|Grand Comore (Ngazidja)|
The largest of the islands, holds the Comorian capital (Moroni) and the highest peak (active volcano Karthala).
The smallest and most natural, with the best beaches and unique wildlife, like sea turtles or the huge Livingstone's fruit bat.
The most mountainous, also known as Isle of Perfumes due to the number of aromatic plants, such as vanilla and ylang-ylang.
All of the islands have many beautiful beach destinations, being Moheli the one that offers the best nature and water sports opportunities.
|Currency||Comorian franc (KMF)|
|Population||902.3 thousand (2022)|
|Electricity||220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Type E)|
|Time zone||UTC+03:00, Indian/Comoro|
|Emergencies||17 (police), 18 (emergency medical services), +269-772-03-73 (fire department)|
|edit on Wikidata|
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.
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.
Volcanic islands whose interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills, with the highest point, Le Karthala (on Grand Comore), at 2,361 m.
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. After the 15th century up to the 18th century the Comoros, specifically Anjouan, were a common stopping point for European merchants and voyagers traveling towards the Indian Ocean.
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.
The official languages are French and Arabic. Most Comorians speak their own language known as Shikomori (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:
- 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)
- 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)
Everyone requires a visa to visit to the Comoros, which is issued on arrival. A normal visa costs 15 000 KMF (around 30€). Children under 10 are free. It can be paid in Comorian francs (KMF), US dollars, British pounds or Euros. A visa lasts 45 days, and can be extended, but only with a compelling reason (i.e. the authorities won't accept "I want to stay longer" as a reason).
As of April 2022, Comoros visa is issued on arrival at Moroni airport. Have the exact amount in cash, because change might not be given. There is a ATM just outside the airport terminal. Although it did not work in April 2022, so bring Euro or USD when entering the country. The immigration paperwork asks that you list a place of residence for your stay in the Comoros, but it is not checked. After immigration, Customs officials may search your luggage.
- Kenya Airways flies direct from Nairobi, thrice a week, connecting with London, Dubai, Mumbai and Paris flights
- Ethiopian Airlines flies direct daily from Addis Ababa via Dar es Salaam, connecting with over 100 international destinations
- 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
- Air Madagascar and Madagasikara Airways both fly from Antananarivo and Majunga in Madagascar
- Air Tanzania flies from Dar es Salaam
- Ewa air flies from Mayotte
- Turkish airlines has a seasonal route from Istanbul
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.
Int'Air Îles flies between Moroni, Anjouan, and Moheli daily. In Moroni their office is near the Volo Volo Market.
It's possible to rent cars on Grand Comore for approximately CF15,000 to CF25,000 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 per litre in Grand Comore, the price in Moheli (where petrol is scarce) can rise up to CF1000 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 transportEdit
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.
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 as of 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.
- 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 litre bottle of this mixture costs CF5000) 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. Bring footwear as the volcanic rocks get very hot in the sun.
- 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, modern 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.
- Treks such as the Karthala volcano crater (8 hours one way). Guides available for €100. This is possible to do as a one long day hike for €60 or overnight at a basecamp (a group of tin sheds)
- 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 CF10,000.
- 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. It 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.
Exchange rates for Comorian franc
As of January 2022:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
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, however travellers report they are often broken and cannot be relied on. Banks may charge about 10% of withdrawal amount as transaction fees. Therefore it's more cost efficient to bring Euros cash. Other hard currency might be exchanged at a bureau de change.
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.
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 CF250 (€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.
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 CF100 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 CF25 to 100.
Nice, European-style restaurants exist in the capital and larger villages on all of the islands.
- 1 Le Coraya, Bandamadji, Itsandra, Grande Comore, ☏ . M-Th 08:00-23:30, F Sa 08:00-01:00, Su 09:00-23:45. It is 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. €6-20 for a main.
- 2 Le Coraya Express, Boulevard de la République Populaire de China, Moroni (across the street from the Sawa Prix supermarket and the École Française Henri Matisse, a few blocks down from the French Embassy), ☏ . 10:30-22:00. 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. €4-9.
- 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), ☏ . 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. Mains €6-10.
- 4 L'Escale, Rue de la Corniche, Moroni (across the street from the medical lab), ☏ . Su-Th 11:00-22:30, 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. €6-12.
- 5 Wasta, Caltex, Moroni (on Rue Itsambuni, turn onto the side street that intersects directly across from the former airport), ☏ . 07:00-23:00. The closest thing to fast food you'll find in Comoros, Wasta has cheeseburgers, pizza, burritos, fries, and even birthday cakes. €3-10.
- 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), ☏ . M-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su 07:00-12:00. A stylish little cafe featuring lots of Comorian and French baked goods, as well as sandwiches, tea, sodas, and fresh juice. €2-6 for bread or a sandwich.
- 7 Nassib, Volovolo Market, Moroni (walking down the street through Volovolo it's about halfway through). 06:00-22:00. 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. €2-8 for a bread or a full meal.
- 8 Tennis Club, Rue de la Corniche, Moroni, ☏ . 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.), ☏ . Tu-Th 17:00-22:00, F Su 11:00-22:00, Sa 11:00-00:00, 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. €6-12.
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 of liquor stores in Moroni; you can find places to buy alcohol because they usually have a green Heineken sign outside.
Tap water is not safe to drink, and bottled water is cheap (1.5 liters for CF400) 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.
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), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. USD60.
- 2 Golden Tulip Resort (formerly Hotel Itsandra), RN 1, Voidjou, Moroni, ☏ . On the borders between Moroni and the neighbouring 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 Eentrance fee. US$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), ☏ . 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. US$60 for a double room.
- 4 Moifaka Hotel, Zilimadjou, Moroni, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the few "budget" hotels in Comoros located not too far from the Retaj. You definitely won'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. US$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.), ☏ , email@example.com. 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. US$40-50 for a double room.
- 6 Laka Lodge, Nioumachoua, Moheli, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Probably the nicest hotel on Moheli, Laka Lodge offers gorgeous rooms and bungalows, Wifi, a restaurant and lots of activities, including snorkelling, swimming with dolphins and manta rays, scuba diving and the chance to spot some lemurs in the grounds.
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.
By some reckoning, this is the third poorest country in the world and workers can expect to earn only about US$1-1.5 a day for basic employment.
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, ☏ . M-Th 07:45-12:30, 14:00-17:30, F 07:45-13:30, Closed Sa Su.
- Consulate-General of France in Mutsamudu, Mutsamudu, Anjouan, ☏ .
- Honorary Consulate of France in Fomboni, Fomboni, Moheli, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Coulée de Lave No. C109, Moroni, ☏ , 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), ☏ .
- Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Cable De Leon, Moroni, ☏ .
- Embassy of South Africa, Voidjou, Moroni, ☏ .
- Embassy of Sudan, Zilimadjou, Moroni, ☏ .
- Embassy of Tanzania, Oasis, BP 8141, Moroni, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Honorary Consulate of Turkey (TİKA - Moroni Program Coordination Office), Paramboini, Route Beit Salam, BP 2492, Moroni, ☏ , email@example.com.
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, ☏ .
- British High Commission to Mauritius, 7th floor, Cascades Building, Edith Cavell Street, P.O. box 1063, Port Louis, ☏ .
- Australian High Commission to Mauritius, 2nd Floor, Rogers House, 5 President Kennedy Street, Port Louis, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- High Commission of Canada to Tanzania, 38 Mirambo Street / Garden Avenue, Dar es Salaam, ☏ , 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, ☏ .
- Embassy of Japan in Madagascar, Villa Chrysanthème III, Ambohijatovo-Analamahitsy, 101 Antananarivo (B.P.3863), ☏ .
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, however the CDC states that it is not drinkable.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Comoros during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
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 do not attempt 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.