Inhambane province and its capital of the same name lie outside the destructive path of most of the tropical cyclones that can wreak havoc along this coast. The area’s isolation has ensured its relative escape from modern influences; much cultural and historical heritage has been retained.
The province straddles the Tropic of Capricorn. Extending 200km (124 miles) further east, it also receives about 200mm (8in) more rain than Maputo province. On average, January has 13 days’ rain, while July has five. Don’t bother taking a raincoat, an umbrella is far more practical in the heat. Temperatures, on average, are a few degrees warmer than places to the south.
With an average humidity rarely dropping below 75% or rising above 80%, the region can become uncomfortable in midsummer, though the beaches are cooled by the sea breeze.
The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), of which there are nearly two million in the Inhambane area, produces about 22.5kg (50 lb) of coconuts each year. Individual trees are owned by families, who send their youngest sons to collect palm sap for the production of a potent wine called sura. Inhambane’s soil and climate are ideal for the palms – which only thrive in frost-free areas – so much so that trees take about five years to bear fruit (as opposed to seven in other areas), produce for about 40 years and live for up to 80. It appears that a rule of thumb is: ‘the nearer the sea, the better the crop’.