- Pemba lies on a peninsula in Pemba Bay and is the capital of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
- The city can be reached by road (although some routes allow for 2-wheel-drive vehicles, most require 4x4 capability). Tarred roads connect Pemba to Nampula (438 km) and Ilha de Mozambique (427 km).
- Alternatively you can fly to Pemba airport (arrangements can be made with Chuibab Bay Lodge for transport).
- Pemba has a tropical and humid climate with the average annual temperature ranging from a minimum of 22°C to a maximum of 32°C (this is not the place for your new winter jacket).
- Sea temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (this is definitely the place for your new swimwear).
- The annual rain season usually lasts from December to April and can be coupled with strong winds.
- The local people are primarily Makondes, Macuas and Mwanis with the local languages consisting of Kimwani and Macua, although Portuguese is also widespread (don’t worry if you can’t pronounce any of that, most tourist destinations, including Chuibab Bay Lodge, cater for English guests)
How to get around
- There are public buses on all main routes with friendly bus drivers who are more than eager to advise lost-looking travellers.
- Taxis are available although it’s advisable to check tariffs prior to departure.
- Chuiba Bay Lodge can also assist with any transport arrangements.
- For the truly brave at heart, hitchhiking around Pemba is also considered safe.
What to see
- A mammoth range of soft and hard coral can be found in the shelter of the bay which in turn attracts a multitude of sea species (including the rare one ton sunfish, potato bass, dolphins, whales and sea turtles) making it a perfect location for professional and novice marine photographers.
- This also incidentally makes Pemba a prime destination for any water sport or diving enthusiast with people flocking from all over the world to explore its largely uncharted waters. With the coral reef just 100m off the shoreline and the warm tropical waters, divers and snorkelers alike are guaranteed a vast variety and abundance of sea life on any given day.
- Pemba further boasts year-round fishing, although the peak Sailfish season is between July and December. Fishing expeditions can easily be arranged through Chuibab Bay Lodge regardless of your preference.
- The city is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture and it is well-worth experiencing this piece of visual history first hand.
- The local Maconde tribe pride themselves in their art. They are especially skilled at sculpting traditional ‘helmet masks’ which are used by the Mapico Mask Dancers at traditional festivals and ceremonies (an incredible experience should the opportunity arise to attend one). You can also watch while they create their world famous ebony sculptures using traditional methods handed down from generation to generation.
- All of the above and more can be bought at Banguia Authentic Traditional Market Baraca (roughly translated as ‘cheap shop’) and other markets found in the older parts of Pemba. You will find a plethora of traditional arts and crafts (which serve as charming gifts for the unlucky people back home) at the markets as well as some interesting road-side crafting.
- The Slave Trade Fort at Ponta Romero Lighthouse is also worth a visit. This is an open plan historical monument where slaves were once auctioned off. Currently it serves as a lookout point for incoming ships (and also some great photos).
- During the war the ancient Nacole Baobab (a colossal 9m2 baobab tree) served as a hiding place for refugees. Today you can walk around inside this massive natural treasure while also viewing the Large Split Face bats hanging from above.
- An hour’s drive will bring you to Nkwita Lake where surrounding rivers come together to form a permanent wetland which attracts a variety of animal and birdlife (including fish eagles- so remember to pack the binoculars).
- Excursions can also be arranged to Quirimbas Archipelago and National Park and Niassa National Reserve and Lake where four of the Big Five animals reside.
- Watch the Macua women and children collect, on the sand banks at low tide, a variety of clams, mussels and sea urchins while the local men bring ashore fresh fish, lobster and prawns for the mouth-watering dishes Pemba is famous for.