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Comoros

The Comoros (Arabic: ??? ????? Juzur al-Qumur) are an island nation off the coast of East Africa, in the Indian Ocean between northern Mozambique and northern Madagascar.

Islands

Mayotte is claimed by Comoros, but administered by France.

Cities

  • Moroni — the country's capital, on Grande Comore
  • 2 Domoni — second largest city and former capital of Anjouan
  • 3 Fomboni — the capital of Moheli
  • 4 Nioumachoua — second largest town of Moheli, on the southern coast
  • 5 Moutsamoudou — the capital of Anjouan

Other destinations

  • Mount Karthala — an active volcano and the highest peak in Comoros, famous for its crater.

All of the islands have many beautiful beach destinations, being Moheli the one that offers the best nature and water sports opportunities.

Understand

One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources.

Comoros is also the smallest nation in the Arab World by population.

The name Comoros originates from qamar, Arabic for moon.

Climate

Located just south of the equator, the Comoros Islands have a tropical maritime climate, characterized by two seasons according to rainfall. The best season to visit the Comoros is between May and November, during the dry season when the climate is cool and relatively dry, while from December to April is hot and humid. The maximum temperature may vary between 31ºC in December and 27ºC in August, while the average minimum vary between 23ºC in February and 19ºC in July.

Landscape

Volcanic islands whose interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills, with the highest point, Le Karthala (on Grand Comore), at 2,361m.

History

The islands of Comoros have been settled by a succession of diverse groups from the coast of Africa, Persian Gulf, Malay Archipelago and Madagascar. Swahili settlers first reached the islands as part of the great Bantu expansion that took place throughout the first millennium.

In 933 CE, Al-Masudi refers to Omani sailors, who call the Comoros "The Perfume Islands" and sing of waves that break rhythmically along broad, pearl-sand beaches, the light breezes scented with ylang-ylang, a component to many perfumes.

From the 11th to 15th centuries, trade with the island of Madagascar and merchants from the Middle East flourished, smaller villages emerged, and existing towns expanded.

Portuguese explorers visited the islands of the archipelago in 1505 on the Cape Route. By 1506, the Portuguese landed on the islands and began to challenge the Bajas (Bantu Muslim chiefs) and Fanis (lesser chiefs).

The French started to colonize the islands in 1841, ultimately gaining full control of all the islands in 1908.

In 1973, France agreed to give the islands independence, depending on the results of referenda on each island. Grand Comore, Moheli and Anjouan all voted overwhelmingly in favor, but Mayotte voted to remain part of France and has therefore remained under French control.

Comoros has endured 20 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. Azali seized power. He pledged to resolve the secessionist crisis through a confederal arrangement named the 2000 Fomboni Accord. In December 2001, voters approved a new constitution and presidential elections took place in the spring of 2002. Each island in the archipelago elected its own president and a new union president took office in May 2002.

Talk

The official languages are French and Arabic. Most Comorians speak their own language known as Shikomor (Comorian), which is a group of Swahili dialects, as a first language and French as a second. Some can also speak Arabic.

Finding a fluent English speaker is a very rare occurrence. However, an educated person will know a few words in English. Your best bet would be to learn French which has a strong influence on media, education and business.

Each island has its own dialect. The greetings below are not necessarily direct translations.

Greetings nearly always follow this pattern:

Grand Comore

  • Yedje? (How are you?), response: Ndjema (good)
  • Bariza? (News?), response: Ndjema
  • Mahabari (News?), response: Salimina (peaceful)
  • Hufanyiha dje? (How are you?), response: Ndjema
  • Na kozazidi? (And problems?), response: Raha (Not yet)
  • E ngawe mnono? (Your health?), response: Alhamdulilah (Thanks to Allah)

Moheli

  • Jeje? (how are you?)
  • Ndjema (good)
  • Gushindu? (your health is good?)
  • Ewa (yes)
  • Kumnono? (you feel good?)
  • Ewa (yes)
  • Habari (you are well?)
  • Salaama (at peace)

Any series of words with habari in it requires a response of salaama. Shikomor has various extensions of the habari greeting to indicate time of day, such as habarizaho or habarizasobwuhi.

Other necessary words:

  • Ewa (yes)
  • A-a (no)
  • Marahaba (thank you)
  • Marahaba menji (thank you very much)
  • Swamahani (Sorry/pardon me)
  • Pvapvo (there; used to tell a taxi driver where you want them to stop)
  • Pvano (here; same as above, but the driver will likely slam on the brakes)

Get in

Everyone requires a visa to visit to the Comoros, which is issued on arrival. A normal visa costs €61. It can be paid in Comorian francs, US dollars, British pounds or Euros. A visa lasts 45 days, and whilst it can be extended the authorities are not likely to unless you have a good reason. All visitors must report to the immigration office in Moroni or Mutsamudu for an additional passport stamp. Failure to do so will lead to problems upon departure.

As of November 2018, Comoros visa is issued on arrival at Moroni airport. Price is €30 or 50 USD paid in cash. Have the exact amount in cash, because change might not be given. Also, there are no ATMs or currency exchange offices in or around the airport, so have the cash for a visa before arrival. You will have to write down a place of residence in Comoros during your stay in the immigration form, however this is not checked.

After immigration, your luggage might be searched however it looked that interrogation by security officers was genuine and not seeking for bribes.

By plane

  • Kenya Airways now flies direct from Nairobi, thrice a week, connecting with London, Dubai, Mumbai and Paris flights
  • Ethiopian Airlines flies daily direct from Addis Ababa via Dar es Salaam connecting with 100+ destinations around the world
  • Air Austral flies from Paris and Marseilles with change of planes in Saint Denis, Reunion
  • Inter Iles Air flies from Mayotte to Anjouan and Moroni several times a week.
  • African Express connects to Mombasa, Dubai.
  • Precision Air flies from Tanzania three times a week
  • Air Madagascar flies almost daily from Madagascar

By boat

There are freighters that leave from Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam (in Tanzania) and Madagascar. These are cheaper than flying, usually, but take longer and departure dates are less reliable. To catch these you must find the boat captain at the harbour and discuss prices. If you bargain very hard, you may get passage for €100.

Get around

By plane

Int'Air Îles flies between Moroni, Anjouan, and Moheli daily. In Moroni their office is near the Volo Volo Market.

By car

It's possible to rent cars on Grand Comore for approximately CF15,000 to CF25.000 (€30 to €50) a day, depending on the type of car. In Moheli there are no rental agencies, but still you might try to rent a car or motorbike directly to a local with the help of your hotel. Petrol price varies from island to island. While you may pay CF600 (€1.2) per litre in Grand Comore, the price in Moheli (where petrol is scarce) can rise up to CF1000 (€2) per litre.

Each island has a mainroad around the island. Road conditions can be really bad on certain sections, but still doable by regular vehicles without 4WD.

Hitch-hiking is a very common practice among locals, specially in Moheli were there are fewer transportation options. If you look like a tourist, some fee may be requested. As the locals have no access to public transport and children have to walk to and from school, tourists with a car may wish to consider aiding hitch-hikers.

By public transport

Each capital is connected by bus with the villages on their respective island main road. Buses are usually packed, have no fixed schedule and stop running well before sunset.

Shared taxis are the most common mode of public transport within cities.

By boat

Speedboats operate from Chindini on the southern coast of Grand Comore, to Hoani on the northern coast of Moheli. These boats are small fibreglass fishing boats with boat and engines in variable condition. They should be taken only on days when the sea is calm, as passengers have been forced to off-load baggage into the sea and there are rumours boats being lost. However, these boats are generally safe to take on calm days. It is anyway always wise to ask for a life vest. Boats depart from Chindini every morning and the trip takes about one hour. The price is CF10.000 (€20) as of November 2008, plus an additional CF500 council departure tax. Some tourists have been requested a special permit from the police.

Cargo vessels covering the route between the three island's capitals also accept passengers. You'll have to ask at the port or find an agency, and expect longer travel times (up to 12 hours from Moroni to Moheli). The price from Moroni to Fomboni in Moheli is CF10,000 per person.

The company Maria Galanta operates the route Moroni—Moutsamoudou (Anjouan)—Dzaoudzi (Mayotte) twice per week. As of October 2018, the boat leaves from Moroni Thursdays and Sundays, and return trip is Wednesdays and Saturdays. Duration of each leg is 5 hours. The price to Anjouan is €36 one way, and €140-158 all the way to Mayotte. Maximum baggage allowance is 20 kg plus 10 kg of hand baggage.

See

  • Lac Sale — salt lake adjacent to the beach on the north end of Grand Comore. A trail leads to the top of the rocks surrounding the lake. Along the road there is a small souvenir stand, usually selling ylang ylang oil, jackfruit perfume, jasmine, and seashells. Ask the souvenir sellers to tell you about the lake and they'll be able to tell you about how they believe the water and algae from the lake cures acne (a 1-liter bottle of this mixture goes for 5000KMF) and even take you down into the lake to show you the process.
  • Dolphins off the coast beyond Hahaya
  • Livingstone Bats at Moheli
  • Giant Sea Turtles laying eggs at Itsamiya on Moheli
  • Swahili-inspired architecture with arcades
  • White sand beaches - Maloudja beach in Mitsamiouli is probably the most beautiful and most popular. Other popular beach destinations, some with bungalows nearby, include Ndroude and Bouni in the northeast of Grande Comore, Chomoni in the southeast, and Chindini in the south.
  • Moroni old mosque and medina next to it famous for its narrow streets and maze-like architecture.
  • Dragon's Tail - This impressive mountain peninsula jutting off of Grande Comore is located just outside the northeastern village of Ivoini and is a beautiful spectacle and an exciting hike.
  • Turtle Island - also called Choua cha Ndroude in Shingazidja or Île des Tortues in French, this island is the only peripheral island surrounding Grande Comore located in the northeastern village of Ndroude. Depending on the time of the month, at low tide you can walk from the beach right to the island and spend a couple hours enjoying the sea breeze, taking in the sunshine, and watching local fishermen catch fish nearby. Be sure to bring some kind of footwear for when you get to the island though, as the volcanic rocks get very hot in the sun and you don't wanna be on the island barefoot.
  • Palace of Kaviridjeo - built in the 16th century, these ruins in the village of Iconi just south of Moroni used to be the home of the Sultan of Bambao until the 19th century, when the final sultan, Said Ali bin Said Omar, united all the different sultanates on Grande Comore to form Ngazidja, then signed an agreement allowing the French to colonize the island. A large, recently-built mosque also sits across the street, featuring a large pool that fills at high tide and drains at low tide. Between the two is a small plaque memorializing the victims of a massacre led by former president Ali Soilih's youth brigade in the 1970s.
  • The Moheli Marine Reserve off the coast of Nioumachoua, amongst the beautiful peripheral islands to the south.

Do

  • Treks such as the Karthala volcano crater (8 hours walk one way). Guides available for €100. This is possible to do as a one long day hike for €60 or overnight at a basecamp which is 5-8 tinplated sheds settlement
  • Cycling
  • Deep sea diving, snorkelling
  • Sailing on a dhow
  • Swimming with dolphins - there are multiple places on Grande Comore that offer this, with Itsandra just north of Moroni being the most popular and costing just 10,000KMF.
  • Swimming with manta rays - an activity exclusive to Nioumachoua on Moheli, seeing the manta rays is often hit or miss, but the staff at Laka Lodge hotel can organize this trip and the guides are experts at seeking them out.
  • Hiking - there are numerous places for this, including in the northeast of Grande Comore, where dozens of small mountains, most including small trails for farmers to reach their fields, dot the landscape; Chezani and other neighboring villages are good jumping-off points for this. You can also hike from Fomboni, the capital of Moheli, to Nioumachoua, though beware this is a challenging and lengthy but beautiful and rewarding trek. Anjouan is also full of swooping peaks and gorgeous waterfalls ready to be climbed. A large, intimidating mountain also sits in the village of Iconi on Grande Comore and has a very simple path to the top with some impressive views of the village and surrounding area, though the beginning of the trail is hidden next to a small corner store and you'll probably have to ask a local to show you where it's located to find it.

Buy

Money

The country's currency is the Comorian franc, on Moheli denoted by the symbol "CF" (ISO code: KMF). Often, tourists will be given the price also in euros, even if just for reference. In those cases, an invariable exchange rate of €1=CF500 is used.

It is best to bring euro notes to the island. They can be exchanged at most shops for slightly better than the official rate (€1 = 500 francs). Note that barely noticeable torn banknotes won't be exchanged. There are four ATMs in Moroni in roughly the same area. Most were declining debit card Mastercard issued in the UK for no apparent reason, even though the logo on the machine stated that it accepts the card type. One bank was charging about 10% of total withdrawing amount as transaction fees. Therefore it's more cost efficient to bring cash in euro. Other hard currency might be exchanged at a bureau de change.

Shopping

Handicrafts are not usually of good quality, though women of Mayotte as well as a few women in Grand Comore make quality baskets. One can buy CDs, colourful cloths that women wear (CF500 for a numbawani and CF750 for a finer shawl), beautiful scarves (CF2,000) and other imports.

Most handicrafts and tourist curios for sale at Volo Volo market in Moroni are made in Madagascar, and sold by Malagasy expatriates in the market. Local crafts are hard to find, but some are available at CNAC in Itsandra. Unique Comorian gifts can be found in other parts of Volo Volo market. Consider locally grown spices and essential oils, home made lamps and vegetable peelers, or products made from coconuts.

Do not buy shells from vendors on the beach.

Costs

Because the Comoros are isolated islands, prices tend to be more expensive than the rest of East Africa. The cheapest hotels or bungalows in Moroni (the most expensive lodging region of the Comoros) may cost €20 or as little as €10 if you bargain hard. On the other hand, Hotel Moroni may cost hundreds. Imported goods are cheaper on Grand Comore than Moheli, but fruits and vegetables are cheaper, if less available, on Moheli. Meals in a brochetterie (cheap restaurant that serves fried meat and bananas, manioc, taro, or breadfruit) may cost up to CF1500 (€3) on Grand Comore and as little as KMF250 (€0.50) on Moheli. Cakes (sweet bread) sold by women on the street generally cost around CF50-100 each. One could get by on around CF6,000-10,000 (€12-20) per day for food and lodging.

Eat

Visitors are advised not to eat any of the local food unless it has been cooked through. One speciality available on the island is the jackfruit, a large, green fruit (about 50 cm in length) with a taste resembling lychee.

As for a small island country surrounded by the Ocean, fish and seafood is the main quality food source for Comorians. Men sail away from the island early morning in boats to come back before dusk with a fish to sell.

Interesting food itinerary would be to observe men coming back from the sea with their catches. This is next to a harbour. Many locals are already hanging around there to buy fish, meet friends and just pass time. Sometimes fisherman returns with a bigger fishes for example swordfish. Later go to Volo Volo market to see the same fish being sold and butchered. As a conclusion to the trip, visit local restaurants throughout the city to taste sea goods. Daily menu will vary depending on the catch of the day.

Delicious and popular Comorian foods include:

  • mabawa - chicken wings, usually coated in a marinade of dijon mustard, mayonnaise, peppers, garlic, salt, and onion, perhaps with other variations, and grilled. You'll find plenty of mabawa vendors at night in Moroni and many of the villages and especially around the Volovolo area. Often served with grilled breadfruit, cassava, or green bananas, as well as putu, a spicy pepper-based sauce that varies in heat, flavor, and color depending on who makes it and what other ingredients they include.
  • trama - grilled corn, most available from January to April.
  • madaba - cassava leaves, mashed with a huge mallet into a sort of paste with peppers, garlic, and other ingredients before being boiled and served with rice and sometimes with fish chopped up inside.
  • mkatre foutra - a small, round, savory bread eaten for breakfast, usually sold for 100KMF each.
  • sambusa - the Comorian version of a samosa. Contains shredded fish and spices, though each person's sambusa will taste different. Depending on size and where you buy them, they can cost anywhere from 25KMF to 100KMF.

Nice, European-style restaurants exist in the capital and larger villages on all of the islands.

  • 1 Le Coraya, Bandamadji, Itsandra, Grande Comore, ? +269 358 88 88. Mon-Thurs 8AM-11:30PM, Fri-Sat 8AM-1AM, Sun 9AM-11:45PM. Located in the village of Itsandra just north of Moroni, Le Coraya offers everything from burgers to pizza to pasta to seafood, as well as alcohol and hookah. Enjoy a relaxing meal as well as some of the best restaurant views in Comoros, as it sits right on the Indian Ocean next to the beach. Anywhere from 6 EUR - 20 EUR for an entree.
  • 2 Le Coraya Express, Boulevard de la République Populaire de ChinaMoroni (Across the street from the Sawa Prix supermarket and the École Française Henri Matisse, a few blocks down from the French Embassy.), ? +269 326 87 87. 10:30AM-10PM. A smaller version of Le Coraya with limited hours, a smaller menu, and a much less spectacular view. Especially known for its pizza and sandwiches. Another Le Coraya Express location is also inside the Hahaya airport. 4 EUR - 9 EUR.
  • 3 New Mumbai, Rue de la Corniche, Hankounou, Moroni (Across from the Alliance Française sits a gas station and a travel agency, with the entrance to the restaurant sandwiched in-between.), ? +269 339 59 34. A quaint little restaurant serving Indian and Chinese food right by the ocean. Sitting by the ocean gives you the best sea breeze, but you also run the risk of seeing local men bathing naked in the water nearby. To get here from Moroni, tell a taxi driver you're going to Alliance Française, otherwise they likely won't know where to go. Entrees ranging from 6 EUR to 10 EUR.
  • 4 L'Escale, Rue de la Corniche, Moroni (Across the street from the medical lab), ? +269 343 96 57. Sun-Thurs 11AM-10:30PM, Closed Friday. Classy restaurant featuring more traditional Comorian food and a lot of seafood, as well as sporadic live entertainment. As of spring 2020, bungalows are being constructed on the grounds. 6 EUR - 12 EUR.
  • 5 Wasta, Caltex, Moroni (On Rue Itsambuni, turn onto the side street that intersects directly across from the former airport.), ? +269 358 77 75. 7AM-11PM. The closest thing to fast food you'll find in Comoros, Wasta has cheeseburgers, pizza, burritos, fries, and even birthday cakes. 3 EUR - 10 EUR.
  • 6 MoCafe, Matelec Oasis, Moroni (Up the street from the Alliance Française or down the street from the end of Volovolo, in the same lot as the AB Aviation office and near the Air Madagascar/Air Austral offices.), ? +269 773 22 06. Mon-Sat 7AM-11PM, Sun 7AM-12PM. A stylish little cafe featuring lots of Comorian and French baked goods, as well as sandwiches, tea, sodas, and fresh juice. 2 EUR - 6 EUR for bread or a sandwich.
  • 7 Nassib, Volovolo Market, Moroni (Walking down the street through Volovolo it's about halfway through). 6AM-10PM. A combination cafe and restaurant in the middle of Volovolo, the porch outside is the best place to sit for a tea and traditional bread in the morning or a delicious burger and fries in the afternoon. Other Nassib franchises are located in a few other locations in Moroni. 2 EUR - 8 EUR for a bread or a full meal.
  • 8 Tennis Club, Rue de la Corniche, Moroni, ? +269 436 11 03. Combination restaurant, bar, and actual tennis club. Serves some of the best Western cuisine in Comoros, as well as some of the best wine. Sit down for a nice meal or go to play a game of tennis on their courts.
  • 9 Chez Nini, Sima-Maloudja, Mitsamiouli, Grande Comore (From the RN 1 in Mitsamiouli, follow the dirt path near the beach toward the wedding hall until you reach the restaurant.), ? +269 430 05 15. Tues-Thurs 5PM-10PM, Fri, Sun 11AM-10PM, Sat 11AM-12AM, Closed Monday. A bit hidden from the main road in Mitsamiouli but on the way to the best beach in town, Chez Nini offers seafood, chicken, traditional local vegetable dishes, desserts, and alcohol. They also hold different events and parties for special occasions like the New Year, so keep an eye on their Facebook page around days like that to see if anything exciting is going on. From Tuesday to Thursday only the bar is open and food will not be served. 6 EUR - 12 EUR.

Drink

Alcohol is readily available in Moroni from Indian and Chinese merchants near Volo Volo. Castle beer from South Africa and cheap boxed wine from France are common. Most higher-end restaurants will sell alcohol and there are a couple liquor stores in Moroni; you can always spot a place that openly sells alcohol because they usually have a green Heineken sign outside.

Local water is typically not safe to drink, even at hotels, but bottled water is cheap (1.5 liters for 400KMF usually) and readily available everywhere. Despite the risks associated with the water, locally made juices are very delicious, especially tamarind, ntsongoma (strawberry guava), pineapple, and guava.

Sleep

In a pinch, you can probably find a friendly local who will welcome you into their home for the night. Ask if they prefer you to pay them for food and/or lodging. Sometimes people are welcoming you as an honoured guest and consequently it would be odd to pay.

  • 1 Karthala International Hotel, Mvouni, Grande Comore (On the street connecting the suburban villages of Mkazi and Mvouni, right next to the University of the Comoros), ? +269 763 5212. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. USD60.
  • 2 Golden Tulip Resort (formerly Hotel Itsandra), RN 1, Voidjou, Moroni, ? +269 773 3333. Right on the borders between Moroni and the neighboring villages of Itsandra and Ntsoudjini, Golden Tulip offers luxurious rooms and bungalows, air conditioning, Wifi, a kitchen and bar, and a private beach with a 4 EUR entrance fee. $104 for a double room.
  • 3 Retaj, Avenue Soilihi, Moroni (At the roundabout down the street from the Sawa Prix supermarket, turn right and Retaj is located at the end of the street), ? +269 773 52 78. Probably one of the nicest hotels in Comoros, Retaj is often host to Comorian expats, foreign tourists, and international businessman. Features a gym, access to the ocean, some of the best pizza in Comoros, a free breakfast buffet for guests (6 EUR for non-guests), and ylang ylang-scented shampoo in the rooms. $60 for a double room.
  • 4 Moifaka Hotel, Zilimadjou, Moroni, ? +269 773 15 56, ? hotelmoifaka@yahoo.fr. One of the few "budget" hotels in Comoros located not too far from the Retaj. You definitely wouldn't be staying here for the amenities; simple rooms, air conditioning, Wifi, limited TV, small free breakfast and a kitchen for guests, nice airy enclosed balconies on two floors and a large rooftop with nice views of Karthala. $26 for a double room.
  • 5 Hôtel Les Arcades, Rue de la Corniche, Moroni (Down the street from the end of Volovolo and not far from restaurants on Rue de la Corniche.), ? +269 331 50 51, ? hotel_les_arcades@hotmail.fr. More conveniently located than its fancier counterparts Retaj and Golden Tulip, Les Arcades offers simple rooms with air conditioning, Wifi, free breakfast, a gym, meeting rooms, and a beautiful garden. $40-50 for a double room.
  • 6 Laka Lodge, Nioumachoua, Moheli, ? +269 342 29 60, ? info@lakalodge.com. Probably the nicest hotel on Moheli, Laka Lodge offers gorgeous rooms and bungalows, Wifi, a restaurant, and lots of activities, including snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and manta rays, scuba diving, and the chance to spot some lemurs on the grounds.

Learn

Learning facilities on the islands, like most facilities, are underdeveloped. There are several schools on the island of Grand Comore, and one college. These are all severely lacking in resources and funding.

Work

By some reckoning, this is the third poorest country in the world and workers can expect to earn only about USD1-1.5 a day for basic employment.

Stay safe

Comoros is a really safe country. You will feel safe walking on your own on an empty street late at night, even if you are a woman. Being a Muslim country, it is very unlikely that you will suffer any kind of theft. As pavements and city lights are scarce, take caution if you are walking on the road side, especially on weekend nights.

The political situation can be tense, especially in Anjouan island, where the are clashes between rebel and African Union forces. Some state that a civil war is possible. In October 2018, not long after the celebration of a referendum that reinforced the power of the president, Moutsamoudou suffered a week-long period of strike and revolts that ended with several dead.

Cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April).

Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano.

Most countries' diplomatic presence in Comoros is carried out through embassies located in nearby Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, or South Africa, though a few countries do operate full embassies or other diplomatic offices in the Comoros.

  • Embassy of France, Boulevard de Strasbourg, BP 465, Moroni, ? +269 773 06 15. Mon-Thurs 7:45AM-12:30PM, 2PM-5:30PM, Fri 7:45AM-1:30PM, Closed Sat-Sun..
    • Consulate-General of France in Mutsamudu, Mutsamudu, Anjouan, ? +269 771 40 27.
    • Honorary Consulate of France in Fomboni, Fomboni, Moheli, ? +269 772 01 46, ? nourdine.matoire@yahoo.fr.
  • Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Coulée de Lave No. C109, Moroni, ? +269 773 25 21, ? CHINAEMB_KM@MFA.GOV.CN.
  • Embassy of Libya, Rue de la Corniche, BP 1787, Moroni (Across the street from the presidential palace, Beit-Salam, in the very north of the city. Hard to find as its map locations are outdated.), ? +269 773 29 10.
  • Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Cable De Leon, Moroni, ? +269 773 58 45.
  • Embassy of South Africa, Voidjou, Moroni, ? +269 332 19 97.
  • Embassy of Sudan, Zilimadjou, Moroni, ? +269 773 99 17.
  • Embassy of Tanzania, Oasis, BP 8141, Moroni, ? +269 773 78 59, ? moroni@nje.go.tz.
  • Honorary Consulate of Turkey (T?KA - Moroni Program Coordination Office), Paramboini, Route Beit Salam, BP 2492, Moroni, ? +269 773 25 53, ? moroni@tika.gov.tr.

For foreign visitors who do not hold one of the above nationalities, the following select embassies will provide assistance while you're in Comoros.

  • Embassy of the United States of America in Madagascar, Lot 207 A - Andranoro - Antehiroka, 105 Antananarivo, ? +261 20 23 480 00.
  • British High Commission to Mauritius, 7th floor, Cascades Building, Edith Cavell Street, P.O. box 1063, Port Louis, ? +230 2029400.
  • Australian High Commission to Mauritius, 2nd Floor, Rogers House, 5 President Kennedy Street, Port Louis, ? +230 2020160, ? ahc.portlouis@dfat.gov.au.
  • High Commission of Canada to Tanzania, 38 Mirambo Street / Garden Avenue, Dar es Salaam, ? +255 22 211-2831, ? DSLAMCS@international.gc.ca.
  • Embassy of Brazil in Tanzania, Coco Plaza Office Complex - 2nd Floor - Rooms 201/202 Plot nr. 254, Toure Drive, Msasani Peninsula PO Box 105818 - 14111, Dar es Salaam, ? +255 22 260 2660.
  • Embassy of Japan in Madagascar, Villa Chrysanthème III, Ambohijatovo-Analamahitsy, 101 Antananarivo (B.P.3863), ? +261 20-22-493-57.

Stay healthy

Malaria, including cerebral malaria, is prevalent in the Comoros. Sleep under a permethrin-treated mosquito net and take an anti-malarial. Grand Comore and Anjouan have the best medical infrastructure and you can be tested for malaria in most major towns. If you get a fever, it is wise to get tested, especially if the fever does not respond to paracetamol or does not go away. Moheli has a hospital in Fomboni. The one in Nioumachoua may occasionally be accessible.

Healthy food is not difficult to find. Eat many fruits and vegetables as well as rice. During some time of the year vegetables might be only available in small quantities in Moheli. A healthy and delicious local dish is madaba; pounded and boiled manioc leaves. But madaba takes hours to prepare, so you may not find it in restaurants. If you are fortunate enough to stay or eat with a local family, you might get to try madaba. Vegetarians should be aware that on Grand Comore locals put fish in the madaba, while on Moheli they do not. Women may experience cessation or alteration of their menstrual cycle due to poor nutrition if they stay in the Comoros for several months or longer.

Tap water is drinkable according to the National Tourism Office.

Respect


Although the Comoros is a rather liberal Muslim country, it is disrespectful for women to expose their shoulders, much of their chest, knees, and especially stomach and lower back. Wear shirts or shawls that cover these areas. Locals will not expect foreign, non-Muslim women to cover their heads. When swimming, local women are fully dressed. Foreigners are not expected to do this, but shorts and a swimming shirt is more respectful than a bikini or topless swimming. Men should wear shorts below the knee, though a man wearing shorter shorts is less offensive than a woman doing so. Public affection between men and women is not acceptable, though one may rarely see a Comorian man and woman holding hands briefly (in the nightclubs some locals seem to ignore Muslim convention).

Non-Muslim religious proselytizing is illegal, as is giving Bibles to locals. Locals are very tolerant and friendly towards non-Muslims, but avoid appearing as if you are trying to convert them.

Drinking alcohol in public is disrespectful, though it occurs in nightclubs. Restaurants generally do not serve alcohol unless they cater to foreigners.

To greet an elder, you say "kwesi". The elder says something like "mbona, mkana baraka" to which you respond "salaama".

It is a big mistake to hand out sweets to children on the street. Since locals are unused to tourists, this rarely occurs and they are usually just happy to talk with you, children included. Once tourists begin handing out gifts and money, locals will see Westerners as rich and free with money, destroying many opportunities for a human connection with them. Children will harass tourists for sweets and money. Tourists who do this are showing themselves to be disrespectful of locals, such as by assuming that money/sweets is what they want from tourists and by putting that in between them rather than making an effort to get to know locals, and ignorant of the consequences of their actions.

Since, allegedly, it was discovered that a Western man, resident of Grand Comore for 14 years, had been making pornographic videos and photographs, as well as violating children on the islands, the residents are quite averse to being filmed or photographed. Individual reactions may vary upon being photographed, but taking unauthorised photographs of the locals will, at best, offend an individual and can potentially lead to violent reactions by the subject.

Connect


Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

The security situation has improved following the political crisis of 2008. You should monitor news reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Since April 2012, torrential rains have caused landslides and flash flooding in the eastern and northern regions of Comoros archipelago. Significant infrastructure damage has occurred, leaving some regions inaccessible by road. Other services have been affected, including emergency and medical care, as well as water and food supplies. The Government of the Union of Comoros has declared a state of emergency for the country. If you reside in or intend to travel to the affected areas, exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Crime

Although infrequent, petty crime such as pick-pocketing, purse snatching and theft from unlocked cars occurs. Exercise caution in crowded outdoor markets, parks and beaches. Ensure that personal belongings, passport, and other travel documents are secure at all times. It is not recommended to walk alone at night.

Demonstrations

Political instability, including frequent strikes and civil unrest, has plagued the islands. Police and demonstrators have clashed in the past, and further incidents are possible. Foreigners have not been targeted, but you should exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings. You should contact the High Commission of Canada in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the latest security information.

Piracy

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Road travel

Roads are narrow and poorly lit. Although most urban roads are paved, many rural roads are not. Exercise extreme caution when driving at night. Emergency and roadside assistance is non-existent. In the event of an accident, travellers should proceed to the nearest police station. Taxis and car rentals are available.

Sea travel

It is possible to travel between the islands by boat. You should avoid boats that are in poor condition or overcrowded, as there have been incidents of boats capsizing in the past.

Air travel

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are limited. Telecommunications are unreliable. Water shortages and power cuts occur.

For emergency assistance, dial (269) 77 34 663.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are basic on Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli. Medical supplies and prescription medication are limited and the frequent interruption of electricity and water supplies can affect hospitals.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

It is illegal to be inebriated in public. Convicted offenders are subject to fines and possible imprisonment.

There are strict penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Conservative dress is recommended, particularly for women. Shorts and revealing clothing should not be worn.

An International Driving Permit is required.

Money

The currency is the Comorian franc (KMF). Credit cards are not widely accepted. Banking facilities are minimal, with only one established bank on Grande Comore.

Climate

There are two seasons: the hot and humid season (November to April) with possible cyclones and northeastern monsoons; and the dry season (May to October).

The Comoros are located in an active seismic and volcanic zone. The Karthala Volcano, situated on Grande Comore Island, erupted on January 12, 2007. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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