The Quirimbas Archipelago is a much sought after destination and is one of the most important and biodiverse marine regions in the world. It has an abundance of extremely rare species such as sea turtles, Dugongs, Humpback whales, dolphins and sharks. On land, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, wild dog, hyena, a diversity of antelope and much more add to this natural wealth.
A Much Sought After Destination
The Quirimbas National Park is located in six central districts of northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province, encompassing an area of approximately 7,506 square kilometres – 5,984 of these are on the mainland and 1,522 encompassing island habitats.
The marine section of the Park comprises 11 of the southernmost islands: Quipaco, Quisiwe, Mefundvo, Quilalea, Sencar, Quirimba, Ibo Island, Quirambo, Fion, Matemo, and Ilha das Rolas. Mogundula Island lies in the park buffer zone.
The islands are oriented in a rough north-south line parallel to, and at a distance of approximately 10km from, the mainland.
The story of the creation of the Quirimbas National Park is a unique scenario. The Park was declared in June 2002 with the celebrations and official functions taking place on Ibo Island – which is now the Park’s headquarters. What is extraordinary is that the Park was established at the request of local communities, stakeholders and NGO’s, all interested in working together to protect the region!
It has been found that conservation can only really be effective if it has the support of the communities that inhabit the areas. Many communities live within the Quirimbas National Park boundaries and their decision was unanimous.
The Quirimbas National Park goal is “to conserve the diversity, abundance, and ecological integrity of all physical and biological resources in the park area, so that they may be enjoyed and used productively by present and future generations”.
The Park is extremely selective about which tourism projects and investments it allows into the region, with an emphasis on high quality, low impact responsible tourism where the communities also benefit.
The world-renowned offshore sea atoll, Banco de São Lázaro, is 42 nautical miles due east of Ibo Island, and is also included in the Park area. The Banco de São Lázaro is located between 12°06’00” S and 12°17’00” S and 41°25’32” E and 41°26’00” E.
The marine section of the park displays wide variations in depth. The underwater topography is characterized by a series of deep, east-west running channels which cut through the continental shelf and support a diverse coral growth. The Montepuez Channel south of Quilalea Island, the Ibo Channel north of Ibo, and the Matemo channel just south of Matemo island are examples of these.
The fringing reef begins at the end of the coral flats. Depth here falls away rather directly, in some cases vertically, to the abyss below! Depths of 200 metres occur extremely close to the coral fringing reef as the continental shelf is quite narrow here. In a nutshell, the marine world and diving in these areas is spectacular and is considered some of the best in Africa.