Month by Month
Marrabenta Festival, February
Kweto Siriwala, June
Timbilas Festival, August
Festival Azgo, May
Mafalala Festival, November
January is warm and often rainy, yet flower and butterfly filled. Take advantage of post-holiday low-season discounts at many hotels and lodges in the latter part of the month.
February is warm and wet, with rains in full force and the occasional tropical storm along the coast. Getting around away from main thoroughfares can be challenging, especially in central and northern Mozambique.
This early-February celebration in Marracuene (25km north of Maputo) commemorates colonial resisters who lost their lives in the 1895 Battle of Marracuene. It also marks the start of the season of ukanhi, a traditional brew made from the fruit of the canhoeiro (marula) tree.
To hear marrabenta – Mozambique’s national music – at its best, don’t miss the annual Marrabenta Festival. It’s held mostly in Maputo but also takes place in Beira, Inhambane and several other locations. The timing is set to coincide with Marracuene’s Gwaza Muthini commemorations.
March is wet almost everywhere, with rivers flooded and roads muddy. Yet there's still enough sunshine to enjoy exploring Maputo and other cities, and you'll have wonderful destinations like Mozambique Island almost to yourself.
In April the long rains are finally tapering off, with green landscapes everywhere. Visitor numbers along the coast, especially in the south, increase in connection with the Easter holidays. Inland, birding is at its best.
May is a delightful month to travel, with the rains finishing and everything drying out. It's also a fine month for diving, with generally good visibility and amenable temperatures.
This Maputo-based extravaganza has become Mozambique's largest arts and culture festival, featuring artists from Mozambique as well as elsewhere in the region.
June brings cool, dry weather throughout the country. It's generally a comfortable, uncrowded month to travel, although the sea along the southern Mozambican coastline can be windy and choppy.
Ibo Island Day (Kueto Siriwala)
June 24 marks the feast of St John the Baptist, which is now celebrated with great gusto as Kueto Siriwala ('to not forget your roots') day on Ibo Island in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago. Events include traditional music and dance, and dhow races.
This is one of the best months to visit Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park. Temperatures are pleasant and, as the land dries out, animals congregate around water holes. Along the coast, watch for humpback whales migrating north.
Humpback whales are now readily spotted along much of the Mozambican coast. Although dolphins are seen year-round, August tends to be particularly favourable for sightings. In the south, coastal hotels fill up.
Watch Chopi musicians play intricate rhythms on large marimbas, often in orchestras of 20 or more instruments, plus singers and dancers. While the festival is not always well organised, the musical tradition is fascinating. It’s held primarily in the southern Mozambique town of Quissico. See www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/27afr_uk.htm.
Clear, dry weather, minimal foliage and dwindling water sources make September one of the best months for spotting wildlife. It's also a pleasant month to travel almost anywhere in the country, with moderate conditions.
This festival (http://kugomashortfilms.wixsite.com/kugoma) showcases short films from throughout the Southern Africa region, with many free screenings and discussion forums held in and around Maputo.
October continues dry and pleasant. Jacarandas begin to bloom in the south, together with a profusion of bright-orange flame trees and other foliage. Along the coast, diving and whale watching are generally rewarding.
November marks the end of the dry season and the start of the hottest weather before the rains arrive. Once the rains begin, landscapes start to turn green and bird populations increase in variety and interest.
Held annually between late October and late November, this festival showcases Maputo's rich artistic and cultural legacy, focusing especially on the city's lively Mafalala neighbourhood. See www.iverca.org.
December's heat and the early rains bring green to landscapes throughout the country. Along the coast, seas are generally calm. Whale-shark sightings tend to be particularly good now and diving conditions optimal.
Spotting Marine Life
Seeing whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, manta rays and dugongs is a highlight of visiting the Mozambican coast.
Whale sharks are most prolific in the south from November to March or April. Humpback whales migrate up the southeast African coastline from Antarctica to mate and calve; between July and September or October, they're seen along the length of the country. Dolphins can be spotted year-round.
Manta rays can also be seen year-round and are almost guaranteed around Tofo and Barra. Green and other sea turtles are a highlight of the north. Dugongs may, with luck, be spotted around the Bazaruto Archipelago.