What it's really like traveling in Comoros!
There are 197 ‘recognized’ countries and 8 billion people - to be one of the ‘10 least visited countries in the world’ is no easy feat.
Our last trip of 2022 was to this pristine paradise island in East Africa, just off the Mozambique channel. I got a lot of messages on Instagram from people saying they had never heard of this island. That doesn’t surprise me; unless you are a French national or live on Reunion Island or are bit of a travel geek, this place is MILES under the radar. So definitely right up our alley.
It is one of the 10 least visited countries in the world. Once I found out it was visa on arrival for Indian passport holders, we decided to hop on a plane & returned in awe of the incredible biodiversity on the island.
Karthala Volcano. Feeding Lemur. Hike in Moheli Island to watch Livingstone Bats. Visit Grand Comore and Iconi. Lac Sale. Snorkeling. Turtle Laying Eggs.
You have to proof of vaccination to enter.
Flights, Visa and Immigration (if traveling with an Indian passport from Dubai)
There are only a handful of flights that go here - both from mainland Africa. We flew with Kenya Airways. Other option was Ethiopian. You can also connect from Reunion island, Madagascar and Mozambique but that usually costs three times more.
Surprisingly, visa is on arrival for Indian passport holders. You need to have a confirmed hotel booking and return flight. Visa is EUR 30 per person.
Yellow Fever card is mandatory. You will be asked.
This is French-speaking muslim country. Google translate all the way.
Best time to visit
Like much of East Africa, December-February is the best time to visit without rains.
Euro is widely accepted.
How expensive is Comoros?
Just because some place is known to be under-developed, that doesn't automatically make it affordable. Much like Sao Tome, the rustic landscape and remoteness of the island makes transport and lodging relatively expensive. Food is reasonably priced. For a decent lodging with air-conditioning and good restaurant, expect to pay EUR 70 per night.
How to get around the island?
Within the main island, you will need a car/drive to get around. You can rent a car or go with a driver, who can be arranged through your hotel.
Between the islands, there are two options - fly or take a boat.
Flying is the more expensive of the two options @EUR 100/person one way. You may not be able to book online, so have a local agency/hotel make a booking for you.
Boat, this is the cheaper option @EUR 40/person. However, this is also more risky and heavily dependent on how rough the sea is. If you have the time and flexibility to wing it, this is the way to go. Just make sure your boat has at least TWO motors (there have been incidents where people landed in Mozambique!).
How much time to spend in the country?
I would say 4-5 days is ideal, if you plan to shuffle between two islands, which is recommended to experience the essence of Comoros. Anything more than that would be bit of an overkill.
Where we stayed
On the main island, we stayed in Hotel Escale. The room was so comfortable, with air-conditioning and a huge king bed, coffee maker, and a fridge. It was so perfect after a few rustic days in Moheli Island. The chef was brilliant too and catered to our specific dietary requirements.
On Moheli Island, your best bet is Laka Lodge. It's a bit basic but it is a sustainable lodge, after all. Fully solar powedered with a great reef to go diving in.
On the main island, the lodge we stayed at was amazing with the chef personally asking us what we wanted for each meal. The variety was fantastic.
In Laka lodge on Moheli Island, the meals were set, which is understandable on a tiny island with limited resources.. but everything was vegetarian for us.
Things to do:
Comoros is made up of four different islands, and the best thing to do is to hop on a plane or boat from the mainland, to get to the smaller Moheli Island. This is where all the action happens. We spent our first day there chilling in the only eco-lodge on the island Laka Lodge.
The property has some of the best reefs in the country, we saw the cleanest corals and caught turtles swimming. We walked on the beautiful clear beach, went snorkeling, watched the sunset with our new bud. We were grateful for the opportunity to end 2022 in a place like this.
Hike in Moheli National Reserve to track Livingstone Bats
I rarely choose an island because they have beaches. It’s really not my thing. Much like Sao Tome and Principe, I picked Comoros because of unique wildlife viewing opportunities and the beautiful flora like the ylang-ylang flower, which is used in Chanel No 5.
One of the best things to do in Moheli Island is go on a full day forest hike in Moheli National Park. The hike is somewhat steep without much of a trail. The scenery splendid. This forest trail takes you to see Livingstone Fruit Bats. These creatures are endemic to the island and can only be found in Comoros.
With a wingspan of nearly 5ft, its the fourth largest bat species in the world. Due to deforestation and population growth, they are considered critically endangered. The people we hiked with were biologists working together with the government to help in the conservation of these animals. We learned so much about their behavior. Fascinating experience.
Watch Giant Turtles Lay Eggs
This is activity can be arranged by Laka Lodge at a cost. There is an hour drive to Itsamia, Comoros where we camped all night under the stars to track and watch huge turtles lay eggs Do know that a turtle mama can lay over a hundred eggs in one go? We sat in silence and watched the entire process in awe as she finished up, then astutely covered her nest and patiently walked back to the sea. The chances of survival for the babies are 5%; in fact only 1% make it to adulthood due to threat from humans and other predators - that is why they were nearly endangered. There are only a handful of places in the world where you can watch this alongside conservationists. Being raised in Oman, I have been fortunate to watch green baby turtles hatch in Ras Al Jinz but this was my first time watching eggs being laid. As a wildlife lover, these are the moments that make me love the universe even more. The miraculous ways in which it weaves its magic. What an unforgettable experience this was
Feeding Lemur in Laka Lodge
We were fortunate to be able to feed the Lemur right outside our lodge. We saw a whole bunch of them every day. They were introduced from the neighboring Madagascar. These guys are adorable. By now, they are used to seeing humans regularly, but I thought they still looked wary and kept a safe distance. It made my day when this cutie grabbed a banana slice from my hand. I did this twice a day. Yet another precious travel moment in 2022
Moroni - Grand Comore
After 3 beautiful days in the smaller Moheli island, we got back to the main island. The vibe of the town is very laid back.
You can spend a whole day hiking up the Karthala Volcano to see boiling lava
Visit the fantastic beaches
Spot more fruit bats casually chilling on baobab trees
Learn the history of the country in Iconi
Watch the sun go down over the horizon
Camp out under a million stars
In the northern part of the main island, there is a small volcanic crater lake. The local story is that two divers went to explore the lake and never returned. So some people believe it’s cursed.
This reminded me of our hike in Quilotoa, Ecuador. The lake changes throughout the day changing from aquamarine to deep green-blue. We took a short trail up for panoramic views of the lake and the vast ocean beyond. There is no better place to savor the slow life than in this minuscule island few people have even heard of.
This country lies just off the coast of East Africa, north of Madagascar. As one of the world’s poorest nations it’s no wonder that the Comoros islands are far off the tourist map.
If you have read this far, then you will know there is NO tourist infrastructure. So WHY should you go? Picture a picture-perfect island destination and maybe - just maybe - you’ll conjure a vision mirroring the beauty and tranquility found on the Comoros Islands, without another traveler in the entire country.
You can hike to the crater of the Karthala volcano. Meet some of the kindest people. Swim with dolphins. Feed baby lemur. Camp under the stars to see giant sea turtles laying eggs on Moheli island.
Travelers will have to be curiosity-seekers like us, traveling in search of rustic adventures, and people who don’t mind roughing it out will be at home. If this sounds like you, you will love it there.
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