A great boat ride, exploring amazing beaches, playing with the blue waters, exploring reefs, getting in touch with nature, getting sandy, salty and watching humpback whales in Mozambique, sums up to make this tour an amazing option.
8:00 AM (to confirm because of tides)
Where is the starting point? It will probably be at some of the ports in Maputo depending on sea conditions, but no worries, we will let you know the day before.
What do you need to bring? Just your clothes and we will take care of everything else.
We will set sail and cross Maputo Bay until get to Machangulo’s Peninsula area, really close to Maputo Special Reserve. At this remote place you will feel like you own the world. You will find no one regardless the direction you look at.
It is a sin not to seize that close moment with nature’s essence. After that it is time to get replenished and we will provide you a meal so you don’t lack the energy needed for the snorkeling session ahead.
The next stop will be at Santa Maria’s beach. Exploring the reefs and contemplating the fish should be one of the best moments of the trip, just before another meal. And then, it will be time to wait for our spotter to give the order. We almost forgot but watching Humpback Whales in Mozambique is the reason that brought us here and the time has come.
Come and join us for a unique trip in search of the largest sea mammal in the world, the Humpback Whale. This magnificent creature travel to Mozambique every year, coming o breed and raise their babies. They migrate to warmer climate as it ensures the safety of calves from their natural predators, the Orcas, as well as it increases their survival rate in the warmer environmental conditions. This is an opportunity not to miss!
This tour starts from Maputo’s harbor, meeting you directly there at 8.00 in the morning. Please note that the departure time might change depending on the tides of the day, but don’t worry as we will inform you a day before.
This tour includes, professional guide, boat for the day, meals, snacks, water and soda drinks, tables, chairs, cooler box with ice (feel free to bring your drinks or extra food, if you feel like), shadows, bring hat/cap, sunscreen, swimming clothes, towel.
After safety brief from our boat captain, we will hope in the boat and sail across Maputo Bay to Machangulo’s Peninsula area; Machangulo’s Peninsula is close to Maputo Special Reserve.
Maputo Bay was formerly also known as Baia da Lagoa in Portuguese. It is an inlet of the Indian Ocean on the coast of Mozambique. The bay is the northern termination of a series of lagoons which line the coast from Saint Lucia Bay (in South Africa). The opening is toward the northeast, and the northwest end of the Bay is defined by Ponta da Macaneta, where the Komati (or Incomati) River enters the bay at its northern end. The first European to reach the bay, by the way, was Portuguese navigator Antonio de Campo, one of the Vasco da Gama’s captains.
We will stop at Santa Maria’s beach, here we will have some time to explore the reefs. Our team will set up a shadow, chairs and table, if you feel hungry you can have some snacks here, just chat to your guide.
Santa Maria is well known for its reefs and it is a worth place for snorkelling. How beautiful to have an opportunity to swim with schools of barracudas is! Along these reefs you can see manta rays, kingfish, even sometimes turtles. Barracudas is a large predator ray-finned fish known for its fearsome appearance and ferocious behaviour. The barracuda is a saltwater fish, they reside near the top of the water and near coral reefs and sea grasses. Barracudas are snake-like in appearance, with prominent sharp-edged, fang like teeth, they have large pointed heads with an under-bite in many species. Barracudas lives in low temperature, tropical seas all over the world. Adults prefer to live around coral reefs where the water temperature is between 23 and 27 degrees. Barracudas are attracted to shiny objects, like the silvery fish they prey on; humans that enter the water with glittering objects such as watches and jewellery may cause curious to barracudas to investigate and might mistake these objects for a food source. They feed on different types of fishes such as jacks, grunts, snappers, small tunas, killifishes and smaller species of sustenance that are in front of them.
A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from natural, abiotic processes, deposition of sand, wave erosion planning down rock through biotic processes dominated by corals. The coral reef provides shelter for many animals in the sea, including fish, sponges, eels, jellyfish, snapper, crabs, shrimp, just to mention a few. Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystem is a source of food for millions, protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for important fish species. Coral reefs are breeding grounds for different types of fishes; they support more than 4000 species of fish.
Manta rays are large rays belonging to the genus Manta. Manta Rays are found in warm temperature, subtropical and tropical waters, they migrate across open oceans, singly or in groups, they are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they gather with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year and mantas give birth to live pups; they don’t have an umbilical cord or a placenta to deliver oxygen, the uterus is closed off from the outside seawater, so the embryo has to be getting oxygen somehow, but nobody knew how. They sometimes even jump out of water to get rid of their parasites. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites, like whales they breach for unknown reasons.
Manta rays are not dangerous, they are even harmless and can’t hurt any diver or swimmer, they are usually very curious and swim around the divers.
If you are lucky enough, you can see some turtles. Turtles are reptiles which spend most of their lives in water; they are adapted for an aquatic life, with webbed feet or flippers and a streamlined body. They have a hard shell that protects them like a shield -this upper shell is called carapace. They like to feed from jellyfish; they think jellyfish are delicious and help in controlling the populations of the jellyfish. On the other hand, some people call them the oceans lawnmowers as they have a more plant-based diet and eat seagrass; by keeping seagrass short, they prevent it from getting tall and harming other marine creatures. They cannot retract into their shell like other turtles since they don’t have to protect themselves from predators. As they spend most of their lives on water, sea turtles cannot retract their flippers and head into their shells; their anatomy makes them more agile when under the sea but highly vulnerable when nesting and hatching.
In turtles, temperature dictates the sex of baby turtles, warmer nests lead to more females and cooler temperatures lead to more males, which is why climate change could drastically affect their population by creating too many females and too few males to match them for reproduction. They can hold their breath for five hours underwater, they live to about 100 years, and that’s also roughly the amount of eggs they lay every time they nest. Sea turtle have an excellent sense of direction. Five species of marine turtles occur and nest along the Mozambican coast, all of them are threatened worldwide and have been protected in Mozambique for over 45 years now. These 5 species that breed in the region includes leatherback turtles, loggerhead turtles, green turtles, hawksbill turtles and olive ridley turtles. Nesting usually takes place in the last few months of the year, during the nesting season: once the sun sets and during the night, the female sea turtles emerge from the waves and crawl up the beach to dig holes and lay around 300 eggs, they enter a trancelike state while laying the eggs and it is important they are not disturbed with bright lights and noise. When the laying is finished they cover the eggs with sand and then make their way back to the sea.
After some good snorkelling, you can get something to eat and lunch is always served at time that you choose. Then, after that, we will focus on the main aim of this trip, to go and search for our friends the humpback whales. We will get back into our boat and sail to the other side of Machangulo’s Peninsula. Up to 30 – 40 humpback whales a day have been spotted on occasion around Inhaca Island, and there are no words that can describe the humility you feel being in the presence of this creatures. The humpback whales migrate to Mozambique from June to November.
There are so many questions to why these whales are called humpback… Humpback whales are named predictably, after an obvious hump in front of their small dorsal fin, compared to those of other whales and dolphins, this dorsal fin is small and stubby, this hump is seen when they raise and bend their backs in preparation for a dive. Baby whales are called calves, the gestation period is 11 to 16 months and they give birth to a single baby, the baby come tail first likely in order to prevent drowning, and twins are very rare. The new born calf is usually one-quarter to a third the length of the mother. A group of whales is commonly called a pod or school of whales, the male whale is called a bull and the female whale a cow. Humpback whale is one of the largest animals on earth, they can weigh up to 40 tones and have the size of a bus. This incredible size is only possible because of their aquatic lifestyle and the buoyancy provided by sea water, in Latin they are called Megaptera, meaning “big winged of New England” –this referring to the big long fins that they have.
On our way back to Maputo, you may be lucky to see the bottlenose dolphins, as they are very curious to boats, sometimes they came and follow the boats and play their hide and seek games.
Bottlenose dolphins are well known as the intelligent and charismatic stars of many aquarium shows, their curved mouths give the appearance of a friendly, permanent smile, and they can be trained to do complex tricks. In the wild, these sleek swimmers can reach speeds of over 28 kilometers an hour. Bottlenose get their name from their short, thick snout, they are generally grey in colour and they can range from light grey to almost black on top near their dorsal fin and light grey to almost white on their belly. They can be found in temperate and tropical waters, they are frequently seen within 30 km of shore in harbours, bays, lagoons, estuaries, around islands and in large rivers.
Although dolphins live in the ocean all of the time, they are mammals, like whales, and not fish. Like every mammal, dolphins are warm blooded; unlike fish, who breathe through gills, dolphins breathe air using lungs, they must make frequent trips to the surface of the water to catch a breath. Bottlenose dolphins eat a variety of food from fish to squid. Dolphin life span is around 40 – 60 years and females give birth to a calf every 3 to 6 years after a 12 months gestation period. They sometimes travel alone or in groups of about 12, but herds of hundreds of dolphins have been spotted. Bottlenose dolphins also develop individual whistles to communicate information regarding their location, condition and identity with others.
Later in the afternoon, after we have enjoyed watching Humpback Whales in Mozambique we will prepare to sail back to Maputo. Depending on time and tides, you might be lucky enough to take some wonderful pictures as the sunset, and there’s some nice views of the Catembe bridge from the boat. Hope you have a wonderful time.