A famous island nobody knows

A famous island nobody knows
Comoros national flag.
PHOTO: Pixabay

From the sea - when all we could see of Anjouan were its green peaks and the indistinct structures of the city of Mutsamudu - we could smell the cloves. "It smells like Christmas," my daughter Maia said.

Located off the east coast of Africa, between Mozambique and Madagascar, Anjouan is one of the three main islands that make up the country of Comoros (the others are Grande Comoros and Moheli). A former French colony, Comoros is perfect for tourism - with picture-postcard beaches, dramatic volcanic peaks and an abundant marine park. But in the three decades following the country's 1975 split from France, it suffered through some 20 coups and secession attempts, rendering it inhospitable and virtually unknown to travellers.

A friend on our around-the-world sailing voyage had suggested we visit after reading a few scant details about the archipelago's rich agriculture, historical cities and unique solution to its political strife (the presidency now rotates through the three islands). So we sailed there, almost on a whim, making landfall in a country we'd only just heard of.

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