I met Damion Jiji in Tofo’s market. He was trying his best to sell me a tablecloth I liked, but I had other plans for my money. We needed lunch and eating out in Mozambique can be pricey. When Damion gave up on the tablecloth and tried to sell me a dhow trip, we struck a deal: If he took me to a dhow that I could photograph, I would help him market his business. He and his friend and business partner Victor Giamba happily agreed.
Both in their early twenties, they are energetic entrepeneurs who run their fledgling tourism business from a liquor stall in Tofo market. Damian often refers to it as “The Office”. The pair of them juggle roles as if it’s the most natural thing to do. Victor focuses on private trips in his minibus and when Damion is not playing tour guide, he runs the liquor stall and sells sarongs and linen to the tourist trade. They’re an interesting team – Victor is charismatic and talkative while Damian is a little more serious and a fountain of local knowledge.
Damion (left) and Victor
What’s novel about their tours is that you get to experience life as it really is in this part of southern Mozambique – simple and laid back. In a small village on the way from Barra Lodge we met the village baker as he was loading dough into a wood-burning oven in a large grass hut. In another village children were playing soccer on a dusty field while their mothers went about the business of washing, cleaning and cooking. Chickens and ducks trundled along, while in a grass pen two piglets snuffled through a pile of lettuce leaves.
On their Inhambane City Tour you’ll see museums, old and new mosques and churches and visit the central market. There’s the added option of sailing on a dhow in the bay. On other tours like the Mocucune Sail and Walk you’ll visit schools and local village and walk in the mangroves, followed by lunch on the beach of local food sourced from the local market.
Their flagship tour is the Two Island Trip. From the waters off Barra Lodge you sail by dhow to Pansy Island 20 minutes away where you can snorkel, swim with starfish, butterfish, angelfish and trumpetfish and collect the famous Pansy shells to take home. Later you sail to nearby Survivor Island with its 2000 inhabitants where you walk to the local village visiting the schools and small hospital and eat a traditional lunch.
For more information mail Victor at email@example.com.