Although Mozambique is peaceful since 1992, the country still has to cope with its warzone image. Despite having gotten through their full Pandora’s box package of civil wars, floods, starvation and endless dry periods; today it is Africa’s fasted growing economy. The people are optimistic, friendly and hospitable. The country has 1500 miles (2500km) of coastline with idyllic beaches, and the coral reefs belong to the most beautiful of the world. The Niassa wildlife reserve, located in the north, is nearly twice as large as the Kruger National Park. So it is high time to look from a different perspective at Africa’s latest hotspot.

The water flows to the mangroves underneath my pillar house.

From the terrace of my hut I jump into the clear water of the Indian Ocean that flows underneath my stilt house on its way to the mangroves. The sun goes down and the sky’s colours change from purple to bright orange, a couple of flamingo’s perch. It is love at first sight. Flamingo Bay is one of the 5-star hotels that are popping up everywhere since a couple of years. For many Mozambicans this means they can earn one’s daily bread. Tourism makes sure that the former Portuguese colony that was struck by its civil war until 1992, can now get back on track. While having dinner, birds and crickets take care of a subtle sound decor. No television, no radio, I just live in the rhythm of nature.

Flamingo’s in Inhambane.

Tourism for prosperity. ‘Many people’ is Manuel’s answer, when I ask the local guide how many inhabitants Inhambane has. The boy shows me the new bank, the school and the petrol station. The old Portuguese houses which evoke an atmosphere of faded glory are irrelevant to him. His knowledge of the past does not reach further than “previously there was a war, but not anymore”. That civil war was also the reason why he did not go to school. He learned English from the South-Africans who opened a lodge over here. In 1965 after the independence 95% of the population was illiterate, today it is less than half.

Less illiteracy thanks to tourism.

The many dhows (traditional sailing boats) at the bay of Inhambane are impressive. The city itself is green and has a surplus of charm. Especially the market is interesting; the smell of ripe fruit comes my way. Bush doctors sell their strange medicines, vegetables and fruit are ingeniously piled up; at another stall small goat heads stare at me, in the middle of big pieces of meat. A bit further I walk with my sandals through the smelly fish water but I like these kinds of markets that represent in a nutshell daily life over here. Manuel is a better guide in his own village: he takes me to the local bar, presents me to his family and explains the system of compounds, where the whole family lives together but spread out over several individual huts. Meanwhile Manuel has his own house; tourism has not done him any harm.

Magnificent mangroves near the lodge.

Gentle giants. The region around Inhambane is a maze of waterways through the mangroves and is famous for its enormous manta rays and its giant whale sharks. You can spot them in Tofinho next to Tofo, the surfing paradise. I do not get to see sharks while snorkeling and I believe it is for the better. The whale shark easily weights around three ton and gets up to 25 foot (7,6 meter), it is the largest ocean fish. Their mouth width alone already measures 3,3 foot (1,5 meter), luckily they only have very small teeth. I'm not afraid to be eaten because they only eat plankton, but with their huge mouth they suck up everything that crosses their path. I do spot giant oceanic manta rays of which two huge ones swim past underneath me. They can get up to 6 meter and are spectacular to see. I stay lying as quiet as possible in the water to admire them, about 350 of them live in the Manta reef.

Luxury on barefoot in Benguerra.

Luxury on barefoot. "Glad you're here", Lee the manager of Benguerra lodge welcomes me warmly; his whole team receives me with a song. "Antonio will take excellent care of you, he's your butler," says Lee as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Benguerra is the second largest island of the Bazaruto archipelago and consists of five idyllic islands. It is a national marine park and often called one of the most beautiful destinations in Africa. It is an untouched paradise, of which the lodge owners are aware. Therefore they will do everything to preserve the social and ecological integrity of it. The island only counts a few thousand inhabitants. Lunch gets served on the terrace of my casita, a modest name for my villa on the beach with a canopy bed, a bath in the middle of the room, an outside shower and an inviting sun deck with a swimming pool and whirlpool. Antonio indeed takes care of everything. If this is a taster of heaven, I will sign immediately.  Despite the 5 star allures, the atmosphere is casual at the same time; bear foot luxury at its best. On the other hand it is still strange to indulge in luxury in a country that was once torn apart by war. Patricio, my dhow captain tells me about the positive changes in his country since tourism showed up at the island. He learned English thanks to the lodge as they provide English lessons for adults and make sure that the children can go to school. He is full of praise: ‘a lot of people are working for the resorts, the Benguerra lodge nearly buys all of our fish and we may organise dhow tours for the tourists’. In the mean time the wind plays gently with the primitive sail of his dhow and I enjoy the quietness fully. When I enter my room after sunset, my bath is filled up and a bottle of champagne is waiting for me. Antonio has a good feeling for timing.

Stranded pansy shells, little jewels.

Nemo in person. Two miles reef is situated like a half-circle in the middle of the sea, where I go snorkling. There are turtles here and I see rays, although they are a lot smaller. It resembles swimming through a tropical aquarium with bright coloured fish of which some are rather big, like the blowhead fish with his appropriate name; or the very much coloured ones like the clown fish, better known as Nemo. I love the chocolate dips that are brown in front and white at the back. They swim with hundreds around me.  The current is strong and therefore we take a rest at Pansy Island, a large sand bank where the pansy shell washes ashore. The whole sand bank is covered with this fragile organism that is normally green and has spines, but once washed ashore it transforms into a pearl white shell with on top a violet shaped image. Inside are five tiny shells that resemble angel wings, about which several legends are being told.

Sand like sugar.

Sand like sugar. In the north of Benguerra a couple of lakes are situated in which large crocodiles are hiding. America, a local boy guides me and tells me his dad once got caught by one of those giants and was rescued by his mother who acted like a super-women by putting a stick in the crocodile’s jaws. I stay away from the shore, as I do not feel called upon to be eaten as a snack. Between wild gladioli and palms men are making palm wine, a strong smelly trouble drink that I politely turn down. We visit the school (build by three lodges of the island), the children recite their lesson and are happy with the break. We pick nick at south point, a crystal-clear beach with huge sand dunes and occasionally a dead three. In the middle of the beach is a table with all kinds of delicacies and chilled white wine; a duvet with large pillows is waiting. The sand on the island feels like sugar, it sounds like I am sliding barefoot over a freshly polished floor. South Point is part of the top 10 world's most beautiful beaches and ... there is no one else.

Lions hiding in the tall grass.

Jungle fast food. Pemba Bay, the third largest bay of the world situated in the north-east of Mozambique is also a Unesco Wold Heritage Site. Pemba Beach was the first luxury hotel in the area of the Quirimba archipelago. The hotel is the ideal stopover for tourists who want to fly to one of the islands, or to the Niassa wild park like me. When I get out of the tiny plane the next morning I immediately leave on a foot safari. Nick, a jovial researcher who recently guides for the Lugenda lodge tells me: ‘this is one of the last remaining wild areas in Southern-Africa, 26000miles² (42000km²) of pure nature, unscathed by human hands.’ Lugenda is the only safari lodge in the entire area. No chance of standing with twenty jeeps around the same lion. After the civil war the wild animals where reduced to the minimum: guerrillas lived from bush meat; rhinos and elephants were slaughtered for their horns and tusks to raise money to buy weapons. The remaining animals managed to flee the violence, as the wild park area is not fenced. Today that is a blessing as there is a new generation of wild animals up to herds of buffalos and lions. The feeling of walking around with seven people in an enormous area of which behind every corner large wild animals can show up is incredibly exiting. This morning we heard lions in the camp, we trace their footprints back on the vast sandy plain of the lodge, it is the bed of the Lugenda River, which dried up to 80%. With a makoro (African canoe) we are crossing over the little water that is remaining. In the distance we see a few waterbucks, they are recognizable like impalas by their buttocks, the first one has a white circle, the latter has the M of McDonald’s. Very appropriate as for the lions they are fast food. A Hamerkoph flies high above our heads. Later on we see its nest. The bird has a total freedom as killing him brings bad luck and destruction according to an old superstition. The scenery, a white sand plain with rugged mountains in the background and baboontails everywhere: black roots with a dot of blond ‘hair’ on it, is simply impressive. When we spot an elephant, we stay a safe distance away from him. The high grass is a perfect hiding place for lions; luckily they keep themselves quiet. Nick knows the wilderness like the back of his hand and teaches us how to recognize tracks and droppings. We walk closely together so that possible predators will see us as a dangerous opponent; I feel myself being part of a seven-headed dragon.

Total euphoria. In the evening we take our sundowner (aperitif in the wilderness) in the middle of an open plain in the bush, while the African sky is at its most beautiful. When it gets dark, we continue our trip and we see a civet consuming a puff adder. The beast gets frightened and leaves behind his freshly caught prey. At night in the camp I can again hear a pack of lions and elephants eat the trees that hang over my tent empty. This is the real wild Africa, the sounds from the jungle sounds like music to my ears. On my last trip through the bush a bright green chameleon crosses our track, very cautiously; he rotates his eyeballs wildly. I could keep looking at it but suddenly two eagles catch my attention. One of them plunges into a tree full of baboons, the other one remains flying low. The terrified monkeys hide themselves and when only keeping an eye on their enemy, the second eagle attacks from an unexpected angle. Their collaboration is ingenious. However baboons themselves are the fourth biggest killers in the bush says Nick, they can even cope with a leopard. We do not see leopards, but the biggest asset is the landscape itself. From the top of a mountain I look out over the wild river and when I realize that we are the only people in this endless wilderness, a feeling of total euphoria overtakes me.

The landscape is the biggest advantage.


1.         The capital Maputo is a very pleasant city with a magnificent train station and other architectural pearls like the metal house of Eiffel.
2.         Maputo has particularly fun markets, including the fish market as the fish you buy there, you can get grilled in one of the restaurants around the market, so you can taste the delicious local cuisine right away.
3.         Sailing along with a fisherman in a traditional wooden dhow is a pleasant experience; the dhows are still used for fishing.
4.         Visit Inhambane, not only for the nature around it, it is also one of the oldest cities in Southern Africa. The Portuguese cathedral from the 18th century alone is already worth a visit.
5.         Certainly go up to the north of Mozambique, it is one of Africa's last undiscovered areas, still very wild and authentic.
6.         If it is possible, make sure a romantic picnic is organised on Pansy Island, a sandbank in the middle of the ocean, only possible at low tide.
7.         Next to Bazaruto Marine Park with five idyllic dune islands (including Benguerra) and a breath taking underwater world, definitely also visit the Quirimbas archipelago of 32 beautiful coral islands, a luxury version of the Caribbean, but much more exclusive.
8.         If you have got the time, definitely go to the IBO island, it is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago, beautiful Portuguese architecture.
9.         The Niassa reserve: twice as large as the Kruger park, with almost no visitors, and therefore no traffic jams to see animals. It is considered as one of the wildest areas in  Africa.


Drive after sunset as the roads are not always in a perfect condition and there are a lot of people and animals walking around.

Do not wear many jewels or show off your camera too much, it might bring people on ideas.
Despite the fact that Mozambique is a relatively safe country, do not hang around alone in Maputo after dark. It is better to take a taxi; they are very cheap.

AMAZING JOURNEYS: Regarding all the information about this trip, you can request the brochure of Amazing Journeys, or visit their website:  

Amazing Journeys has three agencies:

- Travel Tip in Herenthout: 014/50.20.50
- Archeon Travel in Meise: 02/270.30.10
- Riviera Travel in Hamme: 052/47.96.94

1.         South African Airways: Brussels-London-Johannesburg-Maputo, daily flights from Brussels
2.         TAP: Brussels-Lisbon-Maputo, three times a week from Brussels (Thu, Fri and Mon)
3.         LAM Mozambique: For most domestic flights

Formalities: Your passport must be valid for six more months and it is best to get your visa in Brussels to avoid long waiting times at the border.

Embassy of Mozambique: St. Michielslaan 97, 1040 Brussels, mobile: 02/736 25 64 or 02/736 00 96. A single entry visa costs 42 euro and 58 euro for a multiple-entry visa (both are 1 to 3 months valid).
If you are in a hurry and want to get it done within 24 hours, they charge an extra 15 euro but normally they only need a maximum of six days to get it ready.

Currency: 1 Euro = 40,73 Metical. You can withdraw money from the wall, but only in the cities. Large hotels also change money, but at an unfavourable exchange rate. Travellers’ checks are accepted in U.S. dollars and South African Rand.

Languages: Portuguese is the official language, but in Maputo and in the resorts quite a few people speak English. Furthermore, there are lots of dialects specific to the city, village or region.

Health: Recommended vaccinations: DTP, typhoid and hepatitis A and B, malaria is everywhere in Mozambique, so start taking your pills on time. For more information you can call the Tropical Institute, or consult their website:

Climate: The best time to go is during their winter, namely from May to October. Temperatures are much more pleasant than in the hot summer, and it is not raining. December and January are very busy and many lodges will be booked. February is the cyclone month, and many facilities along the coast will be closed.

Time difference: During our wintertime it is one hour later in Mozambique, during summer there is no time difference.

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