Comoros

 

Trip to the Comoros islands in December/January 2017/18. Some additional notes below.

Notes

The Union of the Comoros is, despite its rich natural resources, a very poor, although politically relatively stable country. As a former French colony it has strong ties to France, both cultural and political, but is rarely visited by tourists. There is an ongoing refugee crisis due to the vicinity of the island of Mayotte, which is geographically the 4th Comorian island, but politically an overseas department of France and therefore part of the EU. Thousands of Comorians drowned trying to get there, many of them pregnant women who hoped to give birth on French territory. Young men try to reach France via Mayotte for earning money for 1 or 2 years and then return, only to finance their Grand Marriage, a somewhat toxic Comorian tradition to negotiate social status.

Despite these hair‐raising conditions and some practical problems on the island, such as the lack of touristic infrastructure or the terrible, unsolved waste problem, I found the Comoros easy and safe to travel. The standard means of transport is the shared taxi (cheap), between the islands there are trustworthy flights with fairly new, South African wet leased planes. Local SIM cards with 20GB of data are just €20, I had 4G mostly everywhere.

The climate is tropical and was very pleasant at the time I went, the forests (at least those parts which haven’t been cut down) are gorgeous and fertile. People just plant their pineapples or bananas between the trees, everything grows. The deep and oily scent of Ylang Ylang, clove trees and many others mix with the humid air, some monkeys play in the tree and there is an ongoing twitter from birds and frogs. There are no dangerous animals whatsoever, and even tropical storms and typhoons are shielded by nearby Madagascar.

Wherever I went, I was welcomed by warm and friendly people, no cheating, no aggression. Comorians are predominant moderate Muslims, but I heard that there is a growing concern about fundamentalism in the country. Women might have to be careful, but I met some female expats and heard no bad stories. Most Comorians speak french, some english.

Some information on the web I used for those who are interested, because there is no usable guidebook available:

Wikitravel Grande Comore
Tripadvisor
Globespots Comoros
Booking site of AB Aviation for domestic flights between the islands
Mickey’s place (Baobab Magic) at the Trou du Prophète
Jardin de la Paix, the place to stay and find local guides in Moroni
Laka Lodge (Mohéli island)