Distance: 66km (Cumulative: 21 876km)
Moving time: 2:19
Average speed: 28km/h
Road surface: 50% Tar, 50% Gravel
Mooxeleliya - R210 p.p
Very nice little hotel in old colonial building with very high celings.
After a French toast breakfast we set off for Ilha which is just 5km from us as the crow flies, but 65km on the road.
On Rod and Pam’s trip report, we saw they visited an old Governors house or palace that was overgrown with plants, but we couldn’t find any Points of Interest on any of our maps indicating anything like that. In the end, we just drove in the rough direction that we could make out from the map in their report.
We first found the old chapel with the beautiful old door and then after another kilometer the old palace. Looking on Open Street Maps again we saw it was indeed indicated as “Palácio Verão do Governador”.
We walked through the endless rooms and corridors and even saw an owl sitting in a tree growing inside the walls. It looked like someone tried to clean the vines growing on the walls as it wasn’t as thick and green as on the photos Pam took.
After taking plenty of photos we drove to Mossuril and then out to the tar and on to Ilha.
We got to the one way bridge and was immediately let through the boom. It is the longest bridge we have ever been on (3.3km). Luckily there were mostly only motorbikes coming from the front that could squeeze by. Only at the last passing bay, we had to wait for two oncoming cars.
On the small island we drove on the narrow brick roads to a guest house we saw on iOverland. It looked closed so we went to Escondinho around the corner. Their cheapest room with separate bathroom was 3300 Mets. We thus decided to first have lunch there while searching for potential alternatives. Caro ordered grilled fish and Hugo 1/2 a chicken. We should have shared again as they brought a whole bowl of rice extra apart from the French fries that came with both meals.
We left the Hilux in front of Escondinho and walked through Stone Town to the old Fort.
We paid the 200 Mets per person entrance fee and explored the massive fort completely on our own. For the whole 2 hours, we were the only people in the whole area. The chapel on the tip of the island which is outside the fort walls with no protection other than perhaps what they thought would be divine protection is said to be the oldest European structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
At around 17:00 we left the fort and started looking for cheaper accommodation. We found Mooxeleliya close to the Museum. Like most places in Stone Town (old part of Ilha de Moz) it is in an old colonial building with high ceilings and lovely wooden beams supporting the roof.
They had rooms for 2000 Mets which suited our budget better. We walked back to Escondinho to fetch the Hilux and then settled into our room.
For dinner, we wanted to go to Ancora d’Ouro a popular restaurant 30m from the hotel, but they had a private function. We thus went to Karibu another 50m down the street. We were the only patrons and ordered breaded prawns and gelato for dinner. The prawns were a lot and it was a good thing that we only shared one portion. There were well over 20 crumbed shrimps/prawns on the plate. The Portuguese word ‘Camarão’ doesn’t distinguish between prawn and shrimp as far as we could determine.
The next morning at breakfast in the hotel we met two Portuguese guys working in Nampula. After chatting a bit they got up and said we can join them for whale watching and snorkeling, but we have 5 minutes to decide and get ready as the boat is leaving in 15 minutes.
We quickly ‘discussed’ it and decided to join as their boat would only cost us R400 for the whole day versus $60 per person when doing it with a tour company.
We grabbed a few things and met them at the harbor where we got onto a wooden dhow. On the West side of the island where we got on the water is calm, but as we turned the corner around the fort the rough ocean started, which only got worse as we passed Goa Island 5km from Ilha.
Just off the coast of Goa we spotted the whales and got really close. Three giant humpback whales, much larger than the dhow, swam passed us arching their backs out of the water. By this time Caro started to feel unwell from the rough motion of the small boat on the big swells but didn’t really tell anyone.
Towards the other side of Goa Island, there is a shipwreck where you can snorkel, but the skipper wasn’t 100% sure where it was. He phoned several buddies and stopped at two locations in the rough seas where the one Portuguese guy got out and looked for it without finding anything. Caro put on her swim suit, but before she could get in the water she threw up over the side.
She later did get in the water where it was a bit calmer than being in the bobbing boat. The skipper finally went to the correct location for the shipwreck where Hugo had the most amazing snorkel dive of his life.
The shipwreck was clearly visible from snorkeling at the surface and there were 100s of colourful fish swimming around and through it. The ocean was however very rough and on the shaky GoPro footage, one can see how Hugo moved back and forth in the water for meters at a time as the current pulled and pushed him. Caro was just lying curled up in a bundle on the boat.
After snorkeling for probably not even 10 minutes we set of for Coral Lodge which is on the mainland close to Carrusca where we stayed two nights ago. The Portuguese guys had booked ahead at the posh lodge as it was a farewell weekend for the one guy heading back to Portugal. We were given two options by the waiter. A grilled fish for R400 or a seafood platter for R1000. We used Caro’s sea sickness as an excuse for not wanting lunch and went to sit on the beach, while the others enjoyed their lunch. Luckily we packed in some Lemon Creams.
The lodge is next to a beautiful lagoon and also has signature white sand beaches so we didn’t mind spending a few hours there.
The boat ride back to Ilha was particularly rough with water constantly splashing over the side into our faces.
Back at the hotel we took a nice shower and lied down a bit. For dinner, we went to Ancora d’Ouro which didn’t have a private function again, but it was quite busy outside. We took a table on the inside and ordered three courses. Prawn half-moons (Rissóis), prawn curry and tiramisu. The main was delicious, but the starter and dessert not so much. We also had a dark Laurentine beer which was quite nice. We never knew that we might like dark beers better.
Since we spent the whole day on a boat we decided we needed to stay another day on the island to just walk around and explore.
The next morning we, however, found out that all four cheap rooms were booked out (there are only seven rooms in total). We packed up but stayed in the hotel a while to do some work. Around noon we put everything in the car and started walking around to look for a place to have lunch and to find new accommodation. We found the website http://ilhablue.com/accommodation/ which lists all the accommodation options on the island and we narrowed our options down to basically Ruby Backpackers and Casa Luis based on price and location.
We walked all the way to the South tip of the island and back without finding a place to eat, we only bought some homemade peanut butter fudge pieces and some weird non-syrup koeksisters next to the road.
At 15:00 we went to the Ruby Backpackers and checked in. They had lots of dorm room beds but it wasn’t strictly in rooms. Some beds were just in a hallway and there were matrasses on various platforms only reachable by a steep ladder. We figured we’d probably be able to find a relatively private corner or section.
We went to fetch the Hilux and then as we drove passed the museum we remembered we still wanted to go in. We stopped and paid the 100 Mets per person entrance fee. We looked at some of the old artifacts like a massive dugout canoe from one giant piece of wood and then wondered what there is actually to see.
Just then our ‘complimentary’ or rather a compulsory guide appeared and took us upstairs into the building where no photos are allowed. The museum is actually the old Governors palace with all the furniture still in place. It was one of the better museums of this kind that we have been to and all the old carpets and furniture with intricate woodwork were simply amazing to witness. Also things like their very high beds (the higher your bed the more important you were, or rather the other way around) and all the old kitchen equipment.
The tour took less than an hour so we were outside again before 17:00. We then had to navigate all the one-way streets with the vehicle and circle around to reach the parking area for Ruby’s which is actually just down the road from where we started. We had to park in front of the police office as the Backpackers is in a small alley.
For dinner, we decided to give Rickshaws a try. They are listed as number 1 on TripAdvisor and are described as a new comer on various platforms. We were afraid that we might have had to book in advance, but even though we got there just in time to witness the sunset we were the only guests for the whole night. We ordered a small platter for dinner which had fish, calamari and a mussel ‘atchar/chakala’ type thing. It was served with coconut rice and everything tasted quite good.
This was the fourth restaurant we ate at on the island and every meal so far cost around R200 for both of us together, mostly sharing but including drinks.
It is hard to rank them as all of them were good, but not exceptional. Most of the restaurants also have menus that change every day so one would have to spend weeks here to really get a feel for which restaurant consistently have the best meals.
We went to one last restaurant for dessert and coffee. At Reliquias which looked like the largest restaurant of the lot, but again completely empty, we ordered chocolate mousse, which was the perfect finish to our time of overspending and treating ourselves a bit more than usual. We thus visited five of the six restaurants listed on TripAdvisor for the island.
Back at Ruby, we met a fellow Afrikaans South African from near Gansbaai who is traveling on a 30+-year-old Yamaha XT 500. We had nice conversations about traveling Africa and where to settle in South Africa. We learned about Baardskeerdersbos (or B-bos) for the first time.