Pebane Airfield Project

Pebane Airfield Project

Bringing aid to a remote area

“Pebane District is a district of Zambezia Province in Mozambique.” That is about the sum total of information available on Wikipedia, or anywhere else on the internet, for that matter, regarding Pebane. You might find a couple tide- and weather charts and one fishing video. That is how remote Pebane is. Sounds idylic, doesn’t it!

For a secluded holiday it sure is, but to manage conservation projects it is a bit of a nightmare. Pebane village, like most other villages and cities in Mozambique has its roots in Portuguese influence but the Portuguese left this area a long time ago and all that remains is a couple beautiful, though weather worn, buildings and at some point (and here we are not too sure as there is little information available) an airfield was built.

Pebane is central to Fire Island’s conservation efforts as it is the closest land base to Ilha do Fogo (Fire Island) where a small number of sea turtle still nests and a myriad of sea creatures survive on the reefs surrounding the island. This island is one of the string of Primeira & Segundo Archipelago islands and due to it’s remoteness, is not monitored or protected from poachers, long liners and various others plundering the surrounding ocean of it’s natural inhabitants.

Getting to Pebane is quite a trek! Quickest route, without the use of the local airfield, is getting a commercial flight from the capital city of Maputo to Quelimane. From there one would try and get a rental car, 4X4, of course, which is no easy feat in itself, and then start the arduous journey by road. It is only 354 kilometers from Quelimane to Pebane but due to the state of the (mostly) dirt roads it can take anything from 6 hours. That is, if the weather is sunny and you don’t have to drive through thick mud while dodging other vehicles and trucks stuck in the road.

Pebane’s disused airfield has fallen to ruin due to lack of funding and no commercial activity in the area. To ensure the progress of Fire Island Conservation’s projects, a useable airfield is crucial. Fire Island Conservation gained the permissions of local government and Quelimane Civil Aviation and has already started with a self-funded project to improve the Pebane Airfield.
The runway, which was used by locals to plant ‘cassava’, was cleared, markers were built to Civil Avition Authority’s specification and the first flight recently landed at the airfield.
A group of VIP’s from the US, accompanied by Chef Francois Ferreira of the Francois Ferreira cullinary academy in South Africa, came for a visit to the lodge and to visit some of it’s projects.
The whole community came out to witness the event and there was a great festive atmosphere.
More funding is needed to improve the airport building and make further improvements to the landing strip.

A short drive from the Pebane Airfield is Pebane Beach Lodge, which is the local home-base for the conservation projects in the area. The lodge is a favourite destination for adventurous travellers and they offer some of the best big game fishing in Mozambique. Island exursions can also be arranged – Fire Island has some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving sites with over 150 kilometeres of almost uncharted reef in the archipelago.
The lodge offers up-market accommodation in their private bungalos and for the more descerning traveller Fire Tree Lodge, adjoining Pebane Beach Lodge, can be booked in it’s intirety with a private chef ensuring that guests don’t only experience the best of what Mozambique has to offer, but also enjoy a cullinary experience.
The lodges in Pebane are not only to share the untamed beauty of Africa with travellers, but it is crucial in generating funds for the conservation projects.

Read more about the other projects on Fire Island’s conservation website at www.fireislandconservation.com and see how you can get involved – or come experience it for yourself!

Contact +27 82 921 2539 or jan@ilseoffire.com for more information or to bookings.