Once a Portuguese colony administered from the capital of Maputo, this country has many remnants of colonial forts and administrative buildings. The Portuguese influence is also evident in the cuisine, with plentiful crayfish and Piri Piri prawns to die for. But it is the long coastline of pristine beaches that Mozambique is most famous for, ranking amongst the best in the world and with a rich diversity of marine life.
Along the south coast, resorts at towns such as Ponta Mamoli offer superb dive sites and the chance to swim with wild dolphin, but the road is poor and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. The southern Mozambique coast combines well with a safari in Zululand, in neighbouring South Africa.
Further north, Tofu Beach in Inhambane offers some of the best scuba diving in all of Mozambique, including whale shark, dugong and manta. It has several affordable mainland lodge options and you can fly in from Johannesburg or self-drive from Maputo.
The more central Bazaruto Archipelago is more remote, with a handful of luxury fly-in lodges on the otherwise uninhabited islands of Bazaruto and Benguerra, and a few more affordable options on the mainland. It is accessed from Vilanculos and is the place to see humpback whales and turtles in season. There is a twice weekly flight from the Kruger National Park direct to Vilanculos, making this a popular beach and luxury safari combination.
The more northerly coralline Quirimbas Archipelago stretches for almost 250 miles along the coast. Here you will find a few exclusive fly-in lodges, as well as mainland lodges near Nuarro and Ilha de Moçambique, a former fortified trading post that is now a World Heritage Site. Many of these lodges have a close relationship with the local inhabitants and are inspiring examples of ecotourism. There are also charming options on Ibo Island, the former regional capital, and near Pemba. With flight connections from Dar Es Salaam, this region combines well with a safari in Tanzania or Kenya.
There is also a luxury beach resort on the Machangulo Peninsula in Maputo Bay, opposite Inhaca Island.
For those wanting to get even further off the beaten track, Lake Niassa (also known as Lake Malawi) is an outstanding option and is almost completely undeveloped. Here there are crystal clear waters and pale sandy beaches, backed by steep hills that rise up directly from the lakeshore. Guests can swim, snorkel, sail, canoe, hike and participate in local community projects.
Mozambique was once a thriving safari destination and in recent years Parc Nacional de Limpopo in the south has taken down the fences that once separated it from South Africa’s Kruger National Park, creating a huge Transfrontier Park that can be accessed in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Attempts are also being made to regenerate the wildlife in Gorongosa and Niassa. It is early days as yet, but for those wanting a true wilderness experience the vast Lugenda Wildlife Reserve offers comfortable tented accommodation and can be reached via light aircraft from Pemba.