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Mercado Central
Inhambane is located in Mozambique
Mercado Central
Coordinates: 23°52′S 35°23′E / 23.867°S 35.383°E / -23.867; 35.383
Country  Mozambique
Provinces Inhambane Province
 - Total 63,837

Inhambane is a town located in southern Mozambique, lying on Inhambane Bay, 470 km northeast of Maputo. It is the capital of the Inhambane Province and has according to the 2007 census has a population of 63,837, growing from the 1997 census of 54,157. [1] It is a sleepy historic town known for its rusting colonial architecture and has been popular with tourists in recent years. The settlement owes its existence to a deep inlet into which the small river the Matamba flows. Two protective sandy headlands protect the harbor and form a sandbank. The town of Maxixe is located across the bay.



Inhambane is one of the oldest settlements on the East Coast of Mozambique. Dhows traded at the place as early as the 11th century. Muslim and Persian traders were the first outsiders to arrive to the area by sea and traded pearls and ambergris and also traded at Chibuene in the south. The area became well known for its local cotton spinning and production by the Tonga tribe. Sometime before the Portuguese came to this town, the Karanga had invaded Inhambane and formed a number of local chieftains which dominated over the Tonga cotton workers and the rewards of trading with the Muslims went to them. [2]

When Vasco da Gama rounded Africa in the late 15th century he pulled into Inhambane to replenish stocks and to explore. He took an immediate liking Imhambane and named it Terra de Boa Gente or 'Land of the Gentle People'. In 1505, a ship sent by Francisco de Almeida was shipwrecked south of the town, but the Portuguese gained an initial meeting with the Karanga chiefs. Later, their sons landed on Mozambique Island to survey the situation. The Portuguese eventually established a permanent trading post at settlement in 1534.[3]Inhambane was then chosen as the first Jesuit mission to East Africa in 1560. [2]

The port gradually grew as a ivory and slave trading centre particularly in the eighteenth century under mostly Indian control. It was destroyed in 1834 by Soshangane, but grew rapidly in the second half of the century as a town of Portuguese East Africa, from which period its old cathedral and old mosque date. However in the 20th century the status of the town declined and the economic situation worsened as Maputo (called Lourenço Marques before 1975) became the main centre.

The 170 year old Cathedral of our Lady of Conception is located in the old quarter of the city where a rusted ladder leads to the top of the spire, offering panoramic views of the city and harbor. [4] The city is now home to a museum and a market and is known for its nearby beaches of Tofo and Barra. The central market located along the main boulevard called simply "Mercado Central" offers numerous foods, ranging from a colorful array of spices and vegetables to prawns, fishes and cashew nuts. Motor and dhow taxis sail from the town to Maxixe.


Barra beach (Ponto do Barra)

Notable sites in the surrounding district of Inhambane include the Praia do Tofo, Praia dos Cocos, Ponto do Barra, Ilha de Benquerra, Guinjata Bay. Scuba diving in Inhambane is particularly popular in locations such as Manta Reef and Gallaria. Giant Manta Rays, Whale sharks, Turtles and other marine life are regularly seen and there are many professional scuba diving operations throughout the province. Many tourists are under the impression that they can dive from Inhambane itself. The closest diving to Inhambane is actually at Praia do Tofo - 22km from Inhambane City. Tofo is known as the whale shark, Mecca of the world.[5]


Village in Inhambane province near the town

The easiest way to reach Inhambane is by road from Maputo on the EN 1. It is also possible to reach Inhambane from Beira, Mozambique or Zimbabwe on the EN 6 and EN 1 after Inchope. Inhambane has an airport Inhambane Airport and there are flights from Maputo on most days and charters flying in from Johannesburg in South Africa. [6]

Dhow ferrying passengers from Inhambane to Maxixe in 2006.


Inhambane has/had a narrow gauge railway that was terminated before its full extent was realised. [7]

See also


  1. ^ World Gazeteer, Retrieved on June 16, 2008
  2. ^ a b Newitt, M., (1995),A History of Mozambique, p.161, C. Hurst & Co, Retrieved on June 15, 2008
  3. ^ Mozambique Connection, Retrieved on June 15, 2008
  4. ^, Retrieved on June 15, 2008
  5. ^, Retrieved on June 15, 2008
  6. ^ Southern Africa Places, Retrieved on June 15, 2008
  7. ^

Cidade de Inhambane - Facebook

Coordinates: 23°52′S 35°23′E / 23.867°S 35.383°E / -23.867; 35.383

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Inhambane is in Mozambique. It is a sleepy historic town some 485 km north of Maputo. It has some great colonial architecture (in a low-key sort of a way) and is considered by many to be one of the prettiest towns in Mozambique. It is situated on a peninsula overlooking a bay, and also serves as a springboard to the coastal resorts around Tofo beach (some 30km due east, along a reasonably good road).

Get in

By car

From Maputo

When entering Maputo on the toll road from Swaziland or South Africa Take the EN1 highway north. The off ramp is signposted Xai Xai. The road is relatively good up to Xai-Xai (215 km north), but then deteriorates rapidly: potholes. Drive slowly, unless you are one of those people who believe that potholes are best tackled at speed, in order to "soar over" them. The bad road is only as far as Chidenguele, some 64 km north of Xai Xai. From here on the road is in good condition having been recently rebuilt. There are still two deviations as of 28th November 2006. The first is about 15km before Inharrime and the second is as you enter Inharrime which is 108 km north of Chidenguela. The deviation takes you through the back roads of the town bringing you back to the main road just before the petrol station, which has both leaded and unleaded fuel. From here it is a further 65 km to Lindela where the road forks. The right fork takes you to Inhambane a further 37 km.

Beware of petrol attendants at stations along the way; they have been known to take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the metical. One trick to watch out for: the attendant starts filling your tank, but then the pump "blocks". He says he must restart the pump but since this will constitute a second transaction, he encourages you to memorise the first sum displayed on the pump's meter. He then restarts the pump from zero, clocking up a second transaction. Once the tank is full he makes a careless arithmetical error in adding up the two amounts. This adding mistake somehow seems to work out in his favor.

Be careful and pay attention to speed limits, especially when approaching and leaving small towns on route. This is prime territory for traffic police who tend to demand unreasonable spot fines. Do not overtake on solid white lines. The stretch of road between Xai Xai and Chongogda is 19 km and patrolled by a cop who preys on tourists. His trick is to use a decoy car, which travels extremely slowly up hills which have a barley distinguishable solid white line. Overtake through frustration and this cop seems to arrive from nowhere, speaks impeccable English and levies a handsome fine on you. I talk from experience as it happened to me in February and June 2004 and again in Jan 2006. If you feel you have done nothing wrong do not give him your drivers license, argue the point and he will let you go. Remember to take 2 emergency triangles per vehicle or pay yet another spot fine if stopped and searched. Or you could take a bus from Maputo and avoid having to deal with the Mozambican police entirely.

To go further north (or south to Maputo) it is often necessary to pass through Maxixe, which lies on the other side of the inlet. While it is possible to go to Maxixe without stopping in Inhambane, if you do want to stop in Inhambane, the best way to get to the other side is the ferry. It leaves from the main dock, but please be wary of dhow sailors nearby trying to get you into one of their boats. The dhows, without motors, are slow and expensive, and sometims don't even make it to the other side. The best way to go is by the ferry, which is quick (10 minutes at most) and cheap (25 metical).

By air

There are direct flights a few times a week from Maputo on LAM Mozambican Airlines. These flights run either nonstop or operate via Vilanculos, which is much farther north and is quite a circuitous routing.

LAM also operates nonstop flights from Johannesburg to Inhambane four times weekly. The flights leave JNB in the morning and return in the afternoon, making connections to and from European flights relatively short.

Central Market in Inhambane
Central Market in Inhambane

If you are looking for footwear for the beach, the central market has a wider range of flip-flops than the shoe shops in town.


You can buy Fish and seafood from the local people next to the main road, or on the beaches, be care full when buying items that needs to be weighed with a scale, some of the local people trick tourist by jamming their scales so that the the Item (fish) weighs more than the actual weight, in the end, the tourist is tricked in paying more. My advice is to take your own scale when buying food items.


The Restaurant Macaroca, located in the centre of town, serves excellent seafood and chicken dishes at reasonable prices. It's managed by a Swiss, Dani, and his Moçambiquan wife.

Pensao Pachica is a guest house located on the bay of Inhambane about 300 m to the right of the jetty when facing the bay. It boasts a quaint bayside restaurant, bar and pizza parlour. Managed by Dennis Adams, a lovely host and excellent cook. (Crab curry is a must!)


Pachica is a good place with a variety of people to meet and greet. The Bar has a decent amount of stock with good variety, and Saturday is pizza day (some of the best pizza Moz has to offer). You are normally also lucky enough to meet a few people who are happy to share a few travel stories, and a beer.


Many people stay at one of the many resorts located on the beach. These are lovely and inexpensive by world standards; however, they are culturally isolating. 95% of the guests will be white visitors largely from South Africa and Europe.

  • Pachica Backpackers, +27 (0) 11622 2242 (). Overlooking Inhambane Bay, they offer food, internet, and travel help. R50/dorm, R100 for a private room. Camping also available..  edit
  • O Rouxinol (Bed & Breakfast), (+258 82) 329 2020 (), [1]. Inhambane city nearby the central market. Double bed rooms with WC, TV and AC. Swimming pool and bar for complete leasure. From US$65 to US$93 per room per day. For a relaxed and quiet staying.  edit
  • Barra Reef Lodge. Lodge & Backpackers. Nice restaurant and bar with reasonable prices.  edit
  • Baleia Bay Lodge, Barra, +27-82-8523789, [2]. Baleia Bay Lodge is situated on the coast of Inhambane, at Barra, about 500 km north of Maputo in the beautiful country of Mozambique.  edit
  • Barra Lodge, Barra, +27-11-3143355, [3]. Barra Lodge is set in one of the most picturesque areas in Mozambique, with spectacular views of pristine beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. (S23.80358,E35.48466) edit
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

INHAMBANE, a seaport of Portuguese East Africa in 23° 50' S., 35° 25' E. The town, which enjoys a reputation for healthiness, is finely situated on the bank of a river of the same name which empties into a bay also called Inhambane. Next to Mozambique Inhambane, which dates from the middle of the 16th century, is architecturally the most important town in Portuguese East Africa. The chief buildings are the fort, churches and mosque. The principal church is built with stone and marble brought from Portugal. The population, about 4000 in 1909, is of a motley character: Portuguese and other Europeans, Arabs, Banyans, half-castes and negroes. Its commerce was formerly mostly in ivory and slaves. In 1834 Inhambane was taken and all its inhabitants save ten killed by a Zulu horde under Manikusa (see Gazaland). It was not until towards the close of the 19th century that the trade of the town revived. The value of exports and imports in 1907 was about -C150,000. The chief exports are wax, rubber, mafureira and other nuts, mealies and sugar. Cotton goods and cheap wines (for consumption by natives) are the principal imports. The harbour, about 9 m. long by 5 wide, accommodates vessels drawing 10 to 12 ft. of water. The depth of water over the bar varies from 17 to 28 ft., and large vessels discharge into and load from lighters. Inhambane is the natural port for the extensive and fertile district between the Limpopo and Sabi rivers. This region is the best recruiting ground for labourers in the Rand gold mines. Mineral oils have been found within a short distance of the port.

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