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Often described as one of Africa’s last frontiers, Mozambique, a large country in the southeastern part of the continent, is among the most variegated places in the world. Geographically, it has a rugged, underdeveloped north, a hiker’s paradise, along with an extensive coastline with innumerable opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
The population is just as diverse, reflecting the indigenous African tribes who first settled there, the Arab seafarers who traded along the coast for centuries, and, finally, the Portuguese colonists who ruled until 1975. Despite the many setbacks that have plagued the country since then, including civil war, floods and drought, Mozambique is starting to bounce back and is slowly gaining a well-deserved reputation as a country that promises as much adventure as relaxation.
1. Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park: A massive swath of land that comprises national parks in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe and allows visitors to cross the borders freely within the park, Limpopo is home to nearly 150 kinds of mammals, including elephants, giraffes and buffalo.
2. Gorongosa National Park: This once-legendary park in northern Mozambique was nearly destroyed during the country’s civil war. Now newly refurbished, it’s returning to its former preeminence and is worth a visit to check out impalas, warthogs, unusual birds and more.
3. Local Fare: In Maputo, feast on some of the ultrafresh seafood caught off Mozambique’s 2,500-kilometer-long coastline; the grilled prawns and octopus are especially good.
4. Montes Chimanimani: Along the Zimbabwe border, this mountain range, thick with pine and mahogany trees and scores of medicinal plants, is ideal for rugged, off-the-beaten-path hiking and camping.
5. Ilha de Moçambique (Mozambique Island): This tiny island off Mozambique’s northern coast was once an important Arab trading port; today its historic, colonial-era buildings and diverse population, with strong Islamic and African ties, make it a fascinating place to explore.
6. Archipelago das Quirimbas: These 32 islands off the town of Pemba, which can be reached by motorboat, offer white-sand beaches, snorkeling among coral reefs, and sightings of humpback whales.
8. Lago Niassa: A giant, incredibly clear lake that borders Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania, Niassa (also known as Lake Malawi) is thought to contain a greater number of fish than any other lake in the world.
9. Angoche: A quiet, historic town in the northern part of the country that still bears the influence of precolonial Swahili and Arab traders, Angoche is worth a quick trip for a look back in time.
10. Manica: Once an important gold trading area, this picturesque town in central Mozambique is now known for its thousand-year-old Chinamapere rock paintings, which are considered sacred by local residents.
When to Go
The best time to visit Mozambique is between May and October, when it’s pleasantly sunny and dry and temperatures average 66 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celcius.) The country’s rainy season generally lasts from October to April, with temperatures jumping up to the 80s (20s). Overall, the southern part of the country is cooler and drier than the north.