Having made an impulsive decision not to stay at Kosi Bay, I did some quick shopping in Manguzi and headed for the nearby border post. It was early afternoon and formalities at the border were quick and easy. In no time I was in Mozambique. After buying the mandatory third-party insurance it was a short drive to nearby Ponta Do Ouro.
A few years earlier when I’d crossed the border here the road immediately fragmented into a jumbled labyrinth of unmarked tracks seemingly all headed nowhere and a four-wheel drive vehicle was essential. The hundred-odd kilometres northwards to Maputo was a half-day adventure of trying to maintain momentum through the deep sand while gambling on choosing the track least likely to get you firmly stuck. But things have changed. The sandy tracks have been replaced by a brand new sweep of asphalt heading off across the plains, complete with signposts and traffic circles all the way into Maputo.
A few minutes after leaving the border the flashy new signposts guided me into the small town of Ponta Do Ouro. As I drove in the full ramification of the new road became clear. Seduced by the lure of the newly built road thousands of folk from Maputo had driven south in their small city cars. In a festive mood, loaded with food, drinks and all their friends they’d come to party at the previously inaccessible “Tip of Gold”.
Unfortunately the bright, shiny asphalt ended abruptly at the entrance to town and reverted to the thick sand of the pre-asphalt era. The city cars stood no chance but the drivers were determined to prove otherwise. It was still a long way to the beach and they hadn’t come all this way for nothing. One by one they tried and failed. The one behind tried overtaking and also failed. Others realised they were not going to make it and tried turning back but also failed. Sunday afternoon and it seemed like all of Maputo’s city cars were stuck in Ponta Do Ouro’s single main street. There was no way I was ever going to reach any accommodation along this road today.
Luckily I was still close enough to the South African border to get cell-phone signal and a quick search revealed that I was only seven kilometres away from Ponta Malongane along roads that were strictly 4×4 only. There was no way the city-car crowd could get there, so off I went.
After the pandemonium of Ponta Do Ouro, the Parque De Malongane was a haven of peace and tranquility. I was given a choice of sites and quickly chose my spot to set up camp. For the next few days I took long walks on almost deserted beaches, ate deliciously fresh seafood in quaint restaurants and generally just enjoyed the differentness of being in another country.
Complexo Turistico Da Ponta Malongane as the campsite is officially known is large and shady. The facilities are old but adequate and there’s plenty to do. All sorts of marine activities are catered for and the nearby village has a number of vibey eating and drinking hangouts.
Ponta Malongane turned out to be a good decision and I enjoyed an idyllic few days here before I had to head back south where I was going to spend the rest of December exploring around Hluhluwe.