Dhow safari transport - photo courtesy of Ibo Island Lodge

October 3, 2016

Never heard of Ibo Island? Well, this is not surprising as Ibo is completely off the traditional tourist route. Besides, lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean among the thirty islands of the Mozambican Quirimbas archipelago, Ibo was almost forgotten to the outside world for nearly a century.

Sophie Pirlot, our Contributor in South Africa and author of the blog Poesy By Sophie, had the chance to spend some time there with her family. She shares with us this magical, unique, out-of-time experience.

“Reaching Ibo is already an adventure. We took a small plane from Pemba and flew over the amazing turquoise water. No sooner had we touched the ground than we were immersed into its very own atmosphere, filled with magical, nostalgic and mysterious feelings. Ibo is one of the most ancient settlements in Mozambique. Needless to say legends and conspiracies are not lacking here!

We chose the Ibo Island Lodge which organized a private three-nights sailing and camping trip for us. We embarked at sunrise on a dhow (a traditional wood boat) with an experienced crew of five.

During the day we would go snorkeling, explore the islands and visit the small fishing villages. We would spend some time on deserted beaches, collecting the biggest shells we’ve ever seen and spotting the crabs. The kids would play pirates or act like mermaids.

We would stay on uninhabited islands where the crew had set up the mobile camp. There is no electricity, no running water, no cell phone network – just us and this unbelievable nature. The camp is rustic and eco-friendly and yet the food – cooked over the fire – is simply delicious; fresh seafood, pasta and even pancakes for breakfast.

As night descended we would all sit around the fire and tell stories (better than any television program!) under the stars. 

This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

  • How to go?

You need to fly to Pemba on the Mozambican coast (usually from Johannesburg or Dar Es Salam) and then take a short flight to Ibo Island.

  • Where to stay? 

Ibo Island Lodge: Unique and elegant accommodation settled in three historic, sea-facing mansions full of antiques and colonial décor. Their rooftop bar and restaurant is one of the most amazing places to enjoy the sunset and track the traditional wood boats (dhows) that drift across the horizon. They organize private sailing and camping trips.

  • When to go?

We went there in May which is kind of autumn and it was perfect weather. Not too hot and no rain.

  • Must-Haves:

– Swimming suits, hats, sunglasses, sun-cream, anti-UV t-shirt,

– Snorkeling equipment (they could provide some snorkeling gear but safer to take the kiddy one with you just in case),

– Complete travel pharmacy pack,

– Anti-malarial medicine (it’s a malaria zone) and mosquito repellant,

– For the same reason, long pants and shirts for the evening,

– Torch and head-torch for the night,

– Some snacks for the kids.

  • Good to Know:

– Our youngest daughter was almost three and I would not recommend it for children younger than that.

– We did easy snorkeling for the kids, always accompanied by a crew member.

– No fear about food, water and comfort; as I said before, the food was really delicious (besides they had shared the menu for the three days beforehand), the tents convenient and the bedding very comfortable. We even enjoyed a warm unsalted shower under the stars. It’s real barefoot luxury!

– A very professional and trustworthy local travel agency in Mozambique :


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