Cabo Delgado province in the far north of Mozambique is as distant from Maputo as Moscow is from London. The area has existed in splendid isolation, with most of the population confined to fishing communities along the coast and on the 32 tiny coral islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago which stretch for 400 kms along the Indian Ocean coast.
These fishing communities with their dhows, dugouts and outrigger canoes share more with the Swahili-speaking east African population to the north than they do with their fellow nationals down in the south.
In the last few years, a particularly enlightened provincial governor has facilitated the development of sustainable tourism as a means to providing employment and furthering conservation of this ecologically fascinating province. Already what was the poorest province of one of the world’s poorest countries is beginning to enjoy the fruits of tourism. Parts of the mainland, and several islands, now have lodges and tourists are discovering the delights of this pristine wilderness.
Access to Pemba, the regional capital and airport, has improved considerably. SA Airlink has a weekly flight from Johannesburg, flying time under 3 hours, LAM (Air Mozambique) flies up three times a week from Maputo. There are also flights from Dar-es-Salaam (flying time two hours) and Nairobi.
Light aircraft transfers meet the Pemba flights and it a short hop to most destinations. Those arriving in the late afternoon can overnight at Pemba Beach Hotel.
Improved access resulted in a substantial rise in visitor numbers last year. Visit the Quirimbas now, while it is still an undeveloped backwater.