Ponte Malongane

I have just returned from five days at Ponte Malongane, a village in the most southern tip of Mozambique, just across the border from Kosi Bay in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Long standing family friends, Dave and Mon Condy, have a syndicated beach house there which is built on top of a ridge of sand dunes just north of Ponte Malongane. The height provides a spectacular view of the beach and sea. We spent a few happy days with old Zimbabwean friends, Simon Ford and Chris Franklin, both of whom I had not seen for over 25 years.

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

– G. Randolf

The border crossing gives you an “authentic African experience” – sometimes shambolic, sometimes easy and always with little or no information as to where to go and what steps you need to take and forms you need to fill in. Patience and a relaxed attitude are needed. To add to the “authentic African experience” once you have managed to negotiate your way through the border, the road to Ponte Malongane is a sand track, in fact, many sand tracks all going to the same place. The sand is very thick, so a 4×4 is needed, which is probably why there are so many sand tracks. The next image shows the sand tracks which traverse the 15, or so, kilometres over the dunes to Ponte Malongane.

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Once at Ponte Malongane, the beaches are magnificent. There are still relatively few people with homes there but that is changing fast. The next image was taken on the beach below Dave and Mon’s place, while the tide was out, looking north towards Maputo.

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“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.”

— Sandy Gingras

Early in the morning is the best time on the beach because the wind is light. Later in the day the wind whips up the sea spray which starts to coat your lens and camera. It is also a time when very few people are on the beach. It is peaceful with beautiful soft light in watercolour tones. To get onto the beach you need to walk down a few stairs.

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A number of the beach houses have stairs down from the top of the dunes to the beach, which makes access considerably easier.

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Once on the beach there is much to photograph.

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“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”

 -Anonymous

When the tide is out, shallow pools of water form. Here ripples, the remains of waves which broke on their way up the beach, create interesting patterns when the light interacts with the moving water.

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An infinite variety of patterns are formed by the moving water in these shallow tidal pools.

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The next image was taken on the beach looking south towards the ridge at Ponte Malongane. The well-known Dive Centre is just below that ridge. Ponte Malongane is known for Pinnacle Point which is considered one of the top 10 dive spots in the world, or so the divers say.

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Up and down the beach there are many Ghost Crabs all operating just at the water line. They keep a healthy 20 metres distance and you will struggle to get closer. I managed to get a shot of this chap only because I saw him go down a hole and waited for him to re-emerge. Beautiful colours and “eyes out on stalks”. These predators are known to catch and feed on turtle hatchlings as the crawl the gauntlet from their hatching nest to the sea. At this time of the year, the Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles are coming ashore to lay their eggs. They lumber up the shore any time from 20h00 to 04h00 to lay their eggs in batches of 120 at a time. Unfortunately, we did not see any – mother nature reveals herself at her pace!.

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We were lucky enough to go out with Angie and Mitch who run the Dolphin Encounters Research Centre to observe and swim with Dolphins. We only briefly saw a small pod and they did not hang around. They swim effortlessly at about eight kilometres per hour, so it is almost impossible to keep up with them while your are in the water.

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We did not see the whales, although  they had been seen off the beach in the days before, so I decided to take a shot of a solitary yacht out at sea well beyond the breakers. It was early morning and I was shooting directly into the easterly rising sun. Instead of trying to correct my exposure value (EV), I let the camera automatically try to correct back to 18% gray. It created a moody and more interesting effect.

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“The sea! the sea! the open sea!, The blue, the fresh, the ever free!”

 -Bryan W. Procter

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To get back to the beach house there are walkways through the indigenous forest. While walking through the forest I could hear many birds but saw almost none.

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Back at the beach house the view was impressive, as you can see from the front door.

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From the deck in front of the beach house, we watched an intrepid kite surfer having an absolute “gas” flying in and off shore in front of us. There was a steady northerly wind which was ideal for him.

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In the indigenous forest we found this beautiful small emerald-green Tree Frog. It was sitting under an overhanging leaf, presumably for protection.

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 A view looking south at Ponte Malongane at dusk, bathed in soft evening pinks and blues, with a gentle breeze – sublime.

“The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

-Jacques Cousteau

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In the evenings, we sat out on the deck on the opposite side of the beach house to the sea looking west out over the canopy of the indigenous forest at Lake Sugi and the illuminated evening sky. Discussions were lively and many stories shared, over a glass of wine, among long-standing friends (over fifty years in most cases) watching the day give way to the evening – “what a wonderful life”.

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Africa has such a wealth of natural heritage with inspiring landscapes and an expansive collection of wildlife, which in most instances counteracts the human folly.

“As you grow up

make sure you have…

more dreams than memories

more opportunities than chances

more hard work than luck and

more friends than acquaintances.

May you have the very best life.”

Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.

Have fun

Mike

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