Mozambique is extraordinarily beautiful, as yet undeveloped, and a world of palm-framed, dune-fringed beaches where turtles come up to lay their eggs, a wild, wildly diverse hinterland and wonderfully multifaceted culture. If you’ve always wanted to explore a country before the hordes discover it, Mozambique is the place for you. Nothing works like clockwork, but this seems a small price to pay for floating in clear, turquoise waters above shoals of iridescent fish, or exploring river deltas, coral reefs, mangrove forests, little villages shaded by orange and cashew trees, or climbing over rusting cannons in centuries’ old ghost towns. During the 70s’ and 80’s, the country was wracked by civil war and appalling governance. This had largely ended by the mid-1990s, and in the last peaceful decade tourism has tentatively begun to take hold. Nonetheless travelling here, especially on the mainland, can still be more of an adventure than you bargained for. Unless you are an intrepid traveller we generally recommend beach holidays on one of the two archipelagos, and these combine perfectly with a southern African safari.
The coastal town of Vilanculos acts as a springboard to Bazaruto Archipelago, consisting five dune islands, most of which are protected by a national park. These are the classic tropical castaway islands we all dreamed about in childhood, ideal for diving and snorkelling in complete isolation; the coral is pristine and fish life superb. Manta rays, groupers, and potato bass are common as are the magnificent whale sharks from December to February. Quirimbas Archipelago lies in the far north of Mozambique, beyond the coastal town of Pemba, comprising 12 major islands and 20 smaller, coralline outcrops. Many are within The Quirimbas National Park, but throughout these islands the marine environments are untouched, unexplored. Consequently the wildlife is superb - five species of turtle including green and hawksbill, humpback whales, and the rare dugong, and to date over 354 species of reef fish and 30 different genera of coral. Getting to the remote lodges here can be costly, though most would consider it well worthwhile. Pemba itself is a fairly unremarkable town, but there is a deep natural harbour here and the bay itself is idyllic, with wide and sandy beaches, lined with the ubiquitous palm tree. A coral reef protects the beach and provides safe swimming as well as snorkelling. Marlin and sailfish abound in the deep-water channels – perfect for the avid big game fisherman. For those wishing to venture inland, safari operations have begun to open in the remote interior of Mozambique. These are still in their teething stages but will appeal to those looking for something new in a place untainted by any form of tourism. Gorongosa National Park, Niassa Reserve and Manda on the Malawi border offer real wilderness experiences. Be warned that the game here is very wild and not prolific after the ravages of the war years so these areas are not suitable for those wanting to tick off the big five.