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Island of Mozambique

Travel Guide Africa Mozambique Island of Mozambique

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Introduction

Ilha de Moçambique

Ilha de Moçambique

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The Island of Mozambique (Ilha de Moçambique) is located in the north of the country along the coast near Nampula. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and not without reason. The Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, built in 1522, is considered to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere and this place has been a port since the 15th century. Ilha was the capital of Portuguese East Africa until 1898, when present day Maputo took over that role. The administrative buildings of the colonial era, including the Fort of Sao Sebastiao, are in the north of the island, now called Stone Town. The port function has been taken over by Nacala, but history remains in this fantastic place.

Ilha de Moçambique is now a sleepy fishing village whose population lives mainly in the makuti (reed) town in the south of the island. It takes less than half an hour to traverse the island north to south on foot, but the atmosphere is magical. There is a sense of time standing still that is evoked by the crumbling colonial Stone Town buildings, the daily dawn departure and dusk arrival of the fishing boats, the local people chatting quietly in doorways, and the jarring intrusion of the occasional car. If you like photography, idling, and/or fresh prawns, then there are few better destinations in Africa.

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Opening Hours

The (blindingly white) Church of the Misericordia can be visited when there's a mass (6:00pm most days).

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Cost

There's Internet in the Telecom building just to the east of the Church of Sao Paolo (i.e. the big red one) for M80 per hour (Aug 2009).
The palace/church of Sao Paolo/Museum of Sacred Art/Maritime Museum can be visited on one M100 ticket (Aug 2009). You have to have a guide for the palace section - an English-speaking guide is available and is good. You have to have a guide for the Museum of Sacred Art but he only speaks Portuguese.

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Getting There

By Bus

Chapas (minibuses) from Nampula to Ilha leave from the minibus park east of the railway station on Ave. do Trabalho, taking about 3 hours and costing M150 (Aug 2009). Some - maybe all - chapas will drop you at the door of your intended accommodation, so if the conductor addresses you in Portuguese while the chapa is crossing the causeway to the island then this is probably what he is asking.

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Eat

Of the tourist-oriented eateries, Cafe d'Ancora d'Ouro (aka the Golden Anchor) is probably the best combination of decent prices and a comfy setting. It's opposite the Church of Misericordia. It's a magnet for foreign tourists and, as such, is also a popular place for the island's touts.

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Sleep

Budget

  • Casa do Gabriel (aka Patio dos Quintalinhos), is run by an Italian architect and his Mozambican wife. The building is gorgeously finished, with details such as clam shell soap dishes. A room with shared bathroom (cold water only), breakfast included, costs M600 (Aug 2009). This place is popular with Italians, couples and families, so book in advance if you want to ensure a room.
  • Casa de Luis (aka Omakthini) is not far from Casa do Gabriel, close to the makuti town. A room with shared bathroom (cold water only), breakfast included, also costs M600 (Aug 2009). It is worse value for money than Casa do Gabriel (the rooms are smaller and not as well equipped), but it is a more sociable place and attracts independent travellers.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 7:35 on May 31, 11 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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