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Santa Maria Peninsula, Maputo Elephant Reserve
It currently costs R70 pp and R70 per vehicle to enter the Reserve. Please keep your receipt as it will be requested on the way out. You only pay one way unless you have lost your receipt.
Please drive very slowly in the Reserve - as well as elephants there are also other vehicles around the often overgrown bends on the single track. Its amazing how vehicles just speed along these roads with nobody thinking a car is just around the corner and there have been a few accidents lately. You do need a 4x4 to drive in the Reserve and to reach Santa Maria. It is wonderful to drive early in the morning when the animals are moving around. In the heat of the day they are lying in shady thickets. A lovely place to stop for a picnic is at Lake Mundi. Obviously - please don't swim - there are crocodiles in all the lakes.
Travellers often come to the beautiful Maputo Elephant Reserve expecting to find accommodation and restaurants. There are none yet.
Once through the Reserve, it is an hour to Santa Maria village - the small shops have basic items like cooking oil, tinfood etc. But nothing much and not always. The Peninsula is beautiful and from Santa Maria you can hire a dhow (make sure there's enough petrol to get you back) to take you to Inhaca island where the seafood at Karaoke Bar (behind the hotel) is absolutely delicious. You can stay on the island (though the hotel charges in USD$) or there is a camp 5km from Santa Maria village on the Peninsula - Ponta Torres Camp where they offer self-catering accommodation in safari tents. Prices are reasonable, accommodation is clean, kitchen is rustic. There is electricity, no aircons, but fans. They also offer deep-sea fishing and trips to Inhaca island. Just a 5min boat trip from the Camp or 45 min from the Hotel is a marine sanctuary wich has the most amazing snorkelling. You pay USD$5 or ZAR20 for the whole day per person. Its really really beautiful. If you stay at the hotel on the island there is a company called Gone Fishing to transfer you to the snorkelling place. Sunsets from there over the bay are absolutely amazing - and at full moon, the sun is going down in the west and the moon rising over the sea in the east.
This is an absolutely unspoilt part of southern Mozambique - beaches are Santa Maria are practically deserted out of season and even in season not many people.
Be warned - there was a person selling fake permits to drive up the beach from Ponta do'Ouro - this is completely illegal and the police catch you the other side and fine you in the region of USD$500.