This section suggests ways of avoiding the possible pitfalls and frustrations of travelling in a country where distances between places of interest are great, safe public transport is scarce and often unreliable, there is limited acceptance of credit cards by tourist resorts and travellers cheques are almost useless. Outside of Maputo and the main tourist areas, English is not widely spoken and you will have a richer and more fulfilling visit if you learn some Portuguese (the official language) or at least know how to great in Tsonga, Sena or Macua. Note that the risk of becoming addicted to a remote corner of a national park or a long stretch of secluded beach is high - even if all of the usual precautions are taken.

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The more that I have experienced other parts of this peculiar planet, the more I am so relieved to be able to return to Mozambique to once again be surprised and intrigued by the diversity of the landscapes and humbled by the friendliness of the people.

Although showers are possible throughout the year, the rainy (and hottest) season is from around December to around May and this is also when the risk of malaria may be at its highest. 

Beaches are cooled by sea-breezes year-round and beware that the winter months on high ground such as Manica and Niassa provinces can see temperatures drop to the low teens (deg C). Sometimes routes north of Beira and Pemba become impassable during the rains, but most resorts throughout Mozambique are accessible year-round.  The whale (and windy) season is usually around June to September.  May-June-July-August winds can be very strong reducing sea activities.

In northern Mozambique (Nampula and Cabo Delgado Provinces), while dirt roads are more difficult and it can be uncomfortably hot and humid for some (only December and January are really hot), the vegetation is lush, the wind is ideal for sailing & diving in the Quirimbas and the storms are magnificent.

 

1 JANUARY: New Year’s Day

3 FEBRUARY: Heroes’ Day (death of the first Mozambican president, Eduardo Mondlane)

7 APRIL: Women’s Day (the date Josina Machel died)

1 MAY: Workers’ Day

25 JUNE: Independence Day

7 SEPTEMBER: Victory Day (the date of the Lusaka Accord, when the Portuguese agreed to independence)

25 SEPTEMBER: Armed Forces Day

19 OCTOBER: Samora Machel Day

10 NOVEMBER: Maputo Day (in Maputo only)

25 DECEMBER: Family Day (Christmas Day)

Easter and Boxing Day (26 December) are at present not official public holidays, but this may be changed. Islamic holidays, although not officially recognised, are observed by Muslim communities (who make up the bulk of the retail sector, so many stores may be closed).

While parts of Mozambique are still the best spots in the world to buy prawns and fresh line-fish, permits are need to transport these and a very limited shelf life (2-3 hours) makes old prawns good for nothing but attracting flies. Cashew nuts are a better bet if you need to nibble to sustain you during a long bus journey or as a present to impress your family and friends with. Although available throughout Mozambique, best value for money is obtainable at the cashew-processing factory at Monapo between Nampula and Ilha de Moçambique.

In the more popular tourist areas such as Ponta do Ouro, Maputo, Macaneta, Bilene, Inhambane, Tofo, Vilanculos and Pemba, local craftsmen make beautiful crafts and batiks and sell these at the roadside or at markets.

Arts and crafts have certainly attracted increasing attention in Mozambique since the return of tourists to this country in 1993. Coming to Mozambique and leaving without a colourful capulana, a Makonde statuette or a Malangatana painting (if you can afford it) would be like visiting Italy and not eating pasta. Although the Makonde group originates from a very limited area straddling the Rovuma River in Cabo Delgado province and Tanzania, Makonde co-operatives have been set up in Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Pemba and Mueda (the Makonde ‘capital’). Prices depend on the fame of the artist, the quality and size of the piece of wood used and the degree of intricacy inherent in the sculpture.

Mozambican painters are producing works that are presently highly coveted by some of the world’s art collectors. Although brightly coloured romanticised depictions of local scenery are enthusiastically produced by amateur artists even in the most unlikely corners of the country, watch out for names like Malangatana, Fatima (at Pemba or on Wimbe Beach), the Fundação Chissano Gallery at Matola near Maputo, Jorge Almeida and Luis Souto at the Co-operativa Alpha in Maputo, Conde and Paulo Soares at the Muséu Nacional de Arte, Maputo.

Beautifully woven baskets, bags, hats and furniture are sold on many of the main national routes, in the parts of towns most frequented by visitors (e.g. next to the Café Continental and close to the Hotel Polana on Av. Julius Nyerere in Maputo) and at the mercados – Inhambane has excellent woven reed products.

Silver jewellery is crafted by traditional smiths on Ilha de Moçambique in the crowded bairros) and Ilha de Ibo (in the fortress and in a house near the main market [mercado]). The genuine article (much is in fact made from nickel and tin) is made from melted-down, old Portuguese coins.

In southern African countries there is a long-standing and quite sophisticated culture of camping and backpacking and this is very well catered to in most areas of Mozambique.  Accommodation is cheaper when camping, but check that the resort has proper ablution and cleaning facilities.  You will need to be self-sufficient for preparing and eating food including tables and chairs.

The inner section of most hiking and nylon camping tents makes the most effective mosquito net and - as Mozambique is a beach destination - camping is a good, cheaper (and sometimes only) option.  Away from the tourist areas where there is no campsite or other official accommodation, ask for the local regulo, chefe or Nfumo, and indicate that you would like to camp – the community will look after you.  Bush camping along the coast is illegal and can be quite risky so best to take advantage of the security, comfort and facilities of a proper campsite or lodge.

Many lodges and restaurants now offer Wi-Fi to their customers and guests.  Data links can be slow and unreliable but all 3 cell phone networks offer data packages.

The GSM900 network now covers much of Mozambique including most stretches of the main arterial roads.   MTN and Vodacom (South Africa) have a roaming agreement between South Africa and Mozambique, as well as with many other countries, so contact your service provider for advice.

If you don’t have international roaming buy an mCel or Vodacom Mozambique starter-pack (pacote inicial) which is sold almost everywhere, even at the most basic of roadside stalls (barracas).  For advice on how to register your Mozambique SIM card and for coverage maps see www.mcel.co.mz Vodacom also operate in Mozambique, see www.vm.co.mz for their coverage maps.  Another popular network, particularly in rural areas is Movitel: movitel.co.mz

Note that “word on the street” is that Vodacom is currently the most reliable network for voice and date, but that this can vary from day to day and place to place.  My own experience is that Movitel may have a more reliable connection in the more remote rural areas.

In your own (or hired) 4x4 vehicle, about 4 weeks, using public transport, about 6 weeks. Shorter if you leave out the inland provinces of Manica, Tete and Niassa. You can cover Ponta do Ouro to Inhassoro in your own car, or by using public transport, quite well in 2 weeks.

By law everyone must always carry some form of official identification such as a passport or identification document (book).

To avoid your precious passport or drivers' license falling prey to pick-pockets or bribe-seeking police, make notarised (at a Mozambican Registos e Notariado) copies of all your documents and then carry these with you instead.  You will probably still be asked to produce the originals, but at least these can be kept in a safe place.

Carry spare passport-sized photos - they can be very handy if your passport disappears. Government officials and waiters are notoriously bad at calculating or providing change, so carry enough small notes and coins (in Meticais) to be able to pay exact amounts.

What is the best way to prevent malaria and what about the side effects of the tablets?

Short of staying out of Mozambique (the entire country is malarious), so you must take a suitable prophylactic. Consult the experts: https://www.netcare.co.za/live/content.php?Category_ID=34  , cover up dusk to dawn (wear boots – most bites are on the ankles), use repellent and (most importantly) sleep under a net or in a tent with sewn-in groundsheet.

Anti-malaria tablets do sometimes have various side-effects (a side-effect of malaria is death), but each individual is affected differently so take a few doses well before you go to find out what agrees with you best.

As prophylaxis, I use doxycycline (tetracycline), and my 14-year-old son takes Mefliam.  Malanil for prevention and Coartem as a cure are also effective in Mozambique, but always under guidance of a doctor who is accustomed to dealing with malaria.

Although showers are possible throughout the year, the rainy (and hottest) season is from around December to around May and this is also when the risk of malaria may be at its highest. 

Beaches are cooled by sea-breezes year-round and beware that the winter months on high ground such as Manica and Niassa provinces can see temperatures drop to the low teens (deg C). Sometimes routes north of Beira and Pemba become impassable during the rains, but most resorts throughout Mozambique are accessible year-round.  The whale (and windy) season is usually around June to September.  May-June-July-August winds can be very strong reducing sea activities.

In northern Mozambique (Nampula and Cabo Delgado Provinces), while dirt roads are more difficult and it can be uncomfortably hot and humid for some (only December and January are really hot), the vegetation is lush, the wind is ideal for sailing & diving in the Quirimbas and the storms are magnificent.

Passport holders of the following countries DO NOT NEED A VISA:

  • Botswana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

You will still get an entry permit for up to 30 days stamped in your passport, but this is NOT the same as a visa and cannot be extended - you will have to leave Mozambique and re-enter on a new entry permit.

 

 

ALL other nationalities do need a visa, and there seems to be no difference in the way citizens of the countries that require a visa are treated. In other words, there are no countries that Mozambique routinely refuses to grant a visa, or denies entry.

What Mozambique charges you for your visa at its consulates, depends on how much Mozambicans are charged for a visa when visiting your country.

 

There is so much confusion, ignorance and misinformation on the topic of visas to Mozambique. So here is my attempt to clarify a few things. Firstly, Mozambique consulates and Travel Agents can only stick to the official line that visas must be obtained prior to leaving your home country. The lack of consular representation and bureaucratic nonsense often makes this extremely frustrating at best, and impossible at worst. So do contact your nearest Mozambique Consulate and ask there how to get a visa, but note that the official line is that visas are not routinely issued at border posts and airports. In practice, this is not true. For the official line look up this link: http://www.minec.gov.mz/index.php/missoes-diplomaticas-e-consulares/missoes-consulares-no-exterior

Let me be clear at the outset that what follows applies ONLY to obtaining a visa on arrival (border visa) and is by no means authoritative, but reflects what MOSTLY (almost always) HAPPENS and not what (according to Travel Agencies, armchair "experts" and Mozambique's Consulate's and laws) SHOULD take place.

ARE MOZAMBIQUE VISAS ISSUED AT AIRPORTS AND LAND BORDERS?

Firstly, as a general rule, if you travel on the passport of a country for which Mozambique requires a visa, try to get one before departure.  While visas have commonly been issued at airports and MOST land borders (Namoto, Negomano, Congresso, Metangula, Entre Lagos and Mecumbura are not equipped to issue visas), AND THIS IS LEGAL ON PAYMENT OF A 25% SURCHARGE, this is at best a formality requiring nothing more than handing in your passport and approximately $80 (R570, MT 1500).  No photos or photocopies required, but proof of booking and return ticket can be asked for. At worst it is a nightmare as (very rarely) the officer on duty can randomly refuse to issue a visa - claiming some or other real or imaginary problem!  It must be stated that this is rare, but does make the headlines if and when it happens.

So while there is no absolute guarantee that a visto de fronteira (border or airport visa) will be issued on arrival, chances are actually excellent that you will receive one, even if sometimes a bit of patience and negotiation may be required.

So, to summarize, the regulation that border visas may still be issued (even if you have consular representation in your home country) on payment of 25% above the usual fee, seems sometimes to be ignored by border officials.  At the more remote land borders, sometimes the official may simply be too lazy to go through the process of issuing a border visa, or may have run out of visa stickers, or the computers may be off-line.

So, getting a visa at the border or airport is allowed and regulated by law and is most often a formality, it is subject to the vagaries of human nature. 

There are a number of categories of visa that can be issued, but I will only deal with the most common ones:

1) Visto de Fronteira

(border visa - usual fee is $50 to $80 but can be a lot cheaper if you pay in Mozambican Meticais or Rands, depending on which that border you use). Note that this is a SINGLE-ENTRY 30-day visa. Despite what the official Moz govt websites may state, double, or multiple-entry visas are NOT issued on arrival. A possible advantage of a border visa, is that it CAN be (by law it should be, but you will be at the mercy of whoever attends to you) extended for one more period of 30 days at Migracao offices in provincial capitals and larger towns within Mozambique.

What does a border visa look like?

I have seen reports of visitors being issued with irregular (illegal) border visas at the Pafuri border post, either due to the official having run out of visa stickers, or due to corrupt practices.  So see below for what your border visa should look like.

Edited Visto de fronteir border visa Mozambique

In order to extend ALL double or multiple-entry visas, it is required that you leave Mozambique and re-enter on a further 30-day permit.

If, for example, you have a six-month multiple-entry visa (of whatever type), you will still have to leave the country before the first 30 days is up, and re-enter on a further 30-day entry stamp.

AT THE BUSIER BORDERS (RESSANO GARCIA, PONTA DO OURO, MACHIPANDA) THERE ARE NOTICES WITH VISA FEES IN METICAIS (MZM), US$, EURO, POUNDS AND RANDS, BUT IT IS BEST TO HAVE METICAIS OR DOLLARS TO HAND. CHANGE IS IN METICAIS AT A POOR EXCHANGE RATE.

Whether at one of the airports or land borders, this (Visto de Fronteira) is the ONLY type of visa that is issued on arrival in Mozambique. The LAW is that the Visto de Fronteira SHOULD only be issued to BONA-FIDE TOURISTS (business-people and work-seekers are not eligible for a border visa) who have travelled DIRECTLY from a country where there is NO Mozambique consular representation, i.e. it would be impossible for them to obtain a visa from. for example, where their flight originates. IN PRACTICE, border visas HAVE BEEN (who knows what the future holds) regularly issued to most arrivals, wherever they come from, BUT if the official just happens to suspect that you are entering Moz to seek work, or do business, then you could be DEPORTED.

If you require a visa for Mozambique, and intend to apply for one on arrival, BEWARE as some airlines and bus companies will not allow you on board unless you can produce a valid visa.

OTHER THAN THE 30 DAY SINGLE-ENTRY BORDER VISA, ALL OTHER TYPES OF VISA ARE AVAILABLE ONLY VIA CONSULATES OUTSIDE OF MOZAMBIQUE: 

2) Visto turístico

(tourist visa): fee varies and the initial 30-day period can be extended for two more 30 day periods, BUT ONLY BY DEPARTING FROM, AND RE-ENTERING MOZAMBIQUE - can be done at a land border. The period you have to stay out of the country seems to be arbitrary and ranges between immediate re-entry to five days, from border to border

3) Visto de negócios

(business visa): This can be extended AT A BORDER for two further periods of up to 30 days each. If you will be conducting any sort of business during your trip to Mozambique, this is the visa for you.

Note that, if the purpose of your visit is to seek work, or to take up a job, then you will need to be in possession of a Visto de Trabalho, valid for 30 days, extendable AT A BORDER for a further 30 days.

The official MINISTÉRIO DOS NEGÓCIOS ESTRANGEIROS E COOPERAÇÃO (Mozambican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and cooperation) website link (Portuguese) to visas is: http://www.minec.gov.mz/index.php/viagens-e-negocios/vistos-de-entrada

Another useful website (Portuguese) is: http://www.consuladodemocambiqueporto.pt/vistos.php

 

Firstly, as a general rule, if you travel on the passport of a country for which Mozambique requires a visa, try to get one before departure. While visas have commonly been issued at airports and MOST land borders (Namoto, Negomano, Congresso, Metangula, Entre Lagos and Mecumbura are not equipped to issue visas), AND THIS IS LEGAL ON PAYMENT OF A 25% SURCHARGE, this is at best a formality requiring nothing more than handing in your passport and approximately $80 (R570, MT 1500). No photos or photocopies required, but proof of booking and return ticket can be asked for. At worst it is a nightmare as (very rarely) the officer on duty can randomly refuse to issue a visa - claiming some or other real or imaginary problem! It must be stated that this is rare, but does make the headlines if and when it happens. So while there is no absolute guarantee that a visto de fronteira(border or airport visa) will be issued on arrival, chances are actually excellent that you will receive one, even if sometimes a bit of patience and negotiation may be required. So, to summarize, the regulation that border visas may still be issued (even if you have consular representation in your home country) on payment of 25% above the usual fee, seems sometimes to be ignored by border officials. At the more remote land borders, sometimes the official may simply be too lazy to go through the process of issuing a border visa, or may have run out of visa stickers, or the computers may be off-line. So, getting a visa at the border or airport is allowed and regulated by law and is most often a formality, it is subject to the vagaries of human nature.

NOTE THAT ONLY THE 30 DAY SINGLE ENTRY VISAS CAN BE EXTENDED IN MOZAMBIQUE. 

Tourists can spend up to 90 days per year in the country, but you will have to have your 30-day visa extended at an Imigração office in a provincial capital and many large towns. 

BUSINESS AND DOUBLE OR MULTIPLE ENTRY VISAS CAN ONLY BE EXTENDED BY EXITING AND RE-ENTERING MOZAMBIQUE.

Some Zimbabwe and many South Africa - based companies do allow their vehicles into Mozambique so inquire before booking. In South Africa (Johannesburg) contact Southern Off-road (4x4hire.co.za)  Hertz: tel. (011) 390 2066, www.hertz.co.za, for Safari-equipped 4x4's www.bushlore.com  see also www.getawaytoafrica.com and in Zimbabwe (Harare) contact Cameron Harvey Safaris: tel. (04) 86 0978, e-mail: camhar@africaonline.co.zw or Elite: tel. (04) 73 8325, fax (01) 72 0414.  Note that an "Across - border" fee of about $100 - $200 may apply and if you need the vehicle delivered from South Africa or Zimbabwe to an airport in Mozambique (and collected) a hefty ferry-fee will be charged.

No, but you will need the original vehicle registration papers (notarised or copies certified by a Commissioner of Oaths usually acceptable) and a letter of authorization from the registered owner and bank (with driver’s name and travel dates) if the vehicle is financed.

All land borders issue a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) at no charge.  Third Party (MVA) insurance is compulsory and is sold at MOST land borders (Pafuri, Entre Lagos, Vila Nova and Rovuma are exceptions) or can be purchased in advance at AA and Outdoor Warehouse, Sasol Service station near the border and online at https://www.hollsure.co.za/Page/About 

Have your documents ready to hand as you may be asked for these by the white-shirted transit police.  For comprehensive cross-border vehicle insurance look up: http://www.ccic.co.za/ultimate-overview/

No.  South African and most other country’s driver’s licenses are accepted.  The (unofficial) guideline is that your license should have the Portuguese “carta de condução” written on it.  The official regulation is that your license must be valid and current in your own country.   It is however very useful to carry an International License.

If you have a cell phone (and reception) phone the nearest lodge (I assuming that you have a guidebook such as Globetrotter Guide to Mozambique or do a search using the internet).

If alone with no phone (it is advisable to travel together with other vehicles) take all valuables and immediately hitch or catch public transport to the nearest tourist facility and arrange a tow back. Once occupants and vehicle are safe, see if essential repairs can be done locally, but ask locally first for a reliable mechanic. 

Contact your insurance company to arrange for your vehicle to be repatriated to South Africa, or other country.   A very reliable and experienced independent mechanic and vehicle repatriation person is Henri Gouws, tel Mozambique +258 82 657 0169 or South Africa + 27 73 819 7735.

Diesel (gasoléo) and petrol (gasolina) are readily available in the provincial capitals as well as along the main routes. In remote areas diesel is far easier to find than petrol. Where there are no service stations, try at the roadside barracas (stalls) or at the 'mercado' (market) and/or speak to the transport and bus drivers. Fuel is cheapest in Maputo, Beira, Quelimane and Nacala and increases in price with distance from these ports. Diesel costs Mt40 (ZAR13, US$0.95), petrol Mt50 (ZAR15, US$1) per litre.

If you envisage having unprotected sex, treating local authority with contempt, taking no precautions against malaria, ignoring local advice about the localities of landmines or when bush (free) camping and insisting on driving at night, then Mozambique is a very risky place.

At all times beware of muggers in the bigger cities and petty thieving almost everywhere away from resorts. Note that it is essential to carry a medical evacuation insurance.  I use TIC Travel Insurance to cover emergency air evacuation: www.tic.co.za

South Africa has excellent private hospitals and for example for emergency trauma you can do no better than the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg tel + 27 11 – 480 5600, www.netcare.co.za)

ONLY If coming from an infected area (see: www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/maps) a Yellow-Fever Inoculation certificate is required. If you are likely to come into close contact with the local population for long periods, then Hepatitis A, Typhoid, T.B, Meningitis, Polio, Rabies and Tetanus shots could be advisable - ask your doctor.

At the start of 2016 Mozambique was declared to be land-mine free, however do not wander off well-used routes or into the bush on the roadside. Always rely on local advice (take along a local guide when walking or driving ‘off the beaten track’).

A large proportion of travellers using public transport are other local women who will take you under their wing. Mozambican men can be fairly chauvinistic so if you do not have male company expect some stares at restaurants and unwelcome (perhaps) approaches at bars and nightclubs.

Municipal tap water should be avoided so drink bottled or boiled and filtered water in cities and towns. Most tourist lodges and campsites pump water from boreholes and this should be fine but ask the management first.

Anti-malaria prophylaxis is essential so consult with a doctor or travel clinic experience in dealing with tropical diseases.  Treatment should be via a local clinic – they are very experienced at treating malaria, or at a hospital when home if no longer than 24hrs from first symptoms.  Apart from your anti-malaria tablets, pack mosquito repellent, antihistamine cream, antibiotic cream and tablets, diarrhoea pills, de-worming pills (vermox), fungal cream, baby powder, plasters, scissors, eye-bath (and sterile water), tweezers and a clinical thermometer (to be used whenever you feel down, as fever may be your first sign of malaria).  If heading for very remote areas where outside assistance will not be available or accessible, take along a comprehensive medical kit such as that supplied by http://www.medicalman.co.za/ . 

The Metical is not a floating / international currency so banks and bureaus de change will not be able to provide Meticais.  The best way to obtain local currency is by using one of the ATM’s in Mozambique.  There are illegal / informal money changers at the busier border posts such as Lebombo / Ressano Garcia, but the only way they can make a living is by defrauding / scamming you, SO BEWARE!

VISA credit cards can be used at many of the more upmarket lodges, hotels and restaurants in throughout Mozambique, but best to enquire in advance or when booking.  As long as you have had a PIN number loaded on your VISA or MASTERCARD (Cirrus and Maestro) you can get cash at ATM’s which are now in almost all towns and service stations.  Note that on Fridays and at month end there may be long queues and ATM's may run out of cash.  Travelers Cheques are not widely accepted but you may be able to change them at a bank, BUT AT A MINIMUM COMMISSION OF US$50.

With the plethora of South African owned lodges and the influx of hundreds of thousands of South African tourists, the rand has just about become the currency of choice in Mozambique south of the Save river. Also in demand is US$ cash in large denominations ($50 and below are changed but at half the going rate).  Many lodges also accept Euro and Pounds, but enquire in advance. SA Rands easily exchanged from Beira southwards.

In northern Mozambique (Cabo Delgado and Nampula Provinces), SA Rands are not widely accepted, so either draw all your cash needs in Meticais from an ATM (best). or carry dollar and Euro in cash (not very safe, but widely accepted).

Presently the Metical is losing value fast to other major currencies so it has become much more affordable to visit Mozambique.  However, the inflation rate is rising too, so don’t expect this window of opportunity for a cheaper holiday to last a lot longer.  At many resorts the prices are quoted in SA Rand and or US dollars and Mozambique meticais.  Always carry enough meticais in cash and insist on settling all of your bills in local currency, or you may pay in forex at a very poor exchange rate.

The present (September 2016) exchange rate is Mt5,35 to the SA Rand and Mt75,7 to the US$ and Mt85 to the Euro.  Prices of food (at markets), transport and accommodation may be lower than in ‘developed’ countries, but current prices compare quite well with similar products and accommodation in South Africa, for example.

If you are camping, self-catering and/or using public transport, expect to spend (per person) about R600 (US$40) per day. If staying at self-catering chalets and eating one meal at a restaurant per day, budget on R800 (US$60) per day. For fly-in folk, lodges range from US$100 to $800 per person per day. If touring in your own car (petrol or gasolina is approx Mt50, diesel or gasóleo is Mt40 per litre)

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