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Mozambique, the land of smiles!

Southern Africa

Mozambique, in a nutshell, is all about beaches and coral reefs - the country is blessed with a rugged coastline just waiting for you to enjoy. It is an interesting place to travel through and is one of Africa's last untouched areas of pristine wilderness and that's what makes it so special. The coastline is scattered with uninhabited island hideaways surrounded by spectacular underwater realms that remain largely unexplored. In the South, just off the coast from the Southern city of Vilanculos lies the Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of islands rising like a mirage out of the sea. These islands combine well with a safari in South Africa and Botswana.

The Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary the first privately managed National Park in Mozambique covers 30,000 hectares of pristine marine and wildlife territory - a unique 'beach and bush' experience in a hidden corner of sub tropical Africa. The diverse eco-system of bush and wetland, with its powder white beaches and crystal clear water is host to a magnificent array of fish, dolphin and very importantly, the nearly extinct Dugong. Shallow and deepwater reefs reveal beautiful creatures such as the green and leatherback turtles, sailfish, manta ray, to name a few.

Sublime tropical isles dot the Mozambican coast. Bazaruto and Benguerra island (formerly known as Benguela), the two largest, feature magnificent high sand dunes and green lakes inhabited by crocodiles; as well as lush coastal bush choked with indigenous birdlife. World-class scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities await those who explore the coral formations around the isles.

The further North you go, the more difficult it is to travel but ultimately the more rewarding your travel becomes. The Quirimbas Archipelago, just south of the Tanzanian border is a dramatic chain of islands stretching over an area of nearly 400 kilometres.

Diving off the coast is known the world over for having incredible unspoilt reefs - turtles, dolphins and a kaleidoscope of reef dwelling fish are only a sample of what these waters offer. Divers flock to the area for the annual migration of whalesharks and whales each year.

As a result of this bounty, there are many activities available in Mozambique; scuba dive, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, fly fishing, sunset cruises, sailing, dolphin tours, and island trips.

In the capital city of Maputo you are never far from the coast and visitors to the city can enjoy the refreshing sea breeze at the many restaurants serving locally caught seafood. With its upbeat tempo incorporating old and modern cultures this city is fascinating. Watch the world go by whilst drinking coffee in one of the many street cafes, visit the National Art museum, the colourful artisans market and at the end of the day enjoy a cold local beer and a plate of peri peri prawns whilst watching a true African sunset.

Only a day trip away are the beaches of Macaneta and Island of Inhaca, a popular spot for diving and snorkelling.

Travellers to the South will enjoy the splendid beaches of Ponta do Ouro. This area is one of the best locations for scuba diving in the world and its waters are alive with many species of marine life including dolphins, Manta ray and the occasional shark for the more adventurous. The shoals of tropical fish fill the coral reefs with an ever-changing spectrum of colour.

To the North of Maputo, in the province of Gaza, are the famous beaches of Bilene and Xai-Xai.
Further on up the Coast, around the city of Inhambane, are Tofo and many other secluded beaches, some of which are accessible only by four wheel drive vehicle.

Gorongosa Park is on the way up north were you will be able to see wildlife. Gorongosa National Park (3770 square kilometres) is in the lower Pungwe River catchment area. Habitats include lowland Miombo woodlands, extensive palm savannahs, thickets and swamps. Wildlife is still thin on the ground but it is a good birders destination, especially in conjunction with Gorongosa Mountain.

Out of range of many travellers by road are unexplored areas to the North of Beira, Quelimane and Nampula. Nampula has some of the most surprisingly beautiful landscapes in the country. Among the places of interest are the Port of Nacala, and the Island of Mozambique - guardian of the most expressive pages of cultural encounters throughout the country's history. Here one is transported back in time while exploring the former capital of Mozambique. This part of the coastline has been declared a World Heritage Site and is an architect's dream, with buildings made of coral dating back to the 16th century.

On the way you will find the historic town of Angache, which bears the influences of the Arab and Swahili peoples who have traded along this coast for centuries.

Tourists travelling to the interior of the country will be enthralled by the beauty of Lago Niassa, the vast lake which borders Tanzania and Malawi. This is one of the wildest places in Mozambique and is not for the fainthearted, however the rewards are great for those who persevere with the journey and here you will find beautiful, undeveloped countryside with the true feel of Africa.

Last, but not least, are the sandy beaches of Pemba and the remote Quirimbas Archipelago. The many small Islands in this area are true treasures isle, with their wealth of marine life and unspoilt beaches.

The Quirimbas are one of the most biodiverse marine areas in the world. Dugongs graze in sea grass meadows, fish eagles perch in tall mangroves, turtles nest on white beaches, and humpback whales shelter their young in deep channel. The isle of Ibo located in the Quirimbas used to be an important island in Mozambique. Still today the hallmarks of a glorious past can be seen.

Dotted along the shoreline are the silhouettes of the dhows, which have been fishing along this coast for centuries. This peaceful way of life creates an atmosphere of calm relaxation for the weary traveller.

So, whether you'd like an adventure holiday or just prefer to relax and get away from it all, it's all waiting here for you in Mozambique - the land of smiles.

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