MOZAMBIQUE LIGHTHOUSES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This page is compiled by Louis-John Havemann by kind permission of Michel Forand and the following people, see credit text below.

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The text is based in part on a monograph prepared for the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exhibition, entitled Colonie de Moçambique: Ports, Phares et Navigation Commerciale, and written by Captain António da Silva Pais, head of the Maritime Department in Mozambique at the time, and in part on the Mozambique page http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/moz.htm of The Lighthouse Directory, created by Dr Russ Rowlett, of the University of North Carolina. The English translation of the da Silva booklet is by Michel Forand, of Ottawa, Canada, who also contributed scans of a few old postcards, although most of the photos are from the 1931 publication. The full English text and illustrations can be found in The Lighthouse Directory ("Lighthouse Development in Mozambique, 1908-1931").

 
Barra Lighthouse Ponta Barra Inhambane Mozambique

Punta da Barra Light, Mozambique
This lighthouse is located at the end of the northward-pointing Barra Peninsula, which shelters the Bay of Inhambane in southern Mozambique.

The early history of the light station is unclear. According the older light lists, a light was displayed here as early as 1873. Silva Pais writes that the station was established in 1900, so perhaps the light had been maintained privately until then. The current 13 m (43 ft) stone tower was apparently built in 1904. In recent years the area around the light station has been developed as an adventure camp.

Bazaruto Lighthouse Bazaruto Mozambique

Bazaruto Island lies parallel to the coast of southeastern Mozambique. Silva Pais writes that the northern tip of the island is "a dominant landmark that needed to be illuminated for the safety of shipping between the port of Beira and the southern ports." Accordingly it was made the site of a major lighthouse, a 26 m (85 ft) stone tower with a focal plane of 116 m (381 ft), completed in 1913. The large lantern held -- and apparently still holds -- a hyperradiant Fresnel lens, one of only a dozen or so of these great lenses ever built.

Silva Pais doesn't mention an earlier light that as maintained at this location between 1894 and 1900, according to older light lists.

Today Bazaruto is a popular destination for ecotourism, and the light station is accessible by a hiking trail from nearby resorts.

 

Point jea lost Lighthouse Beira Mozambique

Lost Beira Lighthouses, Mozambique

 

Silva Pais doesn't mention these two lighthouses at Beira, the principal seaport of central Mozambique; probably he considered them to be harbor lights not properly part of his description of how the coast was being lit.

 

We believe the lighthouse on the left is the Point Jea light. Built in 1893 on the east side of the river entrance, it doubled as lighthouse and weather station, and it looks as if it might have included the harbormaster's office as well.

 

By 1920 it was no longer listed on international light lists.

 

On the right, probably, is the Chiveve Point light, built in 1895. Located on the northwest side of town near the railway wharf, the lighthouse had a focal plane of 20 meters (65 ft) and was still in service in 1920, although it seems to have been discontinued not too long after that.

Chiveve lost Lighthouse Beira Mozambique

 

Bocas Zambezi lighthouse Mozambique

Bôcas do Zambèze Light, Mozambique


The Zambezi River, southern Africa's largest river, flows through central Mozambique to empty into the Indian Ocean near Chinde.

 

In 1924, this large lighthouse was built on Timbué Island, the largest island in the delta of the river. With a height of 40 meters (131 ft), this is (or was) one of the tallest lighthouses ever built in eastern or southern Africa.

 

We do not know if this tower survives.


The light has been moved to a square skeletal tower, perhaps tracking a change in the location of the
river entrance.

Caldeira Lighthouse Mozambique

Ponta Caldeira Light, Mozambique

 

Ponta Caldeira is a promontory overlooking the Mozambique Channel southwest of Angoche in north central Mozambique.

 

This 26 meter (86 ft) octagonal concrete tower was completed in 1927 to light a previously-dark section of coastline between the Mafamede Light at Angoche and the Fogo island lighthouse farther southwest.

 

The lighthouse remains in service today.

 

Fogo Lighthouse Mozambique

Ilha do Fogo Light, Mozambique

 

This spectacular skeletal lighthouse was built in 1926 on the Ilha do Fogo, an island off Ponta Matirre northeast of Macuse on the central coast of Mozambique. At 37 meters (131 ft), it was one of the tallest African lighthouses of this type. Most likely it was prefabricated in Europe for assembly on site, but we know nothing of these details.

 

Sadly, it probably does not survive. The modern light on the island is 34 meters tall (111 ft) and is described as a "quadrangular skeleton tower."

Other lighthouses of similar description in Mozambique are constructed of prefabricated reinforced concrete beams.

Ilha de Goa Lighthouse Mozambique

Ilha do Goa Light, Mozambique

 

Here we have one of Mozambique's oldest and best known lighthouses. The Ilha do Goa is a small island obstructing the approach to the old Portuguese fortress town of Moçambique, which gave its name to the country.

 

The lighthouse was first built in 1876 and is the oldest example of a robust square tower design that became typical of lighthouses in Zanzibar and on the coast of German East Africa (now Tanzania). Silva Pais writes that in 1923 the station was upgraded with a new lantern and lens and the tower was raised in height by 12 meters to the present 31 meters (102 ft).

 

The lighthouse is still in service.

 

Infusse Lighthouse Mozambique

Infusse Light, Mozambique

 

Infusse Light was located in the northern part of the country between Angoche and Moçambique.

 

Built in 1926, the tower was constructed from reinforced concrete beams. It appears to have been the first light of this type of Mozambique, but there are now several others.

 

The tower, 22 meters (72 ft) tall, was replaced in 1937 by a light of somewhat similar design at Ponta Namalungo, about 20 km (13 mi) to the southwest.

Inhaca Lighthouse Mozambique

Inhaca Light, Mozambique
The 31 meter (102 ft) tower remains in service and is often visited by tourists from the the island's several resorts.Inhaca is the southernmost of Mozambique's major lighthouses, and the lightstation is one of the country's oldest. It was established in 1894 at the northern end of the island of Inhaca, which shelters the Bay of Maputo. Its purpose was to guide ships to the colony's most important seaport, then called Laurenço Marques but now returned to its African name Maputo.

Unfortunately, the Silva Pais pamphlet leaves the history of the station somewhat uncertain. The original lighthouse was a 27.5 meter (90 ft) cast iron tower, and light lists continued to describe that light as late as 1920. But that's not what we see below, so at some time in the 1920s, probably in 1926, the present hexagonal concrete block tower was built. We do not know why Silva Pais did not mention such a major lighthouse improvement project.

 

Macuti Lighthouse all white Mozambique

Macuti Light, Mozambique

 

Built in 1904, the Macuti lighthouse at Beira is the only Mozambique lighthouse located conveniently close to a major town.

 

For most of its career, the lighthouse has been painted with black and white horizontal bands, as seen on the postcard image at right.

 

The postcard on the left is interesting because it proves that the lighthouse was painted all white for a time in the late 1930s.

 

Quite recently the color pattern has been changed to red and white bands.

 

The 28 meter (92 ft) tower is on the beach road just north of Beira, the principal port of central Mozambique.

Macuti Lighthouse Mozambique

 

Mafamede Lighthouse Mozambique

Ilha de Mafamede Light, Mozambique

 

This interesting skeletal light tower was built in 1923 on Mafamede Island in the entrance to the harbor of Angoche.

 

Probably it does not survive.

 

The NGA List describes the present light as a 25 meter (82 ft) "white hectagonal tower."

 

It is not clear what is meant by "hectagonal," but that does not seem to be a good description of the tower in the photograph.

Matirre Lighthouse Mozambique

Ponta Matirre Light, Mozambique

 

Silva Pais describes Ponta Matirre as being "just north of the mouth of the Tejungo River," with the lighthouse "acting as both a coastal light and a harbor light for vessels on their way to the port of Pebane."

 

This antique skeletal tower, built in 1913, may survive; the current NGA List describes the Ponta Matirre Light as a 13 meter (43 ft) "metal skeletal tower," painted with red and white horizontal bands.

 

Monte Belo Lighthouse Mozambique

Monte Belo Light, Mozambique

 

Monte Belo is a hill on the south side of the mouth of the Limpopo River in southern Mozambique.

 

Since a light here is effective both as a coastal light and as the landfall light for the river, the site was one of the five highest priority projects of the 1908 lighthouse plan.

 

The traditional Monte Belo lighthouse with its 14 meter (46 ft) stone tower was completed in 1914 and continues in service today.

Pinda Lighthouse Mozambique

Pinda Light, Mozambique

 

The Pinda lighthouse stands southeast of Memba in northern Mozambique. Silva Pais writes that its principal purpose is to warn ships away from the Pinda Shoals, but it also serves to guide shipping bound for the port of Memba.

 

This was the northernmost light station built by the colonial government until the Nyassa Company's control over Cabo Delgado Province was ended in 1929.

 

The 31 meter (102 ft) tower rises through the center of a 1-story keeper's house.

 

Completed in 1923, it remains in service today, still bearing its black and white banded daymark.

 

Rueben Lighthouse Mozambique

Reuben Point Light, Mozambique

 

Reuben Point, more properly called Ponta Vermelha, is a headland overlooking the harbor of Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. Maputo, called Lourenço Marques under Portuguese rule, is at the extreme southern end of the country, not far from the South African border. Its fine harbor served British and Dutch settlers in Natal, the northeastern most state of South Africa, and it must have been the British who named the bluff Reuben Point.

 

A light was raised on an iron tripod on Reuben Point in 1877, and in 1892 it was replaced by the short stone lighthouse seen on the left. Despite its short stature, this light had a focal plane of 42 meters (138 ft). Sometime after 1904 the height of the tower was more than doubled, as seen in the postcard image on the right. However, the light is not included on the 1920 light list.

 

Today Ponta Vermelha is the location of Mozambique's Presidential Palace. As far as we know, there is no trace of the lighthouse.

Rueben Point Lighthouse Mozambique

 

Sangage Lighthouse Mozambique

Sangage Light, Mozambique

 

This 26 meter (85 ft) concrete lighthouse was completed in 1923 at the entrance to the bay of Angoche.

 

Standing on a headland, it has a focal plane of 93 meters (305 ft). The tower remains in service today.

Vilhena Lighthouse Mozambique

Vilhena Light, Mozambique

 

This unusual skeletal lighthouse was completed in 1908 to provide a landfall light for the port of Quelimane in central Mozambique.

 

The current NGA List describes Vilhena Light as a 27 meter (89 ft) metal framework tower, suggesting that the historic lighthouse is still in use.

 

If so, it is the oldest skeletal light tower in the country.

 

The tower is now painted with red and white horizontal bands.

 

Zavora Lighthouse Zavora Mozambique

Ponta Zavora Light, Mozambique


Completed in 1910, the Ponta Zavora Light marks an important cape at the hinge between the central and southern coastlines of Mozambique.


The 16 meter (53 ft) tower remains in service, but the lantern has been removed. The 1-story keeper's house still had a resident keeper as of October 2004.

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