We’re currently six months into our overland journey across Africa! Yes, we have purchased a Land Cruiser to drive across the continent. Here is a refresher in case you missed it.
We wanted to share our visit to Mozambique with readers, as it not only has become one of our favorite spots in Africa but also anywhere in the world!
Mozambique may not have conjured up many images in my head before traveling to the country, but now I see miles of beautiful beaches, palm trees, smiling faces, hammocks, and beautiful colors.
I hear ocean waves, throbbing music, the sea breeze, and laughter. I feel sun-kissed days and the sand between my toes. I taste fresh coconut water and peri peri prawns.
It’s hard to set a timeframe on the beaches when you visit Mozambique that would be sufficient. It is a destination that leaves you planning your return before you even cross the border. Traveling through Mozambique left us wondering why tourism was not bustling.
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has its flaws such as a lack of infrastructure, police corruption, and the safety concerns associated with a developing nation.
However, with an open mind and bit of common sense, traveling through Mozambique is sure to be a highlight of many travelers’ lives. Why do I say that? Because we loved traveling through Mozambique, and I’m sure you will too!
7 Reasons to Visit Mozambique
1. The unforgettable journey
Paris may be for lovers, but Mozambique is for travelers. It is a country that requires determination to travel through. However, the reward far outweighs any hassle that it may require.
No the public transport is not great and yes the traffic police are known to arbitrarily pass out traffic “fines,” for made up reasons.
Looking for reliable information about travel to Mozambique? Good luck. Once you turn off the one paved “highway” in Mozambique, the road network turns to sand. We took a small 4×2 bakkie through the country and it made for an interesting experience. We fought hard to not get bogged down in the sandy roads.
Issues like these may test your patience and determination, but it really just adds to the charm of the country. Life’s an adventure, right?
When you visit Mozambique, you won’t find mass crowds or over developed tourist spots.
People that come to Mozambique come for the journey.
2. The fresh seafood
Africa may have the wildlife and landscapes, but when it comes to food many countries staples are pretty bland. In Mozambique, that is not the case.
The Portuguese and Malay influence combined with fresh seafood have made some of the tastiest seafood dishes in the world. Even the most basic dishes are vibrant and flavorful.
Every day we added to our waistline gorging on lobsters, spicy crab, and endless amounts of prawns. The local and most famous staple is matapa, a delicious blend of coconut and cassava leaves.
3. The secluded beaches
You know when you’re at the beach and someone sets their towel right next to yours? Well, you will not find any of that when you visit Mozambique.
In fact, you may not ever see another person on some of the beaches here.
The beaches in Mozambique are stunning and secluded. Beaches stretch on for miles and are absolutely untouched.
Sitting on the coast here makes you feel small and is the perfect place to unwind away from it all. These untouched coastlines make for some of the best diving, snorkeling, and marine life watching in the world.
4. The night sky
With urbanization increasing at a rapid pace around the world it seems many of us forget to look up. I could only see a handful of stars when we lived in New York – on a good night.
Looking up in Mozambique will light up your eyes with wonder. Anywhere outside of the capital city, Maputo, millions of stars dot the sky.
5. The marine wildlife
The 21-year civil war in Mozambique killed off much of the countries wildlife. Sadly, what’s left now are only a handful of the majestic African elephants and perhaps some lions scattered around the national parks.
What Mozambique lacks in land animals it flourishes with marine wildlife.
Asides from the few Chinese fish trawlers patrolling the waters here there isn’t much in the form of commercial fishing leaving incredible marine life.
Tofo is arguably one of the greatest places on earth to see mega fauna marine life. We had one of the best days of our lives swimming with whale sharks, giant manta rays, and a hammerhead shark.
There is also the sandy archipelago of Bazaruto that is home to dugongs, hundreds of species of fish, starfish, and flamingos.
6. The Mozambican smiles
We have many instances of hospitality in Africa, but none stand out as much as those from Mozambique. There aren’t many bad vibes going on between the locals and tourists, especially in the south!
Now when you visit Mozambique the vibe is much more laid back. The hospitality, smiles, and interest the local villagers displayed makes for a remarkable experience in the country.
This is Africa.
Things in Mozambique do not run smoothly like they do in the west. Life here is a struggle. After the Portuguese left Mozambique, the country descended into a brutal civil war.
In fact, the war hasn’t left the county today and caution should still be taken in some areas (particularly the middle of the country). Despite all of this, Mozambicans are wonderful and it is a unique country to travel through.
It’s all about the character of a destination and Mozambique has the perfect amount of it.
12 Things to know before you visit Mozambique
1. Getting around Mozambique
The best way to travel through Mozambique is by car. There is one main road in Southern Mozambique, called the EN1 and it will take visitors from north to south.
Generally the more north in Mozambique you go the more potholes you will encounter. The road is tarred and in pretty good condition the whole way.
Night driving in Mozambique is strongly discouraged as people are scattered everywhere along the roads, cars drive without headlights, and animals are abundant at night.
The two other options are to take an overland tour or to hop on a “chapa” to get around the country. The chapas are short buses that stick to the main roads and are the locals’ way of getting around. Chapas will definitely be the cheapest and most interesting option but expect comfort to be minimal as you’re squeezed into a packed van.
2. Major tourist hubs in Mozambique
Major tourist hubs are Maputo, Tofo, and Vilanculos. There are plenty of backpackers and guesthouses to stay at here and plenty of activities.
Maputo is the impressive African capital that is great for partying, but not much other than that.
Tofo Beach is just past Inhambane and is a backpacker’s beach haven with plenty of surfing, diving, and beach bars.
Vilanculos is the jumping off point for the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago and is one of the only places in the world where visitors can see dugongs!
3. Currency used in Mozambique
The currency in Mozambique is the metical, but US dollars are also widely accepted. Carrying US dollars or South African Rand is advisable due to the plummeting metical.
Cash can be obtained at ATM’s in large towns, but those are few and far between. Cash shortages are frequent in the country so traveling with emergency cash is recommended.
4. Cost of travel in Mozambique
Mozambique isn’t a budget destination in Africa. However, we did manage to get around for relatively cheap. Camping starts at 700 METS but luxury accommodation can get as high as $1000/night.
Local and delicious seafood starts at 300 Mets and beers are cheap as well at 50 Mets for a 2M.
5. Getting Visas for Mozambique
Getting into Mozambique is trickier than many other African nations. All foreigners require a visa to visit Mozambique, which can be obtained before you leave your home country, as well as in Johannesburg, Mbabane, Lilongwe, and Dar Es Salaam.
One can also be obtained from the Swaziland border post on arrival. Visa fees vary according to how nice your customs officer is (This is Africa).
We paid $65 each for a 30-day visa. I would not recommend fighting with customs about the price of the visa as you are at their mercy. We met many other travelers that paid different prices for their visas, budget between $50-$80 for one.
6. Border crossings
Mozambican officials may want to see proof of accommodation in the country, so carry some printed reservations to avoid hang ups at customs.
For those driving in on a rental vehicle, a cross-border letter stating that you are allowed to drive the vehicle in the country is required. All vehicles must obtain third party Mozambican vehicle insurance that is available at the border for $220 ZAR.
Drivers are also required by Mozambican law to have two traffic triangles and a safety vest in case of an emergency. You may be asked to produce these at any of the numerous police checkpoints throughout the country. Failure to have these opens the door to a fine or having to pay a bribe.
7. Phones and SIM cards in Mozambique
Vodacom is the major cell phone network in the country. SIM cards are available at any Vodacom shop and you must register one with your passport.
Travelers are not advised to register with a roadside vendor due to the registration, but buying recharge vouchers are okay. The price of data/calls is incredibly affordable at 100 Metical per 1 GB for a 3G connection.
Be aware that when you visit Mozambique you are in a malaria zone. Cover yourself up and night with long sleeved clothes and always wear insect repellant during the rainy season.
If you happen to get Malaria don’t panic! Malaria medication can be obtained at any pharmacy in the country for just 300-500 Mets.
(Don’t forget your travel insurance – here are some tips on finding a good one)
9. Language in Mozambique
Outside of the rural villages, most Mozambicans speak Portuguese. Familiarizing yourself with at least some basic words will go a long way. However, we got by with English.
In recent years police corruption has died down. With tourism decreasing and stricter regulations, police are backing down on harassing tourists for bribes.
If you end up getting pulled over remember to stay calm and polite with the police. No authorities respond back well with aggressive tones. Always, ask for a receipt and remain patient. Time is money and if you’re patient and calm you can often
Always, ask for a receipt and remain patient. Time is money and if you’re patient and calm you can often wait your way out of a bribe anywhere in the world.
11. Travel resources for Mozambique
As mentioned, reliable information regarding travel in Mozambique is hard to come by. The best source of up to date news and travel warnings that we found was in the MOZ INFO Facebook group.
It’s a die-hard group of Mozambican locals, tourists, and expats who all love Mozambique.
Bring a Camera and plan to stop and takes lots of photos! The beaches, the old Portuguese buildings, the friendly people and everything in between will captivate you!
Plan Your Trip to Mozambique
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has over 180 properties in Mozambique including hotels and guesthouses. You get free cancelation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).