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MOZAMBIQUE, AFRICA TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATION GUIDE

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MOZAMBIQUE TRAVEL GUIDE:

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique   by Ann LoCicero

As we approached the Pelican Air counter in Johannesburg, South Africa, I began searching through my bag for our flight confirmation and passports. The woman at the desk smiled warmly and cut my efforts short:

"Just your last names, please", she said.

The realization of just how far we had traveled was immediate.

Twenty years of civil war and a history of famine have kept Mozambique and its Bazaruto Archipelago - one of Africa's most precious treasures - off the tourist path. Not for long. The government's commitment to democracy and foreign investment are slowly changing the face of this remote corner of Africa. Tourists are discovering its wonders, South Africans and Italians above all. They were the majority of passengers on the 18-seat twin turbo prop plane bound for Vilanculos, the gateway to the Archipelago. All well-healed tourists. No backpackers in site.
 
To fully enjoy Bazaruto, you need to adapt your concept of luxury. Although the resorts and lodges are sophisticated, here, luxury means getting as close to nature as possible. Our first brush with reality came shortly after landing. Visas purchased and luggage in hand, we were whisked to the boat landing in a comfortable minivan. As we approached the coast, we spied a craft anchored in the shallow water. That was it. There was no dock much less a harbor. Our initial uncertainty was short lived. In a matter of seconds our small group was removing shoes and socks, rolling up the legs of trousers and wading out to the sleek fishing boat.

The Bazaruto Archipelago was declared a national marine park since 1971 to protect the islands' more than 250 species of birds, butterflies and crocodiles. The Archipelago consists of five islands: Santa Carolina (also called Paradise Island), Bazaruto, Benguerra, Margaruque and Benque. 

Town Hall, Catholic Cathedral and Roundabout, Maputo, Mozambique
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The 25-minute boat ride to Benguerra Island was a perfect way to arrive. The contrast between the deep blue sky, turquoise water and stark white sandbars rising up from the sea remains one of the most memorable images of our trip.

Snorkeling and diving along the Archipelago's virgin coral reef is an unforgettable experience. While isolation has carried a steep price for Mozambique, the dearth in tourism has ensured that this part of Africa's Indian Ocean coast is today unexploited. The diversity of marine species is phenomenal. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, my daughter and I rushed off to the beach, snorkel gear in hand, moments after we arrived. There were seashells everywhere. So many that we forgot all about snorkeling and busied ourselves examining each and every one.

The next morning we woke to find the beach roughly 100 yards - nearly a full soccer field - longer than the previous afternoon. The coves and inlets had been transformed into an endless stretch of sand. Wading in the shallow waters was nothing short of an underwater safari. There were starfish of every shape and color and seahorses frolicked in the reeds. "Look, a cowfish!", I cried. "Oh, there's a crab", my daughter shouted. The lodge staff suggested wearing water shoes at low tide. We were thankful to have followed their advice.

Returning home, I wondered which of the following memories would remain, a private picnic on Pansy Island, dune boarding on Bazaruto, snorkeling along a virgin reef, or the solitude of an endless beach shared with but a lone fisherman.

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Copyright © more2explore S.r.l. All rights reserved.

About the Author - Ann LoCicero is the founder of www.kidscantravel.com an emergent website for families intent on making the most of their leisure time together.
Mozambique; where the sunny skies are aqua blue   by Darren Ravens
Located on the south-eastern coast of the continent, Mozambique is considered one of Africa's coastal jewels. It is renowned for its crystal blue waters, fantastic coral reef and its amazing diversity of marine life.

This former Portuguese colony, a unique melting pot of diverse cultures, is a major attraction for travellers seeking an African adventure experience. Devastated by a bloody civil war that raged for about 17 years, since the end of the war in 1992, Mozambique has been actively rebuilding itself. This has begun to open up a host of travel opportunities for visitors eager to get a taste of this tropical African paradise.

Great Neighbourhood

Mozambique, bordered by Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi is the ideal base for the traveller hoping to explore these countries aswell. Equally, a visit to Mozambique can easily be incorporated into a tour to any of these countries.
 
People Walking along Catembe Jetty, Maputo, Mozambique
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Getting Around

Mozambique's road network is reasonably well-established and most major routes are regularly maintained. Most of the major centres and popular areas are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles. Of course, a 4x4 offers a special advantage and opens up a range of further travel possibilities. There are several car-hire companies in Maputo, catering for the needs of the traveller interested in a self-drive holiday.

If you prefer the convenience and added security of being driven by a professional, there are a number of private mini-bus operators and reliable public transport companies operating in the major centres.

If you wish to experience Mozambique travel as part of a more comprehensive African experience, the packages offered by overland adventure travel companies are a good option. Usually, these companies put together overland tours, which pass through a number of countries and provide travellers with a unique opportunity to enjoy a diverse African travel experience.

Climate and weather

Mozambique enjoys a warm, tropical climate with an average temperature of around the high 20s (degrees Celsius) range. The weather is warm and sunny all year round, ideal for maximum enjoyment of the countries coastal charms.

The summer months, from October to April, are often very hot, humid and rainy. From April to September, the winter months are cooler, drier and more comfortable for visitors not accustomed to heat and humidity normally associated with the warm season in tropical areas.

That's not to say that you shouldn't embark on Mozambique travel during summer though, since actual temperatures and rainfall varies by region within the country. The higher-lying Nampula and Niassa provinces are the coolest, while the north-eastern coastal regions are the hottest. The northern region receives far more rainfall than the south.

If you're hoping for a Mozambican safari experience, the best time of year to visit is towards the end of the winter months. This drier season normally sees animals congregating in larger groups than they do in summer. The summer months offer excellent fishing opportunities with the larger fish populating the coastal waters during this time of the year.
 
Diving in Mozambique

Mozambique is a world-famous dive location with numerous fantastic reefs supporting an amazing variety of marine life. The relatively warm water temperature and a multitude of interesting creatures including the dugong, sharks, dolphins, whales and shoals colourful fish, makes for an awesome diving experience. The area most popular amongst diving enthusiasts is the Bazaruto Archipelago, consisting of four islands; Bazaruto, Benguerra, Margaruque and Santa Carolina. The archipelago's coral reefs and clear, crystal blue waters provide what is regarded as the best snorkelling and scuba diving in Africa. If your trip to Mozambique is to be limited to just one destination in the country, then this group of islands must be it.

Clear Blue Indian Ocean Water with White Sand, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
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Currency

The unit of currency is the Metical. Introduced mid-2006, this relatively new currency is used alongside the older Meticais, which is being phased out. In the southern parts of the country, the South African Rand, US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are also accepted. In the north, US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted to some extent, but only by the larger hotels or businesses geared specifically towards tourists. Generally, it should be assumed that your credit card will not be readily accepted.

Health Precautions

Mozambique is a malaria-risk area, so it's vital that visitors take proper precautions. To minimise the mosquito risk, travellers are advised to wear long sleeves and trousers when possible and to use an effective mosquito repellent on exposed skin. Treated mosquito netting should be used and the doors and windows of your accommodation should be screened to keep mosquitoes out. A fan or air-conditioner can also help limit night-time mosquito activity to some extent.

Also important is the use of and effective anti-malaria medication. Be warned though, certain medications cause side-effects, so consult you doctor or travel clinic well before you intend to be exposed to the risk to ensure that you are adequately protected.

With a painful history of war and destruction, Mozambique has rebuilt itself and looks to the future by capitalising on its natural beauty. Whether you are after an adventure, leisure or the perfect eco-tourism experience, Mozambique is an idyllic tropical destination that will not disappoint. It is truly a slice of paradise.

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About the Author - The crew from the overland adventure travel company, Oasis Overland have an extensive knowledge of Africa, the Middle East and South America. Their philosophy is to provide excellent value for money for budget conscious travellers without compromising their experiences, and providing quality vehicles, equipment, and crew. Travel in Mozambique is encompassed by various Oasis African Tours

MAPUTO REGION ACCOMMODATION, MOZAMBIQUE

Esperanca do Mar, Self-Catering/Camping, Macaneta, Maputo Region
Come and visit Esperanca do Mar "Home at Sea" in Mozambique for a relaxing holiday.  We are situated at Macaneta, 30km North of Maputo, crossing the Komati River with a ferry, following a 6.5km dirt road and then about 1.5km of sandy road, requiring a 4x4 vehicle or at least a 4x2 bakkie with diff lock to reach our premises.  A definite relaxed and unspoilt vacation on a non crowded beach, stretching for 80km to Bilene in the North. Pristine tranquil bush surroundings, ideal for birdwatchers and those needing to recharge in quite/calm surroundings. Excellent deep-sea fishing for those fishermen looking to hook and hopefully land the "big one"!  Our shaded campsites are only 300m from the beach with power points, lighting, braais and ablution facilities, with hot water. 
Manico Camp, Selfcatering Chalets, Tents & Camping sites, Inhaca Island, Maputo Region
Manico Camp is situated on Inhaca Island, Mozambique surrounded by clear blue waters and coral reefs which make Inhaca a popular diving, snorkeling and fishing destination.  We have one bedroom log cabins, bush cabins, a tent camp, camping sites with power points and ablutions facilities with hot and cold water. We have a fully fitted kitchen with ample freezing facilities. We are in close proximity to a variety of restaurants and pubs that serves excellent seafood dishes.  Several recreation activities available such as deepsea fishing, fly fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking trails and daily trips to Portuguese Island.
Sundown Guest House, Bed & Breakfast, Maputo
Situated in the centraly located up-market residential area of Sommerschield in Maputo, Sundown Guest House is a perfect place to relax and recharge whether on business or leisure. Entering Sundown Guest House gives you a warm feeling of coming home. Our rooms offer what one would expect of a bedroom in one's own home plus they all come with an en-suite bathroom.  A 'Sundowner' drink from the honor bar can be enjoyed in the comfort of the Guest House's intimate lounge area, or if you so prefer, in your own room. And before heading off in the morning, for that all day meeting or to explore Maputo, one can sit down to enjoy our delicious complimentary buffet breakfast...
Topo Das Arvores, Beach Lodge, Ponta Malongane, Maputo Region
TreeTops Lodge is situated north of Ponte Malongane in Southern Mozambique. The lodge itself is made out of Zimbiri which is a local hardwood and it is nestled in dune forest. The Lodge is fully serviced and is very luxurious. The views from the decks are breath-taking, in the east and unspoilt ocean sunrise and in the west a beautiful sunset over the wetland and lakes in the area. Long white beaches provide endless walking space. We have 5 Luxury Suites each with on suite bathroom. All suites have a view of the ocean and coastal forest.  Activities include: fishing, ocean safaris, scuba diving, snorkeling, horse riding, tours, deep sea fishing, whale & dolphin watching.
Villa n' Banga, Self-Catering, Bilene, Maputo Region
A barefoot paradise, where the only requirement is total relaxation, an environment uniquely preserved a place where the only intruders are the birds. Where peace and tranquillity are a given, where sundowners can be enjoyed everyday while watching a majestic sunset, a place where time is measured by the setting sun. Where the beach is engraved by your foot prints. The tranquillity is enhanced by the sound of the waves lapping on the beach and the evening stars can be viewed in all their glory, a true African Paradise. Paradise has no tarred roads - 4x4 required.  We are a self Catering guesthouse which can accommodate a total of 16 people There is the Main House which can accommodate 8 people, and our Tented Camp which has four 2 sleeper tents with en-suite bathrooms with hot water.

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