With a 2 500km coastline and two sun-drenched archipelagos, the question of where to go in Mozambique often comes down to which beach or island best suits your sandy-toed dream destination. And while it's obvious that Mozambique is perfect for “laze and gaze” beach holidays, away from the coastline you'll also find wild reserves offering game viewing, bird watching and guided walking safaris in magnificent wilderness areas.
Here’s our choice of Mozambique’s top places of interest:
Mozambique's rejuvenated capital city Maputo is set in the far south of the country and is best known for its colourful markets and thriving nightlife. It's also the best place to enjoy the country's signature dish: a plate of sizzling peri-peri prawns washed down with ice-cold Laurentina beer. That said, if it’s a beach holiday you’re after then we recommend that you don’t linger long in this bustling city but head further north to the long mainland beaches or the islands of the dazzling Bazaruto or Quirimbas Archipelagos.
This coastal town is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago and a great destination in its own right: there are some lovely Vilanculos lodges set right on the beach, the town has a scattering of good local restaurants and the marine life in the nearby Bazaruto Marine Park is phenomenal. Our top things to do in Vilanculos include horse rides along the beach as well as snorkelling and diving trips to the nearby islands.
If you’re looking for miles of palm-lined beaches and a lively atmosphere then set your sights on Inhambane and the nearby holiday villages of Tofo and Barra. The Barra Peninsula in particular has wonderful wide beaches and its clear waters are home to Manta Reef – known the world over as a top destination for excellent manta ray sightings. To top it all off, this region is one of your best bets for swimming with whale sharks.
Five glittering islands set in Africa’s biggest marine reserve, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a fantastic choice for a relaxing break with an exotic African twist. There’s no fighting for towel space on these largely empty beaches, the pace of life is wonderfully slow and the game fishing, snorkelling and diving are all world-renowned. Both Benguerra and Bazaruto islands are a short hassle-free flight from South Africa’s Kruger National Park - start your day with an early morning game drive and end it with a sunset dhow cruise.
Read more about a Bazaruto island holiday.
Gorongosa is a wild tapestry of grassy floodplains, fever tree forests, palm thickets, wide rivers and the country’s last rainforest. Having recently undergone a hugely ambitious and successful rehabilitation programme, the rejuvenation of this remote reserve is one of Africa’s true good-news stories and while it's not yet the best option for a Big 5 safari, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track escape with diverse game, rich birdlife and a real sense of untamed Africa then you’re sure to love Gorongosa!
Read more about a Gorongosa safari.
The port town of Pemba is built around a large natural bay and, although somewhat run down, has some beautiful examples of colonial Portuguese architecture shaded by large baobab trees. There are colourful reefs lying close to shore but most visitors focus on exploring this city’s markets and craft shops for a day or two before setting off for nearby beach lodges or the islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago.
Scattered on a sea of brilliant blue, the Quirimbas Archipelago is where to go in Mozambique for a private island escape. Of the 30 or so islands, only a handful have accommodation or indeed development of any kind: the tiny thatched chalets on Medjumbe Private Island are perfect for honeymooners, while recently reopened Quilalea has coral reefs just a fin’s flick from shore.
Read more about a Quirimbas island holiday.
More than twice the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Niassa is one of Africa’s largest conservation areas but this remote and little visited reserve has only recently opened up to tourism. Consequently the wildlife is still skittish but you’re sure to have some good sightings including - if you’re lucky - lion, leopard or even wild dog, plus the bird watching is exceptional. Niassa’s biggest draw card is however the chance to experience guided walks and game drives in a truly wild, secluded and beautiful expanse of African wilderness.
At a Glance
Mozambique's two Indian Ocean archipelagos are its undisputed draw cards. Exclusive, unspoilt and offering superb diving, these islands are ideal for honeymoons and post-safari escapes.