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Pristine white beaches that almost blind the eye, warm blue seas, gently swaying palms, excellent seafood, old colonial architecture and a relaxed, friendly culture is what beckons travellers to Mozambique.
Mozambique is an African country spanning the Tropic of Capricorn and situated in the south west corner of the continent. The country’s eastern coastline lies along the warm Indian Ocean and the strip of sea separating Mozambique with the island of Madagascar is known as the Mozambique Channel. Also bordering Mozambique is Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa.
The country’s currency is the Mozambique Metical (MZN), its value roughly one third of the South African Rand.
Mozambique’s official language is Portuguese due to its colonial legacy, however, English is spoken at most hotels and resorts.
The climate is tropical, averaging 28° in summer with high humidity. The rainy season occurs during summer and the dryer winter months remain pleasantly warm.
Experience peaceful everyday life in one of the many typical Mozambican coastal towns where the men alight from their dhows and mend their nets, the women trade and keep house and the children run free on the arresting beaches.
Things to do
Immerse yourself in paradise by snorkeling Inhaca Island’s wrecks and coral reefs to appreciate the endless and colourful shoals of fish. The island’s protected forest is also worth a visit. Accessible by ferry from Maputo.
Ibo Island is a great stopover to visit the mangrove forests, wander through the crumbling – but still beautiful – colonial buildings and to buy hand-crafted filigree silver jewellery.
The peaceful Ponta do Ouro (Place of Gold), accessible only by 4x4 vehicle, is a kitesurfing and diving hotspot.
Travel to Vilanculos and the 4 exquisite islands that make up the Bazaruto Archipelago; the 33km wide Bazaruto main island with lighthouse, the 8km wide Benguerra and two uninhabited islands – Santa Isobel and Santa Carolina.
The Maputo Elephant Reserve is part of a trans-frontier park shared with Swaziland and South Africa. During the civil war many elephants were slaughtered, however, the population is slowly recovering.
Tofu is a top spot for surfing beyond the reefs. Best time to visit is in the autumn months.
Get off the beaten track and avoid the crowds by travelling north to the Niassa Reserve. This park borders Tanzania and has a healthy population of the endangered African wild dog. This is a truly remote and wild area, expect to see all manner of game in their natural surroundings.
If history and architecture are your passions, visit the Island of Mozambique, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was once a major trading post with Asia and Europe. Here you have the opportunity to walk the old stone town and visit southern Africa’s oldest European built structure, the 1552 dated Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, the imposing fort nearby and the Palace of São Paulo.
For an unforgettable diving experience, hire scuba gear along one of the many coastal towns flecked with coral reefs, to swim with dolphins, manta rays, the whale shark and dugong.
Most coastal resorts offer water sports, some offer diving lessons, and from coastal villages there is the opportunity to accompany a local fishing crew on a dhow trip between islands.
Where to Eat
What will a trip to Mozambique be without tasting their delicious prawns? There are many other options though:
Visit the refurbished colonial 5-star Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo for a meal at their ritzy Delagoa Restaurant. Classis French menu in lavish surroundings.
The Filini Bar & Restaurant at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Maputo is a stylish Italian restaurant offering a great selection of traditional meals served on the patio.
The What You Want Italian restaurant in Tofu has regular live Blues bands for you to enjoy over the interesting Mediterranean meals on offer.
Prawns must be on your agenda when you visit Kuvuka Café in Vilanculos. Positioned right alongside the beach, whatever seafood dish you select is sure to be delectable. Enjoy a side dish of matapa (ground peanuts and cassava leaves in garlic and coconut milk).
Clube Naval Pemba at the Avani Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa offers exceptional food overlooking the pool and blue sea beyond. Lively, fun evening entertainment is arranged.
Clube Nautico Restaurant in Beira is a busy beachfront venue with live entertainment and tasty burgers, light meals and pizzas on the menu.
Why not pick up a prego roll – a steak smothered in peri-peri hot sauce on a pão (Portuguese bread roll) – from Maputo’s central market, accompanied by locally grown fresh pineapple, oranges and cashew nuts for a meal on the go. End the meal with a Laurentina or 2M beer.
Mozambicans love to party. If you’re in the Vilankulo area, join the locals at Beach Bums Tapas Bar & Restaurant for a festive and fun-filled evening.
Mozambeat Motel in Tofu hosts movie nights every Wednesday in their moonlight cinema and themed parties and DJs over the weekends.
Dress up to enjoy an exceptional bottle of wine or a fine malt at the Polana Bar in Maputo.
Complexo Monte Verde in Beira is a late night dance club with guest DJs from other countries.
Another club to visit in Beira is Mapiko Lounge Bar, various live bands and local DJs will get you into a dancing mood.
There are several bars and nightclubs in Maputo’s Fere de Populare neighbourhood.
Where to Stay
Luxurious and well-appointed hotels, villas, lodges, tented camps, chalets and spas are available along the entire coast (some inland) of Mozambique; the accommodation choices are plentiful.
Air The country has two main airports, Beira International in central Mozambique and Maputo International in the south. Direct flights are possible from Johannesburg to Vilanculos and Pemba in the far north.
Car Rental There are car rental agencies at the main airports to hire a vehicle.
Taxis The Mozambican-equivalent of a common taxi is called a Chapa. The Chapa is a [generally battered] minibus that has no set route and a driver willing to take you anywhere as quickly as possible. Purchase your refreshments out the window from roadside traders.
Train There is a fairly extensive passenger train network throughout Mozambique, however, some routes may have been decommissioned. Check with the local rail authority.
Did you know?
The Cahora Bassa Lake in Mozambique is the 4th largest artificial lake in Africa. It is believed that a breeding colony of the aggressive Zambezi (Bull) sharks were trapped in the dam during its construction. Villagers have over the years reported attacks but nothing has been substantiated.
Mozambique is a less economically developed country (LEDC) and tourism plays a vital role in the economy. Following a lengthy 15 year civil war, the country is slowly improving its economy with a stable government currently in power.
The country is in a malaria-active region, take the necessary preventative measures before visiting.
Only South African and Malawian citizens are exempt from visas, all other countries must obtain a visa to travel in Mozambique.
Mozambique was named after an Arabian sultan, Muça Alebique. Who he was and why the country was given the name remains a mystery.