Day 4 and 5 in the Quirimbas Archipelago were even more of an adventure than the previous days. We had hired ourselves a captain, a crew and a boat and were setting off to explore two of the nearby islands of Matemo and Rolas.
We boarded our dhow (traditional Mozambican boat) and headed off through the completely clear turquoise waters. When we rounded the massive sand bar jetting out into the sea, we were in awe of what we saw. A very long stretch of completely white sand and clear as can be waters lay before us. There was one exclusive (and extremely expensive) resort on one end of the island and on the far other side there was a village.
We decided to set up camp in between the two. Camp consisted of us setting up a rope between two palm trees and hooking our 3 mosquito nets to the rope. We made the sandy area our own and rebuilt a broken down wood shack for some shade and shelter. Nick and Henrik made a bottle shower, Alice and I made a garbage area and swept away all the excess brush and pulled up any uncomfortable weeds and rocks.
And there you have it, camp!
As the sun was setting we all went in for a swim and reflected on how lucky we are to be in such an amazing place…and to have it basically to ourselves. That night after a delicious dinner of freshly caught fish and rice, we built a massive bonfire on the beach and enjoyed the stars and Henrik’s ukulele playing before calling it a night. We slept directly under the stars in our breezy mosquito nets with a sheet on the ground and a blanket over us, it was perfection.
The next morning we were up early to beat the tides and made our way to the nearby island of Rolas. Again, stunning, stunning island. This time it was completely unoccupied except for a very small fishing village. We set up our camp and relaxed in the shade in between swimming in the crystal clear, perfect waters.
These two islands are blessed with the most beautiful beaches and waters we’ve ever seen on our travels, and that’s saying a lot considering the places we’ve seen! We swam, read, napped and ate throughout the day and were in complete relaxation mode. That evening after a fantastic sunset, we had another delicious meal of grouper stew with rice and the 4 of us went out onto the enormous, white sandbar and built a bonfire.
We enjoyed the fire until we could barely keep our eyes open. It’s an amazing feeling to discover somewhere so remote and to be the only tourists on the island, and for miles in every direction. Yet another great day in paradise.
After 3 days on these amazing islands, we packed up camp and needed to leave Rolas Island early so we could beat the tides. We decided to make a pit stop back on Matemo Island for some morning swimming, pictures and relaxing before making the journey back to Ibo Island.
We arrived back at The African Pot in the late afternoon and were happy to see Stephane (and his cooking) again. The trip was fabulous, something that the four of us will never forget. That evening we had to say our goodbyes to our new friend Henrik. He needed to get moving before his visa expired but Nick, Alice and I decided to spend another day on Ibo Island enjoying the quiet village life.
It was an emotional goodbye as we had become quite close with Henrik and we will miss travelling with him very much. That’s the way backpacking goes, you create special bonds with people through these amazing experiences and become instant friends. We hope to keep in contact with him and perhaps one day meet up again, either on the road or in Germany.
The next day on Ibo Island was perfect. We enjoyed Stephane’s cooking and Nick and I walked all around the island meeting local people and taking some photos of the villagers and their day to day life. Being on Ibo Island was like stepping into a time warp. There are no cars, the people use wells for their water supply, chickens and goats roam the streets, the power shuts off in the evening and meals are enjoyed by candle light.
The people were so friendly and very happy to see us, it’s a very untouristed place and we were very fortunate to have seen it in this state. I’m sure it will become very prominent on the tourist radar in the years to come.
We said our goodbyes to Stephane and the three of us boarded a very small, very crowded boat back to the mainland where we caught a bus back to Pemba. The ride was better (barely) than the ride there in the back of Urik’s jeep. However, we have never been so dusty in our lives! The road was a very bumpy, very dusty road and we needed to have the windows open in order to not sweat ourselves into complete dehydration. By the time we reached our destination, we were covered head to toe in the fine, red tinged African dirt and our faces looked as if they were painted in it.
After the ride, we said our goodbyes to our new friend Alice. She was catching a flight out of Pemba and Nick and I were making our way a bit further South to Mozambique Island. We will also miss travelling with Alice very much and had become really close friends with her as well. It was nice travelling with another woman and being able to have girl talk for once! Besides a few other couples we’ve met, it’s usually solo male travellers that we seem to link up with. I’m sure we’ll keep in contact with her and will never forget the only person from Luxembourg that we’ve ever met.