In the early 1970s, Mozambique was entrenched as one of southern Africa’s top travel destinations. Sunshine, warm weather and long golden stretches of palm-lined sand made Mozambique beaches a paradise. However, independence from Portugal in 1975 sparked a brutal and protracted civil war that reduced the stream of visitors to a trickle. Yet despite the country’s earlier woes, a triumphant spirit has prevailed since a ceasefire was signed in 1992, and travelers are again drawn by Mozambique’s many charms.
The major attraction is the country’s 1,500-mi/2,400-km coastline, which is replete with idyllic beaches, tropical islands, crumbling forts and delicious seafood.
The country is being rebuilt at a rapid pace. Developers have moved in with ambitious plans to build parks and luxury vacation resorts. And Maputo, the nation’s capital, is no longer a devastated shantytown, but a lively city that is on the upswing.
Perhaps the best symbol of this recovery is Maputo’s Polana Hotel, once a majestic monument to grand colonial style. Allowed to decay after independence in 1975, the Polana has been restored and is now one of the most expensive hotels in Africa. It’s the kind of place where arms dealers rub shoulders with World Bank financiers, where Gucci-clad tourists tuck into champagne breakfasts alongside New Zealand sappers on mine-clearance duty.
Although the evidence of recovery is undeniable, the nation’s game parks, whose animal populations were almost wiped out during the war (one game park was even used as a rebel base), are still far below the standards of those in neighboring countries.
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