Vilanculos, Mozambique – Beaches & Blindfolds

Each travel day in Africa is crazy, hectic, amazing …and at times, trying. We left Tofo and took a small chapa (mini bus/van) to the town of Imhambane. From there, we boarded a ferry and went to Maxixe, from there it was a 4 hour ride to Vilankulo. Along the way, there are always local people selling all kinds of items from the side of the road.

This time, we were able to buy a massive bag of fresh oranges and cashews as well. You’ll never go hungry on a travel day in Mozambique! The chapa was packed full with people, as usual, as well as luggage, food products, and typically there will even be live chickens under the seat. It makes for an interesting ride.

delicious fresh oranges for sale on the way from Tofo to Vilanculos

We arrived in Vilanculos and walked to our guesthouse, meeting up with Alice and Henry along the way to chat about what had happened on our day apart. We met back up after checking in to our roundevel hut and enjoyed dinner and a ukulele session on the beach that night.

We had arranged to sail out to the Bazaruto Archipelago the following morning. It was one of the best days yet! We headed out on a traditional Mozambican boat called a dhow and made our way to the island of Magaruque.

Sailing through the unthinkably calm, crystal clear, turquoise water was amazing and what made it even more special was when we pulled up alongside a local spear fisherman and the next thing we knew, we had live, freshly caught crabs coming on board for lunch. We got 13 good sized crabs for $1.75…unheard of!

Dariece enjoying sailing the beautiful Vilanculos Archipelago
buying the freshest crabs possible from a spear fisherman, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
preparing freshly caught crabs on the boat, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Once we got close to the shoreline, we all went in for a snorkel and just drifted along the shelf with the current. Lunch was fabulous, crab curry, grilled fresh fish, rice, salad, bread and bananas.

Goats On The Road enjoying a delicious fresh lunch, Magaruque Island, Bazaruto Archipelago

After we stuffed ourselves, we decided to walk it off and explore the island a bit more. There was a massive sand dune in the middle of the island that we hiked up and were rewarded with spectacular views of all sides of the island. The water on the island was stunning, the sand was extremely white and the day was fabulous.

Exploring Magaruque Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Nick and Henrik, Magaruque Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
view from atop the sand dunes, Magaruque Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, on the way home we saw a dugong swimming in the water! A dugong is like a manatee and are extremely rare to see, but we were lucky enough to follow it and watch it through the clear water as it grazed along the bottom of the ocean. Immediately, the crew started shouting “tipsy, tipsy!” …as in, they would receive a good tip for following the massive creature for so long! Too funny. It was a perfect end to a perfect day with our new friends…and there would be many more to come in Mozambique.

a Dugong in the Vilanculos Archipelago
Nick practicing the ukelele on the boat ride back to Vilanculos, Mozambique

The next, and last, day in Vilanculos, Nick and I decided to go on a tour of the village with one of the local guys. It was just the 3 of us and we had arranged a program with him and told him the things we wanted to experience and to see. As it was a Saturday, we couldn’t go to the school or the hospital, they were closed.

So, instead, we told him we wanted to go to the market, orphanage and to the church. Saturday is church day in Vilanculos so it lined up perfectly. The day was great and we enjoyed playing with the kids in the orphanage and giving them all notebooks, pencils, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Even just spending an hour or so with them was rewarding for us, and hopefully they enjoyed our company. Seeing the smiles on their faces definitely lit up our day.

kids at the orphanage in Vilanculos, Mozambique
Dariece with the kids at the orphanage, Vilanculos, Mozambique
Nick helping to pump some water at the orphanage in Vilanculos, Mozambique

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to spend too much time there as we had to get to church in time for the service. African church is nothing like church at home. The service started off by a procession of women coming down the street singing and dancing, most with babies strapped onto their backs with the traditional cloth. They made their way into the church and everyone else followed them in.

We took our seats on the front row pew and tried to blend in, to no avail. It was such a joyous time for the people, something they had looked forward to all week. We had hoped to see some singing during the service and we were surprised when practically the whole service was singing! It wasn’t silent and stuffy like the churches at home, it was upbeat, lively and everyone was singing and chatting the whole time.

During one part they said in their language (Portuguese) that all the married couples should get up on the stage. Our guide translated what they had said and we got up on stage, while all the locals cheered and clapped us on.

Apparently in Mozambique they play games at church! The men were to line up and all the women were to stand across from them. While blindfolded, the women were to feel each man in the line until they found their man. Luckily, I could peek under my blindfold and was able to see Nick’s shoes…hopefully I would’ve chosen him without cheating.

After the game we decided it was time to leave and we went up to the front of the stage and spoke to the church about who we are, what we were doing there and thanked them for welcoming us into their community. The crowd laughed and clapped with every translation our guide made and they were just happy to see a Mazungu (white person) at their church. It was such a great experience.

Nick outside of the church with the local people of Vilanculos, Mozambique
women dancing outside of the church in Vilanculos, Mozambique
getting blindfolded inside the church, Vilanculos, Mozambique
Goats On The Road inside the local church – the only white faces in there! Vilanculos, Mozambique
kids outside of the church in Vilanculos, Mozambique
a tailor with beautiful, colourful fabric, Vilanculos, Mozambique
fishermen at sunset, Vilanculos, Mozambique

The following morning, the 4 of us packed up and were headed to Beira to eventually make our way up to the very Northern, remote and exclusive Quirimbas Archipelago. The next 2 days (and each day after that) ended up being a travel adventure that none of us will ever forget!

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Vilanculos, Mozambique - Beaches & Blindfolds

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Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 10 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel. Her advice about long-term travel, remote work, and location independence has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes. Learn more about Dariece Swift on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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