Honeymoon – Johannesburg to Benguerra Island

Editor’s Note:
All posts dated between November 2004 and June 2005 were imported to Keith’s Amusing Musings on January 21, 2006 from my previous travel blog. I decided to delete that blog and move all its content here which some readers may find disruptive considering Keith’s Amusing Musings did not come online until October 2005. The good news there will be only one blog, Keith’s Amusing Musings, going forward. Enjoy these older stories.

After a pretty restful night of sleep on the flight, we arrived in Jo’burg Sunday morning around 10 am. Upon exiting the plane, we had to go through customs. Again, it was uneventful. After exiting customs we looked for our guide, Gordon. It was good to know that someone was there to help us get to our next flight, because the airport was a bit chaotic. We quickly found the sign with our names and did introductions. Gordon helped us navigate the airport to the ticket counters to get checked in for our Pelican Air flight to Vilanculos. Gordon went over all our travel documents with us, and gave us a few pieces of advice for traveling and enjoying our trip.

After checking us in and getting our luggage on its way (I was a little nervous since this was the first time we were parting from our belongings), he directed us to security and customs to catch our 6th, and final, flight to our destination. Gordon informed us that the terminal doesn’t make boarding calls. So, we needed to be at the gate at the scheduled boarding time or we’d miss our shuttle bus to the plane. (We were on a 36-passenger prop plane.) Because of this we decided to hang out at the gate rather than wander around the airport for an hour. It was really interesting to see all the different races and ethnic/religious garb in the airport. The funny thing about the small airline we were flying on is the two people who checked us in and handled bags at the ticketing counter, were the same people who collected our boarding passes, and drove the bus out to the plane. Our flight started boarding late, but we were still on track for an on-time departure. However just as the plane was loaded and doors closed the flight attendant made an announcement that we were still waiting on the bags to make it to the plane. Almost an hour later, a pickup truck showed up with the luggage.

The two hour flight to Vilanculos was choppy. The prop plane worked overtime through the windy weather. We landed on a small landing strip in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. The only thing really visible was a small building. We entered into the “airport” and had to go through the customs process. The customs agent was a small man who appeared to be frazzled because two flights came in at the same time. (Our flight was obviously late, and they weren’t equipped to handle that many people.) We learned that Mozambique requires visitors to buy a visa and pay an entrance fee to visit the country. $55 later we were on our way. After the Marlin Lodge representative gathered up all the guests, we hopped on the van on our way to the boat. We quickly noticed women and children walking on the dirt roads carrying water jugs and other items on their heads. The driver pointed out a few landmarks on the way…the hospital, the banks, a football field and two cell phone towers. 🙂 This small town had not one, but two towers!!!

After about 10 minutes, we arrived at what appeared to be a local beach, and the driver turned off the van. There were a lot of people looking at us. And I must admit I was a little confused. The driver informed us to take off our shoes and roll up our pants because we were going in the water. He pointed to the boat floating just past the shore, and we realized that was the boat to take us to Marlin Lodge. We essentially pulled up to a public beach with no fancy pier, so we had to walk through the water to get on the boat. As we all started taking off our shoes, men started carrying our bags onto the boat. I watched as one of the men carrying the bags walked through the water and realized the water was deeper than I expected. Given how short I am the water was going to be up to my waist. Keith carried me on his back which the locals seemed to find amusing.

The boat was fast and bumpy because of the waves. Benguerra Island is about 8 miles off the shore of Vilanculos. The boat ride took about 20-30 minutes. I was proud of Keith because he usually gets seasick on boats, but he held up pretty well. When we pulled up to the island, we had to jump out and walk through the water again – luckily it wasn’t as deep. As we made it ashore we were greeted by one staff member passing out cool, damp towels, and two others welcoming us to the island. We were directed into an open-air lounge and served passion fruit juice while our hostess, Nicolene, gave the group a run down of the lodge and daily schedule. At that point, we did the official check-in process and were escorted to our room by Eva who gave us a tour of our chalet. We had a t-shirt and sarong on our bed with a congratulations postcard welcoming us to Marlin Lodge.

After almost 48 hours of traveling including 6 flights and 1 boat ride, we were in Africa!!!