Marromeu is an old sugar-growing centre beside the Zambezi River, dating back to the late-19th century when the Portuguese Sugar Society of East Africa built a plantation and sugar factory here. After many years of neglect, the factory has been rehabilitated under Mauritian ownership, and is now Mozambique’s largest sugar processing mill.
About 45km upriver from Marromeu, and easily accessed with 4WD from Caia, is Chupanga Mission, where Mary Moffat, wife of the missionary and explorer David Livingstone, is buried. She died here on 17 April 1862.
South of Marromeu begin the extensive wetlands of the Zambezi River delta, home to a wealth of water birds, including wattled crane, flamingo and pelican. On the coast is the Marromeu Special Reserve (Reserva Especial de Marromeu), which was formerly known for its vast herds of buffalo – put by some estimates at about 55,000 in the 1970s. Today only a fraction of that number remain, although plans are underway for restocking. The reserve is also home to populations of waterbuck, sable antelope, zebra and elephant, as well as rich levels of birdlife, with the highest density of waterbirds in Mozambique. In 2004, it was proclaimed as a ‘wetland of international importance’ under the Ramsar convention.
In Marromeu town, basic accommodation is available. It’s better, however, to base yourself at Catapu and explore from there. Chapas go daily to Marromeu from both Inhamitanga and Caia.