Nick & Dariece left everything behind in search of cultural experiences, beautiful beaches and off the beaten path adventures. During their 3 years of travelling the world, they’ve found ourselves on some amazing journeys; perhaps their most epic journey is the one you’re about to read. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Nick and Dariece, starting in the stunning beachside village of Tofo in Mozambique.
9:30 am: We had met a couple of new travel friends on the bus ride to Tofo, Alice from Luxemburg, and Henrik from Germany. We set a map out on the table in the guesthouse restaurant and planned our route from the southern part of Mozambique, all the way up to the Quirimbas archipelago in the North. We weren’t sure how we were going to make it there, but we knew we had a long road ahead of us.
10:30 am: I had one more Tofo dive planned before we left this stunning beach town. Humpback Whales were breaching just offshore so I had some excited jitters as I donned my scuba gear and set out to sea.
11:45 am: We suited up and jumped into the water to begin the dive. My stomach was still feeling queasy from the boat ride as I descended 20 meters into the crystal clear Indian ocean.
12:00 pm: Only 15 minutes into the dive my eyes focused on huge shadows, drifting behind a coral shelf. There, in the deep blue, were the silhouettes of three enormous whales heading straight for us! They came within 15 meters of us, so close that we could see the barnacles on their giant fins. They soared above us, completely blocking the light of the sun, and then with one quick, synchronized swoop of the tail, they were gone. In total we swam alongside them for under a minute, but it’s a minute I will never forget. What an amazing dive.
3:00 pm: We left Tofo in a chapa that we thought was full, but it picked up at least 5 more souls on the way (not all human) and continued down the terribly bumpy road to a chorus of squealing animals and crying babies.
7:00 pm: We arrived in Vilanculos after a long, dusty, uncomfortable ride and checked in to our funky rondavelle accommodation.
8:00 pm: We ate dinner at the guesthouse restaurant and arranged a boat to take us to the Bazaruto Archipelago the following day.
6:00 am: We woke up early to get a start on the day of sailing. We met our captain and co-captain and they took us around the village, picking up a few things for lunch.
9:00 am: We were finally hopping on the Dhow (traditional Mozambican sail boat) and setting out on the astonishingly clear sea, heading towards the powder white fringed islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago that bobbed not far offshore from Vilanculos. On the way, the captain pulled up next to a snorkelling crab fisherman and purchased 12 crabs for the shocking local price of $2! Unbelievable.
10:30 am: We arrived on our destination island, Magaruque. This place was straight out of a photo-shopped post card. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The water was as clear as an olympic pool and the sand was a white, floury powder that tickled our toes as we walked on it.
12:30 pm: We returned to the dhow, where the captain had prepared us a delicious crab jambalaya for lunch. It was absolutely delicious.
4:00 pm: After relaxing, exploring and swimming around Magaruque, we set sail once again. Our plan was to sail around the islands for a few hours before heading back to Vilanculos at sunset.
5:30 pm: Suddenly our captain yelled out something in Portuguese and excitedly pointed to the water. As our eyes focused on where he was pointing we realized we were looking at an amazingly rare sea creature, the Dugong. We followed the massive creature around for about a half an hour, swimming with it occasionally before it got sick of us and took off into deeper seas.
7:30 pm: Upon returning to shore, we thanked our captain and cook and said our goodbyes. In just a short time with the men we had formed a travel bond with them, because they had introduced us to such amazing experiences in their country, a country they clearly loved.
6:00 am: The alarm rang early once again in our rondavelle, as we peered out the window and saw darkness, we were reminded that backpacking is not a vacation. Today we were planning on exploring the local villages, an orphanage and a church with Fechiere, a guide we met in town earlier.
9:00 am: After walking through the cool markets in Vilanculos town, we hopped on a chapa that took us out to an orphanage on the outskirts of town. Little kids met us at the gates and were immediately interested in us. They were all adorable and just wanted to play and get to know us.
2:00 pm: We went to see the church just in time. People were gathered outside the stone-slab building as a parade made its way towards the church on the street. A chain of people entered the church singing and dancing. They invited us in graciously. We’re not religious people, but we stayed through the entire ceremony which started of with uplifting songs and prayers, and ended up with some tears and serious calls for mercy. It was a moving and emotional experience, and one which we will never forget.
3:00 am: We woke up extremely tired and slightly grumpy. We were all questioning the logic of the departure times in Mozambique as we headed to the highway to find a ride.
4:00 am: We flagged down a pickup truck and asked him for a ride. The driver, Butta, was very nice and we were excited to start our journey with him.
8:30 pm: After 12 hours of driving at break neck speeds, over foot-deep potholes, fixing our first flat tire and listening to the same Tracy Chapman CD on repeat, we were starting to feel weary, our backs were sore and our heads were pounding from the painful echo and irony of the song “fast car”. The truck had reached 195 km/hour on numerous stretches of bad roads and we were starting to fear for our lives.
Midnight: After 20 hours of bumpy roads, dust, dirt and more Tracy Chapman, we arrived in Nampula in record time. Absolutely exhausted, we checked into a hotel, ate and passed out.
3:30 am: We woke up and headed out to catch our bus to Pemba. Another town further north.
Noon: Part way, we stopped and people were selling live chickens to passengers on the bus. I decided that this would be the perfect gift for Henrik. I purchased one through the window of the bus and the locals laughed and chanted as I walked the flailing bird up the aisle to the seat where my friend Henrik was now sleeping.
I placed the excited chicken on his lap which woke him immediately. He let out a fearful scream, much to the delight of the other passengers, as he gained consciousness and grabbed the flapping bird by its feet. The chicken’s name was Henny, and was now a part of our journey.
12:30 pm: The other passengers of the bus were in hysterics as we attempted to feed the chicken crackers. Other chickens were crammed under seats and stuffed into plastic bags, so we figure Henny had found a good home with us.
5:00 pm: We arrived in Pemba. Shortly after getting off the bus, we realized that a chicken was a hard companion to take care of. He refused our offerings of water and biscuits and squawked constantly, so we decided that a new family would be in the best interest of Henny the chicken. We found a joyful looking villager who was more than happy to take Henny off our hands. We like to think that Henny went to a good home and a loving, vegetarian family.
3:00 am: We woke up again for a grotesquely early bus ride.
9:00 am: A vehicle stopped that was heading our way. It was a big jeep and the driver was Yurik, from Switzerland. Yurik actually owned a small guesthouse on Ibo Island, the exact place we were trying to reach. It turned out we were in the right place at the right time. Alice, Dariece and I crammed into the back of the jeep along with the spilling jerry cans of fuel and a weeks worth of groceries.
11:00 am: We were barreling down the dusty sand path towards the boat dock, going over bumps at extreme African speeds, while fuel poured all over our pants in the back of the jeep. The three of us were gazing out the rear window at the trailer, trying to keep ourselves from getting sick in the back of the jeep. Suddenly we hit a massive hole in the road and the wheels completely flew off the trailer we were towing. The steel box dug into the dirt and brought the jeep to an unexpected halt, nearly causing it to veer into the ditch.
3:00 pm: After waiting on the side of the dirt path for a few hours, Yurik managed to pull a truck over and convince the driver to watch the trailer (for a fee) while we drove the rest of the way to the port.
8:00 pm: We had now been waiting under a massive baobab tree for 5 hours! We were starting to think that our chances of catching a boat that night were slim to none. We started planning our camp spot just as a potential ride pulled up. It was an American woman and friend of Yurik’s who agreed to take us to the island.
10:00 pm: We arrived late that night at The African Pot, a lovely African style guesthouse owned and operated by a French chef named Stephane and his Mozambican staff. He cooked us a delicious meal and under the starlit sky, we planned our epic sailing adventure. Stephane told us that he knew a captain who could take us around to a few of the deserted islands in the Archipelago.
6:00 am: We were able to sleep in! Waking up with the sun was a nice feeling in Mozambique as we were all sick of rising 3 hours before it. We packed our bags and met in the garden where we waited for our captain.
8:00 am: We loaded up the Dhow and set sail as the sun slowly rose above the mangrove forests of Ibo Island.
11:00 am: We approached our first Island, Matemo. As we rounded the corner of the sandbar on its northern end, our jaws dropped in complete awe of this tiny atoll. The colour of the water was a perfect pearl blue and it shimmered above the bleach-white sand below.
The grins on our faces must have been contagious, because our captain, co-captain and cook were also smiling proudly as we approached this paradise of their homeland.
11:30 am: We pulled up to shore and began unloading the boat. The moment our toes were submersed in the powdery sand, we all knew that our arduous journey was well worth it. We quickly rushed to set up camp so that we could head to the beach.
1:00 pm: Our camp was complete. It consisted of 3 mosquito nets, hung from palm trees about 50 meters from the water. We hung a bottle with holes in the bottom for a shower, a woven sack for a garbage can and stacked a pile of dead wood for the evening fire.
7:30 pm: After spending the entire day at the beach in front of our camp, we decided to walk over to the sandbar we had passed in the boat earlier that day.
8:00 pm: The sun slowly disappeared into the horizon and the sky erupted into a prism of dazzling lights and colours which reflected perfectly off of the shimmering sea. We sat on the soft sand, our lower halves submerged in transparent water, sipping our luke warm beer and reflecting upon our accomplishment.
We had taken buses and chapas with goats, swam with dugongs and whales, hitchhiked and caught a ride with the African Mario Andretti, bought and donated a chicken, visited an orphanage and sang at a church, nearly crashed a jeep and sailed to remote islands, all in one week.
The epic trip had brought us to this point and we still had 2 more days of sailing left! A truly remarkable journey had led four new friends to lost islands, with smiles on our faces and adventure in our hearts. We marvelled at our achievement as we gazed out over the empty Indian Ocean.
This is what travel is all about.
Check out this great week-in-the-life video that Nick and Dariece put together to illustrate their week:
Click here to watch on YouTube.
Tomorrow, Nick and Dariece are packing up their lives in China and taking off on a new Goats on the Road 5-month backpacking journey! They’ll be camping, trekking, fishing, and exploring Mongolia, Central Asia, and Iran. Follow their adventure for tips, photos, videos, and cool stories from this off-the-beaten-path region. Come along for the ride! Follow their off-the-beaten-path adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
And If you’re planning a trip to Mozambique, check out their Travel Guide To Backpacking Mozambique. It has everything you need to know about getting off the beaten path and enjoying a journey like theirs in this incredible country.