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Ibo Island, Mozambique
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Ibo Island Fort

 

Photo by Ibo Island Lodge

A family vacation on the island of Ibo, Ilha do Ibo in Portuguese, is as much about the history of ivory and slave trade as it is about coral reefs and the rare dugong. Once the second most important town and northern most trading post in Portuguese Mozambique, this small, forested island has been all but forgotten by time. Take a stroll down the island's colonial streets. Tour a 16th century pentagonal fort and intriguing colonial graveyard. Observe craftsman shape filigree bracelets and pendants using age-old Arab techniques. And in contrast to Mozambique Island, here, one can also access the sea. Partake in a snorkeling or scuba diving trip and watch turtles as well as a myriad of colorful fish. Take a whale watching tour and spot dolphin, whale and, if you are lucky, even the rare dugong. And at high tide, watch the harbor as it comes alive with fisherman preparing to set sail.
Arab Dhow
Fishing dhow

Fishing dhow

Alfredo De Simone

 
The dhow, a traditional Arab sailing vessel, is easily identified. It has a wooden hull and triangular sail called a lateen. And as you surely known, dhows are dependent on the wind. Arab maritime merchants sailed dhows south with the winter monsoon and sailed them north with the summer monsoon. And they had only one navigational device. Arab sailors used a kamal to gauge the height of the Pole Star and determine latitude. While bigger than the dhows used by Mozambican fishermen today, they were never very large. Some could accommodate 30 people but most could carry only 12. Imagine the journey from the Arabian Peninsula to Mozambique on such small wooden boats!
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