Mozambique is mainly known for its endless beaches, tropical island archipelagos and crystal clear, turquoise waters, ideal for snorkelling and diving.
The main tourist areas are around Inhambane, Vilanculos and Pemba (all accessible by air from the capital Maputo and from Johannesburg in South Africa), with the Bazaruto and the Quirimba Archipelagos offering the most exclusive island accommodation, ideal for honeymooners!
So far Mozambique has not been known as a safari destination, but this might change thanks to the large conservation project taking place in the Gorongosa National Park.
Maputo, the capital and largest city of Mozambique is situated at the mouth of the Santo River, only 90 km from the border with South Africa. It is a vibrant and bustling city, with decent beaches and wonderful seafood restaurants. The Portuguese influence is still to be noticed everywhere. People are generally out and about in the streets, walking, driving and getting on with life. The vibe is healthy and active, with little begging and lots of street vendors and markets. There are few tourists to be seen and at times the atmosphere is as much South American as African. Buildings range from old colonial palaces to new high-rise constructions, but the dominant architecture consists of Stalinist-looking concrete-walled boxes, generally with badly eroded paint and rusty security bars. Fortunately, these tend to fade into the background, and there are enough buildings with old charm and lush enough gardens (cycads, coleus, flamboyant, jacaranda, bouganvillea, etc.) to give a pleasing if shabby feel.
Accommodation ranges from superb 5-star hotels (the Polana must be the favourite) and small, inexpensive guesthouses.
Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos
The Bazaruto Archipelago, just off the coast of Vilanculos, consists of five islands, the largest being Bazaruto, all boasting exceptional coral reefs and a great diversity of marine life. This is the ultimate romantic destination where you can enjoy endless strolls along the white sandy beaches, champagne picnics and snorkelling over warm azure coral reefs and for the more energetic scuba diving, dune boarding and horse riding. You can also visit the deserted Pansy Island, a breeding ground for the fragile pansy shell.
Exclusive island resorts like Indigo Bay and Azura Benguerra are clear favourites for honeymooners.
The Quirimbas Archipelago has some 32 coral islands loosely grouped off the coast of Pemba (where you can fly to from Maputo and Johannesburg) in the most northerly province. The Quirimbas have enormous historical and cultural value with a combination of Arabian, Portuguese and African influences as in the past it was a significant trading area. The declaration of this area as a conservation site has allowed it to remain largely untouched by development, which is what makes this area such a paradise. The preservation of parts of this Archipelago means that the extensive reefs are bursting with marine life; the clear blue of the ocean gives snorkelers a chance to see hundreds of reef fish that have been identified in the area. Divers will also be able to see numerous species of shark, dolphin, big game fish and even turtles that nest on the beaches.
The Qurimbas are not as easily accessible as the Bazaruto Island, but the longer trip is well worth the while: the ultimate barefoot luxury is awaiting you at island resorts like Azura Quilalea Private Island.
Ponta Mamoli is only 25 km from the border to Kwa Zulu Natal / South Africa and a wonderful beach destination. Because of its proximity to South Africa, it can be ideally combined with a safari experience in one of the Kwa Zulu Natal Big 5 safari reserves, our favourite being Phinda.
A new resort, White Pearl, is the perfect destination for honeymooners and for people, who just want to get away from everything and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful coastline of Maputaland.
Ponta Mamoli can be accessed by road from Maputo, or also from Northern Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa, through the border post at Kosi Bay. The roads are not good, though, and you will need a 4×4 vehicle. Otherwise, there are light aircraft transfers available from Maputo.
Gorongosa National Park
At the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley in Mozambique lies Gorongosa National Park, an area of unparalleled nature diversity. The area boasts an amazing diversity of landscapes to experience, Lake Urema and its networking rivers, as well as a towering mountain covered in lush rainforest and pristine waterfalls.
Gorongosa is a place of incredible richness and diversity, referred to as the “Serengeti of the South” Over millions of years, the animal and plant-life of Gorongosa have been continually evolving to produce the amazing kaleidoscope of life seen today and the abundance of plant species are truly unique.
A safari to Gorongosa will show you what happens when nature is given a chance to rebound. Explore the park on foot, by vehicle or by boat. The park is home to significant populations of oribi, reedbuck, impala, waterbuck, warthog, sable and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. Predators are recovering slowly with a number of prides spotted on a daily basis. Large herbivores are being introduced via the Gorongosa Wildlife Sanctuary and the numbers are soon to be raised.
The lakes have ample hippo and crocodile and in the floodplains and surrounding forests, zebra, kudu, monkeys and baboons. Birding at Gorongosa is exquisite with large quantities of special and endemic birds.
Gorongosa National park can be accessed by light aircraft or road transfer from Beira.