Mozambique is unusual: a welcoming country where tourism is rare. Wracked by civil war until 1992, recovery was set back by the severe flooding of 2000 and 2001 and drought in 2002. Mozambique has suffered greatly; but although there are legacies of this everywhere, it has made big strides since the end of the civil war and has become a magnet for foreign investment. However, poverty remains widespread with more than half of Mozambicans living on less than US$1 a day. Mozambique is now emerging as a great holiday destination. Bordering both South Africa and Tanzania, its magnificent coast stretches 2500km and saw centuries of trade with Arabia and India; but the Portuguese legacy from nearly 500 years of colonial rule is most evident today. Portuguese is the official language, although English is now widely spoken.
The towns, although often shabby and run down, still have a Mediterranean flavour. Maputo, the capital, has experienced a boom with a lot of South African investment. If you have time, a visit to the Ilha do Moçambique (Mozambique Island) is worth the effort. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the oldest European settlement in East Africa. Protected from damage by the civil war, most of Mozambique’s coral reefs and marine life are pristine and largely unexplored.
The southern islands of Bazaruto and Benguerra, offshore islands with top diving sites and exclusive beach lodges are emerging as world-class attractions, and are going to great lengths to preserve their environments for the future. This stance is backed by the government; but commercial pressures may threaten this. Along the coast the Quirimbas Archipelago, like much of the country’s interior, remains unexplored but offers huge potential for discovery.
Ethical Travel Issues and advice
Ethical Photography: Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.
Taking photos of friendly local people is a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities.