Inhambane (pronounced in-yam-ban) is in the Jangamo District of Inhambane Province, Mozambique. It is a sleepy historic town some 485 km north of Maputo. It has some great colonial architecture (in a low-key sort of a way) and is considered by many to be one of the prettiest towns in Mozambique. It is situated on a peninsula overlooking a bay, and also serves as a springboard to the coastal resorts around Tofo beach (some 30km due east, along a reasonably good road).
When entering Maputo on the toll road from Swaziland or South Africa, take the EN1 highway north. The off ramp is signposted Xai Xai. The road is relatively good up to Xai-Xai (215 km north), but then deteriorates rapidly: potholes. Drive slowly, unless you are one of those people who believe that potholes are best tackled at speed, in order to "soar over" them. The bad road is only as far as Chidenguele, some 64 km north of Xai Xai. From here on, the road is in good condition having been recently rebuilt. There are still two deviations as of 28th November, 2006. The first is about 15km before Inharrime and the second is as you enter Inharrime, which is 108 km north of Chidenguela. The deviation takes you through the back roads of the town, bringing you back to the main road just before the petrol station, which has both leaded and unleaded fuel. From here, it is a further 65 km to Lindela where the road forks. The right fork takes you to Inhambane a further 37 km.
Beware of petrol attendants at stations along the way; they have been known to take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the metical. One trick to watch out for: the attendant starts filling your tank, but then the pump "blocks". He says he must restart the pump, but since this will constitute a second transaction, he encourages you to memorise the first sum displayed on the pump's meter. He then restarts the pump from zero, clocking up a second transaction. Once the tank is full, he makes a careless arithmetical error in adding up the two amounts. This adding mistake somehow seems to work out in his favor.
Be careful and pay attention to speed limits, especially when approaching and leaving small towns on route. This is prime territory for traffic police who tend to demand unreasonable spot fines. Do not overtake on solid white lines. The stretch of road between Xai Xai and Chongogda is 19 km and patrolled by a cop who preys on tourists. His trick is to use a decoy car, which travels extremely slowly up hills which have a barley distinguishable solid white line. Overtake through frustration and this cop seems to arrive from nowhere, speaks impeccable English and levies a handsome fine on you. One talks from experience as it happened in February and June 2004 and again in January 2006. If you feel you have done nothing wrong, do not give him your driver's license; argue the point and he will let you go. Remember to take 2 emergency triangles per vehicle or pay yet another spot fine if stopped and searched. Or you could take a bus from Maputo and avoid having to deal with the Mozambican police entirely.
To go further north (or south to Maputo), it is often necessary to pass through Maxixe, which lies on the other side of the inlet. While it is possible to go to Maxixe without stopping in Inhambane, if you do want to stop in Inhambane, the best way to get to the other side is the ferry. It leaves from the main dock, but please be wary of dhow sailors nearby trying to get you into one of their boats. The dhows, without motors, are slow and expensive, and sometimes don't even make it to the other side. The best way to go is by the ferry, which is quick (10 minutes at most) and cheap (25 meticals).
There are direct flights a few times a week from Maputo on LAM Mozambican Airlines. These flights run either nonstop or operate via Vilanculos, which is much farther north and is quite a circuitous routing.
LAM also operates nonstop flights from Johannesburg to Inhambane four times weekly. The flights leave JNB in the morning and return in the afternoon, making connections to and from European flights relatively short.
WATERSPORTS 969 ♒ Canoeing and Dhow trips are a wonderful and relaxing activity for all to enjoy, and not necessarily reserved for athletes.
It is also possible a visit to the Mocucune Peninsula, to chase a chicken for the grill and drink a local beer.
If you are looking for footwear for the beach, the central market has a wider range of flip-flops than the shoe shops in town.
You can buy fish and seafood from the local people next to the main road or on the beaches, but be careful when buying items that needs to be weighed with a scale; some of the local people trick tourists by jamming their scales so that the the item (fish) weighs more than the actual weight. In the end, the tourist is tricked in paying more. The advice is to take your own scale when buying food items.
One of the best places to pop in for a quick lunch and stock up on some great food...Is the Chilli Deli +258827172311 (Based at the only Filling station between Inhambane and Tofo).
The Restaurant Macaroca, located in the centre of town, serves excellent seafood and chicken dishes at reasonable prices. It's managed by a Swiss, Dani, and his Moçambiquan wife.
Pensao Pachica is a guest house located on the bay of Inhambane about 300 m to the right of the jetty when facing the bay. It boasts a quaint bayside restaurant, bar and pizza parlour. Managed by Dennis Adams, a lovely host and excellent cook. (Crab curry is a must!)
Pachica is a good place with a variety of people to meet and greet. The Bar has a decent amount of stock with good variety, and Saturday is pizza day (some of the best pizza Moz has to offer). You are normally also lucky enough to meet a few people who are happy to share a few travel stories, and a beer.
Many people stay at one of the many resorts located on the beach. These are lovely and inexpensive by world standards; however, they are culturally isolating. 95% of the guests will be white visitors largely from South Africa and Europe.