This is not the most visited destination of the Indian Ocean and for good reason: the country is known for political instability and a regular seismic activity, making the Comoros unattractive. True adventurers will not be reluctant to go and discover this lush archipelago. Quiet beaches, walks in the forest, Moroni (the capital city) and the mountain lakes are waiting for your visit.
Because of the difficulties that can be encountered to travel between the islands, get the schedules of planes or boats. The sooner you have your reservation, the better. If you want to discover the islands in depth, do not neglect to use tour guides. They will introduce you to the chiefs of the villages, and explain the history of the vanilla plantations and ylang-ylang which will certainly be one of the highlights of your trip. Remember to always ask authorization before photographing the people. Visit Comoros is quite a challenge but the beauty of this archipelago is worth it. In order to make the most of your trip, prepare well before you go.
Note that the archipelago has 4 islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli and Mayotte. The Comoros are divided into two distinct countries, the Union of the Comoros in the West and Mayotte which is French territory. The situation on Mayotte is often very tense because of the poverty in which the inhabitants of the island live. Unemployment rate is high. In addition, the island attracts many emigrants who are coming to seek work on the French territory. All of this leads to a problematic situation.
The Comoros has a very pleasant tropical climate. You will therefore observe a rich and varied fauna and flora. The flora is very similar to the flora in Madagascar. Diving enthusiasts will not be disappointed. The aquatic fauna is particularly abundant and diversified. Many diving sites located on the entire archipelago attract aficionados every year. On land, you will observe the Common brown lemur, found only on this island. Another endemic specimen found in the archipelago is Comoro flying fox, the largest and rarest bat of all Comorian species. Today the Comorian government is taking important steps to protect the flora and fauna of the archipelago. Ecotourism might be in the future the best way to discover this archipelago little known to tourists.
Each island has its own particularity but all the islands are volcanic. This will not be without displeasing hiking enthusiasts. You can do many hikes on the different islands and discover the archipelago. Many lakes, forests, beaches, islets, waterfalls, coral reefs, citadels are to discover.
Coming to the Comoros is not easy. You must be adventurous and practical. This archipelago is not really equipped to welcome tourists. Not many hotels and poor transportation. You must prepare your trip very well before leaving if you do not want to waste too much time. Make all reservations for domestic flights and boat trips ahead of time. Also check political situation before embarking. Very often the social and political climate is not favorable to the discovery of this archipelago.
Do not forget that you are on a Muslim land, so respect the customs of the inhabitants. Women should pay attention to their outfit and reserve the swimsuit only for the beach. Before taking pictures, ask the interested person for permission. The fauna and flora are protected. Do not buy products without being sure that it is not permitted. For example it is forbidden to buy turtles, shells and corals. On the other hand, you will be able to bring with you vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom or ylang ylang which are the specialties of the archipelago. Before leaving, find out about the country’s situation. Once arrived in Mayotte, report to the Embassy of France. You should have cash money with you because you will hardly find cash machines. If you travel between each island, do not embark on kwassa-kwassa boats otherwise you will be fined or imprisoned.
You will certainly hear about the Great Marriage, a tradition that continues especially on Grande Comore. Men, belonging to the upper classes of Comorian society, often devote their whole life to raising enough money to celebrate this union. It is the only way to become a notable and enjoy a social status. Men, who are usually in their forties, are often getting married for the second time with a much younger woman. The celebrations last several days, and the husband can then spend the rest of his life, to pay off his debts.
The Comorian cuisine is simple but very tasty, thanks to the addition of ingredients such as cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon and especially the coconut cream that accompanies most dishes. Meats and fish are usually accompanied by rice, sometimes local vegetables, such as yams and taro. Those who enjoy fish will feast on freshly caught tuna, grouper and octopus. Coconut fish is also a national dish. Because of the Indian influences, you will also find samosas (spicy and stuffed with meat and vegetables). You will also find dishes with African or Malagasy influence. You will be able to taste cod fish, tambi za hangoi (vermicelli Comorian fashion) , but also chicken pilaf.
The archipelago produces tropical fruits in abundance: papayas, mangoes, lychees, guavas, which you can enjoy fresh or in juice. Islamic law officially prohibits the consumption of alcohol, but you will find beer and alcoholic beverages in most hotels.
Souvenir and crafts
In the markets of the three islands, you will find silver jewelry, raffia hats, basketry and linen, embroidered with colorful Malagasy-inspired patterns. Local spices are extremely cheap, so do not miss out on nutmeg, cloves and vanilla beans. Carved woods are also a specialty of the archipelago. Shops are generally open on weekdays from 8 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm, except on Fridays, when all shops close at 11 am. During Ramadan, opening hours are much disrupted.