- 1 Mohéli Information
- 2 Flora and Fauna
- 3 Geographical and Topographical Features
- 4 Activities in the Park
- 5 Visitor’s Guide
- 6 How to Get There
- 7 Conservation and Sustainability
- 8 Research and Science in Mohéli National Park
- 9 Community Development and Participation
- 10 Photo Gallery
- 11 Referencias
Located in the Union of the Comoros, the Mohéli National Park (in English: Mohéli national park) unfolds as a marine and terrestrial natural haven, brimming with natural diversity and cultural richness. From vibrant marine species to endemic flora and fauna, this magnificent park offers a gateway to the undeniable charm of the Comoros. We invite you to embark on the exploration of this extraordinary park and discover for yourself the treasures hidden in every corner of its vast territory.
History of Mohéli National Park
On April 19, 2001, the first protected area in the country was established, known as the Mohéli Marine Park. This achievement resulted from a unique process in which local communities from the ten villages located on the park’s boundaries negotiated a collaboration agreement with the government for its establishment and management. The marine park program was recognized as one of the 27 finalists selected from nearly 500 nominations by the Equator Initiative. This initiative is a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), IUCN, the United Nations Foundation, and four other international groups, with the aim of promoting community initiatives that foster sustainable development.
In 2010, the marine park was upgraded and declared as Mohéli National Park, and in 2015, it was expanded to include approximately three-quarters of the island’s land area. This expansion was a significant step for the conservation of Mohéli’s natural resources and the protection of its biodiversity. Its creation marked a milestone in the island’s biodiversity conservation and the development of sustainable ecotourism in the region, becoming the first national park in the Comoros. The park covers an area of 404 km2, and the Mohéli region had a population of 41,428 registered inhabitants in 2022. The majority of the island’s inhabitants are Sunni Muslims.
Mohéli consists of 9 uninhabited islets and 10 coastal villages. Also, within the park’s protected area is Lake Dziani Boudouni, recognized on February 9, 1995, as a Ramsar Site of International Importance, the only one in the country with this designation.
Ecological Importance of the Park
With an impressive diversity of species, the park plays a vital role in conserving the Comoros’ ecosystem. It is a sanctuary for numerous endemic and protected species, and plays a crucial role in preserving the rich biodiversity of the region.
Mohéli National Park is located on the island of Mohéli (Mwali), the smallest of the three main islands of the Comoros. Access to the park is primarily by sea and air, with regular flights and boats operating from the main island, Grande Comore. It can be located using the coordinates: 12°10′S 43°46′E.
Climate of Mohéli Island (Comoros)
Mohéli has a tropical monsoon climate characterized mainly by a rainy season and a relatively drier season. The temperatures here are more or less constant throughout the year. Most of the precipitation falls in the first six months of the year, during which there is a higher level of humidity in the air. On average, the temperature here is a few degrees higher than on the other islands.
The figures below are based on long-term climate and weather records and represent an average for Mohéli.
|Average Maximum Temperature (°C)
|Average Minimum Temperature (°C)
|Average Hours of Sunshine per Day
|Average Days with Precipitation per Month
|Average Sea Temperature (°C)
Flora and Fauna
The park is home to a considerable number of endemic species, both in flora and fauna. These unique species in the world become an irreplaceable attraction for visitors and scientists.
The park serves as a sanctuary for various protected species, ensuring their survival and contributing to the biological diversity of the region. These species include the Comoro lemur, the giant Comoro gecko, and the green turtle.
The warm waters surrounding Mohéli National Park are home to a rich marine fauna, including dolphins, whales, and an impressive variety of colorful fish.
Mohéli National Park stands out for its abundant tropical vegetation, including endemic and rare species such as the ylang-ylang perfume tree and the Comoro orchid.
Geographical and Topographical Features
The park stretches from sandy coasts to mountain heights, offering a variety of natural landscapes, including pristine beaches, coral reefs, tropical forests, and stunning waterfalls. The elevation of the park region is 790 m above sea level.
The park boasts a rich marine ecosystem, with coral reefs that host a wide variety of marine fauna. It is an ideal place for activities such as snorkeling and diving.
The park’s terrestrial ecosystem is dominated by tropical forests and mountains, which house a variety of fauna and flora.
Activities in the Park
Hiking and Walks
Visitors can embark on hiking trails through the tropical forests and mountains of the park, allowing the exploration of its diverse flora and fauna.
The coral reef surrounding the island is a standout location for snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to explore the park’s impressive marine ecosystem. Additionally, practically any place in Mohéli is excellent for snorkeling, although it’s essential to consider that coral bleaching and erosion due to slash-and-burn agriculture have affected many reefs. However, the sea between Baobab and Maya, two of Mohéli’s islets, still harbors beautiful coral reefs.
Diving in Mohéli is an unforgettable experience, as the richness of the natural park is unparalleled. The only certified diving school on the island is located in Nioumachoua, at Laka Lodge.
Take the opportunity to explore the pristine beaches of Mohéli National Park on your own, using a kayak. You will enjoy incredible landscapes and be surrounded by the wildest nature.
Turtles come to Mohéli throughout the year to lay their eggs. In Itsamia, the local association can organize night tours to witness this impressive natural spectacle. Always remember to follow the guide’s instructions.
Livingston’s Bat Observation
The enormous Livingston’s bats, endemic to the region, can be spotted in Hualla 1. To get there, a hike of about an hour in the mountains from Oualla 1 is necessary. The local association will provide a guide, as their help is necessary to locate the bats.
Humpback Whale Watching
From June to November, the impressive humpback whales pass through the Mozambique Channel heading south in search of cooler waters. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this amazing natural show.
The park offers exceptional opportunities for observing wildlife, from observing turtles on the beaches to searching for lemurs in the forests.
The park also offers visitors the opportunity to experience the rich culture of the Comoros through activities such as visiting local villages and participating in cultural workshops.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Mohéli National Park is during the dry season, from May to October, when the weather conditions are ideal for exploring the park and engaging in outdoor activities.
In the vicinity of Mohéli National Park, visitors will find a variety of accommodation options, ranging from cozy guesthouses to luxurious resorts. One recommended place is Vanilla Lodge in Niamchoua, which offers warm hospitality and clean rooms for guests. Although some of the community bungalows are still in operation, such as in Itsamia, many of them remain closed or have been damaged due to the cyclone that occurred in 2019. It is advisable to check before arrival and make reservations in advance before heading to the park.
Dining in Mohéli
Visitors can also indulge in the exquisite local cuisine, rich in fish, seafood, and tropical fruits. However, due to various transportation issues, the product offerings in Mohéli’s supermarkets are limited. Additionally, finding fruits out of the local season can be challenging, as most products available in the markets come directly from local fields. Nevertheless, do not be discouraged by the scarcity of variety and take the opportunity to enjoy fresh and high-quality products sourced directly from the land. There are very few restaurants available in Mohéli.
Camping on the Islets of Mohéli National Park
From Nioumachoua, you can request a fisherman to transport you by boat to any of the park’s islets. Spend the night surrounded by the purest nature and enjoy a unique camping experience. For more exciting activities, we recommend visiting the website of Mohéli’s Ecotourism House. There, you will find additional information about other thrilling options to explore this magnificent natural park.
Rules and Regulations
It is essential for visitors to follow the park’s rules and regulations to ensure the protection of its ecosystem. This includes respecting wildlife and flora and adhering to designated hiking trails.
Visitors should be prepared for the terrain and climate conditions, and it is recommended to bring enough water, sunscreen, and insect repellent. It is also advisable to hire local guides to ensure a safe and rewarding visit.
How to Get There
Mohéli Bandar Es Eslam Airport in Fomboni has daily flights from the other islands of the archipelago. You can purchase tickets at tourism agencies, and the approximate price for a one-way flight is 50€.
There are options to travel by boat to and from Grande Comore (Moroni/Chindini) or Anjouan (Mutsamudu). You can choose between speedboats or cargo ships.
From Grande Comore, boats depart from Chindini, located approximately an hour away by shared taxi from Moroni (you can take it at the Karthala stop in Moroni at 7 a.m.). Make sure to register your passport as a foreigner. Some police officers may try to request a bribe for this fee, but you can seek help from locals to avoid this situation. Boats usually depart around 09:00, and the crossing costs around 10,500 francs. Be prepared to get wet during the trip, which can take about an hour in calm waters and several hours in turbulent waters. It is advisable to wear a life jacket and find a spot on the boat with less cargo and fewer people for safety. The boats will drop you off at a beach between Hoani and Fomboni. It is advisable to arrange transportation in advance as it can be challenging to find taxis upon arrival. If you don’t have transportation, look for a taxi driver and negotiate the price. A trip to Nioumachoua should cost around 10 euros or 5000 KMF. Also, keep in mind that boats do not operate every day in bad weather, so you should be prepared to spend an additional day in Moroni/Mwali.
There are also weekly cargo ships traveling to Moroni and Mutsamudu. The schedule is not fixed, so you should check at the port to know when the next ship will depart. These ships are slower and take the whole night to reach Moroni or Mutsamudu. Note that there are no available beds, so passengers spend the night sleeping in chairs. The prices are similar to those of speedboats, but no police permit is required. It is always recommended to see the ship before buying the ticket.
To get around the island, you can use local buses, which are called taxis by the locals. These buses connect Fomboni with most destinations on the island. The bus stop in Fomboni is located at the market, but you should be aware that the buses stop operating before noon. After that time, you can choose to take a shared taxi.
It’s essential to note that taxis or buses departing from places other than Fomboni are limited. Usually, you’ll find only a couple of taxis in each town. They usually depart every day at 5:00 a.m. towards Fomboni, so it is advisable to reserve a seat the day before. However, keep in mind that Mondays can be extremely difficult to get to Fomboni as many teachers and students travel to the city for school. Therefore, advance planning is essential, and you may have to wait for a few hours.
Until November 2018, there was a shortage of fuel on the island, which complicated internal travel. Hitchhiking is possible and very safe in Mohéli, although not as easy as in Grande Comore due to the lack of cars. Keep in mind that the road between Itsamia and Niamchoua was destroyed by the cyclone of 2019, so the trip that used to take 15 minutes can now take up to 3 hours as you will have to go all around the island.
Conservation and Sustainability
Despite efforts to protect biodiversity, the park faces challenges, including deforestation, illegal fishing, and climate change. Awareness and support from visitors are crucial to address these challenges.
Current Conservation Efforts
Numerous projects are currently underway to protect and restore the park’s ecosystem. These include reforestation programs, wildlife monitoring, and environmental education.
How Visitors Can Contribute
Visitors can contribute to the conservation of the park through donations, purchasing local products, and respecting the park’s rules.
Research and Science in Mohéli National Park
Current Research Projects
The park is a site for scientific research, studying biodiversity, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and the impact of climate change in the region.
Notable Research Findings
Some notable findings include the identification of new species, understanding the migration patterns of marine species, and studies on the adaptation of flora and fauna to climate change.
Community Development and Participation
Involvement of the Local Community
The local community plays a vital role in the management and conservation of the park. Their participation in conservation activities is encouraged, and initiatives for ecotourism development are promoted.
Educational programs are conducted to promote environmental awareness among the young members of the community, creating a generation conscious of the importance of conservation.