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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Nothing says adventure quite like Comoros. This little-known outpost (pronounced “Co-MORE-oh”; the s is silent) in the Mozambique Channel teems with wildlife and is waiting to be explored. Comoros isn’t for the fainthearted; it’s no stay at the Ritz, but white-sand beaches and the opportunity to venture off the beaten path make traveling to Comoros the experience of a lifetime.
The recent history of the archipelago has unfortunately been riddled with unrest. Since the former colony gained independence in 1975, 20 coups or attempted coups have been staged. The political situation has stabilized following democratic elections in 2002. Even though peaceful demonstrations can still quickly turn violent, Comoros has begun to see an increase in foreign investment and tourism.
The Top 11: What to Do in Comoros
The name Moroni translates as “in the heart of the fire“; that is because the city is so close to Mount Karthala, an active volcano. Although all of the islands are volcanic, Karthala is the only active volcano and is said to be the world’s largest. Only a day’s hike from Moroni, it has a crater accessible to travelers. There is a shelter at the top where visitors may rest for the night.
2. Ancienne Mosquée du Vendredi:
Known in English as the Old Friday Mosque, this building overlooks the shallow harbor of Moroni and is a popular tourist destination. The white building contrasts dramatically with the dark volcanic rock at the bottom of the harbor.
Fantastic diving is to be had in the clear water off Comoros. Galawa Beach, on Grande Comore, has an excellent diving school, and Mayotte is surrounded by a coral reef that is now home to many exotic species of fish.
The beaches in Comoros are superb, with white sand and clear water. Each island has a few good ones, but the beaches on Mohéli are considered the best.
5. Dziani Boundouni:
While on Mohéli, visit this sulfurous crater lake, located in the middle of the island and a day’s hike from Fomboni, the capital of the island.
6. Native Wildlife:
The wildlife of Comoros makes for a splendid sight. Famous for their prized turtle shells, the islands now protect the distinctive green turtle. The best place to see them is the marine reserve on the southern side of Mohéli. Comoros is also home to many distinctive birds and insects that are now threatened with extinction.
Just outside Morini is this small village that was once the capital of the islands and boasts royal tombs, a fortress, and an amazing beach.
8. Local Boats:
Dhows are a type of Arab sailboat that was seen around Comoros more often in ancient times. Travelers can still see them under construction on the beach at Fomboni.
The island of Anjouan has some of the best examples of Swahili architecture, with its 17th-century homes and carved doors. The island is also known for its lush vegetation and breathtaking waterfalls.
10. Folk Dancing:
As a country where people still observe rich traditions and customs, Comoros is also known for its folk dancers. The energetic dancing can be seen throughout the islands but especially in Istandra and Mistamiouli.
Comoros’s largest export is perfume essences and the fragrant spices that are used for making them. Vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang are among the top. Try to go on a tour of one of the distilleries where the essential oils are processed; a local might even be willing to make you a custom perfume. Many of the distilleries are located in Bambao.
When to Go
Comoros is tropical with relatively constant and stable weather. It has two seasons: the wet season is warmer and lasts from December to April. Temperatures usually reach around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18.5 degrees Celsius) during the wet season. The dry season is cooler, with lows dipping to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and lasts from May to November. The warmest month is usually March. Because of its proximity to the equator, Comoros isn’t particularly vulnerable to cyclones.