This is one of the most beautiful areas of Moçambique. Uninhabited islands of white sand are strung along the coastline, dolphins swim in the channel and many varieties of bird inhabit the dense dune forests.
This protection was increased for Bazaruto & Benguerra islands when they were declared a National Park. It is hoped that the surrounding area will be included in this designation in the future, in the meantime partners including WWF, the Southern African Nature Foundation and the Moçambique based Fundacao Natureza em Perigo are working together to ensure the sustainable management of the archipelago.
The islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra and Magaruque were once joined in one long sand spit, this 70km long stretch of sand separated into three separate islands around 6000 years ago. The smallest island, Santa Carolina, is the only genuine rock island in the archipelago.
This area offers a range of unique and important ecological ecosystems, from pristine coral reefs and clear blue waters to white sand beaches, dune forests and freshwater lakes. The isolation of the islands has also ensured protection for the inhabitants.
The huge variety of wildlife species found here include freshwater crocodiles, turtles, small antelope, rodents, snakes, falcons, frigate birds and one of the last remaining viable populations of the enigmatic dugong. The waters are also perfect for game fishing and keen visitors may be lucky enough to catch species such as marlin, sailfish, king, queen & Spanish mackerel.
The mainland town of Vilankulo is the closest to the islands and offers an airport, hotels, markets and restaurants serving wonderful seafood. The village of Inhassoro is 94km north of Vilankulo and is a small, sleepy fishing community.
The lagoon cost of Moçambique stretches 500km from Ponta do Ouro ('Point of Gold') to Inharrime and encompasses many coastal lagoons, some cut off from the ocean by a number of the world's highest forested sand dunes, and some open to the sea.
This area is a wildlife haven and is home to turtles, sharks, dolphins and over 300 bird species.
Visitors to this area can keep busy with numerous activities such as fishing, birding, swimming with turtles, shark diving, canoeing on the estuaries or diving along the pristine coral reefs.
The Futi Channel of the lagoon coast is an ancient elephant migration route which incorporates Tembe in South Africa and forms the western boundary of the Maputo Elephant Reserve
The reserve was set up in 1960 in an attempt to conserve the remaining herds that had suffered so badly at the hands of poachers. Vegetation within the reserve varies from mangrove and reed swamps to densely forested inland areas.
Inhaca Island lies just off the coast and was cut off from the mainland a few thousand years ago. It now boasts a large variety of intertidal niches include open plains, swamps, freshwater lakes and dune forests. These ecosystems provide ideal habitat for birds such as albatrosses, eagles, terns, petrels and sunbirds.
This little known National Park is located off the main road between Beira and Tete, inland Moçambique. Although the area's wildlife suffered hugely during the civil war, the animal and bird populations are recovering slowly and there is still a lot to be seen here.
Elephant and buffalo are commonly spotted by visitors, and rhino and leopard are also present although very shy and wary of people. Also inhabiting the Park is an increasing lion population, the very rare and beautiful roan and sable antelope species, zebra, kudu and cheetah. In addition, the area is home to over 500 bird species, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
The capital of Moçambique is situated less than 100km from South Africa. With its subtropical climate, Portuguese architecture and Indian cuisine, it is a cosmopolitan and exciting city. Until 1897 the country's capital was the city of Moçambique, located on a small island just offshore and 1500km from Maputo. The sheltered harbour at Maputo was a good asset for explorers to the area, and the colonial layout with wide avenues is still evident in the city structure.
There are many cultural and historical walks that one can take around the city, as well as museums and colourful markets. Xefina Granda Island, just outside Maputo, offers unspoiled beaches and excellent snorkelling in addition to a very interesting 6th century fort.
Further north along the coastline lies the town of Inhambane and surrounding areas of Ponta da Barra, Pandane, Coconut Bay and Praia do Tofo. This area lies on the Tropic of Capricorn and has a warm and pleasurable climate with the fairly high humidity supporting coconut plantations and mangrove swamps. The waters offshore are a snorkelling paradise; in the ocean off Pandane the underwater visibility can reach 40m!
Sandbanks lie off the Barra peninsula, created by north moving long shore counter currents depositing sediment.
The sleepy towns have an oriental atmosphere to them with spice and cloth markets as well as beautiful mosques. Dhows sail by on the horizon and fishermen line up on the shores in the late afternoon with the days catch.
Destination:Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana
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