Top Tourist Attractions in Mozambique
Mozambique is one of the most popular choices on the east African traveller route. Warm weather, ample sunshine and vast beaches have made this country a traveler’s paradise. There are no golf courses or shopping malls here, but the unspoiled natural beauty and rich marine life has pushed the country to the top of the list for honeymooners, scuba divers and water sport fanatics.
Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique. It is the largest city of Mozambique also with the country’s most important harbour. It is situated at the mouth of the Santo River in the extreme south 90 km from the border to South Africa.
Compared to some other sub-Saharan African cities the urban area feels small and concentrated with wide avenues and old trees. 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 is no heavy presence of police during the day, and no feeling that it is needed.
– The Railway Station on Praca dos Trabalhadores was designed by Gustave Eiffel (after his fall from grace in the Panama canal scandal), and bears the mark of his genius.
– The National Art Museum has a small but good collection of Mozambican art, including several large canvases by the world-renowned Malangatana.
– The Jardim Tunduru is a very pretty (albeit small) botanical garden.
– The Museum of the Revolution chronicles Mozambique’s fight for indepedence from Portuguese colonialism.
– The Mercado Central in the Baixa district has fresh fish, crabs, calamari, fruits and vegetables, and many household staples. Safe, lively and recommended, especially if cooking for yourself.
– Walk up Avenida Julius Nyerere. Start from the Hotel Cardoso or Natural History Museum along R Mutemba to Nyerere then left (north) to the Polana Hotel. Boutiques, restaurants, curio vendors, video stores, etc. to be seen in the relatively upscale Polana neighborhood.
– Visit some beautiful beaches, such as Catembe and Ponta d’Ouro. Ponta d’Ouro is a popular destination for South African divers and surfers. There is a small village, but it is mostly overshadowed by the tourist camps. It is very jovial in these atmospheres and it is not dangerous in the least bit.
Inhambane is a sleepy historic town some 485 km north of Maputo. It has some great colonial architecture (in a low-key sort of a way) and is considered by many to be one of the prettiest towns in Mozambique. It is situated on a peninsula overlooking a bay, and also serves as a springboard to the coastal resorts around Tofo beach (some 30 km due east, along a reasonably good road). Tofo Beach has been described as “the next Goa”, and while this may be pushing it a bit, Tofo has definitely become a traveller’s mecca on the Eastern coast of Africa. The reasons are not hard to discern: beautiful stretches of beach, a friendly laid-back vibe, a small but pumping nightlife, great diving and snorkeling and a few good restaurants too.
Tofo and surrounds have some truly excellent diving, with nice reefs and excellent large marine life. Whale sharks and Humpback whales in season, reef sharks and much more. Don’t miss Manta Reef, home of three cleaning stations where the critters really throng. Most of the better dive sites are at around 25-30 meters, requiring deep-dive certification (which you can get through one of the dive shops if you don’t have already).
Snorkeling is a MUST… swimming with whalesharks, the largest fish in the world is incredibly special. Although their mouths are over a meter wide and their bodies 8m long they are harmless. if you’re lucky you may also get to swim with wild dolphins, manta rays. Swimming with whales is prohibited, although you’ll be happy to see them from the boat. Inquire with the dive shops about trips. Surfing is also a nice possibility in the warm Indian Ocean and boards can be hired from the little cafe next to Diversity Scuba.
Vilanculos (or Vilankulo) is a popular beach town and the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of five idylic islands off the coast of Mozambique the largest of which is Bazaruto Island. Others are Inhaca and Paridise Island. The Archipelago is truly one of the most beautiful destinations on the African continent. The area is now protected as a conservation area and national park. The park is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean and a crucial achievement in global marine conservation.
Sand dunes are found throughout the Archipelago and tidal flats and inland saline lakes support a wide variety of seabird species. Coral reefs are also home to thousands of fish and coral species and marine mammal species. The largest dugong population along the eastern African coast can also be found here.
Mile after mile of deserted sandy beaches also grace the island. The leeward side of the island chain is surrounded by calm turquoise waters while the windward side offers an even more isolated and untamed seashore with waves constantly pounding the coastline.
While offering an exquisite paradise, travelers may find accommodations on the islands prohibitively expensive particularly with the closure of the one of the last reasonably priced accommodation “Gabrielle’s” to make way for yet another luxury lodge. Fortunately, Vilanculos offers a plethora of affordable places to sleep. Daytrips by dhows can easily be arranged from the mainland.
A untouched paradise on earth, the archipelago has earned its reputation as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’.
Ilha de Mozambique is a city in Nampula Province with a historical heritage that’s unmatched in the rest of Mozambique, and indeed the rest of Africa. It was the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries before the move to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), and had been used as a major base for the arab traders long before the arrival of the portuguese.
Everywhere. Ilha’s a magical mix of old portuguese and old muslim architecture. It basically divides into two halves – the old stone town in the north and the “reed town” in the south. However the reed town here is set down from the main streets. The museum is in the old Palacio Govierno, a big red building up in stone town. In the same building is a tourist information office that sells really good street maps and has all sorts of other information about the various restaurants and pensaos on the island. It’s well worth heading here as soon as you arrive. Also well worth a visit is the fort at the northern tip of the island, which contains the Church of Nossa Senhora Baluarte, almost certainly the oldest surviving European building in the southern hemisphere, dating back to 1522.
There’s a dive centre at the northern end of the island just down from the fort. You can take boat trips, visit the museums, or just laze on the beach. If you’re feeling adventurous take a dhow over to the mainland at Chaga or Mossuril and explore along the coast there.
Nampula is the capital of Nampula Province in northern Mozambique, surrounded by plains and rocky outcrops. The city is connected by plane (LAM) to Maputo; it hosts the regional market and is well supplied with shops, banks, hotels and restaurants.
Nampula is the staging post for journeys further north (towards the Tanzania border) or west (towards Malawi). The only passenger railway service in the Country connects the town with Cuamba near the Malawi border.
Attractions in Nampula include the large, domed cathedral and the ethnology museum.
Pemba is a port town in Mozambique located on the south side of the world’s third largest natural bay. It is the most important centre in northern Mozambique, and therefore has banks, patisseries, supermarkets and restaurants, although the town is very run down with paved streets having massive potholes and other storm water damage. The town was built over rolling hills, and most people live in wooden huts set amongst many thick baobab trees.
The town is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture. It was renamed Pemba at the end of Portuguese rule, in 1975.
Pemba is also renowned as being a prime destination for water sport and diving enthusiasts as a coral reef lies close to the shore. Pemba has increasingly become a tourist destination, particularly for upper-middle class Mozambicans and South Africans. There is now a weekly flight from Johannesburg to Pemba, a five-star hotel, the Pemba Beach Hotel, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment.
Also worth visiting is the Cahora Bassa Dam, one of the three major dams on the Zambezi river system. Situated in the Tete Province the Cahora Bassa lake is southern Africa’s second-largest artificial lake. The nearby town is called Songo.
Mozambique has an outstanding climate for most of the year, boasting clear, blue skies that bask the coastline in sunshine, with temperatures ranging from around 24 to 27 degrees Celsius. However, there is a wet season which lasts from around December/January to April when heavy downpours can often turn the roads into rivers. This is also a very humid time, with temperatures often not falling below 30 degrees Celsius, so it may be advisable not to travel during this period. The best time to visit would be during the cooler, dry season which lasts between May/June to November.
There is a fusion of African, Arabic, Indian and Portuguese influences across the country, and you will be able to find evidence of this in its history and architecture, as well as from the inhabitants. Mozambique’s unique cultural heritage, architectural treasures and World Heritage Sites make it a great vacation destination for families in search of culture as well as sun.