Mozambique. – Pemba is a port city in Northern Mozambique and the capital of the Cabo Delgado province. First settled in 1904 as Porto Amélia after the Queen of Portugal, it has over the years grown up around the port.
Once a Portuguese colony, Mozambique gained independence in 1975, but it was not to be plain sailing and their devastating Civil War broke out in 1977, only ending in 1992 with the country’s first multi-party elections in 1994. This history has meant a slow revival for the more remote parts of the country, although island destinations and coastal hotspots have always drawn the more intrepid traveller seeking a rustic and simple breakaway.
Pemba is a place with a strong Arabian and African influences and in the old town, buildings are exactly as I’d imagined, with shades of faded cream and blue showing the cracked seams of early Portuguese settlements.
Paquitequete, a large Kimwani settlement, was the original village which gave origin to Pemba Town. It is still a colourful neighbourwood, diferent from the center of town itself where, daily, dhows unload fish, macuti (palm leaves), and mangrove wooden poles for construction, coming from the islands.
The city’s inhabitants are primarily Swahili, Makondes, Macuas and Mwanis with local languages areKimwani and Macua, although Portuguese is widespread.
During my visit I discovered the centre of Pemba with its authentic local market or Souk, where arts and crafts, fabrics and silver ware can be bought, as well as food and fresh fruit and vegetables. We enjoyed lunch on the beach, took long walks around the port and learnt about the history.
Here are the pics of sites I collected during my stay.
Little lighthouse in town.
This incredibly beautiful peach with its dusty blue water.
Lunch was at Chuiba Bay Lodge, at a small beach bar with private pool right on the beach. We slipped between the fresh pool and warm ocean, enjoying a peri peri lobster braai (well not me) and local Manica beers.
It’s a dogs life. This adorable little girl spent her time looking out at the ocean and enjoying regular blissful roll arounds on the beach while we swam and had lunch. I was completely taken with the beauty of her.
Walking Pemba from the resort along the coastline into the heart of the ancient town, we passed the markets, kids playing football, traders at work, fishermen bringing in their catch, bikes taking to the downhill and billy goats. It was a circular route of about 13.5km in a mad humid heat, that richly rewarded.
Some of the buildings and sights about town.
Motor bike resting up under the shade of a truck’s trailer.
The main downtown market sights. Live chickens.
There are a few monuments in Pemba known as 25th September Square, Mozambican Heroes Square (above), Independency Square Socialist Emulation Square, Samora Machel Square and Wimbe Anchor Square. All modest, yet most significant to the history of the country.
Some murals on the walls around Heroes Square.
Pemba is too often overlooked as a holiday destination and I’d encourage that whether it is work or pleasure that brings you to this part of the country, that you linger in the sultry setting for long enough to truly get an appreciation for it.
For accommodation, I stayed at the beautiful AVANI Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa with its mix of African and Arabian architectural design, oceanfront lawns, collection of large swimming pools with a spacious Spa and jacuzzi overlooking the sea. Best known as a business hotel, their apartment and luxury suites, tall palm trees and ambience rich Clube Naval restaurant appeal much to tourists, as do the charming staff.
Practicing modesty at the market. About 70% of the population in the northern part of Mozambique are Muslim, the rest are mostly Catholics, influenced by the early day Portuguese. While in the south the stats are reversed. But right here a strong Arabic influence is felt and respected.
Don’t be worried about walking the streets of Pemba, embrace them, they are safe, friendly and welcoming. Not to mention vibrant and bursting with everyday life. For more, read my full article – Northern Mozambique’s Pemba and Medjumbe Island with #FlyAirlink.
There is now a weekly flight from Johannesburg to Pemba with FlyAirlink, and is the closest airport for those visiting Medjumbe Island and the Qurimbas National Park.
Disclaimer: I travelled on a media trip by invitation of Theresa Gibbon PR and was generously hosted by the resorts throughout. I’m most grateful.