FAM Trip: Mozambique…. Northbound!

Mozambique…. Northbound!

After an amazing blitz adventure to Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago it was time to checkout northern Mozambique and the possible connections with northern Malawi.

Initially I was thinking, ‘how hard could it be?’ Fly to Likoma, boat to Nkwichi, drive to Lichinga, fly to Nampula, drive to Ilha Mozambique… well, well, well, let me tell you all about my AMAZING adventure, to Mozambique.

So, having had the pleasure of checking out Kaya Mawa and all the magical Lake Malawi products, that are actually in Malawi (read more here), this trip was all about Mozambique and connecting it to magical Malawi and potentially Zambia too.

Nkwichi n’ quiet

Once again thanks to team Ulendo for jetting me across Lake Malawi to Likoma Island Airstrip, a quick and scenic 1hr flight. Emile and team Nkwichi were there to meet me at the airstrip, and after a quick 1-minute walk to the beach, and a 1hr boat ride on the ‘Lake of Stars’, (via customs in Cobue), I had arrived in time for a beautiful sunset and intro to my new home for the next few days.

I had recently just sent my business partner here and he fell in love with the place; this was very apparent in his blog which you can read soon.

The place is absolutely stunning and serene, off the beaten track and only accessible by water. The rooms are spacious and open, with stunning views of the lake and no doors… so a real wild feel to them and complimented with rustic outdoor bathrooms, and the best, large bath (they did pretty sensational job of preparing mine with bubbles, candles and champagne for one)!! My first of many romantic-moments-for-one on this trip!

A great team of friendly Mozambicans lead by Bjorn and Martine.  A tough place to get right due to the logistical challenges but they are doing a great job… but when they run out of something they have to wait for the next ferry from Malawi to bring in stock, and this ferry runs when it feels like it so you may need to be a bit patient and understanding, TIA!!

nkwichi lodge by drone

Coast to coast

It was time to head on to the next destination, which would be an interesting and again wild adventure.

A 4am start on the Nkwichi boat across the blue lake… it was full moon so the lake was lit up and the stars were shining in full force. We reached Cobue where the transfer vehicle was waiting for me.

A wild 3 hours on a bumpy dirt road, before hitting the tar road for the last few hours into Lichinga. You could skip the bumpy road and transfer by boat instead, and meet the vehicle on the tar road.

You may want to consider this but bear in mind the flight leaves from Lichinga at 10:20am (once a day 4 times a week) so if you choose the boat option it will be an early start, and mostly in the dark. If you decide that the adventurous route via Likoma/ Nkwichi/ Lichinga/ Nampula is not your vibe there are DIRECT flights from Lilongwe to Nampula that arrive at 4pm. So this is too late to get to Coral but getting to Ilha Mozambique is VERY doable. I would strongly recommend a couple of nights on Ilha Mozambique anyway, so much so that I stayed here for a night on my way to Nuarro.

Anyway, I arrived at Lichinga Airport, which was everything I expected from a third world African airport…. But all was good, check-in was efficient and my flight on LAM (Local Airline Mozambique) departed on time for the quick one-hour flight to Nampula. My bag arrived quickly and my main man from Coral Lodge was waiting for me. I now,

for the first time, felt I was in Mozambique and not Malawi.

Coral Lodge

Whalecome to Coral!

The Coral vehicle was a brand-new people carrier, equipped with aircon, seatbelts, cold drinks, cashew nuts and epic chocolate biscuits (I ate them all). We stopped by Movitel (local Mozambique network provider) and purchased a sim card and 25gb of data for a cheap USD10 and I was set to stay in contact with the office for the next 3 weeks…

A comfortable 2.5hr drive to Ilha Mozambique (drive from the mainland over the bridge to the island) where I was met by the Coral Lodge boat. A brand-new boat and great service to cruise me across to the island, which was a quick ten-minute scenic boat ride in crystal clear blue water.

We arrived at Coral at high tide (saves you a 500m walk in case you are lazy like me). So straight on to the beach in front of lodge, where Filipa, the manageress, and the barman were waiting for me with a refreshing cold cocktail. Filipa gave me a quick orientation, gave me my Wi-Fi password, arranged a late lunch and showed me my beautiful room. All very new and modern, with a breeze system, fan and everything you can think of in the rooms. I LOVE the rooms and the view of the ocean.

My 3 days here went far too quickly.  The in-house tailor made me another bright and colorful jacket for upcoming business trips… such a nice touch that all clients get an item of personally tailored clothing of their choice.

whale, mozambique

The lodge is set on a peninsula so you get sunrise over the sea or sunset over the lagoon and swamp. There is snorkeling in the lagoon, scenic walks to the swamp island, kayaking, day trips sailing to other beaches and islands, whale watching (which we were fortunate to get very close to) and fishing.

There is no diving in this region but can be done further up the coast at Nuarro. I also strongly recommend a tour of Ilha Mozambique which is rich in culture and history, with great local bars and restaurants.

All in all, Coral was a fantastic experience, with amazing food, service, location and the nicest management couple in Filipa and Riccardo. The team is very well trained and they are all willing to go the extra mile. Sad to say goodbye but excited to spend a night at Feitoria on Ilah Mozambique.

It must be Feit…

I LOVED Feitoria. In such a great location with amazing sunset views and perfectly located to walk around Ilha Mozambique and soak up the history and culture in the markets, museum etc.

The lodge used to be the Arab trading centre and therefore is designed with a very strong Arabian influence, and decorated to the highest level. All the rooms are named after the spices that used to be traded which I found very charming.

The food is AMAZING but you also feel the local Portuguese/Mozambique influence in the way the food is cooked. This feels like Mozambique. The rooms are beautiful (especially my site, with stunning views). TIP: request room 19!

Right next door to Feitoria is another boutique hotel called Villa Sands. Similar level to Feitoria and a great backup option with stunning views and an infinity pool.

Nuarro Lodge

Nuarro and chill

Time now to head north to Nuarro. My main man picked me up and we embarked a quick 3hr road transfer from Ilha Mozambique to Nuarro. The transfer is not bad at all, the roads are pretty good, even the dirt road right at the end as you get to Nuarro.

Whether doing Nuarro or Coral (you would probably choose one or the other depending on what your interests are or time constraints), I would include Feitoria as a combo. If you’re coming in on the flight from Malawi it would be too late to get to Coral/Nuarro so it’s the perfect stopover before your main destination.

Nuarro is less about the material luxuries and more about the wild barefoot luxury. The rustic chalets are basic but very comfortable and have incredible views of both sunrise and sunset.

The beach is incredibly beautiful and looks like a postcard, and the snorkeling and diving right off the shore is incredible. All shore dives/snorkeling is included in the price and boat dives to any of the many destinations are well priced. The dive school is well run by Ray and Kerry and the equipment is all in very good condition.

Tebia and Evan run the show incredibly well.  They also offer stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking and bike rides, and again all of this equipment is new and in good condition.

Tebia is a fantastic underwater photographer and was really helpful with teaching me some underwater photography tricks. Evan runs a slick shop in terms of operations and maintenance, and is a passionate cook… which really shone through in the quality of all the meals. The food is fantastic.

All in all, a fantastic all-round product in a great location.

Pemba pitstop

I was sad to leave but it was time to move on… another longish drive, this time a 7hr road transfer from Nuarro to Pemba. A long but nice road and not uncomfortable (perfect for those wanting to save some ‘dineros’), but for those with deep pockets there is an option to charter a flight.

Anyway, a 7hr road transfer to Avani Pemba Beach Lodge which is great for an overnight stay, with a modern comfortable room, good services, good food, fast Wi-Fi and an amazing spa.

I would personally prefer to get straight out to the islands but if you must overnight here this is not a bad spot. Avani is a pretty big hotel but there are some smaller options like Nautulus (great view for sunset) and Situ Islands B&B just outside Pemba if the big hotel vibe is not for you. Word on the street is that Diamond Mecufi Resort about an hour’s drive from Pemba is also very nice.

Nevertheless, I had some time to myself and to get my breath back, recharge and get on top of my emails before heading out to the islands.

fishing situ island

An ideal Situ

My next stop was Situ Island Resort which is a quick 1hr boat trip. Another hidden gem just off the coast of Pemba – If unpretentious barefoot luxury is what you are looking for, this may be for you, if you’re looking for a villa with a plunge pool and a butler then keep on looking!

Situ is about an hour’s boat ride from Pemba and hence an easy and budget friendly transfer. Situ is in a great setting amongst some fantastic fishing and diving spots. Their boats and diving/fishing equipment are solid and well maintained.

Craig and Tess are such good people and fantastic managers, it’s very obvious how well they treat their employees and how respected they are, at the risk of sounding cliché – it’s like a big family.

The rooms, like Nuarro, are rustic but very comfortable, and also have a great view of sunset. The food was world class… it’s clear how passionate Craig is about the food and it shows… so good and as many portions of dessert as you want (thanks Craig)!

This spot is awesome, great value and I felt at home from the minute I arrived, it should definitely be in your Mozambique itinerary. I was fortunate to catch a few Giant Trevallies and a baby Sierra on my fishing trip, as well as get in some amazing diving. Good times! So good in fact that I decided to come back here for my last night after Azura.

Feeling turtle-y fan-sea at Azura

Anyway, moving on to Azura Quilalea in style…  I felt like royalty having the private helicopter pick me up from Situ and whizz me over to Azura. A quick and incredibly scenic 10-minute flight to the amazing Azura.

Now this is one of my favorite places in the world. I love EVERYTHING about Azura Quilalea and ended up staying for 5 days!

turtle, mozambique

The rooms, the plunge pools, the views, the food, the service, the snorkeling (and amazing diving right from the beach), the fishing, the turtles swimming past my room (twice), let’s not forget the scenic Heli flight to get you there in the first place, and last but not least, the amazing management couple in Claudia and Leon that run such a good ship!! #takemeback.

Time to Mozy on home

I had decided that there is no point in going back to Malawi the adventurous route in which I had arrived, so I looked into options and it turns out  I could fly from Pemba via Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania for a night (and catch-up with some old friends), and be back in Malawi by 8am in time for work.

So yes, this is another story but hopefully this blog showcases how easy it is to combine Malawi and Mozambique and even Zambia. You could be on a safari in the Luangwa Valley in the morning, and enjoying sunsets and seafood for dinner that very same day… What are you waiting for? #helpushelpyou.

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