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Ibo Island, Mozambique: A Glimpse into the Past

Keri Harvey | AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC   in 
August 18, 2014

Being on Ibo island is like living in a time warp. In the turquoise Quirimbas archipelago of northern Mozambique, Ibo offers a captivating glimpse into the past. I am smitten with the worn splendour of its colonial Portuguese buildings, the historic white star fort of São João, the sand streets and colourfully clad people that ply them. They go about their business, unhurried in the balmy heat. Even in the dead of winter, it’s ‘summer’ here and the lush gardens of tropical fruits and vegetables are living proof.

It wasn’t always like that, though. When the Portuguese abandoned Ibo in the seventies, time and life stood still. The first time I visited almost 10 years ago, it was a mildly melancholic place of crumbling buildings. There were no gardens. It felt deserted, and a little like a ghost town. Now Ibo has been reborn and is showcasing its history to visitors. Its stately buildings are being renovated and restored – most striking is the magnificent Ibo Island Lodge on the water’s edge – and lots of locals are moving back to Ibo. Children’s laughter is everywhere and the atmosphere is enchanting. Ibo is alive.


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