This is as wild a place to see animals on safari as you’ll find in this part of the world,” says safari guide Pedro Fonseca, sweeping his arm across the savannah of Maputo Special Reserve. Burchell’s zebra and wildebeest thunder past, the earth trembling beneath their hooves. Fonseca breathes in slowly. “In five or 10 years, Maputo Special Reserve will be spoiled as a genuine safari experience. You’re privileged to enjoy it while it’s still raw.” — CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER

Imagine Zanzibar as it was four decades ago. That’s Ilha de Moçambique, with its cobbled lanes lined with 16th-century Portuguese buildings and even more ancient Islamic edifices. The teal-blue Mozambique Channel—swirled with carnation-pink sandy shoals—is studded with islands haloed by jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches. In the Bazaruto Archipelago, we’ll explore ramshackle fishing hamlets connected by sandy tracks, and sail on traditional dhows (ancient holdovers from when this coast was a dominion of Arab traders), their pointy sails slicing the shallows like shark fins. And Mozambique culture is as colorful as Crayola! The woman adorned in bright kanga wraps and shawls…. Fishers mending their nets and caulking and adzing their dhows… Youngsters playing mancala in the sand. Then there’s the raw, unfiltered safari experience…

Despite being barely a 90-minute drive south from Maputo, Mozambique’s tranquil capital, the 1,040 sq km (400 sq mile) Maputo Special Reserve is about as off-the-map a destination as one could imagine. Recently devastated by a civil war that decimated its wildlife, Mozambique struggles to compete in the big-stakes safari game. Yet rewilding of animals is reaching critical mass. About 650 of Africa’s largest-tusked elephants tramp the ancient pathways of Maputo Special Reserve, rekindling old acquaintances as they roam through dense grass and coastal dune forest.

Although tranquil now for three decades, Mozambique is still off the radar of most North American travelers. Now is the time to visit!


Day 1: Saturday, September 10
Participants arrive and settle into our hotel in Maputo. Meet with Christopher in the evening for orientation, plus a set-the-scene slide show, then a welcome dinner.
Overnight: Montebelo Girassol Maputo

Day 2: Sunday, September 11
This morning we’ll take a locally guided tour of Maputo, taking in the city’s architectural highlights (such as the cathedral and historic train station), plus the teeming fish market and waterfront wharves. The highlight today will be time spent in the Mafalala district, a economically challenged district that abounds with photographic opportunities, including shooting the Tofu da Mafalala performers in traditional costume.
Overnight: Montebelo Girassol Maputo

Day 3: Monday, September 12
Fly to Nampulo (or Lumbo) and transfer to Ilha de Moçambique—a 3-hour drive through villages where villagers sell roasted peanuts and cashews, plus harvested sea salt, etc. We’ll stop as photo opportunities arise, including dramatic landscapes studded by immense granitic inselbergs. One of Eastern Africa’s most alluring destinations, Ilha de Moçambique resembles a lesser-known Zanzibar… part ghost town, part lively fishing community and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobbled streets lined by Portuguese and Arab buildings dating back to the 16th century.
Overnight: Villa Sands

Day 4: Tuesday, September 13
Full day photographing on Ilha de Moçambique, with its mostly Muslim and super-friendly community. We’ll concentrate our time today in the old fortified colonial quarter of Stone Town, with its fading yet colorful and über-photogenic architecture. Highlights will include  women clad in gaily colored capulanas (shawls and wrap-around skirts) and with faces painted white with mussiro paste as a sunscreen.
Overnight: Villa Sands

Day 5: Wednesday, September 14
This morning we’ll take a walking through Makuti Town, the humble quarter where the vast majority of the islanders live. Highlights will include fishers mending their dhows and nets; the old Mercado de Peixe fish market; bakers cooking bread in old stone ovens; and whatever else serendipity delivers. The afternoon is free for you to photograph Ilha de Moçambique at leisure.
Overnight: Villa Sands

Day 6: Thursday, September 15
Return to Nampulo for our flight to Maputo for overnight.
Overnight: Montebelo Girassol Maputo

Day 7: Friday, September 16
An early morning departure via the new Maputo-Ponta do Ouro highway to Salamanga, with a quick stop at the Shree Ram Hindu temple. We enter Maputo Special Reserve and negotiate the sand tracks in 4WDs, accompanied by experienced guides. Created as Maputo Elephant Reserve in 1932, to protect southern Africa’s remaining coastal herd of elephants, Maputo Special Reserve combines grasslands, wetlands, swamp forests, mangroves and coastal lakes, and is a favorite of local safari operators who consider it as wild and untouristed a place to see animals on safari as you’ll find in this part of the world.  Tonight we’ll enjoy a night of luxury on the shores of the Indian Ocean at Anvil Bay.
Overnight: Anvil Bay, Maputo Special Reserve

Day 8: Saturday, September 17
Return to Maputo via the Maputo Special Reserve—a full day of wildlife photo ops. En-route, we’ll hope to see giraffe, antelope, kudu, hippos, and the park’s legendary big-tusk elephants.
Overnight: Montebelo Girassol Maputo

Day 9: Sunday, September 18
This morning we’ll fly to Vilanculos (via Beira) and drive to the village of Macunhe, where we’ll photograph (and support) the Machilla Magic community art project. Return to Vilanculos and check in to our lovely boutique hotel, Casa Rex. Return to Vilanculos, with time to enjoy an optional spa treatment or simply relax on the beach or poolside.
Overnight: Vilanculos Beach Lodge, Vilanculos

Day 10: Monday, September 19
This morning visit “fish-market beach” and Mukoke market. The balance of the day is free for you to partake of optional activities (extra charge), such as swimming with whale sharks; a whale-watching excursion; scuba diving; or a thrilling option helicopter ride over the Mozambique Channel for aerial photography. (June-September the warm waters of the Bazaruto Marine National Park fill with whale sharks and humpbacks plus Southern right whales for mating and calving.)
Overnight: Vilanculos Beach Lodge, Vilanculos

Day 11:Tuesday, September 20
This morning we’ll thrill to a speedboat transfer to Magaruque and/or Benguerra Island, passing over the turquoise shallows of Mozambique Channel swirled in shoals the color of Valspar Perfection. We’ll enjoy a full day in the astonishingly beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago, including a chance to photograph flamingos (and, if we go as far as Benguerra, with opportunities to photograph the island culture). In late afternoon we’ll take a sunset dhow safari (two dhows) to return to Vilanculos.
Overnight: Vilanculos Beach Lodge, Vilanculos

Day 12: Wednesday, September 21
We fly back to Maputo this morning, with the afternoon at leisure. We’ll enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a slideshow of everyone’s favorite images.
Overnight: Montebelo Girassol Maputo

Day 13: Thursday, September 22
Depart for home

Trip Details
September 10-22, 2022 SOLD OUT!
September 9-21, 2023
Trip cost: $7,575 (2022) 
Limit: 9 participants
All participants are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid.


  • Photograph a traditional Mozambique dance troupe in a humble and uber-photogenic part of Maputo
  • Spend two days on safari in Maputo Special Reserve--a chance to photograph elephants, giraffe, zebra, hippo, and more!
  • Delight in exploring the Bazaruto archipelago by traditional dhow
  • Marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ilha de Moçambique, with its stunning Arabic and Portuguese colonial architecture, its fishers, and its women in traditional clothing and with faces smeared with mussiro. 

Tour Leader

You’ll get to photograph with acclaimed National Geographic photographer, author, and expedition leader Christopher P. Baker, the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year.’ Christopher’s images and self-illustrated articles about Mozambique and other destinations worldwide have appeared in hundreds of magazines, from BBC, CNN and Newsweek to National GeographicNational Wildlife and Penthouse; as well as scores of calendars, brochures, coffee-table books and travel guidebooks. His work for National Geographic includes photographing the National Geographic Traveler Colombia and National Geographic Traveler Costa Rica guidebooks on assignment. Chris’ profession as a full-time travel journalist informs his work, which is also represented by Getty Images. His rich archive of images and travel experiences spans the world, from India, Sudan and Nepal to Morocco, Micronesia and the Marquesas Islands. Plus, Chris has led more than 100 tours and expeditions worldwide, including photo tours to Colombia, Cuba and Oman for Jim Cline Photo Tours, as well as for Lindblad Expeditions, Lumaria Workshops, National Geographic Expeditions, Santa Fe Photo Workshops, and UnCruise Adventures.


Thanks for the master class in photography. I learned so very much from you, particularly about context, ambiance and milieu to create a riveting picture.

Chris, you are a one of a kind. Really enjoyed you as a photographer, a guide, and of course as a fabulous story teller. You have so much Cuba knowledge and I loved your positive energy

Chris was the perfect trip leader. His knowledge of the country and its history is vast and he enthusiastically wanted to share it with us along with his years of experience as a photographer… He’s talented, interesting, accessible, and fun to travel with. Plus, he really did seem to care about each of us — if we were okay, getting good images, too tired, too hot, etc. I would certainly travel with him again. He certainly kept up the high standards of a Jim Cline Photo Tour.”

Molly Danner [Program Director & Director, Photography Trip Talent, National Geographic] came back with a rave review of your performance on our Eastern Cuba trip, along with the recommendation that I consider featuring you as NG photographer on future private jet trips—which I most definitely will do!