kms north of Maputo.

Sunrise on the lagoon...

We left Durban the Saturday before Christmas, and it all went well until we started approaching Maputo…. Saturday, market day, the day Southern Mozambique all go to town, and also the day it appears that most of Mpumulanga decide to go to Mozambique for their annual holidaysl… it took me three and a half hours to get through Maputo… at one stage a mind and bum numbing one hour to progress three kms!

street hairdresser

My advice for anybody who wishes to travel there over Christmas, especially those from Durban… plan to go through Swaziland, and get into Mozambique through the Goba borderpost in the afternoon. About twenty kms from Goba there is a small B&B, or self catering place. Stop there, enjoy the evening… and leave at 4.30-5 next morning… it’ll save you some tears (mostly of frustration and anger).

beached for life

The chalets are smallish, and clean… no cooking facilities, but a fair size fridge and of course braai spots for each; and yes.. the main room is air conditioned… as seniors in the party, we claimed that privilege! There are also numerous camping sites, many of which are booked well in advance by regulars who return year after year.

Palmeiras is a well run resort and at no time did we experience and difficulties, theft or crime.

early morning action

water taxi

it's a buoys life

What to do.. well for the beach lovers one has a lagoon of about fourteen kms length and two kms width to explore and get wet in, the white, white sand gets mega hot in summer so beware, and sunglasses are a must. The water is warm in the shallows and these extend a good three hundred meters out before one actually has to swim, and only there does the water start cooling. Fishing is a major sport, pastime and way of life here (depending on ones social and economic status) and many ski boats make their way to the mouth of the lagoon to go out to sea. However, it is not an easy launch and the week before we arrived there had been loss of life due to skiboats capsizing… skippers and crew be warned…

tethered to the morning

For divers and snorkellers, the Dive Bilene centre is situated at Palmeiras, run by the efficient, relaxed, knowledgeable and friendly Daniel, he organises dives for those who range from experienced to the absolute newbie. I went snorkelling with him and it was a great experience. In a matter of maybe a hundred meters along the cliffs at the mouth I saw a multitude of fish, eels, crabs, shrimp and other sealife. My only complaint, and it was my fault, I didn’t take a weight belt, and spent most of my time floating back to the surface.

a point of interest

red eye flight

Daniel is also a keen and very good photographer, and is only too happy to give advice about photography in the area. Thanks to him, I was able to get these flamingos in take off mode. yet another word of advice, if one does walk in various sections of the lagoon, wear water shoes! Razor sharp clams and shells abound. 

take off symmetry

hamerkops, the new boatmen

Other water sports options, kayaking, sailing amongst others are all available, just find Daniel. Whilst we were there, a flyboard was introduced, and while I didn’t try, it looks like a challange and great fun once mastered.

One of favourite options was to stroll along the endless beach, preferably in the early morning before the heat of the day aand enjoy the sights. But, be warned, broken glasss (alas, the locals do not always value what they have) is fairly widespread.

For the hungry and thirsty, there a few restaurants scattered around the town, almost all of which specialise in seafood. However, the days of cheap shellfish have disappeared, and prices are now starting to rival South Africa. The food, obviously, is very Portuguese and African orientated, but very tasty nonetheless. The market, situated two minuste walk from Palmeiras offers a lot of Mozambique style street food, cooked by the locals. Beers are still cheap and 2M, Laurentino and Manica are always refreshing, and served ice cold… they know their customers there. Locally grown vegtables and fruit are available on a daily basis, as is very fresh bread. There is a little bakery situated in the market whose small loaves were delectable and definitely eat sum morish…

busy body

Bilene streets and market

fresh fish?!

street food preperation

Last, but not least, I must make mention of the ‘Sunset Cruise’ organised by Daniel….  a half hour boat trip to the far eastern shore of the lagoon to a lodge called Villa N’Bangwa which has arguably the best beach bar in Africa… this lodge also has wonderful accommodation and is well worth considering for a stay….

The bar has it all, exotic cocktails, friendly efficient service, delicious food which is fairly inexpensive, great atmosphere and an amazing sunset… we were also treated t the sight of a full moon (less one day) rising over the African bush and illuminating our return trip to Palmeiras..  I will certainly return to Villa n’Bangwa for a stay in the not too distant future…

best beach pub in Africa

boy, boat and sunset

a landy sunset

Lastly a few other images taken whilst we were there, enjoy…

family stroll

colours of Bilene

kids and water

new and old

Obrigado  

 

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