1. Welcome to Mozambique
Mozambique offers the travelers an exciting and diverse blend of different cultures: the Portuguese outposts, the Mwenu Mutapa Kingdom, and the Mozambique Island provide a great insight of the different influences seen in Mozambique. Arabic dhows and modern speedboats can be observed on the turquoise blue Indian Ocean water where the scuba diving excursions rival the world’s best.
The Gorongose National Park, Maputo Elephant Reserve, Bazaruto National Park and the Niassa Reserve are in the process of being rehabilitated. Tropical island getaways like Magaruque, Benguerra and Bazaruto provide seclusion, tranquility, and luxury accommodation in lodges, hotels and resorts. Excellent diving, fishing as well as bird watching areas can be found here.
Whether the visitor to Mozambique is visiting the endless sandy beaches or the fantastic diving sites, one will discover a country filled with different sights and soothing sounds of Africa.
The most famous top attractions in Mozambique are:
The Bazaruto Archipelago awaits the visitor with its luxury hotels, loges and resorts
Maputaland where migrating elephants can be seen and dives can be done with dolphines
Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique Island): 16th century Portuguese fortress
Pomene Beach: sandy beaches, tidal pools, caves
Mozambique borders on South Africa and Swaziland to the south, Zimbabwe to the west and Zambia and Malawi in the northwest. The Ruvuma River is the natural border with Tanzania. The Indian Ocean’s Mozambique Channel features a magnificent coastline, which is over 2500 km long.
The extensive, well-treed savanna of the Mozambican Plain characterizes the southern part of Mozambique. The Mozambican Plateau dominates the central and northern regions where rugged highlands are cut by river valleys. Peaks such as Binga and Gorongosa in Manica, Chiperone in Zambezia, Namuli in Nampula and Malema in Nissa are located. The most popular holiday destinations in Mozambique are located along the coastline or on the beautiful islands such as Inhaca and the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Seas and Shores of Mozambique
Over 1200 species of fish can be found in the coastal waters of the warm Indian Ocean in Mozambique. Kingfish, mackerel and tuna are attracted to the nourishment provided by the corals and their sea life. In regards to the variety of marine organisms, Mozambique’s reefs are on par with Australia’s magnificent Great Barrier Reef. The coastal reefs in Mozambique are less crowded and commercialized. South of the Save River, the coast in Mozambique is characterized by a string of inland lakes, which are not connected by rivers and cut off from the sea by dunes, which are covered with vegetation.
Climate of Mozambique
The two main factors, which influence the weather in Mozambique, are the warm Indian Ocean current, which moves south from the equator and the altitude of the Mozambican Plateau. The temperatures along the coast and in the lower lying areas of the plain and the Zambezi valley increase as one moves further north.
Mozambique experiences rain mainly during the months November to April, while August is the driest month in most areas. The wettest provinces in Mozambique are Niassa and Cabo Delgado, the driest part of the country is Pafuri which is situated in the Gaza Province where the average annual precipitation rarely reaches 300mm.
Mozambique's History in brief
2000BC / Nomadic hunter and gatherers inhabit the region
200BC - AD300 / Bantu tribes displace indigenous people
300 / Persian – Arab communities are established
1497.98 / Da Gama land at Mozambique on his way to India
1507.15 / The Portuguese erect a fort on Ilha de Mozambique
1510 / Rise of the Monomotapa myth
1570.1600 / Portuguese traders attacked along the Zambezi River
1891 / Anglo-Portuguese treaty defines colonial borders
1933 / Mozambique becomes a de jure province of Portugal
1974 / Colonial territories ceded by Socialist junta in Portugal
1975 / Flag of independent Mozambique raised in Maputo
1992 / Renamo and Frelimo sign peace treaty in Rome
1994 / Frelimo wins the elections in Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano is President
1998 / Second democratic elections: Renamo defeated and Chiassano remains president
The People in Mozambique
Of the eight major tribal groups who live in Mozambique the Tsonga dominate the south, the Shona and Zambezi Valley tribes the central region and the Yao and Makua-Lomwe live in the northern regions of Mozambique.
Of the 17 more important ethnic languages spoken in Mozambique, the most common languages in Mozambique are: Shangaan, Tswa and Ronga, Shona, Sena, Nyanja, Makua, Lomwe, Chuabo, Yao and Makonde as well as Swahili. Portuguese was and still remains in the everyday language of commerce and technology. The Frelimo government declared Portuguese to be the country’s official language.
The urbanized population in Mozambique has adopted Catholicism in Mozambique, which is most common in the South. Further north Islam becomes more dominant.
2. Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city
With its subtropical climate, its beautiful sheltered bay and its unique blend of Portuguese architecture, Maputo has retained much of its colonial atmosphere. Modeled on the 'Portuguese harbor cities such as Lisbon and Porto, Maputo’s wide avenues are lined with pavements inlaid with attractive black and white stone mosaics.
Attractions in Maputo include:
Feira Popular: funfair complex with over 30 pubs, restaurants and nightclubs
Mercado Xipamanine: exotic market in Mafalala where one can buy anything
Avenida da Marginal: one can walk along the promendade where vendors exhibit their items
Catembe: the visitor can take the ferry across the bay in Maputo, Mozambique, to view the city’s skyline
Kowhana: local nightclub in Mafalala where lambada is being danced until the early mornings.
The different markets in Maputo attract the locals as well as the international visitors:
Mercado Central: frozen fish, Nampula cashews, Inhambane baskets
Mercado Xipamanine: located in the heart of the Mafalala district; bizarre array of traditional medicines
Bazar Artesanato: toys and Makonde sculptures are available here
Mercado Janet: local fruit and vegetables
Bazar do Peize: fish market.
3. The Lagoon Coast of Mozambique
Mozambique’s coastal lakes stretch for 500km from Ponta do Ouro in the south to Inhaarime in the north. Many lagoons found in this coastal region of Mozambique have been cut off from the ocean by some of the world’s tallest forested sand dunes. Some estuaries formed by the Tembe, Maputo and Umbeluzi rivers are open to the sea providing protected spawning grounds for the area’s fish species.
This area of tropical coastline provides the visitor with many different activities: finding the tranquility on the shores of the lake, casting for game fish, paddling a canoe, exploring the coral reefs, self drive safari in the Maputo Elephant reserve, enjoying the idyllic beach.
Over 300 bird species can be found here from eagles to albatrosses.
The Lagoon Coast hosts the following attractions:
Diving: coral reefs stretch for 500km
Swimming with turtles off the Maputaland coast
Shark diving off Ponta do Ouro
Big game fishing at Xai-Xai and Ponta Zavora
Canoeing along the primeval Incomati river estuary
Maputo Elephant Reserve.
Inhaca Island ( Ilha da Inhaca)
Inhaca Island is situated about 24 km from Maputo. Inhaca was most probably first sighted by Europeans in 1502 when Vasco da Gama undertook his epic voyage around the cape of good Hope in search of King Solomon’s legendary mines. Inhaca’s varied habitat attracts a great number of birds including Caspian and lesser crested terns, lesser blackbacked gulls, white chinned petrels, albatrosses, bush shrike, grey waxbill, trumpeter hornbill and yellowspotted nicator.
Maputaland is referred to being the region that was controlled by Chief Maputa during the early 19th century. Maputaland stretches from the southern shore of Maputo Bay down into South Africa as far south as Lake St Lucia. Amongst Maputaland’s tourist destinations are Pontas Dobela, Malongane and do Ouro. The Maputaland ecosystem is unique in southern Africa with its plains, swamps, freshwater lakes and dune forests. Ranging n depth from 4 to 12 meters, the brightly colored soft corals and stony corals in the waters off Maputaland provide a refuge for hundreds of species of colorful fish and crustacea. Whale sharks, which are completely harmless, frequent the sea between Ponta do Ouro and pnta Malongane.
Situated on the northern bank of the Limpopo River, 24 kilometers north of Maputo, is the medium sized town of Xai-Xai, which is the capital of the Gaza Province in Mozambique. The beaches of Xai-Xai are popular for fishing.
4. Inhambane and Surrounds
Within a 30-kilometer radius of Inhambane town lie beautiful destinations for the visitors. From the legendary Linga Linga Peninsula situated at the entrance to Baia de Inhambane, Tofo where once can explore the undersea world and the serene sands of Ponta da Barra to the prolific marine life of Pandane’s beautiful oighthouse Reef, and Guinjata Bay’s comprehensive facilities, travelers to this region of Mozambique can expect a cultural, natural and historical adventure.
Attractions in Inhamane and its surrounding areas include:
Diving off tofo and Ponta da Barra
Marlin and sailfish fishing from the beach at Pomene
Snorkeling off Pandane
Roadside stalls where oranges and young coconuts and be bought.
Inhambane province straddles the Tropic of Capricorn. Extending 200 kilometers east, Inhambane in Mozambique received about 200mm more rain than the Maputo province. On average, January can have 13 rainy days, whereas July can have only five rainy days. With an average humidity rarely dropping below 75% or rising above 80%, the Inhambane region in Mozambique can be uncomfortable in midsummer, while the beaches are cooled by the sea breeze.
5. The Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique
The Bazaruto Archipelago is often referred to as being Mozambique’s Galapagos Islands. The Bazaruto Archipelago and surrounding marine environment is a complex and unique ecosystem, which is well protected by its isolation. Bazaruto Island, Benguerra Island, Magaruque Island, Santa Carolina Island also known as Paradise Island and the small undeveloped Bangue Island each have their own unique charm and character.
Amid the turquoise shallows surrounding each island, in the tidal inlets and shaded sea pastures opening into the deep Mozambique Channel, a wealth of marine life exists. It is here in the this unique and beautiful region of Mozambique where wildlife ranges from migrant bird species, frigate birds and falcons to crocodiles lurking in the brackish inland lakes. Five or more species of turtles have their breeding ground here on these islands, while various antelope, rodents, lizards and snakes inhabit the massive mobile sand dunes and adjacent scrubland.
Climate of the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique
As the islands are located inside the curve of the mainland, the archipelago and adjacent coastline experience a similar tropical climate. The area has lower rainfall than places further south of the Tropic of Capricorns such as Inhambane and Xai-Xai. Vilankulo, Mozambique, experiences maximum daily temperatures of 32 degree celcius in December and January while rainfall is around 150m during each of these months. Humidity which is uncomfortable during summer months (September to May) on the mainland is always bearable on the exposed islands and beaches.
The town of Vilankulo / Vilanculos in Mozambique
Located about halfway between Maputo and Beira, Vilankulo/Vilanculos has become an important public transport and air terminus in Mozambique.
The Islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique
One can walk around the Ilha de Magaruque / Island of Magaruque on foot in leisurely three hours along the deserted white beaches of this magnificent island. The ambiance of this Island is relaxed and intimate and one can enjoy great snorkeling and scuba diving excursions here.
Since the Ilha de Benguerra / Island of Benguerra is blessed with e most intact area of indigenous dune forest of all the islands in Mozambique, it probably offers the best birding as well. Crocodiles populate the freshwater lakes situated on Ilha de Benguerra, which are surrounded by stunning golden dunes.
Ilha da Santa Carolina (Paradise Island) is about 3 km long and roughly 500m wide.
Ilha do Bazaruto / Bazaruto Island is about 30 km long and some 3 km at its widest. Bazaruto is the biggest island in the Bazaruto archipelago. Parallel with the mainland on its northern point, there are top class tourist hotels and resorts such as the Bazaruto Island Resort and the Indigo Bay Island Resort Hotel.
6. From Beira to Tete, Mozambique
Beira, which is the capital of Sofala province in Mozambique, and Tete, which is the capital of Tete, are the largest towns in Mozambique’s central and western region. Both cities, Beira and Tete, are historically and architecturally fascinating owing their existence to the need for trading outlets. Tete is a Zambezi River port and Beira is a busy ocean harbor at the mouth of the Pungoe River.
In this region of Mozambique, the Mozambican Plan narrows giving way to the Mozambican Plateau and the Chimanimani, Gorongosa and Bvumba mountain ranges.
Mozambique’s most extensive mangrove swamps occur between Beira and Nova Mambone and around Quelimane. For birders, this habitat is significant; it is home to rare species like the palmnut vulture and elusive mangrove kingfisher.
7. North of the Zambezi in Mozambique
The rugged provinces of Zambezia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa make up the area of Mozambique north of the Zambezi River. Quelimane is one of Africa’s few good river ports, which is located on the Rio dos Boas Sinais (River of Good Omens). Vaso da Gama gave this name to the river when he anchored there in 1498 on a mission to find a sea route to India. Today over 100,000 people live in Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province, making it Mozambique’s fourth largest town. The tea estates, coconut and cashew farms on the coastal flats are the main providers of rural employment.
Most of this area in Mozambique has a tropical climate. Due to its higher altitude, Lichinga in Niassa is somewhat cooler. The wet and humid months are from November to April when temperatures rarely drop below 20 degree Celsius. Summer rainfall tops 200mm monthly at Quelimane, Pemba and Nampula, 300mm during March at Lichinga and 500mm during January at Gurue. June to August are the cooler and drier months of this region in Mozambique.
Before 1975, Pemba, which is the capital of the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, was called Porto Amelia. The residents have named Pemba Mozambique’s papaya paradise as this little port is located on a headland squeezed between a magnificent inland bay and an idyllic beach where tall papaya trees provide shade. Seen from the bay, the white flat roofed buildings of Pemba’s old town are typical of many of Africa’s original colonial towns. Built on a hill, Pemba climbs steeply from the quayside to the Art deco cinema at the top of the hill.
Pemba Bay is reputed to be the world’s largest inland bay. Its entrance is only about 2km wide, opening up to a beautiful blue expanse of water with an area of around 375 square kilometers and a uniform depth of approximately 24m.
The Gessners, a family of German origin, own coconut plantations on the Quirimba Island in Mozambique.