Ilha das Cobras

The right place at the right tides

Ilha Blue’s overnight dhow trips to a small island called Ilha das Cobras, off the coast of the wonderfully bizarre Ilha do Mocambique, only happen for a few days of the month – when the tide is right.

Ilha das Cobras is home to a tidal lagoon; a complex series of caverns that fill and empty during the course of the day. Upon arrival on the island, we left our faithful chef Ayuba to rustle up some grub while we went to frolick in the then shallow-ish lagoon, mostly filled with strange orange-yellow jellyfish (which don’t sting, Gail assured me.) We were welcomed back at the campsite with an array of exquisite food – including fresh rocket! – which filled my vegetarian tummy. Other meals through the course of the trip included spicy bean stew, grilled linefish which was probably caught within an hour of being put in the grill, matapa siri siri – un-mouthwateringly translated as “local beach weed” on some menus, but certainly a local delicacy – with coconut rice, and an abundance of piri piri, peanut butter and fresh portugese rolls. For breakfast we enjoyed fresh fruit, nutty muesli and spiced coffee.

Our tents were set up for us on the beach. And there was marvellous attention to detail in the campsite: our meals were served on a gorgeous table made of a piece of an old ship, there were hot-coal clay-bowl heaters to keep us warm while we waited for dinner after sunset, and nearly every piece of equipment appeared carefully chosen to not offend a natural sort of aesthetic. Shortly after dinner the sky filled itself with stars, and we even got to see a coconut crab!

On day two we got to appreciate the lagoon at its best; we tried to navigate the spiky coral passageways on a kayak, but some caverns demanded that we abandon ship and employ some entry-level caving skills.

One of the guides was a fisherman and had an almost superhuman ability to spot animals. Without a language in common, I got a tour of the local marine life: from sea cucumbers to snakes (portugese: ‘cobras’) to dolphins to turtles.

I feel overwhelmingly fortunate for having been at the right place at the right tides, and having had the opportunity to enjoy what was an absolute highlight of my time in Mozambique.

Yumbilina – Durban, South Africa

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