Luxury escapes to Mozambique

Mozambique beckons with its unspoilt coastline and swaying palms, its traditions and culture, and warm, friendly people. Like me, most visitors come for the excellent lodges and resorts on its long, dune-fringed beaches, luminous waters abounding in tropical fish, well-preserved corals and remote archipelagos.

Maputo is the lively capital with some gorgeous, colonial architecture and a handsome waterfront setting, which I especially love. There are wide avenues lined with flame trees, good hotels and restaurants, a pulsating nightlife and an active cultural scene.

The coastal area known as Maputaland straddles Mozambique’s deep south and South Africa’s far north. Destinations such Ponta do Ouro, Ponta Mamoli and Maputo Elephant Reserve are particularly popular with travellers hopping over the border.

North of Maputo, the favoured destinations are around the old Portuguese settlement of Inhambane and the Bazaruto Archipelago. The former is a charming, waterfront town with tree-lined avenues and elegant, if faded, colonial architecture.

The Bazaruto National Park protects its archipelago’s five main islands and surrounding waters. Thanks to its conservation status – and to the archipelago’s relative isolation during the years of civil war – the natural heritage is unspoilt, with an astonishing bird and marine life. Dolphins, dugongs and turtles ply these waters, along with 2,000 fish species.

In the far north, the Quirimbas National Park protects most of the southern Quirimbas Archipelago (including Ibo, Medjumbe and Matemo islands). The park is best known for its rich marine life, pristine beaches and remote coral islands that boast luxury, eco-friendly resorts. Watersports of every kind are offered, ranging from kayaking to snorkelling and diving. If you just want to relax, try a sunset dhow cruise or enjoy a picnic on a sandbar.

When to Go

Mozambique has a tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures. The cooler, dry winter season is the best time to visit, with temperatures along the coast averaging about 27ºC. It’s sunny, cloudless and the ocean is still pleasantly warm. Migrating humpback whales ply Mozambique’s waters from June to October while sailfish patrol from May to December. Towards the end of this period (from October to December), you’ll have a good chance of seeing whale sharks. If you’re on safari, winter is also the best time to see game.

This is the hot and wet summer season, and it can get pretty steamy and humid in December and January. The average coastal temperature is over 30ºC and rainfall is generally heaviest between December and March. February to March is also cyclone season, but some areas are less affected than others. If you go at this time, be prepared for stormy skies and (fairly brief) downpours. The air is filled with migrant birds now and you can see whale sharks in early summer (October to December). December and January also bring good marlin fishing.

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