One day, two different passport stamps and an epic road-trip. This will soon be possible with the opening of Africa’s longest suspension bridge stretching from Catembe to Maputo and a new road stretching between Kosi Bay in KwaZulu Natal and Maputo.
Scheduled to open later this year, the new road and bridge will connect Maputo with the Catembe district, and could cut four hours off the drive time from the KwaZulu Natal border to Maputo, not to mention significantly reduce travel times between the Mozambique capital and some of the country’s tourism destinations, including Bela Vista, situated in the middle of Catembe and Ponta do Ouro.
Travellers will quite literally be able to start their day off in KwaZulu Natal, explore some of Southern Africa’s finest spots before calling it a day in Mozambique for sundowners.
According to Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Dana Tours Director, the completion of the bridge will open up a new world of opportunities for Mozambique-bound travellers.
“We expect there to be massive increase in weekend road-trips to Maputo with the opening of the new bridge. Although the distance from Ponta do Ouro to Maputo is 120 kilometres, it currently takes three hours or more – depending on the ferry,” she said. “With the new bridge, this should reduce to almost a third of the time.”
At present, road-trippers from South Africa can reach Maputo via Kosi Bay by travelling through Swaziland at the Golela border post, entering Mozambique at the Goba border post. However, the trip is less than desirable, given the bad road conditions.
Upon completion of the new road, dirt roads will no longer be an element to contend making for a much smoother journey.
Of course, the added benefit here, says Tenzer-Silva, is that the road will also lead to the development of the area shared by South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland, offering several eco-tourism possibilities.
As far as access between Maputo and Catembe goes, currently, ferries are the only mode of transport when travelling between the two destinations. While the alternative is to drive, it is quite a tedious 4x4 drive which takes hours due to the poor road conditions.
Currently two main roads are also under construction. One, measuring 120km, will link Catembe to Ponta do Ouro; the other, measuring 65km, goes to Bela Vista, which is half way between Catembe and Ponta do Ouro.
Africa’s largest suspension bridge
In addition to the construction of the new road, the project also includes the construction of Africa’s largest suspension bridge.
In many ways the construction of the bridge is considered to be the most important work in southern Mozambique since the country’s independence. The bridge stands at 60 metres above sea level with two lanes in both directions, running three kilometres long with a main span of 680 metres.
Discover Kosi Bay Nature Reserve’s estuary, lakes and forest on foot. Alternatively, take to the water in a canoe or opt for a boat excursion the to nearby Big Five reserves. Guided adventures at Kosi Bay Nature reserve include turtle tracking on the beach and exciting game viewing at nearby Tembe Elephant Park.
If you love isolated places, conservation, safaris or activities like fishing and diving, then just about anywhere in Mozambique will do. However in Ponta do Ouro there’s nothing more soulful than contact with the resident dolphins in southern Mozambique, through Dolphin Encountours Research Centre. The programme allows close interactions with the dolphins terms - just you and the dolphins, face to face in the big blue.