Mozambique 2014: The Quirimbas Archipelago

Further north into Mozambique are the untouched, pristine islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago. A forty minute plane ride or five hour car ride from Pemba town, this group of islands is the stuff of dreams. It’s the beach that all other beaches wish they could be. Look no further than this archipelago for the most picturesque, dramatic, and beautiful beaches in the world.

Pemba Town and getting there


Having spent a few days in Ilha De Mozambique, it was time to leave that magical town lost in time and make my way to Mozambique’s ultimate beaches. I learnt about the Quirimbas after reading through various blogs and the pictures I saw were so incredible, I knew I couldn’t leave Africa without a visit. Aside from a few blogs however, doing any research on this place was near impossible.

The Quirimbas is an archipelago, not easily accessible by the mainland. The nearest major town is Pemba, once a sleepy port town is now a fast developing and booming ex-pat town. The reason for all this? The largest natural gas reserves in the world were discovered here a few years back. Foreign investment has flooded into this region. New roads have been built, hundreds of apartments/hotels have come up, and general costs of the region have likely quadrupled in the past few years.

 

Chappa from Ilha De Mozambique to Pemba

From Ilha De Mozambique, reaching Pemba can be done easily by chappa (public transport), one from Ilha to Namiolo, and then to Pemba. Chappas will drive all around Ilha in the early morning picking up people along the way. The people at my hostel in Ilha told me to walk outside with my bags, sit on a bench, and someone would come pick me up. What?? Are they for reals?

Sitting in the chappa with curious locals

Sitting in the chappa with curious locals

I walked out of my hostel a little before 4am and within 5 minutes, a chappa with five people stopped. The driver asked me where I was going, and told me to get in. Wow. That was it. Who would have thought the public transportation of Mozambique was such a highly efficient, organized, operation.

We drove around the island for another half hour, picking up more people, before finally departing with a jam packed van full of locals, and me, the only foreigner. An hour later, the driver dropped me off on the side of the road in Namiolo and told me to wait for a chappa going towards Pemba.

 

Hitch-hiking to Pemba

Now I was just on the side of the highway, where the locals were setting up their stands for the day. I wanted some breakfast, and not speaking a word of Portuguese, I handed 10 mets (30 cents) to some ladies selling pao (delicious, slightly sweetened bread), not knowing how many I would receive. She handed me three huge pieces! With another 20 mts, I handed it to a guy selling bananas, not knowing what I’d get. I was expecting 2-3 bananas, but received at least twenty. I ended up giving most of them back to random locals walking on the street. I was the star attraction by this point and everyone was looking over at me. Good times.

So much for chappas, people are too eager to pick up hitch-hikers like myself! First class service to Pemba!

So much for chappas, people are too eager to pick up hitch-hikers like myself! First class service to Pemba!

Luxury hitch-hiking at its best with this badass truck.

Luxury hitch-hiking at its best with this badass truck.

Half hour goes by and no chappa is in sight. I’m a bit worried at this point but a pick up truck stops, and I recognize the driver, a guy I had met in Ilha de Mozambique while eating coconuts! Turns out, he lived in Pemba and was headed back after a weekend trip to Ilha. Score! Another hitch-hiking experience to add to the list!

Wimbe Beach, Pemba

Wimbe Beach, Pemba

 

Pemba town is not that nice

I had originally planned to stay in Pemba for a few nights to do some diving, but upon arrival, there was nowhere to stay near Wimbe Beach, the most scenic area of Pemba town. Russell’s Place was my first option, and having not made any reservations ahead of time, I was told all their dorm rooms were full. Searching around Pemba, there were no cheap options left.

Hotels have become so price inflated by all the natural gas money, with prices well over 3000 mts a night ($100). Pemba Dive and Bush camp was the only option left but they’re far away from the beach, with still relatively expensive rooms, and NO longer has diving. To top it all off, Pemba is not that nice of a place. Perhaps once upon a time, it was a lost beach getaway but it has been so built up by the discovery of gas that it just feels like an industrial town now.

Thankfully, I bumped into the couple I had met in Ilha de Mozambique and they were flying to Ibo Island, gateway to the Quirimbas, in an hour. I had just spent a few hours walking around Pemba trying to find a place to stay, but perhaps it was a sign that there was no reason to spend any time in Pemba.

 

Getting to the Quirimbas


Getting to the the Quirimbas Archipelago is no easy feat. Most visits to the Quirimbas will begin on Ibo Island, a quiet, sleepy village north of Pemba. From Ibo, one can take dhows to visit the surrounding islands. There are essentially three options to get to Ibo:

 

Chappa

Chappas regularly run from Pemba, and head to Quissinga, where ferries are waiting to take people to Ibo Island. A chappa to Quissinga is ~200mts (~6$). I’ve heard from people the drive from Pemba to Quissinga is pot-hole ridden, and incredibly uncomfortable.

 

Private Taxi:

Taxis can be arranged from Pemba to Quissinga for around ~$200-300, with a ferry then taking you to Ibo. These can usually be arranged with the guesthouse/hotel in Ibo.

 

Private Plane:

From Pemba airport, there are a few private airlines that fly from Pemba to the Quirimbas. These planes are mostly meant for the high rollers that stay on the private island resorts (like Medjumbe and Vazimba) and most backpackers would never consider this. Nevertheless, I wasn’t so keen to spend 5 hours on a bumpy road, nor did I feel like spending even a single night in Pemba so I ended up paying about $200 for a one way flight to Ibo Island.

Impromptu private airplane to Ibo Island!

Impromptu private airplane to Ibo Island!

First time in a private plane.

First time in a private plane.

The sketchy "office" of Coastal Airlines, the private plane I flew. Looks more like a restroom.

The sketchy “office” of Coastal Airlines, the private plane I flew. Looks more like a restroom.

 

Ibo Island Guide


Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique, in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Ibo Island is one of the most ancient settlements in Mozambique with a history dating back as early as 600AD when Arab merchants set up trading posts here for gold, ivory and slaves to be shipped to the Arab world. Those days ended when Vasco da Gama arrived, marking the Portuguese colonization of the island in the early 1600′s and ending in 1974 when they abruptly left.

The Ibo Island "airport". Actually not lying.

The Ibo Island “airport”. Actually not lying.

Ibo Island is like a smaller version of Ilha De Mozambique; it’s deserted, untouched by time, and hauntingly beautiful. One can walk the length of the island in a half hour, stopping to admire the decaying colonial buildings and colorful mangroves.

The locals are not accustomed to seeing tourists, but will always wave hello and smile. People here are just as relaxed as the tourists that come here seeking relaxation. Pictures don’t do this place justice, as it just makes this place look like a crumbling village. One really needs to visit this place in person to appreciate how unique it is.

Walking through the village

Walking through the village

Walking through Ibo.

Walking through Ibo.

More views of the old colonial town

More views of the old colonial town

The one ATM on the island. This was only put in place three weeks before I visited in Oct, 2014.

The only ATM on the island. This was only put in place three weeks before I visited in Oct, 2014.

Where to stay in the Quirimbas


Being likely the most desolate, and undeveloped place I’ve ever visited, there aren’t many places to stay. Ibo Island is about as rustic as any beach destination gets. However, be warned that this is NOT a cheap destination. There are no $5 hostels here and no cheap restaurants. In fact, I’m not sure if there are any restaurants on this island not affiliated with a hotel/guesthouse. Be prepared to spend money! I spent a week in this place and I only saw three options:

 

Baobibo:

A quaint little guesthouse with dorm rooms and bedrooms near the ocean. Their dorms go for 800 mts a night and this is probably the cheapest option on the island.

Baobibo guesthouse

Baobibo guesthouse

 

Miti Mwiri:

Medium sized guesthouse with nice, well-maintained bedrooms. Rooms start at $65 a night. I ended up staying here all nights except the last.

Ibo Island Lodge:

The high end option on the island, this is a luxury lodge with luxury prices. It has beautiful rooms, pool, and ocean view. Rooms are close to $500 a night but the trick here is to make a reservation by walk-in. I ended up staying a night for $120 (for 1 person) just to treat myself on my last day.

Feel like a high roller? There are private islands in the Quirimbas meant for the ultra-luxurious beach paradise getaway. Medjumbe, Vamizi, and Quilalea are all private resorts with the $1000+ per person per night price tags. These islands are not near Ibo Island, but require a private plane to reach.

Enjoying a nice refreshing 2M (Mozambique's national beer) at the Ibo Lodge

Enjoying a nice refreshing 2M (Mozambique’s national beer) at the Ibo Lodge

 

Edit June, 2015:

So while I did not discover any budget options on my visit to the Quirimbas, Lucie, the owner of Baobibo, emailed and informed me of other budget options; homestays, small guesthouses etc. that are available all over Ibo Island. Most of these options are run by locals, and likely the reason there’s zero information about them on TripAdvisor or anywhere on the internet. So for fellow backpackers that are thinking twice about visiting the Quirimbas because of expensive lodging costs, there are other options!

Campsite Karibuni (next to Ibo lodge, bamboo fenced). 2 bungalows with one double bed and private bathrooms (800 Mts per night). Dorms (rooms with 3 single beds) 400.- per person per night. Tents 150 per night. All exclusive breakfasts.
– Homestay @ Mariamo. In middle of the Kumuanba area, 1km from Ponte cais. Mariamo is a very special caracter on Ibo. Very outspoken, and will make your stay very special and a nice way to contribute to the local economy. Room with double bed in her house with attached bathroom (to share between 2 rooms). 400 Mts per night including breakfast. She also cook (see my brochure on what to eat).
Tikidiri campsite. In-between airstrip and Miti Miwiri, 2km from Ponte cais. Local community campsite. 3 little bungalows, separate communal bathroom, possibility to have dinner (not on my list of places to eat but I should actually add it). Not sure of price but around 400 Mts for a bungalow. Possibility to camp.
Cafe do Ibo, local guesthouse, prices around 1000 mts per night.
Archipelago, local hotel on the jetty, rooms with double beds, between 1000 and 2500 per night depending on room (common, shared bathroom, size, etc..). All with aircon.
– new one recently opened, not sure of price. After cafe do Ibo on the right handsite. Also aircon. Attracts mainly local administration/business man.

Where to Eat on Ibo

Aside from the restaurants at Ibo Lodge and Miti Miwiri, there are no public “restaurants” on Ibo. It’s not that type of place :). However, there are some local eateries that will serve up delicious Mozambican dishes full of fresh seafood, usually for a much cheaper rate versus the hotels. Again, just like the lodging options on Ibo, it is impossible to find any information on these local restaurants so it’s best to just ask around if you’re lost, which is likely!

@ Benjamin – in Benji’s own courtyard, Rituto – nice large servings of local improved food such as matapa, shrimps, fish, etc… order same morning latest as Benjamin is often busy with guiding in the day. Port/English speaking. 150-200 Mts

@ Mariamo – in Mariamo’s own courtyard, Kumuamba – one table, unique community experience, delicious food. Order day before, only Portuguese speaking. 200-250 Mts

@ James & Flo – new little place recently opened by ibo-longtimers on the marginale. Creative cooks, varied buffet, best deal in town.  Order one-two days in advance as will try to combine with other guests. 300-350 Mts

@ Ana’s Azukari & Munhi – good cook but need to reserve in the morning to be sure of portions. Best to ask what is available. 250-350 Mts

@ Archipelago – on beach next to the jetty. Specialty grilled calamari and chicken.

As Ibo Island welcomes more tourism, and I assure everyone, that the day will come when Ibo becomes a tourist hotspot, real restaurants and more hotels will open up. Until then, enjoy this place for what it is now, because there aren’t many places like it in the world.

 

Diving on Ibo Island


Diving in this part of the world is something special. The corals are so colorful and there is an abundance of fish. The dive sites here do not get many visitors so the conditions are still pristine. Ibo Island Lodge is the only dive shop on the island and while it is the most expensive diving I’ve ever done ($75 for one dive), it was totally worth it. Lorrayne, perhaps the only divemaster on the island, is one of the best and most enthusiastic DMs I’ve ever had the pleasure of diving with.

The group after our epic dive.

The group after our epic dive.

Although there are no big fish to see in this part of the country, the intense colors and schools of different types of fish are more than enough reason to go. This is likely some of the best diving Ive ever done. The best diving in the world, is still hands down Komodo, Indonesia. It’s a shame I was only able to dive once! I could have dived the same site we did for a week without being bored.

 

Sailing the Quirimbas Archipelago


The group prepping for our dhow safari!

The group prepping for our dhow safari!

The highlight of my trip to Mozambique was sailing through the Quirimbas Archipelago. We chartered a motored dhow from our hotel Miti Mwiri for a 2 day/1 night adventure, sailing from Ibo Island to Rolas Island, and Matemo for $200. Thankfully, there were others staying at the hotel to split the cost with.

I think in years past, one could just walk up to the local fisherman and could have done a similar trip for a fraction of the price but Mozambique has become far more expensive in recent years due to its gas discovery. Nevertheless, it is a small price to pay to see the Quirimbas.

Our day started early, as we packed all our stuff into the dhow for the night ahead. We set sail first for Rolas Island, a small island 2 hours north of Ibo Island by boat, home to a handful of fisherman. We sail next to schools of dolphins before finally reaching our lunch stop. Rolas Island is known for its coconut crabs, the largest crabs in the world. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any.

Matemo Island in Mozambique Quirimbas

Coming up on Matemo Island!

The most beautiful beaches in the world

Wow. Just wow. The beaches are blindingly white and the impossibly turquoise waters are crystal clear. We chilled here, taking some pictures, and snorkeling before turning our attention to the fisherman sorting through their catch of fresh octopus. This place is so untouched by tourism that even offering to buy the octopus from them drew confused looks. They were so bewildered and so not worried about making a quick buck that we literally had to write “100” (100 mts= 3$) in the sand before they realized we wanted to buy octopus from them. It would be our dinner later that night.

Beautiful beaches Africa

Another one!

Beautiful Indian Ocean beaches

More pictures, not sure if there are enough pictures I can take

Buying my raw octopus from our fisherman friends

Buying my raw octopus from our fisherman friends

We left Rolas after three or four hours (far too short in my opinion) to sail to Matemo Island where we would stay the night. Matemo is a large island that used to have a ultra-luxury lodge (the remnants still exist on the island) but is now only home to locals. One of these locals set up a campsite for adventure seeking tourists like us to stay on the island. It’s nothing fancy at all, but there’s a mattress, mosquito net, and they cooked dinner for all of us, including the five octopus we bought from the fisherman on Rolas!

Enjoying myself of Rolas Island, Quirimbas Archipelago

Enjoying myself of Rolas Island

 

Walking around Matemo Island

The next morning, I woke with the sunrise and walked around the island. If the locals on Ibo Island weren’t used to seeing tourists, Matemo was even more so this way. Everyone looked at me with baffled faces but as I waved hello, smiles and waves back are all I received in return. We walked to the beach and watched as the tide came in.

Matemo island is a large atoll, and high/low tide can be a few kilometers. Watching the tide come in and the dramatic colors that come with it, along with picturesque dhows sailing in the distance is just incredible.

Our makeshift campsite on Matemo. No toilets here!

Our makeshift campsite on Matemo. No toilets here!

Sunset walking along Matemo Island

Sunset walking along Matemo Island

Making friends with some of the locals bringing in their day's catch. They took as many pictures of me as I did of them.

Making friends with some of the locals bringing in their day’s catch. They took as many pictures of me as I did of them.

Walking through the village on Matemo Island

Walking through the village on Matemo Island

The beach on Matemo is a long stretch of soft sand, overlooking the clearest and bluest waters I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen plenty of nice beaches in my day but the beaches in the Quirimbas are on another level. These are the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen. We were the only people on the beach as well, impossible to find in this day and age.

Our dinner on Matemo Island with the five fresh octopus we bought prepared for us!

Our dinner on Matemo Island with the five fresh octopus we bought prepared for us!

Enjoying a campfire in the middle of nowhere

Enjoying a campfire in the middle of nowhere

We hung out here for most of the day, taking pictures and snorkeling, and just reveling in how unbelievably beautiful this place is. There may be other beaches in the world with comparable conditions, but it’ll be near impossible to find a place so secluded, so untouched by the world.

beautiful beaches Quirimbas, Mozambique

More beach shots of Matemo

 

Quirimba Island Mangrove Tour


Quirimba Island, not to be confused with the Quirimbas Archipelago is one of the many islands in the archipelago (Ibo, Matemo, Vamizi, Rolas etc.). From Ibo Island, there is a popular day trip walking through the giant mangrove forest during low tide to Quirimba, and sailing back during the afternoon high tide.

Walking through the mangroves, the water is slowly coming in for the day.

Walking through the mangroves, the water is slowly coming in for the day.

It’s a full day trip and  timing is crucial as low/high tides are so extreme in this place. We had to start our hike no later than 8:30am towards Quirimba island. The walking paths were mostly dry at this point but within a few hours, we’d have to swim.

Selfie in the mangroves!

Selfie in the mangroves!

Desert in the Ocean

I wasn’t sure what this day trip was about or what there was to see on Quirimba island, I just tagged along to give me something to do for a day. Turns out, after the long and somewhat arduous hour long hike through the mangroves, we came upon the beach linking Ibo and Quirimba island. During low tide, it’s as if the two islands are one! There is blindingly white sand for miles and miles and it felt like I was in the salt pan of the Etosha.  It’s crazy to think that within a few hours, this beach we were standing on would be a few meters deep in water.

Reaching the open sandbar separating Quirimba Island and Ibo Island.

Reaching the open sandbar separating Quirimba Island and Ibo Island during low tide!

 

Locals bringing some firewood back to the village

Locals bringing some firewood back to the village

There’s not much to do on this island besides walk around the village and hang out on the beach. The intensity of the colors here are just as dramatic as the island hopping safari we did a few ago to Matemo and Rolas.

Getting driven by the German coconut plantation owner

Getting driven by the German coconut plantation owner

Coconut trees for days.

Coconut trees for days.

One of the biggest baobab trees around. Although I much prefer the baobab species of Madagascar!

One of the biggest baobab trees around. Although I much prefer the baobab species of Madagascar!

We ended up visiting a coconut plantation started by a few Germans after World War I. Coconut trees are as common in Mozambique as mosquitoes and this plantation provided me with long sought after answers like why do some coconuts have a thin soft skin with a lot of juice, while others have little water with thick, oily skin.

Well, can't say I didn't have enough coconuts on this day.

Well, can’t say I didn’t have enough coconuts on this day.

And a delicious lunch prepared by the coconut plantation owners. Delicious coconut crab curry.

And a delicious lunch prepared by the coconut plantation owners. Delicious coconut crab curry.

After our tour of the coconut plantation, we caught a dhow home during high tide, re-tracing the hike through the mangroves we did earlier but this time the water was a few meters high.

The view from our hosts' house. They may just have the best view in the world...

The view from our hosts’ house. They may just have the best view in the world…

 

Sunset at Ibo Lodge


Sunsets are pretty spectacular here and the best spot on Ibo Island is at the Ibo Island Lodge rooftop bar. I ended up coming here every day during my time at Ibo, drinking my favorite 2M beer, and enjoying the view as the sun set over the mangroves. My time spent on Ibo Island and the Quirimbas mark the end of all my travels around Sub Saharan Africa and what a great way to end them!

Well can't say this ever got old, even if I did this exact same thing six nights in a row!

A fitting end to two years of African travel…

Showing 25 comments
  • Stefan
    Reply

    Hey Johnny,
    thank you for your great post and blog. I have a question. I m planning to visit thee islands in November. Do u know if the African Pot restaurant and guest house is still around.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Stefan, I believe it still should be. I would contact the owners of Baobibo however as they were the ones that told me about it! Have a great time!

  • gio
    Reply

    Hi johnny! great tips and info on your blog! My husband and I are traveling to moz in september, we will have 9 day to try to discover ilha de moz and quirimbas. We will fly to Nacala, since we were told that nampula is more dangerous, do you know if its easy to get from nacala to ilha???? after that we intend to go from ilha to pemba, any suggestions??? I know you did hitchhiking on your trip, hope we have the same luck, if not, any tips or ideas on that? and finally we would like to find the best affordable way to get to ibo, I have read of people going there by car, is that possible? the ferry can take your car??? if so, do you know how much they charge you? and how did you get back from the island, was it also expensive or difficult? also I`ve read of people taking motor boats from some of pembas beaches, do you know about that? and last but not least do you know the scheduele for the ferrys/boats comming in and out of ibo island????? Finding info about moz has been really hard for me, Im really thankful for your blog!! all the extra help will surely be highly aprecciated!!!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hey Gio, I can definitely relate. When I was planning my Moz trip, it was tough to find information in general, let alone experiences of people.

      I didn’t even know Nacala had an airport! Nacala is actually closer to Ilha than nampula so I’m sure you can find a taxi that will take you to Ilha. The price might be on the high side but it’ll save you time and hassle. If you have plenty of time, then just ask around for the local chappa station and just say you want to go to Ilha and they will direct you to the right vans.

      From Ilha to Pemba, you can go by chappas. You’ll need to transfer at Namiolo to a chappa that heads north onward to Pemba. Also, the chappas start very early from Ilha (4am or so).

      From Pemba, there are numerous ways to get to Ibo. I eelcted for the easiest way (private plane). But plenty of people go by chappa to Quissinga, and then ferry to Ibo (cheapest but long). The ferry runs once a day around noon if I remember corretly and the chappas always leave Pemba early enoguh so you can catch the ferry teh same day.

      Sometimes, if you already arranged somewhere to stay on Ibo, there could be others arriving the same day from Pemba, and they will organize a car from Pemba to the ferry. As for private motorboats to Ibo, I feel liek that would take a whole day as the distance is quite long (and certainly not cheap), but I didn’t see that open when I was in Pemba!

  • Zulaika
    Reply

    Hi
    This was great! I am having a road trip from Uganda all the way to Mz. I will
    Be couchssurfing. I have a host in Pemba, so I am tempted to go to Ibo. After 5 hours drive from Pemba, how long is the boat ride to Ibo island. I am
    A back packer and I hope it will work out for me. Very excited. I am planning to go all the way to Tofo. You know how long the drive from Nampula to Tofo is?

    Thanks :).
    Zulaika

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi there, that’s going to be a great trip you’re taking to to go to all those spots! From Quissinga to Ibo is about 2-3 hours by boat, and the chappas from pemba will usually leave early enough in the morning to make the boat on time. Usually.

      From Nampula to Tofo is a long long way. I was originally planning on doing this part overland but decided not to at the last minute because of logistics and from what I heard, the scenery is nothing special. I think there may be a new bus service you can take within Mozambique with numerous stops you’ll need to make, likely in Beira and somewhere else.

      nevertheless, I found the locals very friendly and hitch-hiking is a common way of transport in these parts especially for the extreme backpackers in all of us :).

  • Eoin McCarthy
    Reply

    Hi Johnny,

    Great articles on Quirimbas! I’m in Pemba and trying to find out about cheaper accommodation options in Ibo. Your update with that information is very helpful.

    I’m heading there by chapa tomorrow morning. Not looking forwards to the journey but the destination will more than make up for it.

    Cheers,
    Eoin

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Eion! I’m glad you found this article helpful! The journey is well worth it in my opinion to see that part of the world. Enjoy the beach and everything that island has to offer!!

  • Amy
    Reply

    Great blog! Such a shame you missed us – Guludo – just up the coast from Ibo, opposite Rolas Island, we would have loved to have you to stay. We’re one of the few reasonably priced places to stay in the Quirimbas (around the $120pn fb) – we’re a social enterprise so the community is at our very heart. Next time you’re in the area, you must come and stay!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Amy! I was actually at Rolas but did not know about Guludo! Would have loved to visit.

      How do people usually get to Guludo from Pemba? Flights, taxi, chappas?

    • Philo
      Reply

      Hi Amy. Johnny asks a good question about getting to Guludo? Your destination could be an alternative jumping off point to see some of the Quirimbas islands. I think going via Guludo would give an interesting perspective of both aspects of the national park. (Inland & islands). I am a solo woman traveller headed to your area Sept. 7-12, 2015 . I am still deciding on my itinerary. Thanks for the Ibo lodge tip Jonny. 😉

  • Seth
    Reply

    Hello! Amazing info. I am thinking about a trip in mid August for 2 weeks. I definetely want to go the hostel, backpack route, with the occasional splurge on flights and a mid range hotel when possible. Do you have any sense of how important reservations are that time of year? I would much rather play things by ear, but also don’t want to get stuck with no flights and no place to sleep. Thanks!

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Hi Seth, congrats on making the trip out there, you will not regret it at all. August is high season for Mozambique, especially with all the Europeans vacationing.

      Given the lack of accommodation options in the quirimbas I would definitely consider making a reservation somewhere or at least letting the guest house owners know you’re thinking of coming in that time frame. Same goes for flights but I think they’re less of a concern. The guesthouses and hostels in Pemba, I would definitely recommend a reservation beforehand however!

      • Seth

        Thanks! Definitely prefer to keep it as casual as possible, but I guess that is wishful thinking in peak season.

        Do you still think their will be ample opportunity to arrange dhow trips and make our way without too much advanced commitment.

        At least all the tourists means better chance of a comfy hitchhike on some of those longer trips… I hope.

        Unfortunately Coastal airlines stopped their quirimbas route!

      • Johnny

        Oh no! Didn’t know that about Coastal! I bumped into a few friends in Pemba that I had met in Ilha De Mozambique. They were catching a plane to Ibo that afternoon, and I decided I’d tag along. They ended up calling the plane company, who told them there was space for me so off I went to Pemba airport. I’d recommend shooting an email to Ibo Lodge as I know they definitely organize private planes for their clients.

        As for dhow trips, they’re not as cheap as they once were but still the highlight of my time in Ibo. Ibo Lodge, Baobibo, and Miti Miwiri all have their own boats and at varying prices. Depending on where you stay, it shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange a boat with your accommodation. My friends that I flew with stayed at the Ibo Lodge and they actually went on our boat at the Miti Miwiri as they didn’t want to travel by themselves and pay the high prices at Ibo Lodge so anything’s possible!

      • Seth

        Thanks for the info! Thinking about flying into Malawi, then overlanding to Ilha, then up to Quirimbas…can’t wait.

      • Phillipe

        Refugees from the current hostilities between the Ruling Frelimo Givernment and the Renamo opposition are currently pouring into Malawi
        The Malawi route is likely not safe at this time
        The Frelimo Government is providing civilian convoy escorts from the Save River to about 100km north
        Renamo based in the Central and north is going for military targets and Frelimo is hunting down sympathizers
        There is concern that the previous 17 year long civil war will reignite and there is currently a disconnect in people’s minds between what is happening in Maputo in the South and the “war” in the north which is a long way away after all the Mozambican coastline is over 3000km!!
        Please exercise caution and follow mozguide on Facebook

      • Johnny

        Hi thanks for the update Phillipe! I’ve also been reading about the news coming out of Mozambique these days and it is eerily reminiscent of the fighting that occured 3-4 years ago between Frelimo and Renamo. So now it will be interesting to hear about travelers experiences in Renamo territory going forward as more caution certainly needs to be exercised!

      • Johnny

        Excellent choice Seth! Met a lot of people in Ilha that came by land from Malawi. Definitely the cheapest way to make it to Ilha but just be prepared for some hardcore bumpy rides!

  • Fay
    Reply

    Great post.

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks Fay! Glad you enjoyed!

  • GoatsOnTheRoad
    Reply

    This brought back so many memories!! I love that you too hitchhiked, it’s so easy to do in Moz 🙂 From what I can tell, Ibo and Metemo look the same as when we were there! Pemba wasn’t all that built up though when we went. We too didn’t really like Pemba all that much though. We also didn’t see any crabs! Wonder where they are?? Anyways, great pics and awesome info 🙂

    • Johnny
      Reply

      Thanks guys!Your blog is very inspiring. Makes me want to quit the 9-5 rat race too but I’m not quite there yet. Some day perhaps 🙂 Until then, will be traveling whenever I can!

  • Noaa
    Reply

    Hi Johnny!
    I stumbled upon your blog and I love it!!!
    I am currently researching travel in Southern Africa. I have about 2 months (out of which about 2.5-3 weeks will be in SA). My rough plan is 1 week Malawi, 1 week Zimbabwe and 2 weeks Mozambique. Are 2 weeks enough?(including travel time). Is it safe, in your opinion, for a single woman?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Johnny Chen
      Reply

      Hi Noaa, you’re going to have a great time with 2 months! I think it depends on your style of travel. I get restless pretty easily so I have to be on the move or doing something all the time. Two weeks I think is enough in Moz but you probably can’t do the same itinerary as I did in that short of time. I’d definitely focus on the north however as that is the most unique and beautiful in my opinion. I saw the Quirimbas and the Bazaruto but if I had to pick one, it would be the quirimbas again. Tofo is nice but not really a must go place if you’re short on time, unless you’re a diving fanatic.

      As for traveling solo, I think Mozambique is a definitely okay. People are incredibly friendly and I have never felt so welcomed before. Go with the chappas from the Malawi border to Ilha de Mozambique and you’ll be just fine (not the most comfortable ride from what I’ve heard however).

      Enjoy your time and let me know if I can help any more!

Leave a Comment

Contact Me

Send me a quick email and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

97 Shares
Share94
Tweet
Pin3
+1
Share
WhatsApp
Ilha De Mozambique DhowDahab Diving Blue Hole