Lay of the Land
Roughly the size of Turkey, Mozambique hugs the eastern African shore, wedged between South Africa in the southwest, Tanzania in the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. The country can roughly be divided between the regions around Maputo, in the south, which are relatively easy to access (particularly from South Africa) and the wild north, which remains trickier to reach logistically.
This port city in the Indian Ocean is Mozambique’s capital and largest city. It is located in the south of the country, close to the border with Swaziland and South Africa.
The South: Bazaruto Archipelago:
This 550-square mile area in southern Mozambique has been a designated marine national park since the early 1970s. Calling it the “Galapagos of Africa,” as Bazaruto has been, might be a stretch, but it’s true that the relative isolation has yielded a complex ecosystem with some of the Indian Ocean’s most pristine coral reefs and an abundant marine wildlife. The second-largest island, Benguerra, is home to &Beyond’s Benguerra Lodge, a gorgeous beachside property. Guests arrive at sleepy Vilankulo (a 1.5-hour flight from Johannesburg) where they transfer via helicopter straight to the lodge.
The North: Quirimbus Archipelago:
This northern archipelago comprises 27 islands (not all are inhabited) and is home to miles and miles of sandy, undeveloped coastline and some of the best diving in the world. One of the most atmospheric is Ibo Island, a former Muslim trading port that was reportedly visited by Vasco da Gama in 1502. Lots of the island’s architecture dates to the 1500s. Quirimbus is also home to one of eastern Africa’s most sumptuous private islands: Vamizi, set on an island about seven miles long and a fraction of that wide.
Southern Mozambique: This part of the country is best-reached via South Africa. South African Airways offers daily direct flights from New York City to Johannesburg (around 14 hours). The business class on these long-haul routes comes with comfortable seats that fold entirely into flat beds.
From Johannesburg, it’s another direct flight to Mozambique’s Vilankulo (a flight offered five times a week). There are also flights from Nelspruit, near Kruger National Park (twice a week; 1 hour 15 minutes). Travelers should book with Air Link (instead of LAM). The eight-minute helicopter transfer to Benguerra Island is inclusive in the room rate and offers a spectacular introduction to the archipelago.
Indagare Tip: Unlike the small prop bush planes, the helicopter offers less stringent luggage requirements, i.e., while duffels are preferable to wheeling suitcases, they are not mandatory, and the weight restriction of 44 pounds per person is a bit more lax.
Northern Mozambique: There are seasonal flights into Pemba from Dar-Es-Salaam (Tanzania). From here, a charter takes guests to Vamizi.