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Africa > East African Islands > Comoros > Moheli

Moheli

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Moheli is an island in the East African island nation of Comoros.

Cities[edit]

Map of Moheli
  • Map of Mohéli.
    1 Fomboni Fomboni on Wikipedia – Capital of the island.
  • 2 Nioumachoua – Second-largest town, about 30km from the airport on the southern coast of Moheli.
  • 3 Itsamia – Beautiful beach and base to watch green turtles.
  • 4 Hamavouna – Poorest village
  • 5 Hoani – Beautiful and friendly village.
  • 6 Ouallah Ouallah on Wikipedia – Home of the Livingston bats. The village is divided in two separated areas: Ouallah 1 and Ouallah 2.

Understand[edit]

Despite being the smallest island in the archipelago, measuring 50 km west to east and just 20 km north to south, Moheli has the Comoros' largest biodiversity, over land and under the sea. Here you can find, among numerous endemic species, the biggest populations of green turtle, imbricated turtle, Livingston bats, and during the months of June to April, humpback whales crossing the Mozambique Channel. Due to the lack of tax system in Comores many towns have organised themselves to built bungalows and use the incomes from tourism to invest in their own village. The first communitary bungalow to be built was in Itsamia, after that the European Union invested in other towns. Nowadays communitary bungalows can be found in Joining, Miringoni, Nioumachoua, Itsamia, Oualla 1 and Oualla 2 (By November Oualla 2 was temporary out of order). Everyone working at the bungalows is volunteering, as it is a huge responsibility the volunteers are elected democratically every two years among the people of the village. The elected volunteers form a management team with a president, general secretary, accountant etc. Staying at the bungalows makes a positive impact in the local economy. The funds are invested in, among others protects, scholarship grants and improvement of the health centers.

After the 2019 cyclone, the damage is slowly being repaired. Itsamia was the only community bungalow in operation as of July 2019.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Mohéli Bandar Es Eslam Airport in Fomboni has daily flight from every of the other islands in the archipelago. One way flight costs about 50€, and tickets are sold in tourist agencies.

By boat[edit]

Travelling by boat to Grand Comore (Moroni/Chindini) or Anjouan (Mutsamudu) can be done either by speed boat or cargo boat.

  • Speed boat. From Grand Comore boats leave from Chindini, which is about an hour by shared taxi (pick it up at the Karthala stand in Moroni by 7am) from Moroni. The taxi you're in will more or less will form the nucleus of your boat across to Mwali. As a foreigner you'll need to register your passport. The cop will try to extort you and get a bribe for this fee- just play dumb and ask a local about it, they'll tell the cop off for trying to scam a tourist and let you go on your way. The boats leave around 9am. It'll cost 10,500 Francs to get across- be prepared to get wet! The journey when flat will still splash you a little and take about an hour, and in rough water you'll be soaked and it can take a few hours. Make sure you have a life vest, and try to maneuver yourself into the women/children/muzungu boat- it'll be much less crowded and less overloaded with cargo making it a lot safer. The boats will take you to a beach between Hoani and Fomboni- try to arrange transport before hand because taxis are unreliable to pick up upon arrival. If you don't happen to have a ride on arrival, find a taxi driver but make sure to bargain-a ride to Nioumachoua should be 10Euros or 5000KMF. Also, the boats don't run every day if the weather is rough so be prepared to spend an extra day in Moroni/Mwali.
  • Cargo boats. There weekly cargo boats heading to Moroni and Mutsamudu, the schedule is not fixed so you have to ask at the port when the next boat will leave. Cargo boats are slower, they take overnight to reach Moroni or Mutsamudu. Be aware that there are no beds, so passengers spend the night sleeping in a chair. Prices are the same as the speed boat, but police permit is not required. Always ask to see the vessel before buying the ticket.

Get around[edit]

Buses, confusingly locals call them taxis, run from Fomboni to most destinations on the island. The bus stop in Fomboni is at the market, buses stop running before midday. After midday you can get a shared taxi.

Importantly, taxis or buses departing from any other place than Fomboni are limited, expect to find no more than couple of taxis in each town. These usually depart everyday at 5am direction Fomboni, it is better to reserve a seat the day before. In addition, many teachers and students commute to Fomboni for school, so trying to get to Fomboni on Mondays is extremely difficult. In other words, planning ahead is essential and waiting for hours is expected.

By November 2018 the island was in a fuel shortage, therefore travelling around the island was complicated. Hitchhiking is possible and very safe in Moheli, though not nearly as easy as on Grand Comore due to the lack of cars. The road between Itsamia and Niamchoua was destroyed in the 2019 cyclone, so the former 15 minute drive is taking 3 hours, as you have to go all the way around the island.

See[edit]

Fomboni

Moheli offers the visitor an exuberant nature, you will feel the wildness all around you. Exploring the island is a beautiful experience, wherever you look you'll get astonished.

  • Parc Marin de Mohéli. Particularly focus on the protection of sea turtles, the natural park of Moheli covers mangroves and the islots and beaches in Nioumachoua region. The park is a tropical paradise home of many endemic species as the Livingston bats, and protected species like the dugong, green turtle, imbricated turtle, among others.
  • Ylang Ylang plantations and distilleries. All around the island you will feel the sweet smell from the Ylang Ylang, plan a visit to the fields and the distilleries to know a bit about local production and economy. Plus, ask your guide to explain also about other local plants. You won't regret it.
  • Beaches. In Moheli you will find the most beautiful beaches in the country, the nature is just superb everywhere. The more popular beaches are Nioumachoua and Itsamia.

Do[edit]

  • Snorkeling. Anywhere in Moheli is superb, though coral bleaching and erosion due to slash-and-burn agriculture has killed a lot of coral. The sea between Baobab and Maya, one of the islets, has beautiful coral reefs.
  • Diving. Diving in Moheli is an unforgettable experience, the richness of the natural park has no competitor. The only certified diving school in the island is in Nioumachoua, in Laka lodge.
  • Turtle watching. Turtles come to Moheli to put their eggs all year around. In Itsamia the local association can arrange a night tour, always follow the guide instructions.
  • Livingston bat watching. This endemic huge bat an be found in Hualla 1. It takes 1h walk mountain up from Oualla 1. The local association will provide you a guide, guides are necessary to find the bats.
  • Humpback whales watching. From June to November this fantastic whales cross Mozambique channel heading south to cooler waters. Don't miss it.
  • Kayaking. Take the chance to explore the virgin beaches of Moheli natural park on your own.
  • Camping in Moheli Natural Park islots. From Nioumachoua ask a fisherman to cross you by boat to any of the islots. Spend the night surrounded by the most untouched nature.

For more interesting activities visit the the website of the House of Eco-tourism of Moheli on: [1]

Eat[edit]

Due to different transportation issues supermarkets in Moheli do not offer a wide offer of products. Also finding fruit out of local season is a hard task, as most of the products you can find in markets come straight from the local fields. But do not get discouraged by the short variety and enjoy the first quality,and very natural, products that the land has to offer.

There are very few restaurants in Moheli.

Sleep[edit]

Vanilla Lodge in Niamchoua is the only place I felt comfortable at. Very hospitable and clean rooms. Some of the community bungalows are still operating (Itsamia is) but most are closed and destroyed by the recent cyclone.

Drink[edit]

There is a bar at Laka Lodge, the only place with alcohol on the island.

Stay safe[edit]

Although is has been reported that the number of pickpockets has increased in the last years, Moheli is still a very quiet place. You will never feel insecure in the streets or any village. Indeed it is a wonderful destination for solo female travelers. Crime is practically nonexistent- a solo female shouldn't have any issues walking alone at night. You will stand out in the villages- less than 400 visitors a year makes foreigners a curiosity! A crowd of kids might follow you and some boys might throw pebbles at you to try to get your attention- telling them off or going to an elder member of the village will solve the problem though!

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Moheli is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!