The remote and relatively undeveloped Central Mozambique area is host to some of the country’s best secret tourist gems. The main attraction is the easily accessible Gorongosa National Park, offering some impressive caves, as well as thrilling game drives through a diverse range of scenic landscapes, inhabited by an abundance of wildlife and bird species. Other popular attractions include Monte Binga, Mozambique’s highest mountain, providing magnificent views all the way out to the Indian Ocean; the remote Lake Cahora Bassa on the Zambezi River, offering excellent fishing opportunities; and the Bazaruto Archipelago Islands boasting clear, turquoise waters filled with colourful fish perfect for diving and snorkeling.
Ilha de Mozambique
Off Mozambique’s northern shores lies one of the country’s lesser known travel treasures – Ilha de Mozambique. In the 17th century, this small island served as a trading post controlled by colonialist powers. The ruling Portuguese bartered gold, ivory and, most significantly, slaves for silk, spices and other exotic goods. Much of the historical architecture from this era remains today and as a result, Ilha de Mozambique was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Stone Town is the island’s historical quarter, where you can wander past ancient forts, churches and mansions still elegant though weathered by the centuries. Makuti town is the modern part of the island, where you can get an authentic sense of how the residents of today live. Visit vibrant markets where the air is redolent of chilli and spices, and brightly coloured traditional fabrics paint a vivid backdrop to the comings and goings. The coastline is absolutely beautiful – fringed with secluded sand beaches where you can swim or snorkel in warm turquoise waters amidst brightly coloured tropical fish.
Friendly people, magnificent beaches, a balmy tropical climate, fabulous seafood, crumbling yet still elegant colonial buildings, these elements and more combine to make Southern Mozambique an utterly beguiling travel destination. In the capital, Maputo – one of Africa’s prettiest and most charming capitals – you can sample the lively local nightlife, peruse the bustling Municipal Market or feast on fresh king prawns along the seaside promenades. Just a couple of hours out of the city, the port town of Inhambane has some intriguing old Portuguese architecture, as well as a wide lagoon where visitors can take a dhow over to the neighbouring village of Maxixe. The seaside destinations of Tofo, Barra and Pandane each have their own charms – visit Tofo for surfing and whale shark diving, Barra for its sublime beach and adventure activities, and remote Pandane for incredible snorkelling.
Situated in the Mozambican province of Inhambane, Vilanculos is a laidback town featuring some lovely beaches lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters. It is stocked with all the amenities needed for a fantastic seaside holiday. This bustling coastal town has its own international airport and serves as a great base for exploring the idyllic islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. The town itself offers good diving, a wide range of accommodation choices and a lively nightlife. Visitors can jump on a traditional dhow boat and venture to the pristine Bazaruto Archipelago, browse for fresh produce and locally-made souvenirs in the bustling market in the centre of town, and spend the day soaking up the sun on an array of idyllic beaches. Other popular activities include: horse riding, game fishing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing.
Ponta do Ouro
Just north of Mozambique’s border with South Africa, the town of Ponta do Ouro, meaning ‘Point of Gold’, lies on the country’s remote southeastern coast. This holiday destination serves as a stop on many overland itineraries and is host to some of the most beautiful coastline in Africa. The colonial-era town of Ponta do Ouro is a seaside playground for tourists boasting beachfront resorts, seafood restaurants, and offering an array of outdoor adventure activities. The main attraction is undoubtedly the world-class scuba diving and snorkelling. Explore the thriving underwater world teeming with aquatic life, shop at the local craft market or take in the magnificent views from barefoot bars with a cold Mozambican beer in hand. Other popular activities include: deep sea fishing, surfing, quad biking, and jet skiing.
Gorongosa National Park
The focus of a National Geographic film entitled ‘Africa’s Lost Eden’, the Gorongosa National Park – with its cobalt-blue lagoons, wide open savannah and forested mountains studded with waterfalls – is indeed an earthly paradise, nestled beneath the towering peak of Mount Gorongosa. Activities offered by the park include game drives, supervised game treks, waterfall hikes, sundowner excursions and birding safaris.
Situated along the spectacularly scenic Mozambican coast, the city of Beira serves as the colourful capital of the Sofala Province. Bustling and vibrant, Mozambique’s second-largest city is a tropical melting pot of African, Eastern and European influences that impart a uniquely eclectic flavour. It has an effervescent nightlife focused around its many cafes and bars, several beautiful historical buildings, and a number of lovely white-sand beaches, including Macuti, located in the trendiest part of town. Visitors can discover abandoned shipwrecks dotted along the coast, sample local Mozambican cuisine, and soak up the faded grandeur of the colonial buildings lining the city’s streets.
Set along the magnificent Mozambican coast, the city of Xai Xai serves as the capital of the Gaza Province. The city provides an excellent spot to stopover en route to the northern reaches of Mozambique. Twelve kilometres from the bustling city is the gorgeous Xai Xai Beach, the first popular tourist beach north of Maputo. Xai Xai offers plenty of attractions with a long stretch of beach and crystal-clear warm waters. A series of freshwater lakes also provide alternative entertainment including: kayaking, paddle skiing, windsurfing and excellent bird watching. Travellers must pay a visit to the amazing Wenela Tidal Pool, with its unique blowhole and natural tunnel linking the pool to the ocean. Running along the coast, a coral reef creates the ideal snorkelling spot and protects the beach from the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean.
Quilalea Island is surrounded by the Quilalea Sanctuary – the first marine protected area in the Quirimbas Archipelago and an internationally significant conservation area. It is a true tropical paradise – with deserted beaches, thriving coral reefs, and lush jungle sheltering a myriad of exotic plants and animals. Go hiking through primeval rainforests, kayaking through mangrove swamps rich with bird and marine life, snorkelling or deep sea fishing. Alternatively, simply relax on the island’s idyllic shores or spend a few hours pampering yourself at its exclusive spa.
Located north of Xai Xai, Chidenguele is a small village that shares its name with a long stretch of neighbouring pristine beach along Mozambique’s incredibly scenic coast. The surrounding area is dotted with an array of glittering lakes, one of which is Lake Nhambavale; a popular freshwater lake stretching over 20 kilometres in length. Visitors can look forward to a variety of wonderful activities in this area including: a wide selection of thrilling watersports on Lake Nhambavale, exploring the Boa Paz Lighthouse, and strolling along unspoilt deserted beaches. Other popular activities include: snorkelling, diving, fishing, bird watching, and hiking.
Idyllically set on the scenic Ponta da Barra peninsula in southeastern Mozambique, Tofo is a small fishing village and an exceptionally popular tourist destination. The curved Tofo Beach is an ideal swimming beach lined with a number of lively beach bars, restaurants and accommodation options as well as a small local market. The smaller Tofinho Beach is quieter and is a great spot for surfing and fly fishing. Just beyond the beaches lie some pristine coral reefs inhabited by an impressive array of marine life which make it one of the tworld’s premier dive destinations with dolphins, manta rays and whale sharks regularly spotted. Other popular activities on offer include deep sea fishing, horse riding through the dunes, exploring the surrounding villages, or taking a trip to the nearby historic town of Inhambane where you can sample food at the local market or enjoy a leisurely dhow ride around the harbour.
Situated on the eastern coast of Mozambique in Pemba Bay, the town of Pemba serves as the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado. This beautiful town is best known as a departure point for the exquisite islands of the UNESCO-listed Quirimbas Archipelago, but has plenty of its own beguiling charms. The ultramarine water of its almost land-locked bay is a diving mecca, featuring pristine coral reefs, a kaleidoscopic array of brilliantly-hued tropical fish and numerous dolphins and turtles, while the town, studded with enormous baobab trees and palm-roofed villages, encompasses enticing curio shops and lively markets. Visitors can look forward to exploring the underwater wonderland, relaxing on pristine beaches and spotting a host of wildlife and marine life including dolphins, whales and endangered dugongs in the Quirimbas National Park.
Located in southern Mozambique, Bilene, also known as Praia do Bilene, is a beach resort town. Bilene overlooks the beautiful, interminable expanse of the Uembje Lagoon, measuring 8 kilometres wide, 27 kilometres long, and 50 metres deep, which is separated from the Indian Ocean by an undulating series of white sand dunes. The lagoon and ocean shoreline attracts hordes of flamingos and water birds in summer which makes for excellent bird watching opportunities. Other popular activities include: sailing, fishing, swimming, diving and snorkelling.
Resting in the warm Indian Ocean just off the coast of Vilanculos in Mozambique, the Bazaruto Archipelago forms part of a protected marine park and consists of five idyllic islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. These small, sandy and exquisitely beautiful islands feature some of Africa’s best beaches as well as a number of large dunes and freshwater lakes, providing an ideal nesting habitat for black-winged flamingos. Just offshore visitors can explore a kaleidoscope of colourful corals teeming with an array of exotic marine life including manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, turtles and dugongs. The islands boast several private luxury lodges, many of which provide excellent opportunities for water-based activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and sailing.
Located just off the northern coast of Mozambique, the Quirimbas Archipelago dots the glittering Indian Ocean. It is renowned for its rich history and natural beauty featuring white-sand beaches fringed with low-key resorts and offers some of the best diving in the country. The archipelago is home to some of the most unspoilt beaches and coral reefs found anywhere in the world, featuring an abundant array of Mozambique’s spectacular marine life. The Quirimbas Archipelago is comprised of a chain of over 25 coral islands, which escaped the 20th century with almost no development. Many of these islands fall within the Quirimbas National Park, providing a marine sanctuary for whales, dolphins, and endangered dugong. The area is known for its high-quality dive sites, many with exceptional drop-offs.
The Imhambane Province is known for its wide, almost land-locked bay and its beautiful but crumbling Portuguese architecture. Points of interest include the vibrant local market, intriguing heritage museums, charming mosques and the nearly two-century old Cathedral of our Lady of Concepti. Located within close proximity are the popular beach destinations of Barra, Tofo and Guinjata Bay, which offer excellent snorkelling, diving, fishing and watersports; and the tiny, remote Ilha dos porcos which is home to traditional villages and a few of the remaining namesake wild pigs. Tofo is also an ideal destination for animal lovers, as it is home to manta rays and whale sharks, while Barra features an incredible bird estuary. It is possible to take traditional dhow boats across the bay, allowing visitors to experience it in the same way it was hundreds of years ago.
Located in the Nampula Province in northeastern Mozambique, the eponymous city of Nampula is the third largest city in Mozambique and serves as the capital of the region. Nampula is the provincial transport and commercial hub boasting several upmarket hotels, shopping centres, stylish restaurants as well as a host of transport options. Visitors can look forward to a number of activities including: viewing cultural artefacts at the Mozambique National Ethnographic Museum, browsing through colourful markets for traditional crafts, and discovering the Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Fatima, a tranquil oasis in the middle of this bustling city.
Inhassoro is an idyllic little fishing village set on the coast of the mainland of Mozambique, directly opposite the Bazaruto Archipelago. The village is said to offer the best of Mozambiquie as it has largely managed to avoid mass-tourism and still retains the quaint charm of a traditional seaside village. It consists of little more than a spattering of shops, a vibrant market, a hospital, a handful of lovely old colonial hotels and some popular beach bars and restaurants serving delicious local cuisine. The beach is of course the main attraction and it provides an ideal environment for activities such as fishing, swimming, scuba diving or simply relaxing on the pristine white sand. The nearby islands of the protected Bazaruto Archipelago are easily accessible and are home to an exceptional variety of bird and marine life including dolphins, Turtles, Dugongs, Whale Sharks, and Hump Back Whales.
Zimbabwe’s eastern border with Mozambique is defined by the Eastern Highlands, comprised of three ranges of hills and mountains featuring the lush rolling hills and endless tea plantations of the Nyanga Range, the soaring granite peaks of the Chimanimani Mountains, and the fertile meadows and rich coffee plantations of the Bvumba Range. These breathtakingly scenic mountains serve as an ideal backdrop for the wide variety of outdoor pursuits on offer such as hiking, horse riding, golfing, and trout fishing. The northern reaches of this remarkable wilderness features predominantly rolling heathland which reminded European Settlers of Scotland leading them to create lakes, plant forests and fill the streams with trout. Once the private estate of Cecil John Rhodes, this northernmost area is now known as the Nyanga National Park. From the gorgeous pine forests and trout lakes of this extraordinary park to the yellowwood trees, protea shrubs and refreshing mountain pools of Chimanimani in the south, the Eastern Highlands is the perfect destination for travellers looking to unwind in the tranquillity of nature.