Visiting Ilha de Mocambique
We touch down in Nampula after a long flight, and by taxi, we reach the bus station. It’s a crowded place, dusty and full of local means of transport (minivan) locally called ”Chapa”. Here there’s no timetable, ticket office or any sort of information, therefore we ask the locals how to get to Ilha de Mocambique. It’s not so easy to understand each other, anyone speaks English here. Anyway, with a little effort, we jump in a Chapa heading to our destination.
The fun thing is that there is no departure time! When the Chapa is really full, it means we can go. All the times we ask the driver about the departure time, but he smiles at us saying ”pole pole, nou problema!”. We know what we are getting ourselves into, this is Africa, and everything is ”slowly slowly!”. After 4 hours and a half, spent with locals and chickens, packed like sardines, we finally arrive at Ilha de Mozambique.
This island, UNESCO site since 1991, has a historical heritage that’s unmatched in the rest of the country and the rest of Africa. It was the capital of Mozambique for almost 4 centuries under Portuguese colonisation before being moved to Maputo. It was also a significant base for the Arab traders since the 8th Century until the arrival of the Portuguese people. The island is only 3 km long and very narrow and it is divided into two parts, Stone Town (the old city), or the ancient colonial area, and Makuti Town, where the locals live. A concrete bridge connects it with the mainland, and it is said to be populated by 15 000 inhabitants. Stone Town occupies the northern half of the island, and here you’ll find the old Portuguese colonic houses, churches, the maritime museum and the Fort of Sao Sebastiao.
After a short walk next to our guest house and a delicious dinner with fish and rice, we decide to arrange a boat trip for the next day with a local fisherman. Early in the morning, we meet him on the beach near the Maritime Museum and after getting inside his traditional wooden boat called Dhow, we sail to Ilha de Goa.
It’s a very wild and beautiful island, about 1-hour sail, with an old Portuguese lighthouse, white sand and a crystal clear sea with amazing shades of blue. Once on the island, walking along a path through the lush vegetation, we reach the lighthouse tower which stands out in height with its white and red colours. After visiting and climbing on the top, it’s time to relax on the beach for a couple of hours. Once getting back to Ilha de Mocambique, we walk around the island visiting Stone Town, Macuti town and we end this exciting day on the east side beach watching the fishermen selling fish and fixing nets.
Today is the time to leave the island and move to Carrusca beach. During our sailing (arranged with the same fisherman), we stop at Ilha Sete Pau. This place is fascinating, a wild island with low lush vegetation surrounded by the clear sea where we rest and swim for almost 1 hour. The low tide is coming up, so we leave the island to reach Praia Carrusca where we are in nearly 2 hours. After taking our bungalow, we immediately go to the long and beautiful beach full off shells and crab. The day is ending, but our adventure around the country has just begun! At 2 a.m we must wake up to reach the town of Mossuril and take the Chapa to Namialo, where the big local bus to Pemba and Quirimbas archipelago is waiting for us!
Need to Know
1. How to get there
The easiest way is to fly to Nampula, then take a Chapa heading to Ilha de Mocambique from the bus station. There is no schedule for the Chapas, ask the people you meet there. Alternatively, if your trip starts from Maputo, the better choice is to rent a car.
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3. Accommodation Praia Carrusca
4. How to arrange the boat trip
Ask the owners of your accommodation, they know for sure some fisher willing to take you around.