The Hedonist: Maputo
What to see and where to be seen
Saturday 08 January 2011
"Maputo? Where in God's name is Maputo?" was the first question my best man asked. "Why the hell do you want to go out there?" Being a travel publisher is a bit of a double-edged sword. The question I had been asking myself for a while is where I should go for the traditional stag weekend. I couldn't face traipsing around the bars of Prague with 15 boys in tow acting like lager louts; I had to come up with somewhere a bit different.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique, one of sub-Saharan Africa's success stories. Since the end of one of the continent's most horrific civil wars, which ran from 1977 to 1994, the economy has been booming and the political situation has been stable. Maputo has expanded rapidly and now resembles more of a first-world metropolis than a third-world colonial capital.
It also benefits from a beach frontage that stretches from the port out along the ocean and is liberally scattered with great bars and restaurants.
Arriving in the heat of the day we decided that the most sensible course of action was to head out for lunch and enjoy Mozambique's signature meal – prawns and chicken piri piri. Hailing a couple of taxis that looked as if they had taken the full brunt of the war, we bumped our way through the city to go and eat at Costa do Sol (00 258 21 450 115) – a symbol of colonial Maputo that overlooks the sea 4km to the north of the city.
This low-key Portuguese restaurant serves up some of the best seafood Maputo has to offer. Within minutes mountains of grilled prawns and spicy chicken were placed on the table alongside icy bottles of local Laurentina lager to wash it all down. It was simple and delicious – and we stayed put for hours enjoying the sunshine and the company of a jovial crowd of diners.
Then, after braving the sea for a cooling dip, we decided to head off and find our hotel. The Pestana Rovuma (00 258 21 305 000; pestana.com) is part of a Portuguese chain predominantly aimed at the business crowd, but it provides reasonably stylish rooms that mix the comforts and mod-cons of an European hotel with local African touches. Perfect for some soothing home comforts and black-out curtains when faced with the horns of a hangover.
After a quick nap to prepare us for the rigours of the night ahead we headed out to dinner at Mundo's (00 258 21 494 080) on Avenue Julius Nyerere, where a bustling mix of locals and ex-pats watch sports on a multitude of screens and tuck into a menu of pizza, burgers and salads.
Then it was out into the very dark Maputo night – again we jumped into rickety old cabs to head back towards the beachfront and some of the city's livelier clubs. Having negotiated a couple of roadblocks, predominantly manned by bored-looking policemen, we finally reached Coconuts (00 258 21 322 217) on Avenue Marginal Sommerschield. Spread across two floors, the club has a huge outdoor space for daytime drinking, while inside a huge dance floor and stage are flanked by Maputo's young and beautiful grinding to European house tunes.
Having taught Africa how to dance like thirtysomething white men, the only thing to do was take a break and kick back in the galleried bar. Fortified by shots of Jaegermeister and thumping rhythms, we managed to stay until the first tendrils of dawn came creeping in from outside before we threw in the towel and headed home to rest our weary heads.
After that there was only one thing we could really do and that was act our age – so after a few hours' sleep we hired a boat to drive us out to Inhaca, an island an hour off the coast of Maputo, and checked in to the Pestana Inhaca (00 258 21 305 000; pestana.com) to spend three days licking our wounds, diving and fishing surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches and spectacular island scenery.
Tremayne Carew Pole is the publisher of A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2), a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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