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Introduction to Mozambique

introduction and general information

It's all about sea sand, sunshine and marine life in Mozambique where waves gently lap the soft white shoreline and palm trees blow in the breeze. With a coastline that stretches over 2 500 km, Mozambique is a popular destination for a romantic escape and it is one of southern Africa's favoured honeymoon spots. Bordering South Africa in the southern-most section of Mozambique, Ponta de Oura is surrounded by sea, pristine beaches and casuarinas trees, and offers coral reefs, fishing and charming village restaurants. Heading north is the capital of Maputo, a vibrant city marked by faded colonial buildings and rich Portuguese heritage. City tours of various lengths can be arranged that include stopovers at historical landmarks and shopping markets, while scenic boat trips take visitors from the mainland to nearby islands. Further north lies Inhambane, one of the oldest and most charming cities in the country, boasting superb beaches protected by a bay, while the Bazaruto Archipelago is a series of islands surrounded by a marine national park that protects the abundant aquatic life in the surrounding waters. The area is ideal for activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling, angling and water-skiing. At the most northern point of the country, Pemba is a laid back port city that serves as the gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago and Quirimbas National Park, one of the most important and biodiverse marine regions in the world. Following a guided itinerary is not necessary as most hotels and lodges include a variety of services and activities in their rates. We can recommend the most suitable accommodation options and can assist with transfers, internal flights as well as any guided tours you wish to undertake. In order to fully enjoy the laid-back, tropical atmosphere of Mozambique, we suggest a stay of at least seven days.

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Bazaruto Archipelago

The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of a chain of four large islands and two much smaller and uninhabited ones that are all strung out into the Indian Ocean, adorned with white sand, tropical shrubs and wild cashew nut trees. This is a place to forget your worries – sipping on cocktails, watching dolphins frolic and soaking up the sun is the order of the day. Bazaruto is the largest of the six islands and forms part of the protected Bazaruto National Park, a unique eco system that sustains diverse flora and fauna and where visitors can explore huge dunes and forests, inland lakes and wetlands. With such a fantastic ocean setting, Bazaruto is a highly popular diving and snorkelling destination, offering swimming with turtles and dolphins and whale watching in season. The archipelago also has the largest concentration of dugong in Mozambique, a mythical species that is sadly on the brink of extinction, as well as excellent deep sea fishing opportunities. All accommodation in Bazaruto centres around island living and the various outdoor and leisure activities that a tropical island affords, so the only choice to make is whether you would prefer relaxed and laid back or something a bit more exclusive and luxurious. There are daily flights from Johannesburg that land at Vilankulos. From there lodges are reached either by air or speed boat. Suggested length of stay: We suggest a 7-10 night all-inclusive island vacation. All resorts are well equipped with amenities, often offering their own private beaches where activities can be easily and exclusively enjoyed.

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The seaside town of Inhambane is located along the southern coast of Mozambique and is often used as a stopover for those travelling to the Bazaruto Islands. It is known for its old colonial architecture and rich cultural history as well as its proximity to many popular dive sites. Almost all accommodation in the town have stunning views where travellers can gaze out over the glistening lagoon or watch sultry sunsets over the ocean from the comfort of their lodging. White-sand beaches are fringed by coconut trees, and water sports are abundant. Explorations of the town reveal an interesting past, where once Vasco da Gama docked his ship and early Persian and Muslin traders peddled their goods. The uncomplicated layout of Inhambane makes self-guided tours easy and the port is a popular location for sundowners where you can watch dhows bob on the water. Other activities to enjoy include strolls through cashew plantations and fruit groves, fishing, historical tours, and shopping at the local market. Due to its location on the mainland, Inhambane is one spot in Mozambique were it is possible to arrive and leave by car, or embark on a guided or self-drive tour. Suggested length of stay: Your reasons for visiting Inhambane will determine your length of stay. For shopping or sightseeing a day trip is all that is needed. Those wanting to enjoy the town longer should consider a stay of 5-7 days as one of Inhambane's main attraction lies in its taste of authentic Mozambican island life. Contact Boutique Africa for assistance in compiling your perfect Mozambique holiday.

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Maputo is the colourful and vibrant capital of Mozambique where old colonial buildings stand alongside modern office blocks. Far from orderly or urban in any way, this is part of Maputo's charm where you can eat fresh peri-peri prawns with your fingers while walking down the street. The eclectic city is steeped in history and combines a number of different cultural influences, making it an interesting location to explore. Portuguese architecture, African ingenuity and exotic shopping all feature strongly in Maputo where points of interest include the fortress, one of the oldest buildings in the city; Central Market, for everything from fresh fruit and veggies to curios; the Museum of Natural History, filled with taxidermy displays and ancient pottery; and the railway station, housing one of Maputo's most imposing buildings boasting impressive wrought-iron lattice work, pillars and verandas that grace the pistachio-green exterior. The jacaranda-lined Baixa neighbourhood is adorned with many turn-of-the-century buildings, while evenings are lively in the Fere de Populare district, filled with bars and nightclubs. From the city it is possible to make day trips to Inhaca, a small island lying approximately 40 km from Maputo. Here white sandy beaches and clear calm waters are offset by lush, evergreen subtropical forests and a few small villages. The island is also a popular destination for eco-tourists, renowned for its rare fauna and flora, including approximately 160 species of coral. Suggested length of stay: 2-3 nights in Maputo is sufficient, with many travellers simply overnighting in the city after flying into the Maputo International Airport. After a short exploration you will be ready to move on to your tropical seaside or island destination.

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Ponta do Ouro

Lying at the southern-most tip of Mozambique, charming Ponta do Ouro is regarded as one of the top 10 attractions on the African continent. Surrounded by sea, pristine beaches and casuarinas trees, the area draws divers from around the world where easily accessible coral reefs shelter an abundance of colourful marine life. Surfing and fishing are also popular activities while those who prefer to remain on land will love the selection of open-air markets and little shops. In the summer months, generally from October to December, turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs, and in the winter whale watching is a popular attraction. Ponta do Ouro is part of a unique habitat system that stretches along the coast to South Africa where swamp forest, grassland, wetland and estuaries shelter a prolific diversity in fauna and flora. Within the town there are a number of rustic yet worthwhile restaurants to try out and accommodation choices vary from casual and laid back to secluded cabanas hidden in the forest. Due to its close proximity to the South African border, Ponto do Ouro is a popular holiday destination for South Africans and can be easily included in your South African travel itinerary. It can also get very busy and we recommend getting in touch with us regarding the best times to visit. Suggested length of stay: If you are an outdoor adventure enthusiast then we recommend a stay of 5-7 days which will allow you to snorkel, surf and swim to your heart's content while still having some time to recharge and unwind.

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Mozambique Island

Once the capital of Portuguese East Africa, Mozambique Island, or Ilha de Mocambique, is a celebration of colonial architecture and an eclectic mix of Arab, African and European culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a unique atmosphere and character, where bustling streets contrast sharply with long stretches of empty, pristine beaches and a calm azure ocean sheltering a myriad of marine life. At only 3 km in length and 500 m wide, the island is easy to explore on foot while admiring mosques, churches and Hindu temples as well as monuments such as the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte. Built in1522, the chapel is considered the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere and stands proudly alongside other historical landmarks such as the Palace and Chapel of São Paulo, the Museum of Sacred Art, the Church of Santo António, the Church of the Misericórdia, and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte. Far from being just about crumbling history, Mozambique Island is quite metropolitan with a selection of good restaurants and a range of accommodation options. Most accommodation establishments offer guests boat excursions to nearby attractions such as the famous lighthouse island of Goa, as well as snorkelling and diving amongst untouched coral reefs and ancient shipwrecks. There is a 3 km bridge spanning the Indian Ocean that links this island to the Mozambican mainland. Suggested length of stay: We suggest a stay of 5-7 nights on Mozambique Island to take full advantage of all the water-related activities that the area provides. This will also leave time to explore the historic little town as well as get a taste of its local delights.

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