Mozambique is mostly seen as a spectacular beach destination with
palm-lined, white-sand beaches. But the destination has so much more to offer
than just its spectacular seaside resorts.
The country’s capital, Maputo, is often overlooked by travelers, but the
city has a lot to offer. Although Maputo was badly damaged during the country’s
15-year civil war that ended in 1992, it is now a vibrant tourist town with hip
sidewalk cafes, jazz bars and a lively arts scene.
Travelers should make sure to embark upon a historical
and art deco walking tour of the city organized by Jane Flood (http://www.maputocitytours.com/jane-flood-walking-tours).
Flood knows the ins and outs of downtown Maputo. She’ll show travelers some of
the city’s best architecture, including the CFM train station and the art deco
splendor of Se Cathedral. Visitors will also be able to see the Malangatana
murals on buildings that are not usually accessible to the public. Mozambique's
best-known visual artist, the charismatic Malangatana Ngwenya, was named Unesco
Artist for Peace in 1997.
Flood will take travelers for a stroll through the Tunduru botanical
gardens, which reopened in December after a two-year closure for upgrades. The
botanical gardens now feature a beautiful greenhouse, improved pathways and
public benches and a new irrigation system. The gardens were designed in 1885
by British landscape designer Thomas Honney, who also designed gardens for the
King of Greece and the Sultan of Turkey.
For an incredible wildlife experience, travelers can opt for the Lugenda Wilderness Camp in the Niassa Reserve
in northern Mozambique. The camp features only eight tents, set among
the trees along the banks of the Lugenda River. Travelers can embark upon game
drives and canoe trips down the Lugenda River, and walking tours to see cave
paintings from Batwa tribes that used to inhabit the area.
Also worth a visit is the Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique.
The park was almost completely destroyed during the country’s civil war, but today
its rehabilitation is well on its way. The Carr Foundation, a U.S.
not-for-profit organization, teamed with the Mozambique government to protect
and restore the ecosystem of the park and to develop an ecotourism industry to
benefit local communities.
After the city and the African savannah, it is time to head to Ilha de
Mozambique and Ibo Island. Both these islands offer a “step-back-in-time”
experience and showcase the history of the slave and spice trade as well as the
Indian, Portuguese and African cultures that are typical of Mozambique.
The fortified city on Ilha de Mozambique, a former Portuguese trading
post en route to India, has been named a Unesco World Heritage Site. Today, the
island’s churches, mosques and colonial buildings still show the island’s rich
African, Arab and European heritage. It is a colorful island, a photographer’s
dream with evocative ruins, dhows and old churches in a tropical setting.
Virtually unknown, Ibo Island is a place where time has stood still.
Formerly a prosperous trading post, the island still features three forts, a
beautiful old Catholic church and numerous ancient trading buildings. For those
who would like to have a glimpse of what Ibo Island has to offer, the Ibo Island
Lodge recently launched a 360-degree virtual movie at http://www.iboisland.com/vr-video-3/.