Bazaruto Island today is nothing like Bazaruto Island in the early 1970s. Today, according to the Internet, there are luxury hotels and resorts costing well over US$1,000 per night. Getting there now is as simple as chartering a light plane and flying from Maputo. Getting off the island can be achieved in much the same way. Not so when we planned our big adventure in 1970.
We left our home in Salisbury (Harare) in our short-wheel base Land Rover heading toward Inhassoro in Mozambique. Our ultimate destination was Bazaruto Island. We travelled in convoy with our friends, Cliff and Wendy – they in their Peugeot bakkie (ute) towing Cliff’s boat – a fibreglass runabout. Cliff’s father Alec, and Glifford, the African cook, were in their vehicle. Kath, who was about three years old, with us in the Land Rover.
Naturally, we took the road less travelled, bypassing the port of Beira and driving south, down the coast of Mozambique. In fact the road was only partially built, a work in progress, and the new bridge being built over the Save (Sah-veh) River had a magnificent span but no access. So, we travelled underneath the bridge, on a track in the dry riverbed. The first night we spent under a tree, in the bush, near an African village. Parts of the road were sealed and then, suddenly, there would be a deep ditch and the road became a dirt track. Nevertheless, we made it to Inhassoro. I used to have 8mm films of the trip but over time the reels have been lost.
Thirty years later in 2000, Inhassoro, and other coastal towns, were more-or-less wiped out in floods caused by Cyclone Eline. Many stories came out of that terrible time. Many lives were lost. The rebuilt Inhassoro is nothing like the fishing village we knew 30 years before. The bridge over the Save was also washed away when the river came down in flood.
How did we get to the island? We caught a fishing boat/ferry from Inhassoro over the Mozambique Channel to Bazaruto Island and the ferry towed Cliff’s runabout. It is only about 35kms but the trip took at least four hours. The trip to the island was fun, the sun shone and, apart from Glifford, no one else was seasick. We caught the right tide and were able to get off the ferry before the tide receded and left a huge expanse of mudflats. I can remember great big sea cucumbers holothurians all over the place. They really freaked me out.
We had to take all our water as in those days there was no potable water on Bazaruto. All our food, such as tea, sugar flour and powdered milk was carted from home to Bazaruto. I asked Wendy what she remembered about the trip and she told me we also took a lot of wine and a sack of lemons – for the fish we were going to catch? Perhaps to prevent scurvy? I don’t really remember!
Next time, the crazy accommodation and the cockroaches …