BESIDE THE SEA

Mozambique 2016 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: PONTA DO OURO

Ponta do Ouro is famous for its diving, with crystal blue waters full of dolphins, turtles, and mantas. The town is also popular with surfers making the trip from Maputo or over the border in South Africa.

To the south of Mozambique, at the very end of the strip, lies a stunning coastline, backed by casuaurina trees, with dolphins and sharks in the blue beyond. Ponta do Ouro, meaning “tip of gold" is a town in the extreme south of Mozambique just 15km north of the border with South Africa. The area is famous for its stretching beaches, offshore diving and deep-sea fishing.

Getting to the town is a challenge however, with no tarred road and time consuming chapas taking 3-4 hours of uncomfortable bumpery, 4x4s are a preferred option. Ponta Do Ouro lies 120km south of Maputo along a sandy road. The journey can be broken up with a guided tour through Maputo Special Reserve, which is home to elephants. In the town, there are a few family-run companies offering accommodation and a handful of companies that specialize in diving tours, offering deep sea diving as well as shark diving at certain sites.

There is a dolphin research center run by a team of passionate conservationists who specialize in collecting data and educating people about the marine mammals. They offer a chance to swim with wild dolphins, whilst also learning about their habitat. Whales are seen regularly during season, which is usually from June to November. It is also possible to see mantas and turtles too, with some companies offering the chance to view nesting turtles.

Unsurprisingly the town is a popular destination for South African divers as well as surfers in Maputo province. And there are a number of Shebeen (local pubs) in the town, offering the local beer, 2M and Laurentina, which some argue rivals world famous beers. The town is also home to the famed Tiopo Tinto Rum, which is locally produced and has a slight vanilla flavor, and goes best with pineapple or raspberry juice. Pintos Place is the local disco, offering a night of dancing and socializing for those who want evening entertainment after a day on the waves.

There are a number of lodges and hotels offering accommodation, with a few of the hotels having pools as well as opportunities for diving and dolphin swimming. Getting around the town is not difficult and mostly done by foot; however, there is also the chance to hire a quad bike, which is the preferred options for tourists, especially on hot days, which are unsurprisingly common