Ibo and Quirimbas Archipelago
Ibo is just one of over 30 coral islands that form the Arquipélago das Quirimbas, stretching for some 250km
(156 miles) from Ilha Mefunvo in the south to Ilha Tecomaji in the north. Mentioned in 8th-century Arab writings, the Portuguese only arrived some 700 years later. The Arabs had chosen the island for settlement because it was easy to defend against the ‘sackers’ from Madagascar. Initially one of the country’s most affluent populations, Ibo’s settlement was elevated to the status of town in 1761.
Construction of fortifications on Ibo commenced in 1754. The erection of the Fort of São João Baptista began 17 years later, and apparently took only a year to complete. Details of its construction are registered on two plaques, one above the fortified door, the other inside the entrance tunnel.
Many of Ibo Island’s formerly impressive mansions and magnificent villas have been rescued from the elements, some turned into guesthouses, others are once again stately homes.
The Gessners, a family of German extraction, own coconut plantations on Quirimba Island as well as a delightful home. Quilálea marine sanctuary is nearby, reached via Quirimba’s airstrip and a 20-minute boat ride.