Mozambique is one of those countries that make a great bend of East Africa. It is located in the southern part of Africa and is bordered by Tanzania to the North, the Indian Ocean to the East, Zimbabwe to the West, Zambia and Malawi to the Northwest and South Africa and Swaziland to the Southwest. Mozambique is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the East; this channel is an arm of the Indian Ocean. The country’s Capital and largest city is Maputo and it has a population of about 2 million people. Mozambique’s total population is approximately 28.83 million (2016), Portuguese is the country’s official language which was adopted during the time of colonial rule until today; with this language it makes Mozambique a complete member of the Community of Portuguese other languages spoken are Makhuwa, Swahili, Sena, Shangaan among others.
The climatic conditions of Mozambique vary depending on the altitude, the country receives tropical climate with two seasons such as the dry season that starts from April to September and the wet season from October to March. Areas along the coast receive a lot of rainfall than those in the South and North. The topography in the country is characterized by coastal lowlands which occupy 44% of the land, mountains, and plateaus.
Mozambique is endowed with different touristic areas that are natural and man-made which are to visit while on a trip in the country and most of them are easily accessed. Starting with the coast there is a lot to see such as the white sand beaches endowed with beautiful fringing palm trees, dune-fringed beaches (you can relax or go horse riding along the beach), baobab trees together with savannah grasslands, turquoise waters with a lot of colorful fish you can also scuba dive in these waters, coral sponges in the Indian Ocean waters, the Bazaruto Archipelago and other distant archipelagos in the north, Rift valley habitats. Don’t miss out on visiting Africa’s second largest artificial lake also known as ‘the place where Noah parked his Ark’ the highlands, tribal villages and communities, the Mozambique tours national parks which are home to various animals including elephants, gazelles among others. Together with this add on the exciting night life in the city and along the coast, the colonial rule and current architecture and the interesting mix up of cultures. The following are the attractions and what to do in Mozambique.
The Bazaruto Archipelago is among the most amazing places to visit in Mozambique, it is also known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. It consists of 6 islands just away from the southern Mozambique coast. Bazaruto Archipelago became a national park in 1971 due to its abundance of different marine lives like butterfly fish, angel, surgeon, parrots, and endangered marine mega animals such as manta, whale sharks, turtles, dugong, leatherback, and the humpback whales. The islands have names and they all have different amazing features on them; the Bazaruto Island, this is the largest and has sand dunes, the Benguerra Island endowed with grasslands and forests hence harboring many bird species, Bangeu Island, Santa Carolina and Magaruque islands, they have coral reefs and also are home to rare marine animals. While here it’s a great time where you are in line to watch the awesome sunsets, sunrises, have a great time of relaxation and get a peace of mind.
There are various activities to enjoy while in Bazaruto including; horse riding, diving (there is a lot of marine life to see like the humpback whales, mantas, dolphins, sharks among others), snorkeling, swimming, traditional sailing using a dhow, fishing, bird watching among other activities. This place can be accessed by air also as flights to Bazaruto Archipelago set off from Vilankulo town. Accommodation options around the Archipelago are available and comfortable giving very nice views to guests, they include; Azura Benguerra lodge (romantic resort), &Beyond Benguerra lodge (offers honey moon and family accommodation), and Ananatara Bazaruto Island resort and Spa. Visit the Bazaruto Archipelago today and basically plan your honey moon at these islands, this will give you a memorable experience for a life time.
Maputo is the largest and capital city of Mozambique; it’s an interesting city with a composed environment and architecture. It is the centre of Mozambique’s fresh cuisine and culture. It has a population of about 2 million people and it has welcoming people which different cultures, Maputo was named Lourenco Marques before its independence, most of its streets are lined with different trees such as the Jacarandas, Flame trees and Palm trees. The city used to be so developed while it was under colonial rule, so during the 1970s and 1980s civil war it got destroyed especially museums, markets, homes etc. This is not the case today as the city has developed over time as most of these buildings were and are rebuilt. Visitors can visit these places below while here;
- The Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens; these are sub-tropical and shady with a peaceful environment for a tourist in need of relaxation, picnic or just a walk
- The Maputo Central Rail Station; this is a must visit, it is a working train station that was designed by Gustav Eiffel.
- The National Museum of Art; it is located at 1233 Av Ho Chi Minh and is a place where Mozambican artists showcase a large collection of their art such as Chissano and Malanagatana.
- The Statue of Samora Machel, are you interested in history then visit this statue, Samora Machel was Mozambique’s first president after independence from 1975 to 1986.
Generally Maputo has a lot to offer, also mind the safety of your property while in the town since most areas are occupied by pickpockets. Accommodation facilities are available and there is nothing to worry about, it an amazing time spent in Maputo.
Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park is situated in the south of the Great Rift Valley in the heart of central Mozambique and it covers an area of about 4000 sq km. The park is made up of the valley floor, rivers that flow from Mount Gorongosa, grasslands dotted with acacia patches, dry forests and grasslands, plateaus which are covered with Montane and miombo forests, and generally the landscape in the park gives spectacular views. The park is home to various numbers of wildlife such as 122 mammals including elephants, zebras, lions and hippos, 43 amphibians, 34 reptiles, there are also over 398 bird species that can be seen around rivers and wetlands that surround Lake Urema. There is also a lot to see like the bat-filled caves, limestone gorges, Murombodzi Falls that fall through rocks on Mount Gorongosa slopes, the verdant Mount Gorongosa and the nearby communities that have interesting cultures among others.
It is advisable to use 4×4 vehicles since most roads to and in the park are not that good, but those from Maputo and Beira are negotiable. Lodging facilities are available and comfortable for all visitors they include; Montebelo villas, campsites among others. These facilities are located so well enabling game viewing and other activities such as Game drives, ecotourism, self drives, and boat trips to Vinho community.
Tofo is a coastal town famously known for the Tofo Beach found in the Inhambane province in Southeastern Mozambique. Tofo is usually referred to as ‘the next Goa’, it is among the popular destinations in the country, young and old travelers are in love with its snorkeling and diving sites, beach bars which give an amazing nightlife, good restaurants which mainly provide seafood, the beach and other attractions around. Due to Tofo’s natural beauty a lot of activities can be done such as diving, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, boat trips, community walks (it’s very easy to explore Tofo on foot) and other water sports like body boarding, surfing and others. Those interested in scuba diving are cautioned about the Jellyfish in the water and also those into so much history and authentic culture may not find it in Tofo.
Quirimbas Archipelago is located off the Northern coast of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. It has 12 major islands and most of the islands in this make the Quirimbas National Park which is home for sea cows, whales and dolphins which stay in the waters and coral reefs. Any one travelling to Mozambique should consider this area as part of the itinerary since the islands provide a memorable beach holiday to visitors. This place is endowed with a lot to see including cultural and historical sites such as the Historic stone town on Ibo Island, as you head to this area there are great views from the savannah plains, Montane forest, coral reefs along the shores and the unending mangroves.
While at Quirimbas you can see wildlife like elephants, African leopards and crocodiles. Different activities can be done here such as Scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, walks, boat trips, also remember that this is a honey moon destination. You can access Quirimbas from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania but this is time-consuming and costly, so another alternative could be using a direct flight from Dar es to archipelago rather than flying via Maputo and other towns to get to this place. Concerning lodging; there are lodges on different islands such as Ibo island lodge on Ibo island, Vamizi lodge on Vamizi Island, Quilálea lodge (Luxury) on Quilálea Island among others, while at these lodges one can still do the different activities.
Ponta d’Ouro lies on the Mozambique Channel south of Maputo the country’s capital. It is situated around 10 km by road away from the South African border. It is a home to Africa’s most perfect waves; it is a rich place with enough diving and snorkeling sites. The word Ponta d’Ouro is translated as ‘tip of gold’ in English, enjoy activities like diving, walks, swimming, excursions to see the pods twisting and flipping through the waves. Also meet the local people around, they make local drinks and carvings made from wood, feel free to buy from them. Ponta d’Ouro can be accessed from South Africa which is also an amazing time, since it’s sort of an additional tour. Lodging options here range from budget to luxurious lodges; there are also beautiful campsites just along the beach.
Vilankulo or Vilanculos
Vilankulo is found in Vilaculos District of Ihambane Province; it is a coastal town and was named after Chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke. It is a growing city, and today it is home to the new international airport which has daily flights to different regions like Maputo and Johannesburg. Vilankulo is more like a gateway or entry to the Bazaruto Archipelago, so in most cases helicopters and dhows travel through the town to Bazaruto. Most areas in Vilankulo can be reached on foot since it is not so big; it is like 5 km long. Visitors can do snorkeling, scuba diving, and horse riding while in Vilankulo. Also Vilanculos has a central market, a few bars, shops and a number of good restaurants which provide nice meals. There are amazing and affordable accommodation options.
Lake Cahora Bassa
Lake Cahora Bassa is Africa’s fourth largest artificial lake after Lake Volta, Lake Kariba, and Lake Nasser; these lakes are bigger than Cahora Bassa in surface water. It is situated in Tete Province in Western Mozambique; it covers an area of 2,700 sq km. The main aim for this lake was to make a dam in order to generate hydro electric power, on this lake you will find the Cahora Bassa Dam which was established in 1969. Visitors can do fishing which is unlimited, visit the Cahora Bassa dam wall, see hippos swimming around the waters, have a great spot of indigenous baobab trees and see the magnificent dam gorges (while on the boat cruises). There are various lodges and camps that visitors can stay in including the Moringa bay lodge, Ugezi Tiger lodge among others.
Island of Mozambique
The island of Mozambique also known as Ilha de Moçambique in Portuguese is located between Mossuril Bay and the Mozambique Channel in Nampala Province off Mozambique northern coast. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a fast growing tourist destination, it was the former portuguese capital during the colonial rule. It has beaches and alot of historical sites from the old muslim and portuguese architecture such as the red building in stone town, the museum in the form of the Placio Govierno, the thatched-roof Macuti houses, the chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, the Chrch of Santo Antonio among others. This area has a population of 14,000 approximately and the Lumbo Airport on the mainland serves it. Visitors can also take boat trips, dive, take adventurous trips on dhows or just relax and unwind on the sand beaches. The island of mozmabique can be accessed from the mainland via a bridge, its a 20 minute walk to walk throgh the island since its a small area, this gives unforgattble experiences.
Niassa Reserve is the largest reserve in Mozambique. It covers an area of 42,000 sq km, found in Niassa Province and Cabo Delgado Province. Niassa is among Africa’s unspoilt wilderness areas, it is home to abundant wildlife such as over 13,000 elephants, leopards, wild dogs, lions among others. Also large numbers of bird species can be spotted in the park. Its landscape is also something interesting starting with the Montane forests to Miombo forests and the savannah grasslands. Visitors enjoy activities such as game drives, rock climbing, star-gazing and hiking, they are advised to visit the reserve between April and October There are various places to stay in while in Niassa, they are affordable and comfortable such as the Lugenda Wilderness Camp.
Mozambique Weather | Best time to Visit
Mozambique just as other countries in Southern Africa experiences a tropical climate that is determines by its closeness to the ocean, altitude and latitude as well as a number of other factors. The country experiences a bimodal rainfall pattern and so different parts of the country will have slightly different weather conditions. The southern dry season in Mozambique begins in April to September and then the wet season starts in October to March. On the other hand, the northern area experiences its dry season from May to October while the wet season starts in November to April.
Tourist areas such as Quirimbas and Pemba archipelagoes found in the north East experience and average rainfall of 1000mm every year, while in the summer months it is hot and humid with average temperatures of 28°C. On the other hand, the Buzaruto Archipelago receives an average of 900mm of rainfall. Along the Ocean temperatures are about 20°C from May to September and then increase to an average 28°C from October to April.
Activities like fishing especially yellow-fin tuna can be enjoyed all year round, whale watching can best be done in the wet season and then diving / snorkeling can be done throughout the year. Game viewing can best be done during the dry season when the animals crowd the few remaining water sources and the vegetation cover is thin making it easy to spot the animals. Birding can be done from May to September
Where to stay in Mozambique
Mozambique offers a number of magical beaches that have for so many years remained unspoiled offering the true experience of comfort and serenity with a number of lavish islands and rich wildlife that includes dolphins, manatees and whales awaiting you to marvel at.
Unique about this amazing country is that its offers a variety of accommodation ranging from budget, mid-range to luxury hotels, resorts and lodges. As already highlighted you will realize that different areas offer different accommodation facilities. so contact your travel agent for the most recent accommodation rates as well as the appropriate place to stay for instance if you are traveling as a family with kids, or on honeymoon or handicapped.
Some of the popular Mozambique accommodations include:
Polana Serena Hotel at USD $200,
Machangulo Beach Lodge $674
White Pearl resort $1,203,
Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort $1,234
Azura Quilalea Private Island $1,477
Azura Benguerra Island $1,403
Cost of a Safari in Mozambique
There are a number of factors that will affect the overall cost of a safari in Mozambique and these include:
The cost of accommodation – the level of comfort offered at where you choose stay; are you staying at such as camping, budget facilities, mid-range facilities or a luxury facility?
cost of food – on your holiday you will have an option to either eat at your safari lodge especially when you are staying in the remote wildlife national parks where the cost of meals is normally fixed (and usually expensive), however when visiting the urban centers, the best way to cut on the cost of food is by eating out as there are a number of nice restaurants that offers good food at a fairly affordable price
Cost of transport in Mozambique – while in Mozambique, there are a number of ways you can get around and these include using public means, hiring a private vehicle or using charter flights between the different destinations; it’s obvious that public means is the most affordable although this comes with a number of challenges while charter flights are the more convenient and time saving option although it very costly.
cost of activities in Mozambique – as already mentioned, there are various activities you can engage in while in this beautiful country such as diving, horseback riding, fishing and many others however watch of these comes at different rates so the more activities you include in your holiday itinerary the more costly your safari will be.