10 Reasons to go to Mozambique

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Nkwichi-Lodge---Lake-Niassa--Manda-Snorkelling-Frash-WaterMost people come here to collapse on a beach and lie beneath a swaying palm tree. But there’s much more to it than that. From scuba diving and island-hopping to safari and scrumptious food, Kevin Record outlines the best this country has to offer

1 Laze by the Lake of Stars
Part of Mozambique’s border with Malawi is the beautiful Lake Niassa (also Lake Malawi), an undiscovered jewel with lovely beaches and turquoise waters. Stay at Nkwichi Lodge and spend your days snorkelling.

2 Walk in the Chimanimani Mountains
The lowland forest, miombo woodland and afro-alpine grasslands provide a scenic landscape for walking. You may spot some of the many birds that reside here, or perhaps a bushbuck or sable. Rock art, dated at 2000-10,000 years old, can be seen too.

3 Scuba dive in the Bazaruto Archipelago
The archipelago comprises five main islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangué. The area is protected, so expect to see unspoilt coral gardens, whale sharks, mantas, dolphins, turtles, as well as 2000 species of fish.

4 Island hop in the north
Get off the beaten track and explore the Quirimbas Archipelago. This remote paradise has white sandy beaches, azure waters and mangrove forests. Three of the islands — Vamizi, Rongui and Macalóè — are all part of a privately funded, community-based conservation project. Further south lie Ibo, Quirimba and Matemo. Catamaran charters and traditional dhow safaris, available at Ibo, are a brilliant way of exploring the region.

5 Party in Maputo
Head to the Mozambican capital for a maningue nice (local slang for ‘awesome’) evening out on the town. Take a leisurely stroll around this bustling city, immersed in the delicious aromas of grilled chicken, marrabenta music and Afro-Latino vibe. Don’t miss a visit to the fish market, where you can enjoy fresh seafood.

6 Visit Ibo Island
Culture vultures will enjoy a stay at Ibo Island Lodge, with its traditional architecture, colourful coral reefs and interesting heritage. Leave time to wander around the dusty streets and atmospheric Fort of São João, built by Portuguese colonialists in the late-18th century.

7 Feast to your heart’s content
The cuisine of Mozambique is influenced by the myriad cultures that have shaped its heritage. Dine on the juicy prawns (top left) that have made Mozambique famous and plenty of other seafood, tuck into delicious breads and pastries, and enjoy the local brews.

8 Embrace your inner beach bum
There are few destinations that can boast 2500km of some of the world’s most beautiful coastline. Top spots include the beaches near Xai-Xai, Praia do Tofo, Pemba, Barra and, of course, the Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagos, home to various spectacular islands such as Benguerra. There are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets.

9 Go on safari
Following years of strife, Gorongosa National Park has been rehabilitated and is touted as Africa’s ‘lost Eden’. Its magnificent floodplains, savannah and forests are home to elephant, lion, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest and more than 300 species of bird.

10  Go to Ilha de Moçambique
This miniscule, crescent-shaped island is a good place to experience the country’s cultural fusion. There is a lively fishing community as well as plenty of historic sights to wander around, including the Fort of São Sebastião, the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Green Mosque. There are plenty more churches, temples and museums to tick off your list, too.

Safari planner
• Getting there British Airways and Kenya Airways fly to Maputo with a stopover in Johannesburg or Nairobi. Airlink flies from Jo’burg to Maputo, Vilanculos and Pemba. There are even flights from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) to Vilanculos, so a beach-bush break is very easy to organise.
• When to go  Avoid January to April, if possible, as this is the rainy season.
• Health  Visit your local GP or travel clinic to ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date and get the suitable antimalarials.
• Further reading  Bradt Guide to Mozambique (6th Edition) by Philip Briggs

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