Stayed at Guludo with my husband for a week earlier this year. It's barefoot and eco and simply gorgeous. If you're looking for something a bit different and you love culture, snorkelling and responsible travel, then Guludo's perfect. It doesn't have all the mod cons of a flashy resort but it does have heart and soul and we fell in love with the place.
We opted for the road transfer from Pemba (about three hours), mainly because it was cheaper than the air option, which was fine. A day trip to Ibo Island is a must - a fascinating place, steeped in history. We almost stayed here before Guludo but quite pleased we didn't as there isn't a decent beach and it only takes a couple of hours to walk around.
Fringed with pristine deserted beaches of pure white sand and surrounded by the sparkling Indian Ocean, Quilalea Island is a hidden gem. This 35 hectare island is set within a national park and offers seclusion and privacy.
From the magnificent beaches you can reach some of the best coral reefs in the world that provide a habitat for an abundance of marine life. Feeding and nesting grounds for the population of sea turtles, dugong, dolphins, sharks and whales can be found here.
It is the undiscovered nature of this island’s beaches that make it so special. Snorkel the island’s shores, kayak the mangroves or relax in a hammock beneath the giant baobabs on the island beaches. Quilalea is a tiny untouched paradise. Difficult to reach, this is the ultimate African beach retreat for an offbeat getaway.
There are few places to stay on the island - the newly refurbished lodges at ‘Azura’, a luxury ‘eco’ boutique retreat which has all the facilities you need, while being a perfect beach hideaway, is worth a visit.
The quaint city of Pemba has an international airport, for the Quirimbas Archipelago in Cabo Delgado Province, Northern Mozambique. From here you travel by light aircraft, helicopter or speedboat to the island.
+27 (0)767 050599
Shabby Vilanculos has silted up creeks and dirty beaches but a short and picturesque dhow ride (or a speed boat if the wind’s wrong) will take you to the heart of the Bazaruto Archipelago nature reserve. This series of platinum sand mounds rising out of the Indian Ocean are dotted with silvery driftwood trees - like sculptures sunk into the sand. £20 gets you your own personal skipper (we got two), and a day to wander aimlessly, cartwheeling along endless deserted beaches, sliding down sand dunes and snorkelling with tiny tropical fish. When we returned to our boat our two Mozambican guides had cooked up an amazing three course meal on an open fire - we sat on the beach as the rain came down, gorging ourselves tomatoey fresh squid stew and mountains of fresh fruit.
Sailaway Dhow Safaris
Rua Marginal, Bairro Central, Vilanculos, Mozambique, Mozambique
+258 29 382 385
Google map: bit.ly/w1Kckm
Tofo with its infinite sands, windowless wicker bungalows, perfectly spaced surf-waves and amazing market eateries serving up plates of enormous buttery prawns would have put Tofo in my top five travel spots even without the whale sharks.
Having de-rusted our diving skills with the extremely patient staff in Tofo Scuba's pool we joined a boat and headed off into the Indian Ocean.
First we noticed a whale tail - then five, twenty, too many to count, the most our dive leader had ever seen.
Without scuba gear we leapt into the water and spent the next hour swimming with the pod and their hangers-on - a couple of enormous but exceptionally graceful manta rays. Coming face to face with alien whale shark grimaces, swimming between their enormous bodies and sensing their utter ambivalence towards us was a euphoric and uniquely calming experience.
Fringed with pristine deserted beaches of pure white sand and surrounded by the sparkling Indian Ocean, Quilalea Island is a hidden gem. This 35 hectare island, set within a national park, offers the ultimate in seclusion and privacy.
Close to the magnificent stretches of beach you can reach some of the best coral reefs in the world that provide a habitat for an abundant array of marine life. Feeding and nesting grounds for the population of sea turtles, dugong, dolphins, sharks and whales can be found here.
It is the 'undiscovered' nature of this island’s beaches that makes it so special. Snorkel the island’s shores, kayak the mangroves or relax in a hammock beneath the giant baobabs on the island beaches. Quilalea is a tiny untouched paradise. Difficult to reach, this is the ultimate African beach retreat for pioneers looking for an offbeat getaway.
The only place to stay on the island is at the newly refurbished lodges at ‘Azura’, a luxury ‘eco’ boutique retreat which has all the facilities you need, while being a perfect beach hideaway.
The quaint city of Pemba is the access point with an international airport, for the Quirimbas Archipelago in Cabo Delgado Province, Northern Mozambique. From here you travel by light aircraft, helicopter or speedboat to the island.
+27 (0)767 050599
To be honest, we picked Base Backpackers largely because of the $20 per night price tag. We'd by lying if we told you it was a perfect situation: we had a private room in the basement that wreaked of mold, had to walk two flights of stairs and across a hallway to go to the bathroom, cold water showers, and internet so bad that old school AOL dial-up would have felt like luxury. With that said, the hostel was in the heart of the city - a safe, bustling area, across the street from Chinese and Indian food, and in walking distance to the Intercape bus station. The managers are extremely friendly, and the "guard" - a mutt resembling a bijon frise named Spudd - made for a warm, tail wagging welcome when we came home. Do we recommend Base when you visit Maputo? Well if you can afford a splurge on a hotel, then this might not be the place to do it. With that said, in terms of value for the dollar, Base was a fair deal.
For large portions of great seafood at reasonable prices, Sagres is definitely worth a visit. The cracked black pepper prawns are particularly good. The seafood salad has been my only disappointment (plasticky "crab" sticks). It's right next to the sea, which adds to the atmosphere, and there's a guarded parking area outside.
Av. Marginal 4272, Maputo, Mozambique
+258 21 395201
Jardim dos Namorados is a small, colourful park perched on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Maputo.
Its attractions include a children's play area, a wonderful view of the sea and a cluster of ice cream parlours and cafes.
One of the most popular cafes is "Surf" which sells an imaginative range of pastries and light meals - although the service is a bit hit and miss at weekends, when it gets very busy.
Jardim dos Namorados is THE place in Maputo for wedding photos so at weekends you will no doubt come across several wedding parties: processions of jubilant Mozambicans dressed in suits, silks and satins, all swaying, singing and posing for the camera.
Avenida Julius Nyere, Maputo
Google map: tinyurl.com/yc6wgg9
Taking the coach between the coastal cities is a pleasant and comfortable way to see a lot of countryside (north KZN coast, skirt the Drakkensberg, cross Swaziland, descent into Maputo).
Tickets are easily purchased ahead of time at the Durban terminus. Everybody recommends to use the Mozambique owned service rather than the SA owned one (easy to tell - it has a Portuguese name - something Azul as I recall). That worked for me, comfortable seats, refreshments, air conditioning, helpful staff.
Durban bus station is organised but you won't want to spend much time there as it has the same edgy feel as any major bus terminus in a European or North American city (even on a Sunday morning departure). Border crossings (two because of Swaziland - make sure your visa situation is sorted before travel) are relatively painless. Even the rest stops are interesting.
Maputo bus station is pleasantly chaotic and not too hassled, like that lovely languid seaside city itself (better than the somewhat bureaucratic 1970's southern-Europe style airport). I only got to spend two days in Maputo but it is charming and atmospheric though becoming a playground for South Africans so progressively losing much of it's Luso/Afro distinctiveness. Lots of great food, especially seafood of course. Loads of restaurants, bars and clubs (though Sunday night is quiet) and it will feel quite familiar if you have been to Lisbon, or indeed Macao. It is not compact but laid out with wide boulevards so not very walkable, but taxis are cheap and easy. And you have to love a city that has streets named after Trotsky, Stalin and Kim Il Sung!
It doesn’t get much more idyllic than this; white sand, blue sea, great diving, no street lights, shops or traffic for miles around... And Fatima’s Nest is the place to stay in Tofo. Set right on the edge of the beach are dorm or private cabins – turn 180° from your door and you’re in the sand.
There’s also a lively bar which has live music, cheap breakfasts (banana pancakes?!), fresh buffet dinners (freshly caught fish is a favourite) and local rum – what more could you need in paradise?
To reach Ibo independently you will have to get a chapa ride from Pemba (or even more demandingly by changing rides on the rough road from Macomia), from where you will reach Quissanga. From there it is a short ride down to the ocean at Tandanhangue. Usually the chapa runs to meet the high tide and an unforgettable dhow ride to Ibo Island. Be aware that other islands are served from the same departure point. If you do get stuck - perhaps at the low spring tides - there is a shelter to sleep overnight, or perhaps you will find a bed in the village itself.
Any trip on a dhow is rewarding, but approaching the dilapidated fortifications of Ibo is especially memorable. The price locals pay for the one-way trip is NMT 40.
The area of bars and dives around the evangelical church opposite the main Post Office is undistinguished except for this surprisingly civilised restaurant. It serves Portuguese and Mozambican meals in a large open area. Excellent cooking and range of beers and wines.
Rua 25 de Setembro - Parque do Desportivo
tel: +258 272 20415
This is a hotel and restaurant on one of the main streets in Ibo town, not as exclusive (nor, indeed, pricey) as Ibo Island Lodge but with many charms. Accommodation is in rooms leading off from the central courtyard, which also has a small swimming pool facing the ocean. The cooking is recommended, but - as is the case with almost anywhere on Ibo - you need to book in advance to guarantee that they will feed you.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org