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.

Frequently Asked Questions - Visiting Mozambique

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FAQs - Visiting Mozambique

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.

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