Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 100

LOCAL DESTINATIONS | mozambique Muito Bem, mozambique! Winter is looming, and with it comes Highveld dust-devils and tempestuous Cape storms. But if you’re a (wo)man with a plan, set course for the calypso coastline of neighbouring Mozambique, and top up on some tropical time in the saddle. WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUES MARAIS SO HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GIVE WINTER THE MIDDLE FINGER. You don’t have to fly to a far-away destination like Mauritius, Ecuador or even Spain, because life is pretty balmy all year round in Moz. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank. Add to this the fact that the place brims with frosty 2M beers and peri-peri prawns – not to mention the island-style vibe – and you know you’ll be good to go living a personal la vida loca in the tropics, just across the border from KZN or Mpumalanga. I know it’s a long way from most places in SA, but nowadays you can fly to Durban without mortgaging your mountain bike. From Durbs, it is around five hours to the Kosi Bay border post, and then onto the sandy backroads via Ponta do Ouro. This Mozambican coastal town is unofficially a part of the old Transvaal coastline and as such is overrun with GP number plates, bolted onto anything from Fok-Jou Cruizers to Cheech and Chong vans. Fortunately, you only need to stop for a cold Dois-M or two here before high-tailing back onto the dual-tracks winding northwards. Within an hour you’ll enter into the tranquil emerald world that constitutes the Maputo Special Reserve (part of the extensive Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area). All signs of civilisation and the ever-pervasive human footprint fade into the surrounding lushness, leaving only spreading umdoni trees towering above the waving grasslands. These savanna plains soon morph into rare coastal sand-forest hemming in meandering 4x4 tracks, with makalani palms and beach lakes appearing in the distance. And then, all at once, you blast onto the coastal shore, with the vast Indian Ocean glittering in the late afternoon sunshine. peaceparks.co.za 100 | MTB | tropical time Route #1 Anvil Bay & Surrounds T   his elegantly rustic lodge is set within the very heart of the Maputo Special Reserve, part of one of Southern Africa’s most diverse Transfrontier parks, and it rates as one of Planet Earth’s richest ecological hot-spots. A visit here will unveil an exhilarating combo of marine and in-land protected areas, with the MSR spreads via the Lubombo corridor to link to reserves in both Swaziland and SA. Currently, this (and Gorongoza) are the only parks in Mozambique where you regularly encounter elephants, but nowadays it is about so much more than just these pachyderms. The MSR stretches all the way to the coast, adjoining both Kosi Bay and Ponta Partial Marine Reserves. It is this diversity that now attracts an influx of contemporary tourists to the region, with, amongst others, many hundreds of sea turtles visiting the coast each year to come and lay their eggs. With a massive 1 040km² (in one of Planet Earth’s Top 25 most diverse ecosystems at that), there’s no time to be bored. The Indian Ocean itself is nothing less than a tropical wonderland, with the scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing here making for world-class off-the-bike experiences. GO FIND A RIDE Time to saddle up! From Anvil Bay, you can crank either north or south, preferably timing your