Mozambique Helpful Travel Information
From the stunning beaches along Mozambique’s coastline to the 2 436m Monte Binga peak, Mozambique is a country of rich heritage which can be experienced through art, music and food.
The country is generally a low-lying plateau broken up by 25 sizeable rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean. The largest is the Zambezi, which provides access to central Africa.
Mozambique gained independence in 1975, from Portuguese colonial rule, after ten years of sporadic warfare. FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) took complete control and by the next year most of the Portuguese population left Mozambique. This however left the country with a rapid declining infrastructure which, but together with an alliance with the Soviet Union, was alleviated though substantial international aid. A further period of civil war was initiated by an organisation called RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance) against FRELIMO. This war ended in 1992, shortly after the direct talks between the two organisations and signing of the Rome General Peace Accords.
Cultural and Language Considerations
The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, although most people understand English in Maputo and other tourism areas. Swahili is useful when you travel further up north towards Tanzania and Nyanja is spoken near the Zambian border.
Mozambican culture is based on patience (paciencia) and most of the locals have this virtue in abundance, so therefore try and return the gesture.
Getting around – transport systems and fuel stations
Most international flights arrive from South Africa, although there are direct international routes from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Portugal.
There is only one train in Mozambique which travels between Nampula and Cuamba (close to the Malawi border).
By car you are able to access Mozambique from all neighbouring countries, keeping in mind that some entrance points you will need a 4×4 vehicle to get through. Suggestion here is to get a GPS route from someone who has recently completed the trip. By bus you are able to enter from any bordering country as well, through various service providers.
Currently there is no scheduled sea travel to and from Mozambique, however, in the monsoon season it may be possible to hire a dhow from Tanzania down to Mozambique and via Lake Malawi and Likoma Island. The Ilala Ferry is a once in a life time experience, so if you get the pportunity, be sure to take it.
Within Mozambique you can travel by road (road generally in poor condition on some stretches), by chapas and busses, taxis, plane and rail.
Currencies and ways to pay
The currency of Mozambique is the new Metical (MZN), divided into 100 centavos. Note however that some businesses in the tourist centres are run by South Africans and prices are often quoted in South African Rand (ZAR).
US Dollars, GB pounds, Euros and South African Rands are freely convertible at commercial rates at any bank or exchange. Other currencies are not freely accepted, even at the banks. Note also that you cannot exchange meticais outside of Mozambique nor can you by the currency outside of Mozambique.
ATMs are present throughout the country and both VISA and Mastercard are accepted. ATMs have transaction limits on withdrawals, which vary from bank to bank, but you can always do a second transaction for more money.
Note as well that change is not freely available, so change the 1000Mzn and 500Mzn to smaller notes.
Health, Safety and Emergency Information
Risks are much the same as many other countries in Africa. Nevertheless crime does occur and thus normal precautions should be taken. Woman specifically should not walk alone on beaches, as in recent years attacks on woman in tourist areas have increased. It is worth checking with your local hostels and other travellers where the dangerous areas may be.
Police in Mozambique is regrettably known for bribery, however NEVER offer a bribe until it is suggested by them directly. Be very careful of going to a police station and keep your embassy’s telephone number or the anti-corruption hotline on hand in case you need them.
With regards to speed limits, there are numerous speed traps, often in areas where you can’t imagine the speed limit has dropped. Keep an eye out for changes in the speed limit and reduce immediately once you see that it has become slower. The police are very effective in stopping motorist who have not reduced their speed quickly enough, or who increased their speed too quickly.
Another noteworthy suggestion is to carry identification with you at ALL times. Therefore carry a notorised copy of your passport photo page, visa and entry stamp with you at all times; and keep the originals in a safe place where you can find it, but not the police.
Embassies and high commissions contacts (www.lonelyplanet.com):
Canada- Tel 21-492623, www.canadainternational.gc.ca/mozambique/index.aspx; 1138 Avenida Kenneth Kuanda
France – Tel 21-484600, www.ambafrance-mz.org; 2361 Avenida Julius Nyerere)
Germany – Tel 21-482700, www.maputo.diplo.de; 506 Rua Damiao de Gois
Ireland – Tel 21-483524/5, 3332 Avenida Julius Nyerere
Malawi – Tel 21-492676, 75 Avenida Kenneth Kuanda
Netherlands – Tel 21-484200, www.hollandinmozambique.org; 324 Avenida Kwame Nkrumah
Portugal – Tel 21-490316, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720 Avenida Julius Nyerere
South Africa – Tel 21-490059, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org; 41 Avenida Eduardo Mondlane
Swaziland – Tel 21-491601, email@example.com, Rua Luis Pasteur (behind Netherlands Embassy)
Tanzania – Tel 21-491051, Avenida Martires de Machava (near the corner of Avenida Eduardo Mondlane)
UK – Tel 21-356000, http://ukinmozambique.fco.gov.uk; 210 Avenida Vladimir Lenine
USA – Tel 21-492797, http://maputo.usembassy.gov; 193 Avenida Kennet Kuanda
Zambia – Tel 21-492452, 1286 Avenida Kenneth Kuanda
Zimbabwe – Tel 21-490404 or 21-486499, 1657 Avenida Martires da Machava
Satellite and Mobile Networks
There are two major mobile service providers in Mozambique and 3G is available in most major cities. Internet connection is also widely available in Mozambique, with many internet cafes and all major hotels having access.
Border and Entry Requirements
All visitors (except citizens from bordering countries) require a visa, which can be obtained upon arrival at some airports, at some land borders and at Mozambican (and some British) embassies / high commissions / consulates. Visas on entry can be purchased in Meticais and US dollars, and in some places South African Rand is accepted.
A tourist visa is valid for 90 days after issue and permits a 30 day stay. This can be extended by a further 30 days at immigration offices in provincial capitals, but given the risk of passport theft, it is much safer to exit via a land border and re-enter to obtain a new visa. There is a fine of approximately 100 US Dollars for overstaying a visa.
Mozambique’s weather usually averages between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius along the coast and during the rainy season you can expect temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius. The best time to go to Mozambique is from May/June to November, although any time during the year is still a great trip!
As mentioned under the Health, Safety and Emergency information your passport should be kept safe outside of the hands of the police and other types of criminals.
The possession of recreational drugs is illegal in Mozambique, as with most other countries. However, marijuana (dagga) and other drugs are readily available in several places along the coast. If you are caught, penalties (or bribes) can be very stiff, so be warned.
Obey your traffic rules and do some research as to what Mozambican police can fine you for, before you get into trouble.