PART 2: TOFO TO VILANCULOS, MOZAMBIQUE He's a conservationist, shark behaviourist, public speaker, inventor, documentary maker and extreme adventurer. We join “Sharkman” Mike Rutzen on the second leg of his overland African adventure through South Africa and Mozambique with his new Land Cruiser, Mojo. E xtreme adventurer and conservationist Mike Rutzen has a love for the African continent, which is why he splits his time between Gansbaai in the Western Cape and Vista Bonita, his peaceful traditional Mozambican retreat perched atop a large sand dune on the coast at Praia do Tofo. Here he spends his days exploring new roads, traversing wetlands and entertaining family and friends with his exuberant cooking in the tranquillity of his tropical seaside garden. He has invited me to join him on his maiden adventure with his new Land Cruiser, dubbed Mojo, and it is in Mozambique that we continue the journey. Mike bought his house six years ago when he came upon Tofo on a previous adventure and fell in love with the peaceful WORDS BY MARAIKA VAN WESSEM 49 TRAVELZONE LEFT: In Mozambique, life slows down and the easy rhythm of the people rubs off on visitors. locale, made famous for its many whale sharks and manta rays. “When I bought the house, it was a humble fishing shack that swayed in the wind,” recalls Mike. “Since then I have rebuilt it out and up and cultivated many extremely endangered plant species, including cycads. It’s my ‘green oasis’ in the dunes,” he says proudly as we take in his lush garden. “Let’s grab lunch,” he grins, and we follow him to Mojo, cooler box in hand. We drive over dunes, through villages and around palm trees until we pull Mojo up on a beach on the western corner of the Inhambane estuary. “Now we wait!” he says looking out to the estuary, eyes sparkling in anticipation. After some time, the prawning families emerge from the water with bulging buckets atop their heads and move to the beach to sell their catch. This process can become quite chaotic with lots of haggling, but we leave with our prize, five kilograms of fresh prawns, at a fraction of city prices. Although the prawning business is clearly thriving, the practice has been considered quite dangerous recently, with a number of negative shark encounters that have led to the subsequent culling of the resident bull sharks of the estuary. After the tourism and hospitality industry baulked at this practice, the Mozambican government made contact with Mike for advice on managing the problem.
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