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Ilha de Mocambique

The last stop on the trade wind route Ilha de Mocambique was an important Muslim trading centre long before it became the Portuguese capital of Mozambique.

You’ll expect a pirate or two to roll out a peeling wooden door in one of the narrow alleys and draw swords for a face-off! The atmosphere is similar to Lamu Island and some of the older Swahili towns on the East African coastline.

Much of the colonial architecture remains in place and there are whole streets of abandoned houses and shops. Interesting buildings include the fort of Sao Sebastao, the former Governors palace and the Church of Senhora Saude.

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Vasco de Gama visited here in 1499 as a large statue on the dockside bears testament. The centre was at its most prosperous in the 18th Century when ivory was exported in large quantities from its docks. Today the population is small and predominantly Muslim.

The island is accessed by a long, narrow causeway from the mainland and is about 2hrs by road from Nampula. Lumbo Airstrip on the mainland is a short distance from the causeway and 50 minutes by charter flight from Nampula.

It is well worth spending time on a tour around the old town and you’ll be offered genuine trade beads and coins from shipwrecks in the streets.Take time to visit the statue of the poet Luis de Camoes who fell in love with a beautiful black slave girl.

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