Anticipation, excitement and amazing encounters!
This trip definitely exceeded all my expectations, even though I try never to have pre-conceived ideas and checklists of what I want to see, you still have hopes to see the amazing mantas and whale sharks that are to be seen here.
Half of our group drove from Cape Town and the rest flew to Johannesburg and drove the rest of the way from there. Tofo is a lovely coastal town in southeastern Mozambique. The roads were great and, in many places, they were being fixed, we had no problems or hassles.
There are a few great lodges with different options to suit your budget. We stayed at the Tilak Lodge and absolutely loved it and Tofo Scuba is just down the road. We had a great experience with Tofo Scuba, they are professional and take great care of your gear with friendly and knowledgeable staff. They also did their best to make the dives and ocean safaris as enjoyable as possible.
Take a stroll on the long sandy beach or soak up some sun with the turquoise waves rolling in. There are lots to do for divers as well as non-divers. Surfing, ocean excursions, snorkelling in the estuary, island trips by dhow boat, community tours or visits to the beautiful historic town of Inhambane, 20 km away.
One of the highlights of the trip was the food. There are many restaurants in Tofo with lots of options and the food is simply amazing. From your typical Mozambican peri-peri dishes, Asian curries, to wood-fired pizza as well as fresh and tasty sushi.
We did double tank dives on the deep reefs, so everyone was on Nitrox. On the 1.5hour surface interval, you go searching for whale sharks, mantas, dolphins and whatever there is to find. We came across a leopard shark basking in the sun which was quite interesting. You can then kit up with your snorkel gear and have a swim with them. A whale shark came to say hi, and one morning before our first dive, we were surprised with a very large school of Cownose rays and a small pod of dolphins. It was a breathtaking experience, there were hundreds of them and they swam close to the surface passing right underneath us.
Tofo kept surprising us, anything could happen, and we were not disappointed. On our 4th dive of the trip, we were just about to end our dive on a dive site named Sherwood Forest when a 3.5m Great White shark came to greet us. We were absolutely awe-struck coming face to face with this magnificent animal. She was very inquisitive, not skittish at all and circled us as we slowly started surfacing. She kept going just out of sight and coming closer again. We did not feel threatened at all. I must say, I always thought I would be scared coming face to face with a White Shark but I felt a feeling of excited amazement and great respect. She disappeared by the time we were doing our 3min safety stop at 5m. We surfaced and exited the water as normal, but obviously with much more excitement. Luckily Marius had his go pro and got some great footage, otherwise, I’m sure no one would have believed us!
It helped a lot that our group was well educated about sharks with the SharkLife courses we offer as well as the work we do with SharkSafe Barrier. This information was a great reference point for us on how to act around this shark and what to look for in her behaviour. The shark seemed relaxed and interested but not imposing or aggressive. This is a moment we will surely never forget!
The reefs are teeming with life and sometimes I did not know where to look as there are too much to see and photograph. There were many white tip reef sharks, leopard sharks, schools of fish, numerous rays and many cleaning stations where we saw lots of large and macro sea life. This place is a photographer’s dream and sometimes made the choice between macro and wide-angle lenses very difficult.
I would definitely recommend the snorkelling excursion to the estuary. There are fascinating small things to be seen here such as harlequin shrimps, mantis boxing shrimps, squat shrimp, eels, interesting kinds of crabs, frogfish as well as seahorses. I simply loooove sea horses and had such a ball with my camera here. It can get a bit boring for those who don’t have a camera (apparently ;) ), but you can tell the guide when you’ve had enough.
Even though we did not go to Tofo at the peak time of the year, we will certainly be back soon. If this was what Tofo is like out of season we simply can’t wait to come back in season! Despite the fact that we did not see any manta rays, we were not disappointed at all.
Keep an eye out for our next tour to Tofo and join us for an unforgettable experience.
by Madelein Wolfaardt