In Africa, there is a saying that when the desirable is unavailable, the available becomes desirable. This best explains why I recently spent an unscheduled weekend holiday in Vilankulo, but I must sincerely admit that what started with some trepidation ended up offering so much fun I wish I could stay a bit longer.
If you have not heard about Vilankulo, let me bring you up to speed. Vilankulo is a coastal town in Mozambique with the unrivalled reputation as the starting (and maybe ending) point of southern Mozambique tourism circuit. It has an airport, nearby beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, nice restaurants and accommodation of various ranges for everyone, all of which add up to make it a perfect relaxing place on any holiday—budget or luxury.
I didn’t stay in Vilankulo because I knew all these, I know these because I stayed there. I had planned to spend my weekend at one of the Islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Before my trip, I had read so much about the spectacular Bazaruto Islands that I could not help but add a visit there to my bucket list. However, I got to Maputo to find out that the Islands are actually a playground for the very rich because passing a weekend there could literally drain half my annual salary.
Anyway, when my colleague who knew the Bazaruto islands very well realized that I was quite keen about visiting the place, he came up with an alternative, more or less backpacker plan. His plans: I would use Vilankulo as my base and, with a dhow safari, visit the exquisite Bazaruto Island.
I arrived at Vilankulo at night; to my chagrin, I met some crowd. “This island is not the blissful paradise I was expecting,” I said to myself as I navigated gently to my lodge. The lodge soiled the experience more when I was informed that the internet facility there was down.
For the night’s disappointments, I was compensated by Vilakulo’s morning sunshine that welcomed me officially to a slice of the city’s paradise. As I stepped out that morning, I felt the hug of a perfect weather; this heralded what would be a bright sunny day with cool breezes.
I spent some parts of my morning trying to explore the bits of Vilankulo before giving up and simply lounging at one of the city’s long, pristine, palm-fringed beaches, staring at the calm translucent waters with the Bazaruto Islands just some distance away.
Later that day, I went to the Vilankulo market to see what I could buy for my day trip to Bazaruto Island. The market has a large building as its main entrance. Inside it is a maze of stalls cut into sections where varieties of goods were sold. At one end, you’d find stalls selling fabrics, at the other end are stalls for household items. Then you’ll also find Vilankulo’s main product- fish, in another section. The market is so huge you could get lost if you are not mindful of your route.
From my city tour, I found that Vilanculos is a nice place for diving and snorkelling; dhow safaris on traditional Arab sailing vessels, fishing and kite-surfing are some of the other activities that I found interesting in this city.
Of all that I saw and enjoyed in Vilankulo before my day trip to Bazaruto Island and my eventual trip back home, the local people I met were my biggest joy. Indeed, I can say that Vilankulo residents were super friendly and welcoming and I look forward to being there again.
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