Mozambique is a magical tropical destination on the east coast of Africa waiting to be discovered. It’s a place of sun, surf and stunning people. It’s not a wealthy country but it’s rich in natural resources and cultural heritage. The people are warm and friendly, the beaches are idyllic and it’s a safe holiday destination if you keep on the popular tourist track.
The beauty of Mozambique is it’s highly affordable, especially for international travellers with US Dollars or Euros to burn. Even for South African holidaymakers, Mozambique is affordable and you can have a brilliant holiday at the fraction of the cost of one in South Africa.
Officially known as the Republic of Mozambique but Moz to the locals, the country lies on the south-east coast of Africa. The vast Indian Ocean flanks Mozambique on the east; Tanzania lies to the north and Malawi and Zambia to the northwest; Zimbabwe to the West; and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest.
The capital of Mozambique is the vibrant city of Maputo, formerly known as Lourenço Marques” (1876 to 1976). Matola is a suburb of Maputo and the largest residential and industrial settlement in the country.
Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for decades and its Portuguese roots still run deep; from the language spoken to food, music and religion. There’s a unique Afro-Portuguese fusion of cultures which gives Mozambique its distinctive colourful character.
The country has suffered extreme hardships from protracted civil war but since 1994, Mozambique has enjoyed peace and political stability. The impoverished country is slowly turning its embattled economy around and it’s benefitted from substantial capital investment since it gained its independence. However, it’s still one of the poorest and least developed countries on the continent.
Tourism is important for Mozambique and in many remote areas, the only opportunity for work for local people. The country’s economy is based largely on agriculture but industry sectors are growing; such food and beverages production, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum production.
When you go on holiday to Mozambique you’re putting money into the pockets of local people; whether it’s tipping a waiter in a restaurant, buying bangles from a beach vendor or fruit from a street seller. It’s wonderful to see the open smiles of people who’re happy for the sales.
Manage your expectations of Moz; it’s a third-world country with crumbling infrastructure and impoverished village municipalities. But it’s a warm-hearted country that has so much to offer. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover tropical gems embedded in the colourful fabric of this magical country.
FAST FACTS ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE
The vast country on the south-east coast of Africa was named Moçambique by the Portuguese after the Island of Mozambique. It’s derived from Mussa Bin Bique or Mossa Al Bique which was the name of a prominent Arab trader.
The Island of Mozambique was the capital of the Portuguese colony until 1898 until Lourenço Marques on the mainland became the capital city of Mozambique. Lourenço Marques is now Maputo.
The Island of Mozambique lies off northern Mozambique, between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay. It falls within the Nampula Province. The former colonial outpost was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a popular tourist attraction in Mozambique.
At the eastern tip of the Island of Mozambique you’ll find the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte in a remote and isolated corner of the island. It was built in 1522 by the Portuguese and is believed to be the oldest European building in southern Africa. It’s also one of the finest examples you’ll find of Manueline-vaulted architecture on the African continent.
Mozambique has four country neighbours; Swaziland to the South, South Africa to the southeast, Zimbabwe to the west; and Zambia and Malawi to the north-east. Tanzania lies to the north of Mozambique and the Indian Ocean to the east.
The country is divided into two distinct regions by the mighty Zambezi River. North of the Zambezi River, a narrow coastal strip gives way to undulating hills and low plateaus. Rugged highlands further north of the Zambezi River include the ancient Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau.
To the south of the Zambezi River, Mozambique is characterised by broad flat plains with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebombo Mountains located in the deep south.
The country has four notable lakes: Lake Niassa (or Malawi), Lake Chiuta, Lake Cahora Bassa and Lake Shirwa, all in the north.
The major cities of Mozambique are Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Tete, Quelimane, Chimoio, Pemba, Inhambane, Xai-Xai and Lichinga.
Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for four centuries from 1505. It gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Political infighting led to civil war and only in the past decade has Mozambique enjoyed peace and political stability.
The official language spoken in Mozambique is Portuguese, although there are many Bantu dialects spoken in the rural areas.
According to 2017 figures, the population of Mozambique was estimated to be 29 million inhabitants.
Mozambique has a fascinating national flag with a few iconic emblems. The star stands for Marxism; the book stands for the importance of education; the hoe stands for the value of the country’s agriculture; and the rifle stands for defiance and vigilance.
Monte Binga is the highest mountain in Mozambique and the second highest mountain in Zimbabwe; standing some 2 440 metres above sea level. It lies on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the Chimanimani Transfrontier Park in the province of Manica.
Mozambique has 2 470 kilometers of idyllic sub-tropical coastline. The country is renowned for its incredible coastal scenery, expansive powder-white beaches and incredibly rich marine fauna and flora. The rich coral reefs that lie off the east coast of the country untouched and unspoilt and are regarded as some of the best dive sites in the world.
Mozambique has 6 national parks as well as a network of protected wilderness areas. Some 22% of the national territory is proclaimed a protected region.
Gorongosa National Park is located at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley and stretches into Mozambique. The 1980s civil war in Mozambique almost eliminated populations of lions, elephant, buffalo and hippos in what was once a world-renowned safari destination. Major conservation initiatives and extensive translocation and breeding projects will hopefully restore the beautiful wilderness to its former glory.
Lake Niassa (known as Lake Malawi in Tanzania and Malawi) is an African Great Lake. It stretches deep into Mozambique along its north-west border. Lake Malawi is the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa and is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world.
The portion of Lake Malawi – known as Lake Niassa in Mozambique – that stretches into Mozambique was officially declared a protected nature reserve in 2011.
Mozambique is not a wealthy country and is still battling to turn its economy around after decades of civil war. It’s one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries despite the fact that it has received an injection of investment capital in recent years.
A large natural gas reserve was discovered in 2012 off the coast of Mozambique. Revenue from this valuable energy resource will have a dramatic impact on the country’s economy.
The population of Mozambique is very young; over 50% is under the age of 15 years.
Mozambique is the ultimate scuba diving destinations. It has some of the best coral reefs in the world, particularly those found within the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1 200 species of fish have been identified in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Mozambique which makes it one of the largest and most valuable marine reserves in the world.
TOP 10 REASONS TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE
What to see and do in Mozambique? The choice is endless?
For family holidaymakers, it’s all about gorgeous sunny days on the beach and swimming in the sea. For intrepid travellers, it’s exploring far-flung destinations and discovering hidden gems. For international tourists, it’s an incredible insight into a foreign land where people are warm and welcoming despite their obvious hardships and struggles.
There are a number of standout reasons to pick this country for an outstanding holiday. This list is just scratching the surface of what to see and do in Mozambique.
Beaches in Mozambique
The beaches of Mozambique are breathtakingly beautiful. They stretch for miles and most are wild and untouched. Apart from beaches located close to the city of Maputo; the rest are remote and isolated and completely idyllic.
The waves crashing onto the beaches further south are large and exciting, but they flatten out the further north you go until they resemble typical paradise island beaches.
Accommodation along the coast of Mozambique ranges for 5-star hotels and luxury beach resorts to rustic self-catering chalets and camping facilities. There’s a place in Mozambique for every budget; whether you’re backpacking on the smell of an oil rag or treating yourself to an extravagant beach holiday.
Experience the thrill of cantering along an endless stretch of powder-white beach on a horse. A number of places to stay in Mozambique can link guests up with a nearby stable that has wonderful well-schooled and calm horses suitable for novice and experienced riders.
Deep sea fishing in Mozambique
When the fish are biting off the coast of Mozambique, the fishermen and big boats arrive in force. Deep-sea fishing along the Mozambique coastline is outstanding and you can expect to catch anything from a beautiful black, blue and striped marlin to giant kingfish, couta, king mackerel and barracuda.
The Bazaruto Archipelago is regarded as one of the best places in the world to fish for black marlin. Other fishing hotspots include Inhaca, Nacala, Pemba, Ponto do Ouro, the Quirimbas Islands and Xai Xai.
And you don’t need a big boat to enjoy a great fishing trip in Mozambique. Fishing off the beaches is excellent. Rock and surf fish include kingfish, couta, king mackerel, springer and big garfish. Other catches include, barracuda, bludger, dorado, green jobfish, kawakawa, prodigal son, rainbow runner, skipjack and yellowfin tuna and wahoo.
And the next big thing is fly-fishing in Mozambique. Keen fly-fishing-men are catching queenfish, ladyfish, bonefish, pompano and several species of kingfish on fly-fishing rods.
Most popular beach resorts in Mozambique offer deep-sea fishing charters. The fishing charter companies in Moz have excellent reputations for safety and their boats are fully-equipped with navigational and fish finding aids and the usual safety equipment. A ‘tag and release’ policy is encouraged, particularly for the endangered species such as marlin and sharks.
The best time to go to Mozambique if you want to catch a black marlin is from October to end of January. This is the best time for fishing in Mozambique anyway. The sailfish season runs from the beginning of June to end September.
For outstanding whale and shark sightings; visit Mozambique between December and February. You’ll be rewarded with sightings of the rare while shark which is the largest shark and largest fish in the world; reaching a length of up to 14 metres and weighing up to 15 tons.
Other interesting shark species found in the tranquil bays of Mozambique include blackspot, blacktip, bull, dusky, silvertip, tiger and Zambezi sharks.
Scuba diving in Mozambique
The Mozambique coastline is world-renowned in diving circles for having some of the best and most intact reef ecosystems in the world. Diving destinations such as Bay of Zavora, Pemba, Tofo, Pomene and the Quirimbas Islands is brilliant.
Scuba diving in Mozambique is a thrilling and rewarding experience. It’s wild and exciting just getting out the surf line to the wide open Indian Ocean. Mozambique scuba divers talk of mind-blowing experiences diving with whale sharks, manta rays and turtles as well as the very rare and endangered Dugong.
The best part of diving in Mozambique is the water is warm and crystal clear; particularly around the islands of Mozambique. The coral reefs are unspoilt and marine life on the reefs is outstanding. Scuba diving in Moz can be enjoyed year-round.
The reefs at the popular dive sites vary in depth from 10 to 40 metres but there are a few dive sites that are extremely challenging for advanced open water and technical divers.
The coral reefs in Moz are home to over 6 000 recorded species of fish including schooling banner fish, Moorish idols, butterfly fish, blue striped snappers, barred sweetlips, goldies and trigger fish. You’ll also see a fine selection of moray eels, manta rays, barracuda, huge schools of kingfish, giant lobster on your dives as well as exciting sightings of whale sharks and dolphins. Turtles seen on dives in Moz include the leatherback, loggerhead and green turtle.
The warm Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique is home to humpback whales which move into the coastal bays between August and October. A few of the Mozambique resorts offer boat charters for an ocean safari tour to see humpback whales up close.
Scuba diving in Mozambique is suitable for beginners, intermediate, advanced and technical divers. Do your research and choose a diving school in Mozambique with an excellent reputation for safety. Diving in Mozambique is not like diving in the tranquil waters of Thailand. It can be rough, wild and challenging so you need to dive in Mozambique with people who know what they’re doing.
Seafood in Mozambique
With all this talk of deep-sea fishing and scuba diving in Mozambique, the next big reason to visit Mozambique is to eat delicious seafood. And lots of it!
When you dream of Mozambique, you dream of seafood with lashing of delicious peri-peri sauce. You’ll eat some of the best seafood in the world on a Mozambique holiday and for a fraction of the cost. In fact, prawns and crayfish are so reasonably priced that people on a holiday in Mozambique order seafood platters like they’d order pizza in a South African restaurant.
Shellfish such as prawns and lobster as well as delicacies like oysters and mussels are caught every day by local fisherman so they arrive at your table fresh and deliciously tasty with exotic Portuguese flavours. The hotter and spicier, the better in Mozambique. And seafood is always best served with chunky chips and rice to soak up the yummy sauce.
Tourists book Mozambique holiday packages for gorgeous days in the sun and surf at idyllic Mozambique beach resorts but the country is getting a name for itself for its hot, spicy and delicious Portuguese-inspired cuisine.
Mozambican food is spicy and packed with flavour; chefs at most Mozambique resorts use lots of red chili, peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. So buckle up if you don’t like your food spicy and hot. Seafood and chicken dishes are staple meals and they’re prepared with ancient Portuguese and Arab influences; they’re always finger-licking good!
What makes a holiday in Mozambique special is wonderful experiences you can have that you may never experience elsewhere; such as being part of the silent ritual of turtle nesting.
There’s something very special about witnessing turtles nesting while on holiday in Mozambique. These highly-endangered gentle creatures are offered safety and protection on the wide expansive beaches of Mozambique which are mostly unspoilt and untouched by humans.
You’ll find five species of turtles on a trip to Mozambique:
olive ridley turtles
Turtle nesting usually takes place in the last quarter of the year and for a short time after the New Year. Peak turtle nesting season falls in March. It’s a wonder to behold to see a mother turtle painstakingly making her way up the beach and laying her eggs in a shallow hole. She’ll lay up to 300 eggs at a time.
The fascinating thing is the female turtle enters almost a trance-like state when laying eggs; it’s extremely important not to disturb her with noise and bright lights. She’ll cover her eggs with sand when she’s laid all of them and painstakingly make her way back to the sea.
The hatchlings break out of the eggs some 55-65 days afterwards and make their escape to the wide open sea. It’s a harrowing journey and torturous to watch; very few make it safely out into the open waters and even fewer survive to grow into healthy young adults.
The cycle continues and females hatched from that group will return to the same beach and lay their eggs in sand just like their own mother did a few years before them.
Maputo is the vibrant capital city of Mozambique. It’s a fascinating destination known for its melting pot of cultures and delicious cuisine. The city itself has good infrastructure with many corporate offices and high-rise apartments but the surrounding areas are impoverished and quite depressing for foreign tourist who aren’t used to seeing people living in such poverty.
Despite it being a typically overcrowded and run-down African city, it’s definitely worth a visit. Most people bypass Maputo as they hurriedly make their way to the beach resorts for a Mozambique holiday. That’s a pity because the city is rich in cultural history and quite captivating.
The central market of Maputo is famous for its fresh seafood and produce and a great place to shop for bargains. Leave your valuables in your Mozambique accommodation and keep your money concealed because the street markets attract random pick-pocketers.
There are a number of interesting places to visit in Maputo which are rich in history and showcase decades of colonial occupation and civil war conflict. This includes the Museum of the Revolution which tells the story of the struggle against Portuguese colonialism aswell as the Portuguese fort situated near the centre of town.
A focal point in Maputo is the Praca de Independencia. You’ll find a collection of historical points of interest here including a statue of the country’s first independent president, Samora Machel; splendid old colonial buildings which have been carefully restored and showcase Mozambique works of art; the neo-classical City Hall, a glistening white Roman Catholic cathedral and the French-Mozambican cultural centre.
The Railway Station is a striking landmark in Maputo; it’s a massive green and white building with a large metal dome. It was built in 1910.
One reason to visit Maputo on a trip to Mozambique is for its festive nightlife. The city folk work long, hard hours so they relish the chance to relax and socialise in the evenings. It’s a typical European affair with restaurant tables spilling out onto the street and men and women enjoying hours of delicious seafood and drinks while having a good time with friends or family.
Before you leave Maputo and head to the beach for the rest of your Mozambique holiday, treat yourself to cocktails at the Polana Serena Hotel. The grand old dame of African hotels was the place to stay and be seen with the rich and famous in its heyday. The Polana Hotel’s been meticulously restored and it’s a wonderful place to stay, particularly if you’re on honeymoon in Mozambique.
Island of Mozambique
Known locally as Ilha de Mozambique, the historic Island of Mozambique lies about 4 kilometres off the coast of the mainland of Mozambique. It functioned centuries ago as a capital city and a major trading port. Today, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Island of Mozambique is a calcareous coral reef which is about 3 kilometres long and 500 metres wide. A bridge built in the 1960s joins the island to the mainland. The island forms an archipelago with two small uninhabited islands to the east; the Islands of Goa and Sena.
There are a few historic points of interest on the island which are worth a visit if you have time to spare on a trip to Mozambique. This includes the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte which was built in 1522 and is considered to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere. You’ll also find a 16th century Stone Fort and a historic hospital which was at the time, the largest hospital south of the Sahara.
The fortified city on the Island of Mozambique served as a trading post and stopover for Arab traders enroute to India. It’s renowned for its remarkable architectural unity due to the consistent use of the same building techniques used in the 16th century. This includes building materials using stone or macuti and the same ancient decorative designs.
The Island of Mozambique is intricately linked to the history of navigation in the Indian Ocean and played an intriguing role in intercontinental trading links which date back to the 10th century. It’s unique location was relevant to the Portuguese developing and establishing important maritime routes between Western Europe and the Indian subcontinent.
From an architectural perspective, you’ll find a unique blend of Swahili, Arab and European influences although mainly stone and lime was used for the rural and urban dwellings. Footprints in the sands of time on the glorious Island of Mozambique belong to the ancient Bantu, Swahili, Arab, Persian, Indian and European inhabitants.
The breathtakingly beautiful islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago are known for their unspoilt beauty and incredible biodiversity. If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay for a honeymoon in Mozambique, the Bazaruto Archipelago is unrivalled as a romantic and idyllic African destination.
There are 6 islands within the Bazaruto Archipelago which lie just off the mainland between the town of Vilanculos and Inhassoro. The largest island is Bazaruto; followed by Benguerra, Margaruque, Santa Carolina (formerly Paradise Island), Banque and Pansy Shell islands.
Most popular Mozambique holiday packages include an excursion to one of the islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago. It’s quite expensive to visit and stay in Mozambique accommodation on these islands and they’re definitely priced for the international tourist. However, it’s worth putting them on your bucket list for the ultimate Mozambique holiday.
For a honeymoon in Mozambique, Bazaruto Island is stunning. The beaches are strikingly scenic, the accommodation in Bazaruto is world-class, fresh seafood is abundant, the sunsets are spectacular and you can scuba dive at some of the best dive sites in the world, which includes Two Mile Reef.
The Aquarium is perfect for snorkeling. It’s an enormous protected natural pool and home to an incredible array of colourful species of fish as well as loggerhead and leatherback turtles. The coral reefs of the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique are world-renowned for being incredibly diverse in marine flora and the least disturbed of any marine reserve in the Indian Ocean.
The magnificent Quirimba Archipelago is a collection of stunning tropical islands situated off the coast of northern Mozambique. A flight to Pemba from Johannesburg is the easiest way to reach this magical tropical gem off the east coast of Africa, otherwise known as Quirimba National Park.
The Quirimba Archipelago is made up of 34 islands, most of which are uninhabited. They fall along what was an ancient Arab and Portuguese trading route and were used as trading posts for centuries. Today, the collection of islands form a protected marine reserve renowned for its magnificent marine fauna and flora.
The islands of the Quirimba Archipelago are linked to the coast by sand dunes, coral reefs and mangrove forests which are rich in marine life and perfect for a diving or snorkeling holiday in Mozambique. The most popular destination is Ibo Island as well as the islands of Quisiva and Matemo. All three islands were pre-colonial Swahili settlements and later Portuguese trading posts.
The Quirimba marine conservation area is an important feeding ground for up to 5 species of turtles as well as crab plovers, bottlenose and humpback dolphins and a diverse selection of whales and sharks. The protected marine reserve has outstanding conservation value due to its magical mangrove forests, sea grasses, sandy beaches and rocky habitats.
So what do the hotels in the Quirimba Archipelago have to offer? Deep-sea fishing for big game fish, scuba diving at some of the best dive sites in the world, fun in the sun with swimming, kayaking or paragliding or romantic strolls on the beach as the glorious sun sets. You couldn’t ask for more for an idyllic honeymoon in Mozambique or the best of Mozambique for your family.
Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park is a rising star on the safari circuit and fast becoming a sought-after safari destination in Africa. Animal populations in Gorongosa were virtually depleted due to heavy poaching during the turbulent years of civil war but this magnificent national park is painstakingly being restored to its former wilderness glory.
In 2008, a 20-year Public-Private Partnership was established for the joint management of Gorongosa National Park between the government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation which is a United States non-profit organisation spearheading the Gorongosa Restoration Project.
The success of the wilderness restoration project is based on the 21st century conservation model which balances the needs of wildlife, natural resources and people. The conservation model is based on four core building blocks; eco-tourism which generates sustainable revenue; conservation of its animals and ecosystems; science which facilitates informed conservation and management decisions; and community which includes improving the well-being of local communities living adjacent to the national park.
Currently Gorongosa National Park is home to good populations of oribi, reedbuck, waterbuck, warthog and sable. The predator population of Gorongosa is recovering slowly; numbers in the lion prides are growing and a few male coalitions have formed. Elephant herds are regularly encountered and they’re a lot calmer and more relaxed than they were during the years of civil war when they were poached unashameably.
Large herbivores such as buffalo, wildebeest, kudu and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest have been reintroduced and although rare, sightings of leopard have been reported. Rivers and lakes in the Gorongosa National Park have good populations of hippo and crocodile and in the open savanna grass plains, you’ll find increasing populations of zebra, giraffe and antelope.
Birding at Gorongosa National Park has always been good and the reserve is home to many endangered and endemic bird species such as the collared palm thrush, green coucal, narina trogon and spotted creeper.
The Gorongosa ecosystem is highly diverse with wide open savanna plains dotted with acacia savanna, dry woodland forests in sandy areas, wetlands or pans filled seasonally by the rains aswell as dramatic thickets on termite-built mounds. The plateaus contain Miombo and montane forests, as well as a spectacular rainforest at the bottom of a series of limestone gorges.
Eco-tourism is a powerful force that drives the wilderness restoration project. By including Gorongosa National Park on your list of places to visit in Mozambique, you help save this precious corner of Africa. Put Gorongosa on your bucket list for a Mozambique road trip while it’s still a highly affordable option for a premier safari destination in Africa.
The people of Mozambique
Last but definitely not least; a very good reason to go on a trip to Mozambique is to meet and get to know the wonderful people living in the country. Years of Portuguese colonisation and then 15 years of civil war have done little to dampen the colourful life-force of the nation. You’re greeted with warmth and open hospitality no matter where you stay in Mozambique.
The country is rich in history and its cultural fabric is interwoven with ancient Arab, European and Swahili influences. You’ll find this rich cultural heritage has permeated into the soul of Mozambique.
The Arab were the first-known inhabitants to visit the region off the east coast of Africa but they mainly used the island archipelagos as a pit-stop along their trading route. The Portuguese arrived and stayed for longer; lured to the islands in the 17th century by rumours of pearls
The Island of Mozambique was set up as a trading post. Decades later, the Portuguese colonised the mainland of Mozambique and ruled the region with a fairly brutal iron fist.
Mozambique finally got its independence but the country’s freedom from oppression was short-lived. The country suffered from a brutal 16-year civil war which claimed a million lives, crippled the economy and destroyed the moral fabric of the country. The civil war ended in the 1990s and the country has been working hard to get back on steady feet.
If one can find a redeeming factor for years of conflict and unrest; Mozambique is one of the least developed countries in Africa and large tracts of land and coastal regions are unspoilt and untouched by commercial development. The people of Mozambique who live in remote rural villages follow a simple and very traditional lifestyle; most live off the land and care for livestock which is the rural currency of Mozambique.
Portuguese is the official language spoken in Mozambique, although it’s generally spoken by the more educated population. There are more than 60 different dialects of Bantu languages found in Mozambique. Fortunately for international tourists and South Africans on a Mozambique holiday, English is widely-spoken at the Mozambique hotels and beach resorts. English is also the business language of the country.
WHERE TO STAY IN MOZAMBIQUE
Mozambique is a large country; it spans some 800 000 square kilometres and has 2 400 kilometres of pristine coastline. Large swathes of Mozambique are uninhabited and in general the country is unspoiled, untamed and undeveloped.
However, a Mozambique road trip isn’t for the faint-hearted traveller. Mozambique was ravaged by a 15-year civil war which left much of its infrastructure in ruins and its economy in tatters. The country is slowly picking itself up and standing on steadier feet but it’s still a country fraught with socio-economic hardships and political infighting and corruption.
So… where to go for a Mozambique road trip?
We’ve picked the most popular pitstops for a Mozambique road trip. There are a hundred other places to visit for a Mozambique holiday but these places are the ones you’ll find most often as part of a Mozambique travel package.
You can travel off the beaten path if you’re a seasoned traveller but if you’re new to exploring this part of the world and want a peaceful and uneventful holiday in Mozambique; then these places are good place to start.
Praia da Barra as it’s known to the locals is located on the tip of the Inhambane Peninsula about 20-30 minutes’ drive from the historic town of Inhambane and Tofu and the airport. Barra is approximately 480 kilometres from Maputo; it’s a long drive on decent roads and worth it if you’d like to see more of the country.
The town of Inhambane is rich in history; it’s one of the oldest trading ports on the east coast of Africa. Much of its architectural heritage has been preserved although the town itself is run down and the streets are quite crowded with street vendors.
Barra is known for its beautiful palm-lined beaches and calm seas; fantastic for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll also find some of the best scuba diving sites in the Barra region which are home to giant manta rays and whale sharks in season.
Mozambique accommodation in Praia da Barra ranges from self-catering chalets for South Africans on a budget and upmarket hotels and beach resorts marketed to international tourists.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Barra, Inhambane
Barra Lodge has been around for years and its still the flagship lodge of Praia Da Barra. It situated on a magnificent palm-lined beach which stretches for miles. Guests staying in Barra Lodge have a panoramic view of the warm Indian Ocean and only have a few metres to walk before they dip into the crystal-clear turquoise waters which is safe for bathing all year round.
Barra Lodge caters for families with children; divers looking for the best scuba diving experience and couples on a honeymoon in Mozambique looking for romance and
BAZARUTO ISLAND, MOZAMBIQUE
Bazaruto Island lies in Bazaruto National Park off the coast of southern Mozambique and is one of 6 islands which make up the Bazaruto Archipelago. It’s the largest of the islands and renowned for its spectacular powder-white beaches which stretch for miles, gorgeous aqua-blue waters and undulating sand dunes.
Marine life on the coral reefs around Magaruque and Santa Carolina islands are home to rare marine species including the dugong and at least 5 types of turtles. The clear water at Two Mile Reef is a perfect for diving; with a kaleidoscope selection of tropical fish as well as reef sharks and moray eels.
The interior of Bazaruto Island is a unique eco-system; ranging from flat open grasslands to wetlands and tropical forests. Over 140 recorded bird species are found in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Bazaruto Island
Anantara Bazaruto Resort & Spa is a luxurious beach resort on Bazaruto Island which offers world-class accommodation for a Mozambique holiday in a breathtakingly beautiful setting. It’s the perfect beach hotel in Mozambique for a honeymoon and even a small, intimate wedding.
There are 44 luxury villas dotted along the beach; each offering guests a panoramic view of the beautiful Indian Ocean coupled with luxury features and stylish décor. The resort is renowned for its world-class diving, sailing and deep-sea fishing and the Anantara Spa is an award-winning wellness centre.
Guests arrive by chartered flight at the island’s private airstrip and helipad to a warm welcome by a group of vibrant dancers.
Bilene is one of the most popular destinations for a Mozambique holiday. It’s situated on the banks of a beautiful salt-water lagoon about 190 kilometres north of Maputo. The Bilene lagoon is separated from the warm Indian Ocean by a massive sandbar so the stretch of water in front of the hotels and holiday resorts at Bilene is calm and tranquil; perfect for all sorts of watersports, swimming and snorkeling.
You can get to the mouth of the lagoon and the beachside facing the open sea with a 4-wheeldrive vehicle. The lagoon mouth at Bilene Mozambique is kept open to allow fishing boats and deep-sea and scuba diving charters easy access to the sea. You can explore the lagoon on a canoe, jet ski or small motorised boat.
In the village of Bilene, you’ll find a great selection of restaurants and bars as well as a good baker, convenience shops, street market and a fuel station. Most accommodation in Bilene is within walking distance of the lagoon or directly on the warm salt-water lagoon. It’s shallow and calm which is perfect for families with small children.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Bilene
There’s a wide choice of accommodation in Bilene Mozambique ranging from luxury lodges to self-catering chalets and camping facilities. It’s a reasonable 180-kilometre drive from Maputo and one of the closest popular destinations for a beach holiday in Mozambique. Hordes of holidaymakers arrive in Bilene in the peak season so you need to book somewhere to stay in Bilene well in advance.
Holiday homes are built on a hill overlooking the Uembje Lagoon with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. The lagoon water is warm, shallow and calm which makes it the ideal holiday spot for families with children and adventure seekers. Bilene is the “Fun Watersport Capital” of Mozambique and a great place to stop for a few days on a Mozambique road trip.
The local Bilene restaurants are great and serve delicious seafood, the street markets and shops are good for a bargain and the nightlife in Bilene is festive. All you have to do is find decent accommodation in Bilene Mozambique which suits your needs and budget and you’re looking at the perfect Mozambique holiday.
When you’re planning a Mozambique holiday, Inhaca Island is usually the first destination to pop into your head. It’s a fantastic option for families and groups of friends and anyone who loves watersports. It’s located south east of Maputo and easily accessed with daily air transfers; only a short 10-minute flight gets you to this tropical gem.
Inhaca Island is a renowned natural heritage site and rich in marine fauna and flora. The Marine Biology Station on the island carries out extensive research into marine environmental issues and there’s a small museum on the island which showcases fauna and flora found on the tropical island.
The best fishing and scuba diving sites are at the tip of Inhaca Island at Santa Maria which is famous for its kaleidoscopic coral gardens. It’s also a great spot for surfing. Daily excursions to Santa Maria and other places on the island can be organised through your hotel or beach resort on Inhaca Island.
Just off Inhaca Island in Mozambique is the legendary Portuguese Island. It’s an astonishingly beautiful deserted island with one of the best beaches.
Best of Mozambique accommodation on Inhaca Island
There’s a wide choice of accommodation on Inhaca Island; it’s the “Playground Capital of Mozambique” and hugely popular with international tourists visiting the country for the first time. With the strength of the US$ against the Mozambique metica, visitors from overseas can afford to splash out on the more luxurious hotels and beach resorts on the island.
Machangulo Beach Lodge is a luxury resort on Inhaca Island located some 16 kilometers from Machangulo Private Nature Reserve. Guests are offered world-class accommodation in Mozambique in Makuti-style villas with stylish island-influenced décor, private pools and direct access to the beach.
There’s a fine-dining restaurant at the lodge serving delicious seafood dishes and a tapas bar offering a delicious selection of local cuisine. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re on honeymoon in Mozambique, particularly if you both love watersport.
The city of Inhambane was established as a Portuguese trading post in 1534 and is one of the oldest European settlements in southern Africa. It’s the capital of the province with the same name and lies alongside a protected marine reserve some 479 kilometres from Maputo.
A striking landmark in Inhambane which you should stop to see on a Mozambique road trip is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Conception complete with a fine clock tower. The cathedral was built over 200 years ago by the Portuguese. Other attractions in Inhambane include the Governors House, the mosque, the train station and the local fresh produce market.
Inhambane was popular with Portuguese explorers in the 1400s and 1500s as a central trading post but appallingly it later became a major slave port and ivory trading centre which went on unhindered late into the 1800s. Today, Inhambane is an important tourism hub and the gateway to popular beach destinations in Mozambique such as Tofo and Barra as well as Coconut Bay and Sangamon Beach.
The city of Inhambane is in the Inhambane Province which is one of the most beautiful provinces in the country. It includes Tofo, Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago. You can spend all day on the palm-lined beach on your holiday to Inhambane or you go exploring and be adventurous.
Scuba diving in the area is outstanding and there’s a great selection of restaurants and pubs across the Inhambane Province. Seafood is plentiful and packed with lashings of garlic, chili and spices. For the best seafood in Inhambane, pop into The Green Turtle which is a restaurant and pub near Bay View Lodge in Praia da Barra. It’s run by a French couple who know how to dish up exceptional Portuguese seafood dishes.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Inhambane
Massinga Beach Lodge is an exclusive and luxurious beach lodge in the Inhambane Province which has its own beautiful private beach. Massinga Beach Lodge takes a luxury holiday in Mozambique to the next level.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to spend your honeymoon in Mozambique, look no further than Massinga Beach Lodge. Nestled in a grove of coconut trees, the luxury lodge overlooks over a kilometre of deserted beach. The large stilted free-standing rooms and chalets offer guests a decadent experience with panoramic views of the warm Indian Ocean.
Massinga Beach Lodge’s best feature is its unique beach bar and restaurant and sparkling swimming pool which is set amongst natural boulders, virtually hanging over the side. Look out for holiday specials at Massinga Beach and tailored honeymoon travel packages for Mozambique.
Macaneta Island as it’s commonly called is actually a peninsula which is joined to the mainland at the northern tip. It’s hugely popular as a beach holiday destination in Mozambique because it’s conveniently located 35 kilometres from Maputo and only 500 kilometres from Pretoria in South Africa.
The beaches are endless and the sea is beautifully warm and safe for swimming. There’s a huge selection of accommodation on Macaneta ranging from rustic camping and self-catering to smart beach lodges and luxury chalets situated right on the beach.
To get across to the beach resorts and self-catering accommodation on Macaneta Island you had to cross the Nkomati River on a ferry. It was an old ferry and often broke down leaving holidaymakers stranded at the side of the lagoon for hours. A new bridge was been built and opened to the public in 2017 and now a holiday on Macaneta Island is more convenient than ever.
Apart from long gorgeous days on the beautiful beaches of Macaneta, you can enjoy whale watching in season, deep-sea game fishing and looking for turtles nesting. There are a few great restaurants on the island but no decent supermarkets. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation on Macaneta, you need take everything you need for your Mozambique holiday with you.
Best of Mozambique accommodation on Macaneta Island
There are a number of options for accommodation on Macaneta Island and most of them are suited for families looking for clean, comfortable and budget-friendly self-catering accommodation in Mozambique.
Popular family-friendly accommodation in Macaneta is the fun beach resort of Tan ‘n Biki and the more secluded Cova Beach Resort. An upmarket luxury beach lodge ideal for a romantic honeymoon in Mozambique, you can book Machangulo Beach Lodge.
Machangulo Beach Lodge is located about 16 kilometres from Machangulo Private Nature Reserve. It offers luxury Makuti-style villas in an exotic beach setiing with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. A few of the beach villas at Machangulo Beach Lodge have direct access to the beach; others lie nestled behind a protective sand dune.
The beach lodge has an excellent restaurant serving delicious seafood dishes. Guests have access to a private beach and one of the best diving centres in Mozambique. After a day swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and fishing; enjoy a wonderful pamper session at the lodge spa.
Most people on a Mozambique holiday package by-pass the city of Maputo. It’s busy, overcrowded and fairly hectic but at the same time it’s rich in cultural heritage, the accommodation in Maputo is excellent and the nightlife is legendary.
Formerly known as Lourenço Marques, it was the capital of the former Portuguese colony (after the capital city was relocated from the Island of Mozambique). Reminders of Maputo’s European heritage are still evident in its architecture, cuisine and the language spoken by the people of the city. Geographically, Maputo is the smallest but most densely populated city in the country.
Maputo is situated in the southern region of the country in a large natural bay area on the Indian Ocean at a point where the Tembe, Mbuluzi, Matola and Infulene rivers converge. The great natural harbour of Maputo, formerly known as Delagoa Bay, was discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1498 and lies on the sheltered estuary of Rio Espirito Santo. The harbour is a central landmark and a key cog in the city’s economic model.
Maputo is affectionately known as the ‘City of Acacias’ because of the striking acacia trees found along its wide avenues. Many of the street names were changed after independence in 1975 and the replacement names were strongly influenced at the time by the ruling party’s close ties with the Soviet bloc.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Maputo
Maputo is bouncing back as the ‘hip & happening’ place to visit on a Mozambique road trip. It’s become a destination in its own right with top quality hotels popping up, excellent entertainment centres and a vibrant night life.
The grand lady of Maputo is the Polana Serena Hotel which is renowned for its legendary cocktail evenings and pomp and grace. The Polana Serena Hotel has survived years of civil war and political and economical instability and is still one of the best hotels in Maputo. It’s an extravagant colonial affair with lashings of Portuguese character.
New on the accommodation scene in Maputo is the Radisson Blu Hotel which has recently been opened in the centre of Maputo. It boasts stunning views of the Indian Ocean and world-class accommodation and features, including a state-of-the-art conference and business centre.
The Radisson Blu Hotel is conveniently located a short drive from Maputo International Airport so it’s perfect for business people and international travellers arriving in the country for a Mozambique holiday at one of the many incredible coastal destination north of the city.
Pemba is the capital city of the Cabo Delgado Province; there’s very little industrial activity in the region so the city has retained much of its natural beauty. It’s situated in a beautiful natural bay of the same name and parts of the Old Town have been well preserved.
Key to Pemba is its enormous harbour which dominates the economic thrust of the area. From Pemba, tourists hire chartered boats to visit the lovely Ibo Island and go on fantastic deep-sea fishing or scuba diving excursions. Snorkeling and scuba diving along the coral reefs off the coast of Pemba is brilliant.
Pemba is also well known for its massive street market which stretches some 2 kilometres; with stalls selling everything from authentic Mozambique food, seafood and fresh produce to art, jewelry and clothing.
Best of Mozambique accommodation for Pemba
For the ultimate luxury beach holiday in Mozambique, book a few nights stay at Diamonds Mequfi Beach Resort situated on a beautiful tropical beach in Pemba. For a honeymoon in Mozambique, you’re guaranteed maximum privacy and romance at this new luxurious holiday resort.
The luxury suites at Diamonds Mequifi Beach Resort are sophisticated and elegant, the service is exemplary and the facilities are world-class. The suites are spacious and bright with beautiful natural light and the view from each private terrace is spectacular.
Located closer to the Gorongosa National Park and the Quirimbas Archipelago than other beach resorts in Mozambique, this is the perfect destination for the ultimate “safari and surf” honeymoon in Mozambique.
POMENE NATIONAL RESERVE
Pomene National Reserve is almost a 2-day drive from the border of Mozambique but it’s well worth the effort; once there you’re miles away from civilisation and the stresses of city living. It’s isolated positioning means the coral reefs are untouched and beautifully preserved; scuba diving and snorkeling along the coastline is brilliant.
Pomene is a thin peninsula strip that stretches about midway between Vilanculos and Maxixe. There’s no formal town, only scatterings of rural villages and roadside markets. You need to take everything for a beach holiday in Pomene, Mozambique. Your last stop for shopping is at Maxixe, Inhambane and Vilanculos.
The road to Pomene is a tough one and you need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. In some sections, you move agonizingly slowly through thick sand but for the most part, you’re travelling on a decent tar road. To get there quicker, you can catch a flight to Vilanculos from Johannesburg and organise a lift to Pomene with a tour operator or taxi.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Pomene National Park
There are two resorts in the Pomene National Park; the most popular and best known is Pomene Bay Lodge. It lies on the ocean side of the thin peninsula while Pomene View Lodge lies on the estuary side.
Each resort has it’s own restaurant so you can enjoy a great seafood meal when you get tired of cooking if you’re camping or in a self-catering bungalow. Locals walk up and down the beach selling fresh fish and homemade bread.
Pomene Bay Lodge lies on a beach which is endless, untouched and unspoilt. When the tide pulls back, it leaves a wonderful natural tidal pool with a large stretch of sand separating it from the sea. It’s perfectly safe for swimming in low tide, particularly if you’re on holiday in Mozambique with small children.
PONTA DO OURO
Ponta do Ouro is a ‘home-from-home’ seaside destination in Mozambique for South Africans holidaymakers and gets really busy in the peak holiday seasons. If you want to join the surfing/fishing/party crowd on public holidays and school holidays, Ponta do Ouro is the place to be.
Ponta do Ouro means “tip of gold” in Portuguese which refers to the peninsula cape at the southern tip of the beach. The beach town lies in the southern region of Mozambique a short 15-kilometre drive from the closest South African border. Maputo is 130 kilometres north of Ponta do Ouro.
Shopping in Ponta do Ouro is fairly limited; you can buy fresh seafood and produce from the local roadside markets and basics from the small convenient shops. There’s a petrol station, bank, pharmacy and bottle store in town.
Ponta do Ouro has boomed over the past decade and there has been massive development in the area. It’s a busy seaside destination which will get even busier when the new tarred road from Maputo to Kosi Bay border post opens to the public. In the past, the 15-kilometre drive could take up to 4 hours on the sandy road.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Ponta do Ouro
Accommodation in Ponta do Ouro is generally budget-friendly self-catering bungalows, permanent tented camps and camping facilities for South Africans on a tight Mozambique holiday budget. A lot of the beach resorts in Ponta do Ouro offer affordable accommodation but you’ve got to be careful because you usually get what you pay for.
A decent option is Gala-Gala Eco Resort. It’s a quaint haven tucked higher up in the coastal forest of Ponta do Ouro. Accommodation at Gala-Gala Eco Resort ranges from deluxe en-suite cabanas to standard rooms and private campsites.
Located adjacent to each other, Ponta Malongane is the richer cousin to Ponta do Ouro. The majority of houses and beach lodges in Ponta Malongane are found in protected walled-in estates which provide more privacy and exclusivity.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Ponta Malongane
You can rent a beach house from a private owner or you can camp at Parque de Malongane. Another decent option is the Tartaruga Maritima tented camp which is well-priced but better quality than what you’ll find in Ponta do Ouro.
If you don’t fancy self-catering accommodation in Mozambique or camping at beachside resorts and have US Dollars to spend; the ultimate beach holiday in the Ponta area is White Pearl Resorts located at Ponta Mamoli just north of Ponta Malongane.
White Pearl Resorts offers guests luxurious accommodation in a spectacularly beautiful coastal setting with world-class facilities and exemplary service. It’s the ultimate 5-star luxury holiday package in Mozambique where you’re treated like royalty from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.
When you think of a Mozambique holiday, you automatically think of Vilanculos. It’s now one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country; there’s been significant investment into its tourism infrastructure and it’s now more popular than ever.
The region was named Vilankulo after local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mokoke but it was changed by the Portuguese to Vilanculos because you don’t find the letter ‘K’ in the language.
The busy airport at Vilanculos is situated on the outskirts of town and flights from Maputo and Johannesburg arrive and depart on a daily basis. Vilanculos is the gateway to the Bazaruto National Park and the Bazaruto Archipelago and the international airport makes exotic destinations such as Bazaruto Island easily accessible for international tourists.
The marine reserves located off the coast of Vilanculos includes five islands; Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island), Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque and Bangue. Along with the coastal reefs alongside Vilanculos beaches, you’ll find the best snorkeling, diving and big game fishing in Mozambique.
Vilanculos is rich in fauna and flora; the coral reefs are known for their diversity of tropical fish and turtles, dolphins are seen year round and whales are seasonal visitors in the Bazaruto Archipelago. The marine reserve is also home to the last viable population of Dugong on the east coast of Africa.
The town of Vilanculos has a selection of good restaurants and pubs as well as popular roadside markets where you can shop for fresh seafood and produce and bargains on fabric and local clothing.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Vilanculos
Places to stay in Vilanculos; the choice is endless. It’s almost impossible to pick the best accommodation for a Mozambique holiday in Vilanculos because you have such a wide choice. If we had to pick one it would be the newly-launched Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel.
Bahia Mar is situated on a dune which looks directly onto the warm Indian Ocean. The luxury rooms are sophisticated and elegant and the facilities and service are world-class but what makes Bahia Mar the best accommodation in Vilanculos is its incredible spa and wellness centre.
Bahia Mar markets Wellness Holiday Retreats and offers guests 24/7 pampering, relaxation and rejuvenation. The spa facility at Bahia Mar is open to outside guests and the general public but if you have US$s to spend, book a few nights at the lodge. It’s worth every cent.
For the perfect honeymoon in Mozambique, Bahia Mar offers romance in abundance. Spend your days being pampered at the Wellness Retreat and then relax at the infinity pool and bar which overlooks the breathtakingly-beautiful sea and beach; sipping on fresh fruit smoothies and exotic cocktails.
Pronounced ‘shy shy’; the busy town of Xai Xai is conveniently located a reasonable 200 kilometres/ 5-hour drive from the main South African/Mozambican border. It lies on the Limpopo River and is the capital of the Gaza Province.
For years, and long before the country was stricken by civil war, Xai Xai was one of the most popular places to go for a Mozambique holiday. It still is today! The town has most amenities including fresh seafood and produce markets, good restaurants and bars, shops, petrol stations, banks and a post office.
The main beach of Xai Xai is a short 15-minute drive from the centre of town; but the best beaches and Xai Xai beach resorts are located out of town along the northern coastline. The two popular beaches at Xai Xai are Chongoene and Zongoene.
What makes the beaches of Xai Xai so popular is they’re very safe for swimming; a long reef runs parallel to the beach which creates a lagoon effect which is perfect for snorkeling and families with younger children.
Best of Mozambique accommodation at Xai Xai
Reef Resort is a popular upmarket place to stay in Xai Xai. It’s perfect for families because it’s a short walk from the beach and close to Praia de Xai Xai which is an excellent deep-sea fishing destination. The water is warm and the sea is safe to swim in; it’s a great all-year round for a Mozambique holiday.
One of the best things about staying at Reef Resort in Xai Xai is eating fresh seafood caught daily and perfectly prepared by the chef; packed with a typical Portuguese garlic and chili punch. Café Pescador itself is worth a detour when you’re on a Mozambique road trip if fresh prawns, crayfish and calamari get your taste buds popping.
Závora is a magical coastal destination located about 420 kilometres north east of Maputo in the district of Inharrime in the Province of Inhambane. It’s renowned for outstanding natural reefs and some of the best dive sites off the east coast of Africa. The wide expansive beach stretches for miles and miles and is mostly deserted and unspoilt.
The Bay of Závora is home to humpback whales in season; they arrive in the cooler winter months from July to October. Manta rays and a great collection of turtles are seen year-round on dives in the bay.
Apart from one of the best beaches in Mozambique and some of the best diving sites in the bay, Závora is famous for two other reasons. Firstly, it’s home to one of the few remaining working lighthouses in Mozambique. Built in 1910, the tower stands 53 feet high with the light beam flashing at 10 second intervals.
Secondly, the MV Klipfontein sunk in the Bay of Závora and is a real bucket list dive site for technical divers around the world. The massive Dutch liner struck a submerged reef some 5 miles from Cape Barra near Inhambane in January 1953. Everybody on the ship was saved.
A reef running parallel to the shoreline creates a natural barrier and the lagoon-like water between the reef and the shoreline is flat and calm. It’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling, particularly for families on a Mozambique holiday with small children. It’s also a safe place from where fishing boats and scuba diving boats are launched.
Best of Mozambique accommodation in Závora: Závora Lodge
Zavora Lodge is a budget-friendly beachside resort which is ideal for families with children and avid fishermen and scuba divers. One of the best scuba diving companies operate from Zavora Lodge; they also offer open water scuba diving training and certification onsite.
Accommodation at Zavora Lodge ranges from electrified camping sites which lie protected behind a large sand dune to self-catering accommodation in Mozambique which is either a 4-sleeper thatched bungalow or a 4 to 8-sleep beach house positioned right on the beach, a stone’s throw from the sea.
Zavora Lodge has an excellent restaurant and bar which serves delicious meals, including their famous seafood platters and homemade pizzas. Local Moz bread is baked daily and you can buy fresh fish and shellfish direct from the local fisherman when they bring in their catches each day.
LUXURY MOZAMBIQUE HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS
Mozambique is the perfect destination for an exotic honeymoon. With the strength of the US Dollar against the Mozambique Meticals, the luxury hotels and beach lodges in Mozambique are an alluring prospect.
Accommodation in Mozambique can be quite rustic but you can find incredible travel packages for Mozambique for luxury accommodation in stunning coastal settings. A honeymoon in Mozambique is the ideal place to start your new married life on a romantic footing.
You get a world-class honeymoon in Mozambique which rivals the best of Zanzibar, Mauritius and Seychelles at a fraction of the cost. Expect to be bowled over by the breathtakingly beautiful beaches, luxury accommodation and world-class facilities. Romance and adventure are part of a Mozambique honeymoon package.
Our choice of luxury hotels and beach lodges for a honeymoon in Mozambique are:
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa – Bazaruto Archipelago
Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort and Spa – Quirimbas Archipelago
Azura Quilalea Island – Quirimbas Archipelago
Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel – Vilanculos
Barra Beach Club Praia Do Tofo – Tofo
Dugong Beach Lodge – Vilanculos
Ibo Island Lodge – Quirimbas Archipelago
Machangulo Beach Lodge – Machangulo Peninsula
Nkwichi Lodge – Lake Malawi
Rio Azul Lodge – Inhassoro
Santorini Mozambique – Vilanculos
Sentidos Beach Retreat – Inhambane
White Pearl Resorts – Ponta Mamoli
PLACES OF INTEREST IN MAPUTO
Jump into a tuk-tuk and head out into the heart of Maputo to discover hidden gems and grand historical landmarks. It’s a fascinating city which is rich in cultural history; it’s an adventure by day and party place by night.
The choice of things to see and do in Maputo is endless; these historic landmarks are a good place to start:
The Church of San Antonia de la Polana
The Church of San Antonia de la Polana stands proudly in the heart of Maputo. It was built in 1962 by a Portuguese architect, Cavreiro Nuno Lopes, in the shape of an inverted flower which some say looks like a ‘lemon squeezer’. It was restored in 1992.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in downtown Maputo. The foundation stone was laid in 1936 and the cathedral was completed in 1944. It was designed by the Portuguese civil engineer Marcial Simões de Freitas e Costa who was, at the time, a director of the railways.
Central Railway Station building
The Central Railway Station in Maputo is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. The massive dome was designed by an associate of Alexandre Gustav Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower fame. What makes the Central Railway Station so impressive is its intricate wrought-iron latticework and the imposing pillars and veranda. The exterior was painted a dark green.
The House of Iron
This unusual historical vestige stands near the city centre; it’s grandeur is difficult to fathom and impossible to ignore. The house is made entirely of iron including the walls and ceilings. It was designed by Gustav Eifel and built as the Governor’s house in the late 19th century. Obviously, it was too hot to live in and was abandoned for a more realistic alternative.
Praça da Independência is a public square in Maputo and a focal place of interest in Mozambique. Built by the Portuguese, a statue of the former governor-general of Portuguese Mozambique dominated the central square. The statue of Mouzinho de Albuquerque on horseback was inaugurated in 1940.
After independence the statue of Mouzinho was removed and replaced with a statue of Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique.
Praça da Independência is flanked to the north by the Maputo City Hall and to the east by Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Iron House is located just off the square and Tunduru Gardens are found one block south of the square.
The Tunduru Gardens is public park and city garden located in downtown Maputo. It was designed in 1885 by British gardener Thomas Honney who also designed gardens for the King of Greece and the Sultan of Turkey. It’s exquisitely laid out although now it’s a bit unkempt and overgrown.
It provides a welcome shady retreat for people working in the city and Mozambique holidaymakers exploring Maputo. You’ll find one of the original tennis courts and a statue of Samora Machel, first president of Mozambique.
The Fortress in Maputo is a simple monument but rich in historical significance. It was built, destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The actual building dates back to 1946 and showcases armaments, tools and equipment used by the Portuguese during colonial rule. Today, it’s a place to visit on a Mozambique holiday if you’re keen to see local artwork and sculptures.
The Mesquita da Baixa is an immaculate building found in the old part of Maputo; “baixa” meaning “old part” in Portuguese. The striking mosque was built at the end of the 19th century and today belongs to the Pakistani Muslim Association. The mosque can be seen by non-practicing Muslims from the outside.
Museum of the Revolution
The Museum of the Revolution was established to showcase the country’s turbulent past and the hardships local Bantus faced under the rule of the Portuguese. Fascinating exhibits are spread out over four floors and include maps, photographs, weapons and uniforms from that era.
The Museum of the Revolution offers international tourists on holiday in Mozambique a real insight into the guerilla resistance movement which dominated Mozambique in the 1960s and finally led to independence in 1975.
Natural History Museum
The Museu de História Natural (Natural History Museum) is a striking white building with a unique architectural design located in centre Maputo. It was built in 1911 to house a school but converted in 1933 into the Natural History Museum. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and worth a visit on a Mozambique holiday.
The Portuguese neo-gothic and colonial decorative arts style is in itself interesting but it’s the large interactive displays of almost life-size animal models inside which are fascinating for international tourists on a Mozambique travel package.
The Natural History Museum showcases insect models, fossils, artifacts, snake species, bizarre items like elephant fetuses and an Ethnography room showing interesting facts and portraits of Ethnography in Mozambique.
The Central Market in Maputo is the heartbeat of the city. You can buy everything there from fresh fruit and veggies, seafood, spices, fabrics, souvenirs and clothing. It’s a wonderful place to stop on a trip to Mozambique because it introduces you to the wonderful people of Mozambique and their colourful culture.
HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE
The cultural fabric of Mozambique is interwoven with strong African, Arab and European influences. The colourful and vibrant soul of the nation is a product of centuries of cultural stimuli which shaped its people, language and culture.
Bantu people inhabited what is now Mozambique between the 1st and 5th century AD. They were organised into small kingdoms and established agricultural communities which mainly revolved around livestock farming. The Bantus brought with them to the region the technology of iron smelting and iron smiting.
By the 9th century, Arab merchants had discovered the islands of Mozambique off the south-east coast of Mozambique. For centuries afterwards there was trade between Africans and Arabs, and a leading Arab trader lent the yet-to-be-established country his name; Mussa Bin Bique or Mossa Al Bique.
The intrepid Portuguese sailor and explorer, Vasco Da Gama landed at Ilha de Moçambique (the Island of Mozambique) in 1498; following up on a report of the beautiful island archipelago after it had been discovered by another sailor. The Portuguese established a trading post on the Island of Mozambique during the 16th century.
They took over some land on the Island of Mozambique and established a large residential estates called a ‘prazos’ but for centuries, Portugal had limited control over Mozambique. The situation changed in the late 19th century when Europeans carved up Africa between them and Portuguese was given Mozambique; or what was then known as Portuguese East Africa.
The colonial ruling party of Portuguese East Africa did virtually nothing for the native Bantu inhabitants and in fact, ruled with a brutal oppressive hand. In much the same way apartheid in South Africa led to the struggle movement; the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) was founded in 1962 and an armed struggle ensued to take back power from the Portuguese.
The war went on for 10 years and the Portuguese gradually lost ground. Mozambique finally became an independent nation in June 1975. Tragically, this was not the end of the struggle era for the war-torn country.
The new government of Mozambique adopted Socialist policies which left Mozambique impoverished and almost on its knees. An anti-Communist organisation called Renamo rose up and fought against the government’s socialist movement. This led to a brutal civil war; starting in late 1977 and lasting some 16 years.
The dawn of democracy in Mozambique
In 1992, a peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo was signed; the 1994 elections were held, a new President elected and Mozambique entered into a period of peace and political stability. The country has worked hard to turn its embattled economy around off the back of agriculture, industrial manufacturing and tourism. However, it’s development is hampered by rampant corruption in government.
Alternating between severe floods in 2000 and 2001 and severe drought in 2002, Mozambique’s road to recovery has had its challenges. It remains a severely poor country but it’s economy is steadily improving and its popularity as a leading ‘surf and safari’ destination is growing.
MOZAMBIQUE TRAVEL TIPS
Mozambique is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people. It’s known for its spectacular coastline with untouched and unspoilt endless beaches and the warm Indian Ocean which is wild, magical and home to incredible marine fauna and flora.
However, Mozambique is an impoverished country which has suffered from years of civil war. Only in the last two decades has Mozambique been able to pick itself up and dust off the sands of struggle and grow its embattled economy.
A Mozambique holiday is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a lot easier and more convenient if you opt for a Mozambique holiday package and have the option of flying into the country and staying at a luxury resort on the coast.
If you’re doing a Mozambique road trip by car, you need a few tips on surviving the journey and reaching your destination safely. Like any country in Africa, it’s perfectly safe to visit Mozambique if you follow the rules and use common sense to avoid getting into tricky and unpleasant situations. At the same time, Mozambique is wild and untamed and an exciting adventure if you go with the Mozambique flow.
Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons; a wet summer season from October to March and a dry winter season from April to September.
December to April is the peak summer season in Mozambique; temperatures and humidity are sky high and if you’re not used to this kind of heat, it’s best to avoid going on holiday to Mozambique at this time.
January and February is cyclone season in southern Mozambique and you can experience a week of torrential rain. Avoid visiting the Bazaruto Archipelago or any of the popular islands of Mozambique during the cyclone season just as a precaution.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MOZAMBIQUE
The best time to visit Mozambique is from May to November when the temperatures are cooler and the likelihood of rain dampening your beach holiday is less. If it does rain in the dry winter season, it’s usually a short downpour and then the sun comes out again.
The Christmas/New Year/ end-of-year period is very busy with South African holidaymakers arriving in force at the more popular destinations such as Ponta do Ouro and Vilanculos. To avoid the crowds, avoid booking a Mozambique holiday between mid-December and mid-January as well as the Easter period in March/April. Wait for the South African school holidays to end and the large crowds to return home.
FLIGHTS TO MOZAMBIQUE
Pelican Air ( Recently Closed )
Direct flights from South Africa to Mozambique are available from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to international airports in Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Pemba and Vilanculos.
There is a direct international flight from Durban to Maputo and a 1-stop flight from Cape Town and Durban to Maputo, Beira and Nampula.
Flying versus driving
If you travel by car from Johannesburg to Maputo, the driving distance between Johannesburg and Maputo is 545 kilometres. Travelling at an average speed of 110 kms/per hour; it’ll take you between 5-6 hours to get to Maputo (including refreshment stops but excluding the border post).
Flights to Maputo from Johannesburg
A non-stop flight from Johannesburg to Maputo takes 1 hour 15 minutes. This is the average non-stop flight time from any of the 3 airports in Johannesburg to Maputo.
Johannesburg to Maputo (JNB-MPM) with British Airways Comair (direct), South African Airways (direct) and LAM (direct)
Johannesburg to Beira (JNB-BEW) with Airlink (direct) or LAM (via Maputo)
Johannesburg to Nampula (JNB-APL) with LAM (direct) or Airlink (direct)
Johannesburg to Pemba (JNB-POL) with Airlink
Johannesburg to Vilanculos (JNB-VNX) with Airlink
Tourist visas for Mozambique are available at all international airports on arrival at a cost of USD 60 (2018 fee). It’s not necessary to apply for visas in your country of origin for genuine holiday trips to Mozambique.
HOW SAFE IS MOZAMBIQUE?
Mozambique does not suffer from a high and violent crime rate but you might fall victim to petty crime and typical tourist scams such as card skimming and credit card fraud. Be vigilante and use common sense on a Mozambique road trip.
The obvious travel tips are:
don’t flash cash and leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home
don’t flash your cell phone if it’s an expensive model; keep it safe in an inside jacket pocket or somewhere that’s easy to reach by pick pocketers
leave your laptop behind; everything can be done on a cell phone now
use the digital safe in your Mozambique hotel room if provided to store valuable items
avoid driving at night and don’t walk around the cities and towns on your own after dark
always keep to the speed limit and don’t break the rules of the road; there might be a corrupt traffic cop around the corner
don’t drink and drive; you’ll be locked up in prison
don’t bring drugs into the country or get caught taking drugs; you’ll get locked up in prison
keep a close eye on children swimming in the sea or non-swimmers paddling in tidal pools; there are no shark nets in Mozambique and the sea at some beaches have strong rip currents
don’t wander off the beaten track on a Mozambique road trip; keep to the popular tourist routes
respect the locals and their cultural traditions; don’t be a noisy and annoying tourist
HOW TO SURVIVE A MOZAMBIQUE ROAD TRIP?
You’ll have lots of fun in the sun in Mozambique and incredible adventures. One holiday in Mozambique is never enough and you’ll return to this wild and wonderful country again and again.
To make sure your trip is perfect and there are no dramas, here are a few travel tips for surviving your Mozambique holiday:
Learn a few useful Portuguese phrases
The official language spoken in Mozambique is Portuguese so it’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases to help you get by. Keep them written on a piece of paper and get used to using them wherever you go. Locals love to hear foreigners trying to speak to them in their local language; it’s a sign of respect and much appreciated.
English is taught in schools and many people in Mozambique can speak basic English, particularly at the smart beach lodges and hotels in Mozambique.
You need a vehicle in Mozambique
You can’t catch an Uber in Mozambique or hail a yellow cab
Mozambique’s public transport system consists of ‘chapas’ or very questionable mini-buses and large carrier buses. Your safety cannot be guaranteed because they’re often not roadworthy. Public transport in Moz in not recommended unless you’re doing a Mozambique road trip on the smell of an oil rag.
You can hire a quality vehicle in South Africa which can be taken across the South African/Mozambique border with the relevant 3rd-party insurance papers.
If you’re doing the ‘fly in/fly out’ option on a blissful Mozambique holiday package, you won’t experience the long and tortuously slow road from Maputo to the beach resorts on the northern coastline. Make sure you book your Mozambique holiday package through a reputable tour operator. They should offer a ‘meet and greet’ at the airport and safe transport to your Mozambique beach resort or hotel.
Watch out for dodgy traffic cops
Not all traffic cops in Mozambique are corrupt but there are enough dirty cops to give the rest of them a bad name. They tend to target cars with South African number plates to solicit a bride. You might get ‘nailed’ for a serious offense or something trivial; either way, it’s unpleasant and uncomfortable to be stuck on the side of the highway trying to talk your way out of a ticket.
Hint: Keep a small wallet with only a few notes in it to avoid having your wallet emptied by a corrupt cop. You can plead you have no money on you and show him the proof. They’ll probably take what you’ve got in your wallet.
The best thing you can do to avoid getting nabbed by a corrupt traffic cop in Mozambique is to stick to the road rules. Keep to the speed limit and don’t do anything silly to get caught by a traffic cop.
Don’t be alarmed by local unrest
Tourism is very important to Mozambique and your safety and well-being is a priority for the country. There’s still some political unrest in Mozambique but it tends to be localised and would rarely affect the general tourist public.
Infighting has reoccurred in the Sofala Province close to Gorongosa National Park and this area should be avoided for the time being. Reports coming out of the region are very disturbing and shed a bad light on the rest of the country but don’t be alarmed or put off travelling around Mozambique; tourist destinations in Mozambique are safe to visit and you won’t experience anything more traumatic than a bad headache from too much local beer.
Turn your watch to African Time
Africa runs to its own time schedule and it’s perfectly true for Mozambique. Don’t get wound up and uptight with slow service, delayed planes or anything else that doesn’t meet your high Western standards. You’re not in Europe and things work differently in Mozambique.
Embrace it and have fun with it or else you’re going to have a miserable holiday in Mozambique.
Don’t let vendors and beggars bother you
Mozambique is a poor country and every person has to hustle in some way for money. You’ll get approached in the street, on the beach and outside your hotel by someone selling something. Politely refuse and walk on.
The people of Mozambique are warm and friendly and it’s not necessary to be rude to anyone. They might badger you for a while but if they can see you’re not interested, vendors and beggars generally push on and leave you alone.
It’s usual to haggle the price down at roadside markets or with beach vendors selling trinkets and clothes. Always keep the Metical exchange rate in your head and work out if what they’re selling is worth the price they’re asking or if it’s a tourist rip-off.
MONEY & CREDIT CARDS
The official currency of Mozambique is the Metical (MT). South African Rand and US Dollars can be exchanged at the banks or at the major resorts in Mozambique.
You can use ATMs in the towns to draw money using your South African banking card; notify your bank before leaving on your Mozambique holiday so your funds will be released.
The large and popular Mozambique holiday resorts accept credit cards. The best card to carry is a VISA card as MasterCard and Diner’s Card are not accepted in Mozambique.
MALARIA IN MOZAMBIQUE
Malaria occurs throughout Mozambique and is a life-threatening disease if not caught in time and treated with the right medication. It’s spread by the Anopheles mosquito which is more active in the hot, wet summer months and at night time.
Speak to your GP or a travel clinic for advice on anti-malaria tablets. It’s highly recommended that you take anti-malaria tablets regardless of what time of year you go on holiday to Mozambique.
Other precautions include covering your arms and legs with long-sleeve shirts and pants before sundown and using an effective insect repellent. Always sleep under mosquito nets, preferable ones treated with DEET.
HEALTH WARNINGS FOR MOZAMBIQUE
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water in Mozambique. Avoid drinking tap water, particularly in remote and rural areas where water might be unsafe to drink. Buy bottled water from restaurants, hotels and shops.
Diarrhea is a common ailment when travelling in Mozambique and can be brought on by anything from poor water to spicy foods and dehydration. Carry anti-diarrhea medicine in your medical kit and in extreme cases seek medical attention at a local clinic or hospital.
If diarrhoea is combined with nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool; you’ll need a course of antibiotics to treat it.
To stay healthy and well in Mozambique, follow these basic precautions:
avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood
avoid eating food bought from market vendors and roadside vendors
only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled or filtered
avoid putting ice in your drink at local bars and restaurants; it’s most likely made using local tap water
always wash fresh fruit and vegetables in bottled water if you buy them from roadside markets
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED AT THE MOZAMBIQUE BORDERS:
Border & vehicle requirements:
Valid passport with more than 6 months remaining until expiry date
Citizens of South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe do not require holiday visas. Tourists from all other countries need to obtain a holiday visa on arrival in Mozambique.
Valid driver’s license; may be a South African or international driver’s license
Vehicle & boat registration documents
If your vehicle is financed by a bank; a letter from your bank stating you’re allowed to take the vehicle out the country
A temporary import permit is compulsory for vehicles; obtained and filled in at the border (only DA341 form)
Compulsory Third Party Liability Insurance Certificate per vehicle/per trailer/per boat: valid for 30 days from date issued) – obtained at the border
Blue and yellow triangle in the front and back of your 4WD vehicle and on the trailer or boat
Each vehicle must have 2 red reflective triangles and 2 reflective vests
No drugs, firearms or explosive materials can be brought in Mozambique
BASIC PORTUGUESE PHRASES FOR A MOZAMBIQUE ROAD TRIP
Bom dia (bohm-dee-ya)
Boa tarde (Boo-ah-tar-dee)
Boa noite (Boo-ah-noyte)
Good morning | Good afternoon | Good night
Por favor (pour-fah-vor)
Please | Thank you
Sorry | Excuse me
Não faz mal (now-fahz-mahl)
Quanto custa? (Quan-too-coosh-tah?)
How much is it?
Bom apetite (bohm-ah-pay-teet) | Boa viagem (boo-ah-vee-ah-jem)
Have a nice meal | Have a nice trip
Até já (ah-tay-jah)
See you soon
South African Embassy in Maputo: +258 21 49 1614
Maputo: +258 21 32 5031
Nelspruit: +27 13 759 1000
Maputo: +258 21 32 5000 or +258 21 32 5009
Nelspruit: +27 82 911
Maputo: +258 21 32 5000 or +258 21 32 5009
Mediclinic (Nelspruit) +27 13 759 0500
Anti-corruption office in Mozambique
Maputo Central Office: +258 21 31 06 93 or Cell: +258 82 96 57 804
Sofala Central Office: +258 23 32 41 83 or +258 82 95 00 205