When you make the list of the 50 top guided expeditions in the world, then you know you have got it made. Ibo Island made the Africa Geographic 50 Trips of a Lifetime,a summary of the best guided trips to amazing destinations in the world, sustainable tours with a pinch of conservation and a dollop of education. It is only at Ibo Island that you get to see the islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago from a traditional dhow over a few days of soft sailing.
Travelers today are seeking something more than an organised tour into a city and its surrounds, with whirlwind itineraries where you learn only the basics about that place. This is the day and age of responsible travel and participatory experiences where the one doing the traveling is the one learning the most about people, the environment and how the world works. We are so very proud that Ibo Island Lodge has made this noteworthy list of tours for its unique island hopping dhow safaris into the Quirimbas Archipelago!
This kind of sail and safari holiday is all about taking only photographs, leaving only footprints – and, in many cases, having some kind of positive impact on local communities in the destination you are experiencing as your holiday retreat. According to Africa Geographic, these kinds of journeys are not your everyday tour or holiday trip – they are unique in that they challenge the way we think about the world and how to go on holiday.
The Ibo Island dhow island hopping safaris are the only such expeditions in the Quirimbas and leave from the old ruins of the island which tell many stories of ancient slavery and pirate battles. Imagine yourself aboard a traditional dhow, sailing silently between remote and uninhabited islands seeing all kinds of marine and island species. You will meet fishing folk and island communities who can show you their way of life, dependent on fish stocks, weather patterns and tourism coffers.
At night, you will bed down in a rustic campsite, with fire blazing, close to the sand, the sea and the starry sky. Our famous chef will whip up the freshest of seafood that will make your mouth water – all over an open fire under island stars, leaving you free to soak up a once in a lifetime Mozambique Dhow Safari.
Think about it – cruising along in your dhow, you will find yourself in the hands of our expert pro guide and experienced skipper and crew, who will show you where and how to explore the Ilha Quirimbas islands – jump in a kayak to paddle up river mouths and into mangrove swamps. Or enjoy activities such as snorkelling, diving and picnicking. Throw in a few nights of comfort at Ibo Island Lodge, with all its fascinating history and culture, and you are set for an adventure safari of a lifetime!
The Quirimbas Archipelago is a radical new destination that has been seen by the lucky few… The region has recently become one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations. Historically, Ibo Island was the trading hub of this string of islands, and today is nominated as a World Heritage Site and hosts the head-quarters of the Quirimbas National Park. Ibo has over a thousand years of history and culture for you to discover.
So yes, and it does feel as if you are going back in time!
There are hardly any people in this part of the world, very little infrastructure and mechanisation, therefore there is very little air or sea pollution. What bliss to be able to walk along pristine beaches and see not another soul? And to dive the reefs without having to wait your turn? This is an eco-adventure lost in time, a paradise boasting a rich history and a wealth of culture – the Quirimbas Archipelago.
Your island hopping dhow safari, listed as one of the top 50 Trips of a Lifetime by Africa Geographic, are educational too as you learn about the rich past of Mozambique, a fascinating country where the slave trade, the spice trade and the silver trade grew roots here. Slavery is thankfully gone and the spice trade continues in the wonderful meals you can eat – there is nothing better than the aroma of peri-peri prawns cooking over an open fire! Your crew will treat you to these and other delicious traditional meals along the route.
There are plenty of ancient Portuguese forts to see on islands like Ibo and Ilha de Mozambique. Long ago, Arab and Portuguese colonisers arrived to live in Africa, bringing along their cultures, their foods and their religions. Now you see their legacy in the architecture, some in ruins, in the clothing of the people and in the food of course. There is a hot pot of cultures alive in places like Pemba, the gateway to the Quirimbas.
Responsible travel such as this, aboard a traditional sailing vessel, is also about getting back to nature and leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. One way to connect with marine life is to swim with the dolphins at Ibo, or alongside your ship. Usually, will come across the dolphins in shallow tropical waters where they can be easily seen swimming along the sandy bottoms.
Whatever happens, you will never forget the time you spend below the surface of the water with these special creatures. Did you know that when people mingle with dolphins, it boosts their immune systems, improves their self-control, self-assurance and attention spans and even deepens their sense of compassion?
At Ibo Island Lodge, the Dive Quirimba’s activity centre is very proud to be an Ethical Marine Mammal Campaigner in Mozambique which supports the Dolphin care code of conduct. With the help of The Dolphin Centre crew in Ponta Do Ouro we make sure that both your experience and the dolphin’s best interests are being catered for.
One of the best things about the awards, 50 Trips of a Lifetime, is that they reflect the Africa Geographic ethos: “In the ten years we’ve curated our annual roundup of the best-guided trips, sustainable tours that reflect the National Geographic Society’s mission to inspire, illuminate, and teach have proliferated.” Ibo Island is proud to be a part of this incentive, as we strive to perfect our sustainable travelling in the Quirimbas Archipelago. We all need to decrease our eco footprints on the planet and it can be done in the way we build, the way we hire people, use natural resources and impact in the living things around us.
Looking at some of the other “winners” we see destinations like Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa – all offering out of this world experiences where travellers get to feel, see, hear, taste and touch their chosen worlds.
Lake Malawi is huge, stretching nearly 240 miles by 52 miles, a sea-like dam used by many and loved by more. There are white beaches, famous luxury lodges, Arab and Portuguese influences and smiling local people. Here, you can swim, fish, stand up paddleboard, explore the bays on a hand-carved canoe or spend a few days in Njobvu village and volunteer to teach or farm or build. Live in traditionally styled huts with thatched roofs and eat the food the people eat. Then pop over the fence into the Liwonde National Park to see the elephants, rhinos and hippos – this land is brimming with wonderful contrasts.
One of the best ways to see Namibia is by bicycle – cycle along the Swakop River and in the Skeleton Coast National Park – you may be lucky to see the sun rise over the famous Sossusvlei sand dunes and meet the fascinating Himba people in their villages. From two wheels to feet, and discovering walking safaris in Tanzania, in the exquisite Serengeti National Park.
Imagine walking across wild savannah in search of the big cats? Only you and the flora and fauna? Sleep in safari tents in comfort at the end of each day. Another fantastic bush walk not to be missed is that in the South Luangwa National Park, a haven for wildlife and their lush habitat. Walk into the wilderness, close to elephants, buffalo, hippos and lions too!
And then there is South Africa – so much to do, so little time! This is the base of the continent, the centre of outdoor activity and a destination sought after by international travellers. Start in the north in Gauteng, see the Kruger National Park, then follow the road to Cape Town to kayak, see the Drakensberg Mountains and the lions in Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
These are the things we should never forget and thank goodness for Africa Geographic for taking us there, showing us the stuff that holidays are made of in Africa. Responsible and sustainable travel is the way to go so check out the 50 Trips of a Lifetime and choose the one that suits you best, for now. Contact us for your trip of a lifetime to Ibo Island and experience a dhow island hopping safari!