The traditional safaris in Africa were amazing, but one of the most unique experiences I had was in Mozambique. Several people recommended swimming with dolphins Ponta Do Ouro as a tour that cannot be missed. I booked a tour to Ponta Do Ouro with All Out Africa as I had such a great experience with them in Kruger National Park. My good friend Sipho, who was lead guide in Kruger, was my tour guide again. The dream team was re-united, and he drove me from Mbabane, Eswatini to Ponta Do Ouro, Mozambique.
Related: Kruger National Park all out amazing
First adventure was getting a tourist visa to enter Mozambique
Not many tourists enter Mozambique through Eswatini, so this was pretty easy. There was no one in line before me. An intimidating man in army uniform asked me why I wanted to come to Mozambique. He seemed genuinely perplexed. I told him I wanted to see and swim with dolphins and enjoy the beach. The fee was $50.00 for the visa. Even though I was the only one in line, I had to wait a couple of hours as their computer systems went down. Once they were back up, I got my visa and proceeded into Mozambique. The guards at the gate shagged me down for another $5.00 to open the gate. Scams are fortunately cheap in Africa.
The road to Ponta Do Ouro was paved all the way until you get to town. Ponta Do Ouro is such a beach town that all the roads in town are sand. There is a stretch of pavement on the outskirts of town, but as soon as you get into the center the pavement ends and it is all sand. You need four-wheel drive, a 4X4, or some type of all terrain vehicle to drive in town and points outside.
Early morning departure for swimming with dolphins Ponta Do Ouro tour
I walked to the Dolphin Encounter Research Center to start my tour. The center was founded by Angie Gullan in 1995. It is a delicate balance to study and protect the dolphins and at the same time offer tours for the public to see them and swim with them. The Dolphin Center does this with remarkable aplomb. Guests are first shown an informative video about the dolphins and the history of the center. We were instructed on what not to do. Basically, the rules were to stay with Angie and follow her lead and guidance while out on the ocean. We were not allowed to approach, chase, or touch the dolphins.
Getting in the boat was the most adventurous part
The boat is a long motorboat with a round flotation tube that encompasses the perimeter of the boat. Passengers and crew alike needed to push the boat out into the water and then get in over the round flotation devices. This was not an easy task even with a rope that hooked on to the side halfway up. Fortunately, one of the dudes on the boat lent a hand to help us get over the hump and into the boat. Then the captain had to point the bow of the boat into the waves and we had to ride the waves until we were out of the surf zone. We all had to wear flotation devices until we were out of the surf zone as that was the most dangerous part. Once we cleared the surf, it was smooth sailing.
Swimming with dolphins Ponta Do Ouro
Once we cleared the surf, we cruised up and down the protected cove looking for bottlenose dolphins. It did not take long before we saw some fins breaching the water. Angie would then lead us into the water with our snorkel gear. She would approach the dolphins and cautiously look for signs that they were agreeable for our company. If they showed any annoyance or aggression towards our presence, it was back in the boat. The first couple of times we approached a pod, they swam away.
No sure things with animal safaris
It is important to note that this was an ocean safari with wild animals. Wild animals are unpredictable as to whether they will even be seen let alone what they will do once they are seen. There is no such thing as a sure thing safari when it comes to wild animals. Whenever I am on a safari, and we see the intended object, I am extremely happy as I know there are not guarantees.
Boat cruise was worth the price of admission
Ponta Do Ouro was without a doubt the most beautiful beach I have ever laid eyes on. When I first walked out to look at the Indian Ocean from my beachfront hotel, I was awestruck at the scenery and the fact that hardly anyone was here. More people started to come to the beach as we approached the weekend, but still it was so pristine, clean, and gorgeous. The morning boat tour up and down the beach was worth the price of admission itself. I was also awestruck at how wild the Indian Ocean is compared to our Atlantic and Pacific Ocean stretches in America.
Time appeared to be running out
The tour lasts around two hours, but there is some flexibility here. If no dolphins are found or if the dolphins swim away, they will continue to look for other pods. We had at least three attempts to get in the water with a pod that were unsuccessful. Each one took time as we had to find them, then get our gear on and go swimming. Once it was deemed unsuccessful, then we had to swim back to the boat and repeat. After three or four unsuccessful swims, I was afraid we might not have success. On one of the unsuccessful attempts, we did see the dolphins; however, I was hoping for a close enough encounter to get some good GoPro footage. Even if we did not, I was happy with just seeing them from the boat and cruising around the beautiful area.
Swimming with dolphins Ponta Do Ouro success
The fourth time turned out to be the charm. We entered the water and a pod of curious dolphins swam right towards us and under us. It was perhaps the most amazing twenty seconds of my life, and I got it on GoPro. I got back in the boat, and Angie asked if everyone got a good look. We all confirmed that we did. She was quite glad that we were all happy with the experience. Angie was very passionate about the dolphins and really wanted to share her love of them with her guests. I was really impressed with her professionalism.
There she blows, humpback whale sighting
I took off my mask and was thinking to myself what a wonderful experience it was. Then, the captain yelled “whale,” immediately after I took my mask off. I have never seen a whale, so I was having two of the most intense natural experiences of my life in the matter of minutes. It got even better as it was a humpback whale with a calf. We spent the next five or ten minutes maneuvering to get a better view while maintaining a respectful distance to not disturb these incredible creatures. The captain did a masterful job, and I got some great pictures and videos of this experience.
Return to the Dolphin Center
We returned back to the Dolphin Center with big smiles after a successful ocean safari. There was a couple next to me that signed up for the next day. I wish I would have done the same as it was so worth it. My tour cost $43.00, so it was incredibly affordable for the experience rendered. Swimming with Mozambique dolphins is an experience that cannot be missed if you find yourself in the vicinity of Mozambique.
For more information, check out the Dolphin Encounters website.