WHY TRAVEL HERE?
As one of Mozambique’s exotic coastal destinations, Vilankulo, (also known as Vilanculos), on the northern coast of the country has much more to offer than meets the eye and is best described as an undiscovered gem – therein lies its beauty.
Vilankulo is a dhow trip away from the magnificent Bazaruto Archipelago islands with their untouched, white powder beaches, clear turquoise water, coral reefs and marine life to tempt the most experienced diver or snorkeler.
The archipelago, Mozambique’s only underwater national park comprises five islands – Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Bangue and Santa Carolina (commonly known as Paradise Island) and hosts the last viable population of dugongs on the east African coast.
Spot dolphins and whales here. Whale watching is popular between July and October and a trip out to sea usually ensures a sighting of these magnificent creatures.
There are four species of turtles and 2,000 fish species, with 80% of the Indo-Pacific species occurring here.
Over 180 bird species, including the crab plover and olive bee-eater that tunnels its nest into the sand dunes are found here. Large flocks of migrant waders visit the fertile mud flats from September to April. The nomadic greater Flamingo arrive from their mainland breeding sites around mid October.
The coral reefs attract a rich diversity of tropical fish and other marine creatures, and are regarded as some of the most diverse and least disturbed in the western Indian Ocean.
Some of the most amazing deep sea fishing opportunities in the area are available along this coastline too & it is a firm favorite with experienced anglers. The flow of the currents heralds in a huge array of fish – some of those available are mackerel, marlin, dorado, tuna & red snapper to name a few.
Feel the pulse of Vilankulo in a captivating mix of cultures, languages, music and traditions. The local market contributes to the flamboyant ambience and here you can bargain for anything from colourful sarongs (capolanas) to fresh produce, including cashew nuts and pineapples.
Buying fresh fish from the fishermen on the beach is a firm favourite.
Restaurants, sports bars and beach bars serving the much-loved local Mozambican beer have popped up quickly in the town and there are a couple of popular nightclubs which stay open until the early hours.
Vilankulo has a well stocked grocery store, wholesaler and butchery, bakeries, pizza places and casual eateries.
Despite the development that has taken place over the last ten years, it has maintained its charm, traditions, mixed cultures and overall natural beauty.
Good to know: Vilankulo has reliable phone and mobile phone networks and fast Internet access. You will find that most of the bigger hotels and lodges have WiFi (either free or charged separately). There is also an Internet café in the town centre.
Essential: It’s recommended that malaria prophylactics are taken as a precaution and insect repellant and sun block carried at all times. There is a small pharmacy in the town, but carry all prescription and more specific medication with you. Check if any vaccinations are required for entry into Mozambique at time of travel.
Worth doing in Vilankulo: kite surfing – Casa Rex is the best base! Try a kite surfing baptism, learn how to kite surf – level 1 and 2 – or hire equipment and join a kiting safari; stand-up paddling – one of the ultimate water activities; horse riding along the beach, to the dunes or around the lakes or even swimming with the horses is a dream; bird watching tour with a guide; canoeing trip along the river; craft shopping and tours – visit Machilla Magic Gallery next to Beach Lodge or Papagayo for handcrafts. Beach Bums holds a craft fair on the first Sunday of every month.
When to go:
April to September – dry season, with coastal temperatures reaching 28°C
October to March – hot and rainy, with highs reaching 32°C on the coast
January, February, March and December – highest rainfall period.
Warmest month – January
Coolest and driest month – August
Stand Up Paddling
Experience one of the ultimate water activities. Suitable for beginners or more experienced paddlers families, or individuals. The blue and calm waters of Vilanculos’ bay are ideal for board paddling.
Horse riding along the beach, to the dunes or around the lakes or even swimming with the horses. Great experience to get into nature and a must for the horse lovers. (Beginners also included)
Bird watching tour/Canoeing trip
Spot some of our magnificent birds under the guidance of our local expert. Or take a canoe trip along the river.
Craft Shopping & Tours
The market is the place to purchase capolana’s (traditional patterned fabric). Machilla Magic Gallery, next to Beach Lodge offers a variety of local handcrafts and Papagayo, opposite Taurus, specialises in international handcraft. A craft fair is held at Beach Bums on the first Sunday of every month.
Vilankulo has a tropical climate – some helpful information to help you plan:
• April to September – dry season, with coastal temperatures reaching 28°C
• October to March – hot & rainy, with highs reaching 32°C on the coast. January, February, March & December usually see the most rainfall.
• Warmest month: January
• Coolest & driest month: August
FLIGHTS & DRIVING (Accessibility)
There are regular flights from Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, Inhambane & Pemba on LAM, the national carrier.
LAM airlines fly daily from Johannesburg International airport (OR Tambo) to Vilankulo International Airport. Direct flying time is 2 hours. SA Airlink is now flying from Johannesburg to Vilanculos daily.
SA Airlink schedule:
Johannesburg – Vilanculos DAILY FLIGHTS
Departing Johannesburg 11.30, Arriving Vilanculos 13.10
Vilanculos- Johannesburg DAILY FLIGHTS
Departing Vilanculos 13.45, Arriving Johannesburg 15.30
From The Kruger:
These flights facilitate the popular “beach & bush” combination.
Starting initially with 2 flights per week (Thursday and Sunday) the Kruger- Vilanculos flights serve to further enhance Airlink’s current flights operating between Johannesburg and Vilanculos, with daily direct departures between Vilanculosand Johannesburg.
The Kruger to Vilanculos flights will depart Nelspruit at 11h35 and will arrive in Vilanculos at 12h50 and depart from Vilanculos at 13h45 and arrive in Johannesburg at 15h30, flights will operate on one of Airlink’s 12 Embraer ERJ135regional jets.
Tour Operators and African Safari specialists have welcomed the introduction of this route, which enables them to promote bush and beach combination packages giving travelers the freedom to enjoy an early morning game drive and then later that same day to enjoy a sundowner on the beach.”