Tag Archives: Mozambique

Marine Safaris in Tanzania and Mozambique

We are famous for our safaris but did you know that you can also enjoy a marine safari off the coast of East Africa? We have several wonderful places where you can explore the incredible range of marine wildlife whilst swimming in the crystal-clear, bath-warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Fundu Lagoon, Pemba, Tanzania

This small and intimate award winning eco-resort is set on the tiny and unspoilt island of Pemba off the coast of the larger island of Zanzibar. This resort has won many awards for its barefoot luxury accommodation and this year it won the Best Marine Safari Experience in Africa for 2015. The resort and its partner diving operation , Dive 71, focus hard on preserving the unique marine ecology in the area whilst offering a 5 star PADI diving experience. You can do everything from snorkelling up to specialist week long diving qualifications.

The area’s main attraction are the warm, clear waters with visibility between 20-40 metres and temperatures around 25-28 degrees. There are miles of pristine coral reefs which hosts a vast array of fish and other sea creatures. The shallow reefs combine with huge drop offs which make for exciting diving and also a spectacular range of sea creatures. This area has currents so all diving is drift diving.

The area has a wide range of marine life from hawksbill and green turtles to manta and eagle rays, from dolphins and barracuda to tiny reef fish. At certain times of the year you may see whales passing on their migration routes. This area  is one of the best diving locations in the world.

Click on the link to find out more about Fundu Lagoon.

Ibo Island Lodge, Quirimbas, Mozambique

Another award winning lodge that we are proud to offer is Ibo Island Lodge which won the Best Marine Safari Property at the Safari Awards this year. This stunning lodge on a tropical island off the coast of Mozambique is also an excellent place to see the incredible marine wildlife in this area.

You can go snorkelling if you are inexperienced but just want to catch a brief glimpse of the underwater life. You can head deeper to the coral reefs and dramatic drops for the more serious and experienced divers.  The PADI dive centre at Ibo offers a wide range of diving experiences and qualifications.

This area offers incredibly beautiful underwater landscapes with clear waters and excellent visibility and warm temperatures. There are gentle currents here so no worries of drift diving. The best diving around Ibo Lodge is at a place called the Light House. It’s a long coral reef that stretches across a square kilometre. This shallow reef contains large gardens of coral tables, soft corals, bucket corals, green tree corals and a drop off of 21m were you can see a good range of tropical fish.

Another site close to Ibo is Matemo where you can swim with dolphins and turtles and the many brightly coloured reef fish. Another exciting place to dive is the wreck of a 100 year old steamer just off a nearby sandbank. As this is shallow it is perfect for snorkelling and the water is so clear that visibility down to the wreck is excellent.

The Quirimbas Archipelago is a magical mix of rare and beautiful fish, pristine reefs, crystal clear waters and fantastic marine mammals. Whether you are an experience diver or a novice snorkeller you can see all kinds of marine life including dolphins and turtles, not to mention the hump backed whales which you can often see between July and September.

Ibo Island Lodge also offers the rare experience of swimming with wild dolphins in their natural environment. The dolphin experience lasts 2-3 hrs and includes an introduction to dolphins and their behaviour, a briefing on boat safety, marine life and responsible interactions with the dolphins. The dive centre uses the regulated Swim Code of Conduct, created to ensure a sustainable eco-friendly approach. They wait for the dolphins to approach and never try to swim after them.  Dive Quirimbas  is an Ethical Marine Mammal Campaigner in Mozambique who supports the dolphin care code of conduct.

Click on the link to find out more about Ibo Island Lodge

Posted by Ruth Bolton

Our Top Ten Island Getaways in Africa and the Indian Ocean (Part 1)

Are you sitting at work dreaming of escaping to a tropical island in the sun? Forget the Caribbean, Africa has some truly gorgeous island getaways just right for escaping the cold winter or a wet summer. Some are tiny with just a handful of rustic hideaways whilst others are much larger and more established with lots of luxury hotels, fantastic water-sports and world class restaurants.  All of them have sublime scenery; some have dramatic rocky coves whilst others have dreamy beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Here are the first 5 in our top 10 as voted by the Real Africa team.

Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Mfangano Island is found at the eastern end of Lake Victoria and it is one of the team’s favourite islands. The island is a great combination of beautiful scenery, laid back African atmosphere and great wildlife. You can while away many hours just relaxing on the island watching the incredible birdlife or going fishing for your supper. It is also home to one of our favourite camps run by the team behind Governors Camps.  Mfangano Island Camp is a luxury, island hideaway lodge lapped by the waters of Lake Victoria, shaded by giant fig trees, and a secluded atmosphere. There are beautiful lush gardens set on a private bay with enormous boulders which sit at the water’s edge providing a perch for cormorants or giant monitor lizards to sun themselves. You will feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life on Mfangano.

Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Our intrepid explorer Lily nominated Ibo Island as one of her favourites having travelled to Mozambique last year. Ibo Island is part of the famous Quirimbas Archipelago which nestles in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of northern Mozambique. Once Mozambique’s mighty trading centre, Ibo Island has remained all but forgotten to the outside world for almost a century. Wander around this colonial little island town and hear tales of pirates and prisoners, turtle shells and silver. Explore old forts and ancient romantic buildings where you can almost feel the history come to life. Ibo is home to some wonderfully majestic historical architecture, some beautifully restored and some left as atmospheric ruins. Add to this almost dazzlingly white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters, mangrove swamps and quaint fishing villages, giant sand dunes and lush greenery and you have a real paradise. Mozambique and the waters off Ibo Island are also famous for their pristine coral reefs and incredible marine wildlife including manta rays, rare dugongs, a variety of dolphins and all sorts of species of whales. We offer holidays to Ibo Island Lodge which is an award winning beach hotel with a fantastic location and stylish luxury accommodation.

Pemba, Tanzania

Pemba is a small island off the coast of its larger and more famous neighbour Zanzibar. Its remote location and small size has meant that it remained an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and history. The lush mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, and gently undulating hills combined with stunning hidden beaches and quiet lagoons makes for a serene and beautiful island getaway. The history of the island is told in the scattered ruins of mosques and tombs hidden away in the forest, some of which date back to Arab colonisation in the 17th century.

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Likoma Island is another very popular destination amongst the team.  It is unusual in that it actually sits in Mozambican waters but is still part of Malawi. Likoma has a gentle, pretty landscape made up of rolling grassland dotted with trees, secluded coves and beaches and stunning views over to the mainland. There are a handful of hotels on the island but very little traffic as there are no paved roads and people travel by boat.  The waters here are crystal clear and warm making it perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing and sailing. The waters of the lake are also home to wonderful birdlife and the whole atmosphere is very peaceful indeed. We offer stays at the wonderful Kaya Mawa which is a 5 star luxury lodge with incredible views, secluded beaches and gorgeous rooms. It was voted by Conde Nast as one of the top ten most romantic places in the world.

Mafia Island, Tanzania

Another small island off the East African coast and part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Mafia Island is a proper Robinson Crusoe desert island. It is a place to get away and soak up nature in all its finest. Mafia Island’s coral reefs are renowned as an excellent, world-class diving destination. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the world, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. If you are not one for diving you can explore the island’s nature trails and discover the hidden ruins of lost buildings reclaimed by the jungle. However it is really the gloriously pristine white sandy beaches lapped by gentle warm waters which you tend to have all to yourself that attract most people to Mafia Island. It is wonderfully peaceful and calming and a perfect place to relaxing. We offer a fantastic little rustic retreat called Chole Mjini if Mafia Island sounds the place for you.

If you fancy turning your daydreams into reality then give us a call and we can fix you up!

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Have you ever heard of a Peace Park? There are several in Africa but the biggest and most established is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Southern Africa. This incredibly vast conservation area  stretches across three frontiers between Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa and is home to millions of animals.

This park was set up as a peace park to join  three countries together in an effort to protect the wildlife that roams across their national boundaries and as such it is one of the most successful conservation projects on the whole of the African continent. The park actually incorporates three seperate national parks; the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and some of the areas in between.

Conservation Area:

At the moment it is in the first stage and currently it covers around 35,000 kms sq. The aim is to bring together some of the most exciting and well established wildlife areas in Southern Africa and  manage it as one single, integrated unit across three international boundaries, a tricky proposition! The next phase will to be to create a bigger transfrontier conservation area measuring almost 100,000 kms sq.  The larger transfrontier conservation area will include Banhine and Zinave national parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe also bordering on the park.

Administration:

The adminstration and development of the park needs the various countries to agree unified policies and to co-operate over things such as fees and rates, border crossings, tourism strategy, conservation strategy, future funding and future development. This can only be done by running the park under a single management organisation and this has been done since 2002 when the park was finally created after years of planning.

History:

The park was originally discussed as an idea in a meeting between President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and the president of the World Wide Fund For Nature (South Africa) in 1990.  The 1992 Peace Accord in Mozambique and the South African democratic elections of 1994 paved the way for the political processes to proceed toward making this idea a reality. Feasibility studies initiated by the World Bank culminated in a pilot project that was launched with Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding in 1996.  Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique signed a trilateral agreement in Skukuza, South Africa on 10 November 2000. The Skukuza agreement signalled the three nations’ intent to establish and develop a transfrontier park and surrounding conservation area that, at that time, was called Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou. Finally, on 9 December 2002, the heads of state of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty at Xai-Xai, Mozambique to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Below is one of the first concept maps drawn up for the park in 1993.

Wildlife:

The park is important for several different reasons. It is vitally important to preserve some of the cultural sites such as the ancient cave paintings and the evidence of early man within the park.  The landscape and vegetation area are also vitally important to preserve. Of course one of the most important aspects is the conservation of the rare wildlife that lives in this area. In the GLTP there is a significant and viable populations of wild dog, white rhino and black rhino all of which are significantly endangered. Both these species are increasing steadily and increased range opportunities into Mozambique and Zimbabwe will enhance the conservation of these species and others. There are also significant populations of elephant, zebra, lion and spotted hyaena to be found in the park. As the park grows it will encompass and protect more endangered species and preserve more areas of environmental or cultural importance. It will also offer protected migration routes as most animals travel huge distances in search of either grazing or prey.

This is one of Africa’s great success stories. The park has taken a huge amount of time and effort whilst managing to overcome many hurdles on the way but it is now   a great success with plans to continue its expansion and development.

 

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Floods

After the horrendous floods this winter in Somerset and along the Thames Valley there are many people facing the long and arduous prospect of recovery and repair to their damaged homes and their disrupted lives. It takes many, many months before homes are habitable once again. Then there is also the damage to the infrastructure to consider. Once the water has drained away then repairs have to be made to roads, bridges, sewerage pipes, harbour walls, sea defences, railway lines, electricity lines and telephone cables. The list is almost endless and very, very expensive. Luckily here in the UK we tend to have home insurance and a government that has enough resources to assist with the rebuilding and repairs programme. Other countries are not so lucky. Those of us not affected by the floods tend to forget about them once they are no longer headline news. I thought we should take a look at how one of our favourite African destinations, Mozambique, is faring, one year on from the disastrous floods of January 2013. 

Mozambique regularly suffers major floods including in both 2000 and 2001.  However it was this time last year that Mozambique suffered one of the worst floods in recent memory.  The UN reported that 250,000 people were affected, at least 95 people died and nearly 100,000 were displaced. The flooding occurred in the southern part of Mozambique when heavy rains meant that the Limpopo burst its banks. The river covered a huge area devastating towns like Chokwe and Xai Xai in the southern Gaza region and water levels reached as high as 8 metres, around 25 feet. The government response to the flooding crises has improved massively since the early days, but Mozambique is still a developing nation with a poor infrastructure and where half the population live on less than a dollar a day. Thankfully the UN, the Red Cross/Crescent and other NGOs arrived to help.  Enormous temporary camps of up to 70,000 people at a time where set up and food, water and medical assistance brought in swiftly preventing an even bigger humanitarian disaster.  

A year on and things are definitely not yet back to normal and there are still plenty of signs of what happened a year ago. Community warning systems worked well and despite a huge area being flooded the number of deaths was kept relatively low. These warning systems are run by local Red Cross volunteers and are impressive in their simplicity but effectiveness. It is hoped that this can be built on for the future into some kind of effective flood warning and response scheme across the country and its neighbours.

With the damage to buildings and infrastructure being so significant there is some rebuilding going on. However for the people of Chokwe and neighbouring towns the news is not so good; they are still stuck living in makeshift camps. Few people in the area have jobs and they have no homes to return to and no money to rebuild them. Long term plans have been discussed in Mozambique just like they have here in the UK. Dams and dykes have been raised as ideas for future flood prevention but these are expensive and not always effective.  More popular is the idea to rehouse people on higher ground around the temporary camps. Agriculture land is being offered for resettlement and farming in the area. People could have a main home high in the hills and then a temporary one down on the flood basin where the majority of farming takes place. This sounds like a far better solution and unlike in the UK, there is plenty of land and space for this to happen. Let’s hope that a decent solution is found and quickly for both Mozambique and those affected here in the UK.

Posted by Ruth

Spotlight: Mozambique

Mozambique is a new destination on the map for holidaymakers as its tourism industry has really only established itself over the past few years. Most people are pretty unsure as to where it is and what it might offer. But don’t let this fool you –Mozambique is spectacular and offers some of the most fantastic diving and some of the most stunning beaches in the whole world.

Mozambique is in south eastern Africa on the Indian Ocean neighbouring South Africa,  Zimbabwe,Tanzania and Malawi. It combines beautiful inland scenery with fantastic coastal scenery. Inland you can go on safari as Mozambique has created some national parks including the Maputo Special Reserve and the Gorongosa National Park. Animals numbers are being re-built with help from their neighbours and this is a great place to go on safari if you fancy trying out a new country away from traditional safari destinations. The capital city o f Maputo is interesting to visit as it reflects the country’s mixed heritage of Portuguese and Arab influences combined with Africa. Mozambique has a flavour all of its own.

The best time of year to go is during the dry season which is from April through to September. The wet season runs over the winter months and the rainfall is heaviest along the coast. Heavy rain means diving visibility is limited and its not so much fun on the beach either so aim for the summer months when visiting.

There is a wide range of accommodation in Mozambique from large resort hotels to small safari camps. The best range of accommodation is available along the coast and on the islands where you can find full equipped beach resorts with spas and a huge range of water-sports and diving centres.  You can learn to sail, scuba dive, fish, windsurf or waterski here! You can also find lots of tiny little private islands and boutique hotels which are much smaller and more intimate. These range from basic rustic to barefoot luxury, from eco-friendly to top of the range. In fact the often stylish and romantic accommodation has made Mozambiquea very popular destination for honeymooners wishing to get off the beaten track and have the beach to themselves.

Swimming and diving really are the two main diversions for the holidaymaker in Mozambique and the beautiful coast is the main attraction. The Mozambique Coast is made up of many different islands and bays. Off the coast is a huge range of coral reefs which are home to some fabulous marine wildlife and which make this area such an exciting place to come diving. There are various different archipelagos which are popular depending on their accessibility or their facilities. Some islands are so remote you can only reach them having travelled by plane, helicopter and boat! Much of the coastline is protected as one of the world’s first and most important marine national parks.

Pemba is renowned as being a fantastic destination for scuba diving enthusiasts as it is home to a wonderfully pristine coral reef which is easily accessible. Pemba is a popular holiday spot already for upper-middle class Mozambicans and South Africans and as such as a good range of hotels and restaurants and other facilities. Pemba is the closest major city and airport for those who wish to visit Quirimbas Islands and Quirimbas National Park. The Quirimbas Islands lie in the Indian Ocean off the northeastern coast. The archipelago consists of about 27 islands and was made up of Arab trading posts and small fishing villages. Today, many of the islands are un-inhabitated – just the place for a picnic with the place just to yourselves!

The islands of Mozambique are famous for their high-quality diving sites, including spectacular drop-offs, some up to 400 meters. The Quirimbas National Park, is a protected area in the islands which spans around 7,500 km², includes the eleven most southerly islands. Also worth visiting is the Bazaruto Archipelago which is a group of six islands in near the mainland city of Viklankulo. It is a proclaimed marine national park that boasts sensational beaches and magnificent scenery.

The archipelago comprises of the islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Banque, and Santa Carolina and Shell Island. Tourist attractions include sandy beaches and coral reefs – again perfect for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. There is a wide abundance of reef fish, Surgeon, Moorish Idols, Parrot, Angel and Butterfly fish to name but a few. There is so much marine life here in abundance. You see dolphins as a matter of course and often you can catch a glimpse of whales as they pass through the warm waters on their way to South Africa on their migration.

You may also see the majestic spectacle of giant manta and devil rays as the glide smoothly through the crystal clear waters. These are amazing creatures and fascinating to watch. If you are really lucky you might even catch sight of the endangered and very elusive Dugong or sea-cow.  If you like the beach you really are spoilt for choice when you come to Mozambique and it will capture your imagination like nowhere else.