Many people don’t look beyond the peak season of June to October when it comes to determining the best time to visit Mozambique on a beach holiday. They’re not wrong, of course – but nor are they completely correct. Either side of this period lie great-value beach holidays, with or without a safari component.
Mozambique has the great fortune of having a tropical climate that sees relatively little temperature variation throughout the year, although in summer it’s hotter and a little stickier. Between June and October, it would be hard to improve on conditions along the country’s seemingly endless coastline.
It’s the Southern African winter in the heart of this period (from June to August), but a winter unlike no other. Cooler and drier than the rest of the year, certainly, but both air and ocean are pleasantly warm. It’s more than possible to spend a week or two here during these months and have not a single cloud on the horizon – real or metaphorical.
Bazaruto and the Benguerra islands offer tropical island dreams come true, with swaying palm fronds and the chance to indulge in sunset dhow cruises on calm ocean waters, or to be temporarily (and luxuriously) marooned on a sandbar that shrinks as the tide rises – not so fast, of course, that you can’t be rescued in good time.
Mozambique’s native ocean wildlife – including dolphins and shy dugongs – is augmented later in the season as whale sharks and the even larger humpback whales migrate along the coast. Conditions are equally perfect in the Quirimbas Archipelago, where September sees the start of the tag-and-release marlin fishing season for anyone following in Hemingway’s wake.
The Southern African winter is also the optimum time for a terrestrial safari, as dwindling water resources concentrate game and receding vegetation makes spotting easier. The sweeping, turtle-raked beaches of Maputaland, although slightly cooler, are even easier to combine with the Greater Kruger if you’re looking for a beach and safari holiday.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
If you like your holidays a little hotter, and you’re not averse to a little humidity, then there’s excellent value to be had by visiting Mozambique’s beach destinations outside of the peak season, between November and April. With a little careful planning (which we can help with, of course), you could have whole swathes of beach to yourself, with only the occasional brief afternoon short, sharp shower to dodge.
Temperatures do climb, but luxury lodges along the coast have many tried-and-tested techniques for keeping you cool. The sense of exclusivity is heightened by the lower numbers, and on occasions you may find you effectively have your own private island.
Mozambique does have a cyclone season, affecting the central Mozambican coastline and Bazaruto area from February to March. While lodges generally stay open, this period can be tempered by anything from essentially a free pyrotechnics show all the way through to a proper tropical storm.
Outside of these two months, the downpours never last for long, and there’s compensation not just in the universally lower rates, but also in the wildlife encounters.
Whale sharks spend time off Bazaruto and the Benguerra islands in October and November, while the underwater visibility off the Quirimbas Archipelago in December has to be seen through to be believed.
Most of the arriving flights in this season are of migratory birds, and if a marlin is the darling of your eye, you might want to sling your hook offshore during December and January.
Maputaland’s beaches (which straddle the Mozambique–South Africa border) may well beckon during the Southern African summer if you’re keen on a safari and beach holiday. Although the ‘green season’ is not as popular for safaris, it’s a time of great beauty and interest as migrating birds arrive, flowers burst into bloom and baby animals take their first uncertain steps – and there’s real value for money in witnessing that.