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Filed Under (Maputo, Mozambique Travel) by Marian on August-19-2008

Maputo is fast coming into its own and is now considered an ideal destination for an exotic weekend adventure. Old buildings have been restored, new buildings are going up at an alarming rate and business is booming, and still retains a distinctly Mozambican charm. In a single weekend you can explore the cultural heritage of the city, relax on beautiful Inhaca Island, gorge yourself on the famous Mozambican prawns and – if you’re brave enough – venture into the legendary Mercado Xipamanine. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of 48 hours holiday in Maputo …

For the culturally inclined….

Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao
Maputo’s famous cathedral, built in 1944 in dedication to ‘Our Lady of Conception’, is situated in Independence Square at the top of Av Samora Machel. Keep an eye out for the strong Portuguese Catholic influence in the awe-inspiring stained-glass windows and elaborate interior.

Train Station on Praca Trabalhadores
While train stations are usually a means to an end rather than a sightseeing destination, this particular train station is definitely worth a visit. The beautifully domed station was built in 1910 by Gustav Eiffel (he of the tower fame) and is considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

Keep an eye out at the entrance to the station for the curious monument to the soldiers killed in the Great War (1914-1918). The stone statue, which depicts a woman killing a cobra in a pot of boiling porridge, is the work of the Portuguese sculptor Rui Gameiro and simultaneously honours the fallen soldiers and a local woman who rid her village of a deadly cobra. Better than another cenotaph I guess!

Casa de Ferro
Ever heard the saying ‘people who live in the tropics shouldn’t build iron houses’?

Nope? Neither had old Gustav when he came up with the highly impractical Casa de Ferro (Iron House), which he designed as a residence for the governor of the Portugese colony. Unfortunately the prefabricated iron building became (unsurprisingly!) unbearably hot under the African sun and the governor couldn’t live there.

Jardim Tunduru
Behind the Casa de Ferro lie the Jardim Tunduru (botanical gardens). At times a little overgrown, these beautiful gardens, which were designed in 1885 by the English gardener Thomas Honney, provide welcome shade on a hot steamy afternoon. Honney also designed similar gardens for the Sultan of Turkey and the King of Greece. At the entrance to the gardens you will find a statue of Mozambique’s first president — Samora Machel.

Potter around a museum…

Museum of the Revolution
Situated on Av 24 Julho, this museum recounts the violent struggle against Portuguese colonialism in Mozambique. The history is fascinating, but be warned that all of the captions and texts are in Portuguese.

The National Museum of Art
Tucked away at 1233 Av Ho Chi Minh, the National Museum of Art houses an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures by famous Mozambican artists. The exhibitions include works by Chissano, Malangatana, and Naguib, along with a variety of temporary exhibitions.

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum, which is housed in a beautifully restored colonial building, is situated near the Hotel Cardosa. While the building is definitely worth going to see, the museum displays will appeal to a rather specific audience — its main attractions are a large shark collection and a collection of elephant foetuses, showing the stages of development during gestation. Interesting…

Do some shopping

Mercado Xipamanine (Rua dos Imaos Roby)
Don’t visit the Mercado Xipamanine — the largest market in Mozambique — expecting to find the usual selection of counterfeit trainers and plastic junk. Xipamanine is known far and wide as the place to stock up on capulanas (traditional multi-purpose cloth worn by women) and for its traditional medicine (curandeiros) section, where you can take your pick from animal parts, herbs and lucky potions.

Saturday Craft Market (Praca 25 do Junho)
Taking dried herbs and animals back through customs could be interesting, so for a few souvenirs make sure you drop by the Saturday Craft Market. Here you’ll find a wide-selection of handcrafts from carvings and jewellery to paintings and batiks. As the name suggests, it’s only open on Saturdays, so make sure to work this into your itinerary.

Central Market (Av 25 de Setembro)
Almost anything can be found at the Central Market: fresh fruit, veggies, curios, a steady supply of pickpockets… make sure your belongings are safely stashed on your person and don’t flash too much money around.

Take a trip…

Inhaca Island
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax on one of Mozambique’s many unspoilt islands. The coral reefs around the island are easily accessed from the shore and abound with a variety of tropical fish. The island is also home over two hundred bird species as well as a biological museum and research centre.

If you can’t tear yourself away from the beach, just check yourself into the comfortable Inhaca Lodge. A luxury ferry runs daily from Maputo to Inhaca Island, which is about 35 kilometres offshore. You can catch the ferry at the bottom of Av Samora Machel (from the Porto de Pesca).

If you wish to take a shorter trip or are on a bit of a budget, Catembe is just across Maputo Bay. Ferries leave fairly often (about every two hours), the trip is short (no longer than fifteen minutes) and very cheap. Once you reach the island, you can pop into one of the many little restaurants, munch on some prawns and drink a couple of icy Dos M beers.

Enjoy the local flavour…

Av Julius Nyerere
This street (just south of the well-known Polana Hotel) is the best in town for restaurants and cafes. You’ll find anything from peri-peri chicken, seafood and spicy Indian food to coffee shops and delicatessens selling pastries.

Fiera Popular
This quaint and festive fairground can be found on Av 25 de Setembro. The restaurants here tend to offer very good value for money and if you really aren’t stomaching the tastes that are Maputo, you could always cross the road and go to one of the many South African fast food joints that have sprung up in the capital.

For a more local flavour, try out either Restuarante Escoriao or O Coqueiro, which both have great Mozambican and Portuguese dishes. Escoria has a huge menu, a good wine list and although upmarket is not too pricey.

So, there you have it — 48 hours jam-packed full of culture, history, nature, fun and surprises holiday in Maputo Mozambique …

by Rebekah Kendal

Filed Under (Bazaruto Islands, Destinations, Mozambique News, Mozambique Travel) by BC Travel on July-30-2008

The first half of the year has slipped by quickly. It is now winter in Mozambique, but still an excellent time to visit. The weather on Benguerra Island is very pleasant and guests can look forward to warm sunny days with temperatures ranging between 25 & 30ºC, and hardly any rain.

The lodge was busy in May, with many pre- & post Indaba visitors, who were treated to our unique blend of Benguerra hospitality. The personal atmosphere of the lodge, combined with the warm friendly staff and great location was what impressed most. The spacious Casitas and being spoilt by your own personal butler was also considered a special treat.
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Filed Under (Destinations, Mozambique News, Mozambique Travel) by BC Travel on July-18-2008

LAM-Mozambique Airlines, as part of the ongoing modernization process, has been issuing, as from 1st of June 2008, electronic tickets only.

With this measure, the national airline company complies with the guidelines of IATA-International Air Transport Association, which set 31st of May as the deadline for its members to cease issuing printed tickets, a measure IATA says will enable operators to reduce the cost of processing the historic paper tickets from approximately US$10 to US$1.

About 400 million air tickets are issued through the compensation mechanism, known in the civil Aviation Industry as BSP, every year, and the measure will allow a saving in the region of US$3 billion/annum to the industry, according to IATA.
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Filed Under (Accommodation, Honeymoon, Inhambane, Mozambique Travel) by BC Travel on July-18-2008

The tranquil, romantic Flamingo Bay Water Lodge, in Inhambane, is the only resort in Mozambique built on stilts situated in the water. The main building, connected by a wooden walkway, is set apart from the chalets. The resort offers a golf cart service which will take you to your room, or to the main building which houses the reception, lounge, curio shop, swimming pool, as well as the bar and restaurant.

Filed Under (Bazaruto Islands, Mozambique News, Mozambique Travel) by BC Travel on July-9-2008

Santa Carolina Island, part of the Bazaruto archipelago, off the coast of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, will soon have a luxury hotel, thanks to a 50 million US dollar investment by the Rani Resorts Group.

The Mozambican Tourism Ministry approved in March a proposal for the building of the new hotel.

Rani Resorts, founded by Saudi businessman Adel Aujan, owns a chain of hotels in Mozambique, including the Indigo Bay Island Resort on Bazaruto, the largest island in the archipelago, the Pemba Beach Hotel, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and luxury resorts on Medjumbe and Matemo Islands in the Quirimbas archipelago, off the northern coast.

The group is currently designing the architecture of the hotel on Santa Carolina, which should be presented to the government before the end of this year. In the meantime, work is underway to demolish the ruins of the existing hotel.
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Filed Under (Destinations, Honeymoon, Mozambique Travel, Quirimbas) by BC Travel on July-3-2008

Quilalea is a tranquil island in Northern Mozambique positioned in an idyllic corner of Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago. Entirely uninhabited, this Indian Ocean island offers complete exclusivity and unmatched natural beauty. There are nine private villas each with stunning sea views, providing a malaria-free nirvana of luxury accommodation. Quilalea Island Resort is surrounded by the sparkling, blue waters of the warm Indian Ocean; Quilalea is the ideal honeymoon destination for those in search of the perfect romantic island getaway, or the ultimate holiday for those in need of relaxation, adventure and rediscovery.

Filed Under (Bazaruto Islands, Mozambique islands, Pemba, Quirimbas) by BC Travel on May-23-2008

Rani Resorts owns Pemba Beach Resort, Indigo Bay Island Resort, Matemo Island Resort, Medjumbe Island Resort and Lugenda Bush Camp. Rani Resorts has perfected the talent of indulging guests in exotic and unspoiled locations in southern Africa. Rani embraces some of the area’s most stunning destinations – the jewel-like Bazaruto Island and Quirimbas Archipelagos, historical Pemba and the untouched wilderness of Niassa Game Reserve.

Each exclusive Rani property has been designed to world-class standards, each one reflecting the natural beauty of its surrounds. Their portfolio of well known properties includes island retreats off the coast of Mozambique, private game reserves on the African mainland and a resort on the Mozambican coast.
Holiday in Mozambique

Filed Under (Inhambane, Mozambique Travel) by BC Travel on May-22-2008

Tofo is a small town with only a couple roads – it’s popular with South Africa holidaymakers, so there are a few dive schools here, a couple of hostels and resorts and a small market selling numerous tourist trinkets.
I decided to stay at Bamboozi, a very basic, backpackers place a few kilometres out of town and for the next week the most difficult decision I faced each day was whether to have dinner in the bar at the hostel or walk 10 minutes along the beach to Dino’s, the other restaurant.