The gateway to the north, Pemba sprawls across a small peninsula that juts into the enormous and magnificent Pemba Bay. This is one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
The mildewed baixa (old town) area is home to the low-lying port, the old town and the poor but lively township of Paquitequete. Steeply uphill from here, the busier and less atmospheric town centre is the place to get things done, with banks and offices, a few restaurants, and the main bus stand.
About 5km east of the town centre is Wimbi (also spelled Wimbe) Beach, the hub of tourist activity and the favoured destination of most visitors.
Pemba is a port city in Mozambique. It is the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado and lies on a peninsula in Pemba Bay.
The town was founded by the Niassa Company in 1904 as Porto Amélia, after the Queen of Portugal, at the peninsula's southwestern tip and has grown around a port. The city is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture. It was renamed Pemba at the end of Portuguese rule, in 1975.
The city's inhabitants are primarily Swahili, Makondes, Macuas and Mwanis. Local languages that are spoken are Kimwani and Macua, although Portuguese is widespread.
In the centre of Pemba, there is an authentic local market or souk, where arts and crafts, as well as traditional silverware can be bought.
Pemba is also renowned as being a prime destination for water sport and diving enthusiasts as a coral reef lies close to the shore. Pemba has increasingly become a tourist destination, particularly for upper-middle-class Mozambicans and South Africans.
There are now 5 flights a week from Johannesburg to Pemba, several hotels, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment. Pemba is the closest major city and airport for those who wish to visit the Quirimbas Islands and Quirimbas National Park.
History of Pemba Mozambique
Established in 1904 as administrative headquarters for the Niassa Company, Pemba was known for much of its early life as Porto Amelia. Today it’s the capital of Cabo Delgado province and a city of three distinct parts.
Steeped in Portuguese heritage, Pemba is teeming with hints of an interesting past. Located in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, Pemba is a bustling port town. Founded in 1904 by the Niassa Company, it was originally named Porto Amelia after the Queen of Portugal. The history of Pemba is an interesting one, and it starts with the beginnings of Mozambique.
The first sighting of Mozambique in the history books dates back to the 10th century AD, with mention of the Wak-Wak people who lived in the area. The country played an important role in the intra-African trade to the west, and the ports along the Mozambican coast flourished with north-eastern African, the Middle Eastern and Asian traders docking along the stunning shores.
In 1498, famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama stopped in Mozambique on his way to India. Though his visit did not have an immediate effect on the country, it started the ball rolling and eventually European traders were frequenting the quiet coast.
By the middle of the 16th century, locals inhabitants were having to focus resistance efforts against European settlers who were trying to invade the Mozambican interior regions.The resistance worked, and by the end of the 16th century, Portuguese control was limited.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of land grants to European colonists, settlers and colonists were able to gain complete control over the labour and resources in the majority of Mozambique, which lasted until the 1930s.
While this was happening, the north remained largely unaffected, with Pemba only being established in 1904 as administrative headquarters for the Niassa Company. Cabo Delgado is home to the Makonde people, who managed to avoid European influence until around 1910 because of the remote location of their homelands.
This resulted in the culture remaining strong, which can still be seen in present day Pemba, with the Makonde people still practice age old traditions and rituals. A culture rich with art, celebration and remembrance, they celebrate special occasions with important dances like the ‘Mapico’ initiation dance.
The women adorn themselves with white face paint, sharpen their teeth, and tattoo and pierce their bodies. Their art is also extremely important, with ivory and wood carving known as ‘Torture Art’.
Weather and Climate Conditions in Pemba
Pemba has a tropical savanna climate. Temperatures fluctuate little throughout the year due to the city's tropical location and closeness to the equator. It has only two seasons. The wet season is from December to April and brings heavy but reliable rainfall, the wettest month typically being March with an average rainfall of 202.2 mm (7.96 in).
Conversely, the dry season stretches from May to November and brings marginally cooler temperatures, sunny skies, and very little rain, the driest month typically being September with an average rainfall of 2.2 mm (0.09 in). Humidity is very high during the wet season, averaging 80-90%, but is much lower in the dry season. The warmest months are January and February and the coolest is July.
Getting to Pemba Mozambique
The airport has international flights to and from Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Dzaoudzi (Mayotte). Domestic flights from Maputo, Beira and Nampula are operated by the national carrier Linhas Aereas de Mocambique.
Customs facilities are available at the airport, and visas are available on arrival for some nationalities (check with an embassy ahead of time).
Good tarred roads connect Pemba to Nampula (438 km) and Ilha de Mozambique (427 km). National roads run to the east and south to Central Mozambique.
Northwards, the national road from Pemba to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is partly tarred. With 4WD cars it's possible to cross the Rovuma River with a small Ferry at the Quionga border post ( only possible at high tide please confirm with the ferry ). The Unity Bridge is now open for cars to drive through at Negomane.
Things to Do in Pemba
Pemba is home to the third largest natural harbour in the world. It is known for it’s impressive array of water-sports and activities. Whether you’re a fan of adventure activities or prefer passing the day in a more relaxed manner, Pemba’s got something for you! Here’s a list of the top five things to do in Pemba Mozambique so you can start planning your trip to paradise!
Diving and snorkeling
With 425km’s of coastline, Pemba’s biggest draw-card is definitely its diving and snorkeling. It’s a fantastic place to see a wide variety of multi-coloured marine life, and while the coral reefs make the beaches tricky to swim off, they make for interesting dives! With diving schools operational in the area, it’s the ideal place to qualify. If you’re already a pro, you can opt for a diving safari, and have the experienced locals show you all the best spots.
Reclining by the Pool
The pool at Nautilus is the stuff tropical dreams are made of. With an epic ocean view, crystal clear waters and palm trees overhead, it’s hard not to experience complete and utter relaxation when you’re under the Mozambican sun. Pack a good book, and your favourite hat, and spend the day next to the cool and refreshing waters. That’s what holidays are for, after all.
Looking to sit back and enjoy the sound of the gentle ocean? Why not cast a line into the placid water and try your luck? The tropical weather and sheltered bay make for the perfect fishing conditions. Keep at it and you can expect catches like tuna, kingfish and barracuda.
From expansive ocean vistas to colonial Portuguese architecture, the sights in Pemba are worthy of being admired. Take a tuk-tuk and see all that the dynamic town has to offer. Make sure to check out the Slave Trade Fort at Ponta Romero Lighthouse. This historical monument saw thousands of slaves auctioned off, and also serves as a lookout point.
Quirimbas National Park
The Quirimbas National Park is a protected area in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique. Enjoy a wide variety of indigenous fauna and flora, and the beaches, which work as one of the borders of the park, are known to be turtle breeding grounds. So if the time is right, you may be able to catch a glimpse of these curious creatures. The management of the park falls to a combination of local communities, park authorities and tour operates- making it a special place on the northern coast of Mozambique.
|Languages spoken||Portuguese, Swahili, Makonde|
|Currency used||Mozambican Metical (MZN)|