The country’s capital city is Maputo, also the largest by some way. Most often used for a stop-off stay between safari and beach holidays, the city is fantastic for travellers who like to soak up a spot of culture! Originally named after Portuguese trader Lourenço Marques in 1544, Maputo was slow to expand until the late nineteenth century, when it was linked via railroad to South Africa’s gold-rush regions.
Once established, Maputo experienced many decades of difficulties, but since the mid- to late 1990s peace has prevailed. Today the city is developing slowly, with tourism playing a small yet significant role. This is a vibrant location, where old colonial-style buildings loom above market stalls and vast avenues of acacia trees provide shade in the heat of the day.
WILDLIFE AROUND MAPUTO
From Maputo’s harbour, it is just a short boat ride to Inhaca Island. Totalling 52 sq. km of forests, farm fields, rippling plains, mangroves and mudflats, this island is of immense interest to ecotourists and ecological researchers. It is wonderful for wildlife enthusiasts! The surrounding reefs, though damaged, nevertheless teem with king mackerel, giant trevally, pufferfish, seahorses and many more. All year round dolphins frolic on the southern and western coasts, while during the summer sea turtles come to the eastern shores to breed. And keen birders had better pack those binos, as the birdlife of Inhaca consists of approximately 300 resident and migratory species! Highlights include the pink-backed pelican, mangrove kingfisher and lesser crested tern.
SOUTHERN MOZAMBIQUE BEACHES
Back on the mainland and farther south, is Ponta Mamoli, one of the best beaches in Africa! With its pristine powder-soft sands and sparkling sapphire waters, Ponta Mamoli is a delightful destination for travellers looking to relax and unwind. And if you ever leave your sunlounger to explore this pocket of paradise, a wide variety of landscapes lie in wait for you to find – verdant grasslands, arid savanna, swamp-filled forests, bulrush and papyrus floodplains, and coastal lakes. Perfect for combining with safari and brilliant as a standalone beach break, Ponta Mamoli never fails to charm!
Another perfect Ponta, Ponta do Ouro also sprawls in the far south. Its name translates as ‘tip of gold’, acknowledging the splendour of a cape in the extreme south region. Just north of the border with South Africa, reclining in the Mozambique Channel, Ponta do Ouro is famous for its wonderful white-sand beaches and watersports galore. If you enjoy surfing and diving and deep-sea fishing, you will love it here! And you can also swim with dolphins, a very memorable experience. Ponta town is small and not for serious shoppers, but most essential items are available. We recommend a ‘Shebeen’ tour (pub tour), as the local beer is excellent. Then follow that up with a trip to Pintos Place, to disco-dance the night away!