Written by: Jaii Fredregill
Destination: Ponta do Ouro, Mazambique
Visited: August 2019
We did not find a lot of recent information on getting to Ponta do Ouro from Maputo when we were traveling in Mozambique, so we are hoping that posting this will be helpful to other travelers. It is good to note the South African Rand is widely used in Mozambique. Keep this in mind when negotiating, and make sure you are clear on which currency you are discussing at the beginning of negotiations, because 1 ZAR is about 4 MZN, so a misunderstanding can be costly. We found the majority of locals in Mozambique were not out to rip us off and were pretty fair with prices, but, of course, there are some people who will absolutely gouge a tourist.
The Ponta do Ouro market is located at the end of the paved road. Buses and chapas pick up across the street from this market.
Until recently there was only a dirt road covered in potholes that connected Maputo and Ponta do Ouro. Now there is a nice paved road that will take you all the way to town, so travel has become much easier and faster. Please note, the roads in town are currently still sand, making backpacks much easier to manage than rolling suitcases. You can make arrangements with some hotels for pick up near the local market where the pavement ends, but you might want to do this before you pack.
Many visitors, especially those living in Maputo or nearby South Africa, drive themselves to Ponta do Ouro. You can rent a car in Mozambique, but we found that for just two people it was a bit expensive. Driving from Maputo to Tofo Beach takes about 2-hours.
The market is where you can find the best prices in town on most things. Backpackers take note - There is a small restaurant directly behind Fernando's bar in the market that serves excellent home cooked meals for much less than the same meals found at restaurants along the sandy road. They also have great seafood.
Hiring a driver is a popular option for groups of 2 or 4 people, because it’s easy. Just about any taxi driver will take you but it’s not cheap. Drivers were charging around 2000 MZN per person when we were in town. This rate was probably a lot more realistic before the road was paved, but it’s a bit high now.
You don’t have to gouge the drivers, but when negotiating it’s helpful to let them know that you know the road is paved and the drive takes no more than 2 hours.
A very subdued afternoon image of Junta with a chapa shown on the far left. Buses to and from Ponta do Ouro drop off on the main road outside of Junta.
Chapas start early in the morning from Junta and do not leave until they are full. However, there are regular chapas to and from Maputo to Ponta do Ouro all day. They will drop you at the end of the paved road in front of the market. This is also where they leave from when you want to go back to Junta, or you can wave them down if you see them along the way. Chapas do not stop as frequently as the buses, and they cost the same (150 MZN per person). They are a little faster than the bus but not as comfortable.
The big yellow bus we took from Ponta do Ouro to Maputo.
The cheapest, most comfortable way to travel from Maputo to Ponta do Ouro is to take a local bus. The price is only 150 MZN and the seats are made for adult sized butts. Buses do get really packed, and they do not have air conditioning. They also stop frequently to load and unload passengers and their cargo. If you want a seat, figure out which bus you want and get there early before it fills up. The ride from Ponta do Ouro to Maputo took around 3 hours.
We only took the bus one-way, from Ponta do Ouro to Maputo. Bus departure and arrival times are a little loose in Mozambique, but we saw the big yellow buses regularly between 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. There are earlier and later buses. The drivers on the buses gave us the most accurate information when we asked them for scheduling details, but, you know, it felt a little like I had told them to guess the number between 1 and twelve I was picturing in my mind when I asked for the times. In the end, we wanted to leave no later than 2:00 p.m., so we went into town for breakfast and got on the 11:00 a.m. bus that came once we were done. The seats on that bus were nearly full when we finally departed at 11:45 a.m.
This bus to Maputo will have a sign in the window for Junta, but it does not pull into the Junta bus depot, it drops off on the main road just outside of Junta. The driver does not call out the stops. Luckily, I usually download the map of where I am going on my Google maps app, so I was following the GPS when we got to Maputo and saw Junta on my map in time for us to climb over everyone and get off the bus – seriously, you can’t be shy on a packed bus.
A very friendly grouper we met while scuba diving in Ponta do Ouro.
I recommend downloading maps when traveling. If you haven’t done it before, it’s very easy. Open Google maps on your phone when you are online, type in the city map you want and load it. Then clear the city and type “OK Maps.” The app will ask if you want to download this map for offline viewing, click yes and let it download. This seems to be more reliable on iPhones.
To get the bus to Ponta do Ouro, my guess is you will need to catch it on this main road near the Junta depot as well, so you will probably have to go a little early and ask a local where exactly it picks up. The locals I met near Junta were not that friendly, but there are always women selling snacks and water, so just buy something and ask the ladies to point out the bus stop.
If you are traveling to Ponta do Ouro for diving, check out our article Scuba Diving in Ponta do Ouro.