Comoros Travel Guide – Everything You Need to Know

The Comoros, a hidden gem in the Indian Ocean, is a pristine archipelago offering a unique blend of natural beauty and diverse culture. Comprising three main islands and numerous smaller ones, this nation is known for its unspoiled beaches, coral reefs, and volcanic landscapes. The culture is an intriguing fusion of African, Arab, and French influences, offering visitors a taste of authentic island life. Whether you’re snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, exploring local markets, or trekking through lush forests, the Comoros promise an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

What’s the Best Time to Visit? 📅

The best time to visit Comoros as a tourist is during the dry season, which typically occurs from May to October. This period is considered the most favorable for outdoor activities and exploration. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons in Comoros:

  1. Dry Season (May to October): This is the most popular time to visit Comoros. The weather is generally dry, and temperatures are more moderate. It’s an excellent time for activities like hiking, beach visits, and water sports. The sea is usually calm, making it ideal for snorkeling and diving.
  2. Rainy Season (November to April): The rainy season in Comoros brings higher humidity and occasional heavy rain, especially from December to March. While the landscapes are lush and green during this time, some areas may become inaccessible due to flooding, and the sea can be rough.
  3. Cyclone Season (November to April): Comoros is susceptible to cyclones during the rainy season, with a higher risk from January to March. Travel during this time may be disrupted, and it’s essential to stay informed about weather forecasts.

To make the most of your visit, consider planning your trip during the dry season, specifically from May to September, when the weather is most pleasant for outdoor adventures. Keep in mind that the exact timing of the seasons may vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to check weather forecasts and travel advisories before your trip.

What’s the Best Way to Get Around? 🚌

Getting around Comoros as a tourist may involve various modes of transportation, as the archipelago consists of three main islands. Here are some ways to explore the islands of Comoros:

  1. Domestic Flights: While Comoros is relatively small, you can take domestic flights between the islands, which are operated by Int’Air Îles. These flights are the quickest way to move between the main islands of Grande Comore, Mohéli, and Anjouan.
  2. Ferries and Boats: Ferries and boats are commonly used for inter-island travel. They connect the main islands of Comoros and offer scenic views of the coastlines. It’s a good idea to check schedules in advance, as they can be subject to change.
  3. Taxis: In urban areas like Moroni on Grande Comore and Mutsamudu on Anjouan, you can find taxis for short-distance travel. Negotiate fares in advance, as meters may not be common.
  4. Buses: Public buses, known as “dolmus,” are a common mode of transportation on the islands. They are affordable but can be crowded. Be prepared for a more local and authentic experience when using them.
  5. Car Rentals: Renting a car is an option for greater flexibility in exploring the islands. However, the condition of roads and traffic conditions can vary, so be prepared for some challenges, especially on the smaller islands.
  6. Walking: Many towns and cities in Comoros are walkable, making it easy to explore the local culture and sights at a leisurely pace.
  7. Motorcycle and Bicycle Rentals: On some islands, you can rent motorcycles or bicycles for getting around, which can be a convenient and cost-effective option for short trips.

It’s important to note that transportation infrastructure in Comoros may not be as developed as in some other tourist destinations, so flexibility and patience are key. Be prepared for occasional delays and changes in schedules. It’s also a good idea to check local customs and norms for transportation and to be respectful of local practices.

What’s the Official Language?

The official languages of Comoros are Comorian, French, and Arabic. Comorian is the most widely spoken language among the local population. French is used in administration and education, while Arabic is also spoken and understood.

Here are some basic Comorian and French phrases that can be useful for tourists:

Comorian Phrases:

  1. Hello – “Bariza” (used in Grande Comore), “Mamaweni” (used in Mohéli), “Mgao” (used in Anjouan)
  2. Please – “Tafadhali”
  3. Thank you – “Shukran” (similar to Arabic)
  4. Yes – “Ewe”
  5. No – “Ala”
  6. Excuse me – “Samahani”
  7. How much is this? – “Nkulumoi huo?”
  8. I need help – “Nafsihi msaada”
  9. Where is…? – “Kuna…” (e.g., Kuna hotel? – Where is the hotel?)

French Phrases:

  1. Hello – “Bonjour”
  2. Please – “S’il vous plaît”
  3. Thank you – “Merci”
  4. Yes – “Oui”
  5. No – “Non”
  6. Excuse me – “Excusez-moi”
  7. How much is this? – “Combien ça coûte?”
  8. I need help – “J’ai besoin d’aide”
  9. Where is…? – “Où est…?” (e.g., Où est l’hôtel? – Where is the hotel?)

While these basic phrases can be helpful, it’s worth noting that many people involved in the tourism industry, especially in urban areas and at hotels, speak at least some French and may understand English to varying degrees. However, learning a few local phrases can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience and building rapport with the locals.

Where to Stay? 🏨

Comoros offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences, primarily on the main islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Mohéli. Here are some areas and types of places to consider when looking for accommodation in Comoros:

  1. Moroni, Grande Comore: The capital city, Moroni, has a variety of hotels and guesthouses, offering options for both luxury and budget travelers. Some popular hotels in Moroni include the Retaj Moroni Resort & Spa, Le Galawa Beach Hotel, and Hotel Jardin de la Paix.
  2. Anjouan (Ndzuwani): Anjouan offers a mix of mid-range hotels and guesthouses. The capital city, Mutsamudu, has several accommodation options, including Hotel Le Papillon, Retaj Moroni Resort & Spa, and various smaller guesthouses.
  3. Mohéli (Mwali): Mohéli is known for its pristine natural beauty. There are guesthouses and eco-lodges on the island, such as the Laka Lodge, which provides a unique and eco-friendly accommodation experience.
  4. Budget Guesthouses: You can find budget guesthouses and hostels in different towns and villages across the islands. These options are generally more affordable and offer a chance to connect with the local culture.
  5. Beachfront Resorts: For a more luxurious experience, you’ll find beachfront resorts on the islands, especially in Grande Comore. These resorts offer stunning sea views and upscale amenities.
  6. Eco-Lodges: If you’re interested in eco-tourism, look for eco-lodges and accommodations that promote sustainable practices and offer proximity to nature and wildlife.

When booking accommodation in Comoros, it’s a good idea to do so in advance, especially during the high tourist season. Check online booking platforms, local travel agencies, and guest reviews to find the best option that suits your needs and budget. Keep in mind that while some accommodations offer modern amenities, others may have more basic facilities, so it’s a good idea to manage your expectations and plan accordingly.

What to Eat? 🍽️

Comorian cuisine is a delicious blend of African, Arab, and French influences, offering tourists a unique culinary experience. Here are some must-try foods in Comoros:

  1. Langouste Grillée: Grilled lobster is a popular and mouthwatering delicacy in Comoros. It’s often served with spicy sauce and fresh seafood seasoning.
  2. Pilao: Pilao is a fragrant and spicy rice dish cooked with a blend of spices, including cloves and cardamom, and often includes meat, such as chicken or goat.
  3. Coconut Fish Curry: Fish curry cooked with creamy coconut milk and a mixture of spices is a staple in Comorian cuisine. It’s typically served with rice and is known for its rich and flavorful taste.
  4. Mabawa: Mabawa is a fried snack made from ripe plantains. These sweet and crispy fritters are a popular street food in Comoros.
  5. Biriani: Biriani is a fragrant rice dish with a blend of spices and marinated meat, usually goat or chicken. It’s a flavorful and filling meal.
  6. Grilled Seafood: With its coastal location, Comoros offers a variety of fresh seafood. Grilled fish and octopus are common dishes, often served with a spicy sauce.
  7. Rougaille: Rougaille is a tomato-based sauce typically served with meat or seafood. It’s seasoned with local spices and adds a burst of flavor to your meal.
  8. Ylang-Ylang Tea: Ylang-ylang is a fragrant flower used in Comorian tea. The tea is known for its pleasant aroma and is often enjoyed after a meal.
  9. Mabawa Fritters: Mabawa fritters are made from ripe plantains and are a delicious snack or dessert. They are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.
  10. Fresh Tropical Fruits: Comoros is abundant in tropical fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, and bananas. Be sure to savor the sweetness of these fresh fruits during your visit.

When dining in Comoros, be prepared for a combination of bold flavors and spices. Local restaurants and street vendors offer a range of dishes that showcase the rich and diverse culinary heritage of the islands. Don’t hesitate to ask locals for their favorite recommendations and try a bit of everything to truly savor the flavors of Comoros.

What to See? 🔍

Comoros, with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, offers several must-see places for tourists. Here are some of the top attractions in Comoros:

  1. Mount Karthala (Grande Comore): This active volcano is the highest point in Comoros and offers breathtaking views. Hiking to the summit is a popular adventure, with the trail passing through lush forests and volcanic landscapes.
  2. Mitsoudjé Waterfall (Grande Comore): Hidden in a forested area, this enchanting waterfall is a tranquil spot to enjoy nature and cool off in its refreshing pools.
  3. Anjouan Scenic Drives (Anjouan): Anjouan, known as the “Island of Perfumes,” offers beautiful scenic drives through its hilly terrain, dotted with fragrant ylang-ylang plantations and spice farms.
  4. Laka Lodge (Mohéli): This eco-friendly lodge on Mohéli Island provides an opportunity for marine and eco-tourism. Snorkel with whale sharks, explore the pristine beaches, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Mohéli.
  5. Itsandra Beach (Grande Comore): This picturesque beach is a lovely spot for swimming and relaxation. It’s also home to the Comoros Presidential Palace, which is a notable architectural attraction.
  6. Mdjini Kere Mosque (Grande Comore): This historic mosque, with its stunning architecture and lush surroundings, is an important cultural and religious site.
  7. Badjanani Mosque (Grande Comore): As one of the largest mosques in the Comoros, the Badjanani Mosque is a remarkable example of Islamic architecture.
  8. Lac Salé (Grande Comore): This saltwater lake is known for its unique pink hue, and it’s a serene spot for birdwatching and enjoying the scenery.
  9. Port of Moroni (Grande Comore): Explore the bustling markets, colorful fishing boats, and the vibrant atmosphere of the capital’s port area.
  10. Mount Ntingui (Mohéli): Hiking to the summit of Mount Ntingui offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including lush forests and coastal areas.
  11. Chomoni Beach (Mohéli): This tranquil beach is perfect for swimming and relaxing in a peaceful environment.
  12. Sultan’s Palace (Anjouan): Visit the historic Sultan’s Palace in Ouani, Anjouan, to learn about the region’s cultural and historical significance.

These are just a few of the must-see places in Comoros. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, or adventure, Comoros offers a unique and authentic travel experience for those willing to explore this lesser-known gem in the Indian Ocean.

What to Do? 📸

Comoros offers a range of activities and experiences for tourists looking to immerse themselves in the islands’ natural beauty and rich culture. Here are some must-do things in Comoros:

  1. Hike Mount Karthala: Ascend the slopes of Mount Karthala on Grande Comore, the archipelago’s highest peak. The hike offers stunning views, lush forests, and a chance to witness volcanic landscapes.
  2. Snorkel and Dive: Comoros boasts some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. Explore underwater ecosystems teeming with marine life. Mohéli Marine Park and other coastal areas are ideal for snorkeling and diving.
  3. Whale Shark Watching: Mohéli Island is a hotspot for whale shark sightings. Take a guided tour to swim with these gentle giants, a unique and memorable experience.
  4. Visit the Islands: Don’t limit yourself to just one island. Explore Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Mohéli to experience the unique culture and landscapes of each.
  5. Discover Ylang-Ylang Plantations: Comoros is known as the “Perfume Islands” due to its production of ylang-ylang. Visit plantations and learn about the extraction process.
  6. Enjoy a Spice Tour: Discover the aromatic world of Comorian spices. Take a tour of spice farms on Anjouan to see how cloves, vanilla, and other spices are cultivated.
  7. Explore Local Markets: Immerse yourself in local life by visiting bustling markets in towns like Moroni. These markets are excellent places to sample local cuisine and buy traditional crafts.
  8. Discover Historical Sites: Explore the historic Mdjini Kere Mosque and other architectural gems, learning about the island’s rich history and culture.
  9. Hike and Explore Forests: Go for hikes and nature walks in the lush, tropical forests of the islands. These forests are home to diverse flora and fauna.
  10. Attend Traditional Festivals: If your visit coincides with a local festival or event, don’t miss the opportunity to experience Comorian traditions, music, and dance.
  11. Sample Comorian Cuisine: Try the local delicacies like langouste grillée, pilao, coconut fish curry, and mabawa fritters to savor the unique flavors of Comorian cuisine.
  12. Relax on Beautiful Beaches: Comoros is blessed with pristine beaches. Relax, swim, and enjoy the tranquil surroundings on beaches like Itsandra Beach and Chomoni Beach.
  13. Learn About the Local Culture: Engage with the friendly locals to learn about their traditions, music, and way of life.
  14. Photograph Scenic Landscapes: Comoros offers stunning photo opportunities, from volcanic peaks to idyllic beaches and lush landscapes.
  15. Practice Responsible Tourism: Respect the local environment and culture by following sustainable and responsible tourism practices.

These activities offer a taste of the unique experiences that Comoros has to offer. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature enthusiast, or cultural explorer, Comoros has something for everyone.

Culture and Safety 🦺

Conclusion

A journey to the Comoros is a voyage into an untouched paradise. With its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and welcoming people, this archipelago offers a truly unique travel experience. Whether you’re diving into the underwater wonderland, hiking the scenic trails, or delving into the vibrant culture, the Comoros provide a sense of serenity and discovery that is hard to match. As you bid adieu to this island nation, you’ll carry with you memories of an unspoiled, tranquil paradise in the Indian Ocean. Come and experience the Comoros for a one-of-a-kind adventure.