For those intrepid travellers or those that like to go to destinations that others have trouble finding on a map, Mozambique must be on their agenda. The long and bloody civil war ended in 1992 and the country is slowly recovering. With 2500 kms of pristine Indian Ocean coastline and countless coral islands as an asset, the Government is looking to Ecotourism to bring in much needed foreign currency and investment. But even more importantly, the people will give you a warm welcome that is genuine. The food, particularly seafood, is fresh and excellent. Mozambique must be the spiritual home and capital of Peri Peri sauce. The coral reefs are pristine, the bird life spectacular and the wildlife in the National Parks slowly recovering from the decimation of the war.
Before the civil war, Mozambique was considered one of the best wildlife experiences in the whole of Africa. Concerted efforts are being made to return these to their former glory, but this time with the help and collusion of the indigenous people. It is probably too soon to see the mainland as a safari destination (Tanzania and South Africa are a short flight away for this experience), but as a beach experience it has few rivals.
The history of Mozambique is one of foreign powers seeking to dominate and exploit the country. Each has left its mark, particularly in the architecture of the towns and city. It is possible in places like Ibo Island to find Arab, Indian, French, British, Dutch and Portuguese buildings in a small town. Many of the buildings are in need of renovation, giving the places an air of tropical decay. However the work has started and old skills are being relearned.
The country can be divided in to three main destinations from the tourist’s point of view:-
First Maputo, the capital, and the coast south to the South African border. The capital is full of atmosphere and charm and is well worth a day or two to explore. The old city is full of colonial style buildings with wide boulevards. Eiffel designed some of the buildings, such as the Central Railway Station. Travelling south the coast is silver sands and delightful – the only point to remember here is that is well worth avoiding this part during South African school holidays as it becomes very busy.
One thousand kms north of Maputo is the Bazaruto Archipelago. Much of this area is a National Park and the islands are just as you would have imagined Robinson Crusoe to have existed upon. The diving here is spectacular with the chance of seeing dolphins, turtles, humpback whales (at the right time of year) or even the rare dugong. Even further north the dives in the Tofu area are considered the best in the world to see manta rays and whale sharks. Most of the accommodation here is based on the islands and has been built with the aim of impacting as little as possible on the ecosystem.
Then right up in the north of Mozambique and close to the border with Tanzania is the area known as the Quirimbas. Sustainable tourism has been encouraged here bringing much needed work and money to a backwater in one of the world’s poorest countries. There is some development around Pemba on the mainland and more especially on several of the islands. These have lodges or historic building conversions of the highest quality. Much of the activities in all these locations are water based such as diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking with a guide through mangrove swamps or sports fishing. Alternatively, just doing next to nothing on a beach, with only the occasional other person on it, is very much a way of life.
There are no direct flights from the UK to Mozambique but access via Nairobi, Dar es Salaam or Johannesburg with various airlines has made these destinations a reality. This is a wonderful destination after a safari or as a holiday in its own right.
Visit before it becomes the “in” place.