Quelimane, known affectionately as Little Brazil, lies on the banks of the BonsSinais River, and can attract the most differing of opinions. For some, the capital city of Zambézia province conjures up images of rats resembling cats, potholes the size of bomb craters and a sticky humid climate clement only to mosquitos.
Others however, are lured in by tasty local cuisine including mucapataand the well-travelled frango à zambeziana, its position as Mozambique’s original carnival city as well as the spectacular sunset enjoyed all along the riverside stretch of the marginal. Either way this sleepy settlement is unlikely to leave you unmoved, and given its relatively small nucleus, taking a stroll at cooler times early or late in the day is an ideal way to start forming your own views of the place.
Walking from beside the main square with its slanting pine trees that seem to sum up the prevailing lethargy, fine examples of colonial architecture can be admired in the administrative quarter which leads on to the Governor’s residence. For the more intrepid, it’s possible to visit the ruin of the former cathedral on Samora Machel Avenue, and see nature reclaiming its space as trees plough up through the concrete walls.
For anyone wishing to put their feet up and tour the city, or for those seeking refuge from the often extreme climate, there a few better ways to get around town than by taxi-bicycle. For the bargain price of 5Mets whatever the distance (within the city limits), you can be ridden along on a cushion fixed at the back, while avoiding most of the bumps in the road as you take in sights on both sides at a very leisurely pace. It’s a door-to-door service so just make a decision on where you want to go and you’ll be delivered there, admiring the leg power of yours and hundreds of other licenced bike drivers who ply the city’s streets day and night, and whose number makes them comfortably one of the city’s largest working groups.
For interesting trips further afield, there’s Chuabo Damm, a small fishing village 3kms from town where you can inspect the fresh catch and from where the city skyline can appear quite a metropolis. For a day trip, the infinite sandy expanse ofZalala beach (45kms) is well worth a trip, and even better if you coincide with the music festival showcasing local talent in November.
Sergio’s place in the village cooks fine fish and prawns, better booked for in advance (tel.848906200).
After a long day why not take in the view on the roof terrace bar at the iconic Chuabo Hotel in the centre of town. From there you can gaze across the river as fishermen’s canoes appear like small birds gliding across the surface. On weekends the Coco bar downstairs invites local acts for live shows and the hidden faces of the city appear to pack the venue. Just remember, as you hit the streets for the night’s next destination, to look both ways for bikes!