Northern Mozambique – more than island resorts…
The Quirimbas islands are just one of the attractions of northern Mozambique. There are also unspoilt coastal lodges both south and north of Pemba. Plus the wild Niassa Game Reserve is well worth a visit if you like heading into the wilderness.
Northern Mozambique Coastal Resorts
The lively town of Pemba is a complete contrast to the tranquillity of the Quirimbas but has its own unique appeal with its huge natural harbour, Wimbe beach and atmospheric souk market.
If you opt for a mozambique safari combining the Quirimbas with Lugenda Wilderness Camp in the Niassa Game Reserve, you may need to overnight at Pemba Beach Lodge. Other options include Londo Lodge, a short boat transfer across the Bay, and the remote Guludo Beach Lodge which is 4-5 hours north by road.
Southwards lies the Nampula province. Here are two excellent lodges which can be accessed via direct flights from Johannesburg into the town of Nampula followed by a road transfer: Coral Lodge and Nuarra Eco-Lodge.
The Niassa National Reserve of northern Mozambique is wild and untouched, even by local Mozambique standards! Huge herds of game still roam freely and most of the vegetation is indigenous and sustainably managed. Luckily the beautiful wilderness of Niassa Reserve was too undeveloped to be heavily affected by the civil war of the 1970’s and 80’s. Niassa’s two drawcards are the reserve itself and the golden sandy shores and clear waters of Lake Niassa. (This is more widely known by the rest of the world as Lake Malawi!)
The Niassa Reserve is part of the same eco-system as the vast Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania which lies just over the border. Niassa supports large populations of elephant, particularly impressive tuskers. Some say that there are approx 12,000 elephant. There are also good herds of sable, buffalo, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, eland, and zebra. Lion, leopard and spotted hyena are also common. The African wild dog population is thought to number around 200 individuals, which makes the Niassa reserve an important refuge for this endangered species.
Niassa also boasts three endemic subspecies: Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra and Johnston’s impala. Birdlife is also prolific and includes the rare Angola Pitta, Pel’s fishing owl and an abundant raptor population.
However, a Mozambique safari is not about ticking off game sightings. The wildlife is unused to game vehicles and remains skittish. So a safari in Niassa is more about enjoying this vast and untrammeled wilderness.
On the Eastern side of the Niassa Reserve lies Manda Wilderness Community Trust. This private concession is the base for the charming Nkwichi Lodge. This stunning little eco-lodge overlooks Lake Malawi with snorkelling, canoeing, fishing and diving all on offer. It runs on a sustainable tourism model with much involvement and investment in the local community. So this is a great place to visit some of the community projects.
Despite being in Mozambique, access to Nkwichi Lodge is actually via Malawi . You fly from Lilongwe into Likoma Island and then transfer by boat to Nkwichi Lodge. (You can theoretically access it from the Mozambiquan side but it involves two flight connections and a long road transfer. So that route’s not for the faint-hearted!)
Reasons to visit the Niassa Reserve
- The Niassa Reserve forms a key part of a vast miombo forest ecosystem which covers approximately 3.6 million km², stretching from the Angolan escarpment in the west to the transition to the coastal woodlands and forests of Mozambique and Tanzania in the east. This is one of the most pristine wilderness areas in Africa.
- Lake Niassa is the third largest lake in Africa and may contain the most diverse lake fish fauna in the world. More than 600 fish species have been identified, but the total number could be over 1,000.