Apart from citizens of its neighbouring countries, all visitors need a visa – passports must be valid for at least six months after end of visit. In addition to your passport, two passport photos and photocopies of your passport must accompany your visa application. For US$30, visas are now always issued on entry (except at the Mekumbura, Namoto and Entre Lagosborders), but this can be time-consuming, so it could be better (but more expensive) to obtain one in advance. Visitors arriving by vehicle must have a valid driver’s licence and the car’s original registration papers. A temporary import permit (TIP) and MVA (third-party) insurance (called seguros – bought at the border) will be demanded at checkpoints all over the country. A good idea is to carry notarized (at a Mozambican notorário público)copies of your driver’s licence and passport.
Customs and Excise
If arriving by air, electronic equipment must be declared. Other consumable goods may attract import duties if their combined value is more than US$50 (per person), or if the official decides that you intend to sell them in Mozambique.
Pets may be brought in from South Africa and Zimbabwe only if you have a vet’s certificate indicating that they have had all their inoculations. You may have great difficulty bringing them back home.
Visitors from, or passing through, a yellow fever zone require a valid International Certificate of Vaccination. Cholera and smallpox vaccinations are not required, nor is there any form of AIDS screening for visitors. The tropical climate is ideal for anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria. (Consult your physician before travelling into Mozambique.) Bilharzia in rivers and lakes and AIDS also pose serious threats for the foolhardy. Tap water is often not potable, but most lodges and hotels have their own safe borehole water.
By air: Maputo International Airport is served by carriers from Europe (Paris and Lisbon), South Africa and Tanzania. Pemba has daily and Beira thrice-weekly flights with www.airlink.co.za and LAM from Johannesburg. Vilankulo(daily) andInhambane are served from Johannesburg and Kruger International by Pelican Air Services: Tel: +27 11 - 973 3649,fax: 973 2513. www.pelicanair.co.za , while Pemba is served by LAM from Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
By road: Good tarmac roads lead from South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and western Malawi. The ferry over the Rovuma River runs at high tide only. Luxury buses from Johannesburg and Durban (South Africa) to Maputo daily. Contact Greyhound, www.greyhound.co.za tel: (+27 11) 276 8500 / (0)83 915 9000 or InterCape, www.intercape.co.za tel: +27 (0) 21 380 4400.
By rail: There are daily Spoornet Komati trains between Johannesburg and Komatipoort: www.spoornet.co.za South Africa toll-free: 086 000 8888. Twice a week trains run from Balaka (Malawi) to Nayuchi/Entre Lagos; then get a lift to Cuamba from where there are trains on alternate days to Nampula.
By boat: No passenger services but Starlight Cruises www.starlight.co.za include Inhaca Island and Barra Point in their itineraries.
What to Pack
Insect repellent, a sunhat and sunblock are essential. Long shirts and trousers help to ward off mosquitoes in the evenings. Beachwear may be daring, but off the beach women should cover up with a capulana (sarong), men with shirt and shorts. A warm jacket and trousers for winter evenings, an umbrella for the sudden summer tropical downpours and smart-casual evening wear for some restaurants and clubs.
Note: In 2006 Mozambique redenominated the Metical by 1000 to 1 (i.e. taking three zeros off),. New coins and banknotes have been introduced and during an undefinedtransitional periodboth old (antiga) and new (nova) meticais can be used. Currency: Unit of currency is the metical (MT), plural meticais. A ‘quanto’ or ‘conch’ (1 metical) is also referred to as uma pão. There are various ‘Centavo’ and MT1, 5 and 10 coins, while notes come in denominations of: MT; 20;50; 100; 200 and 500, Stallholders in markets and along the road don’t carry much change.
Exchange: Money can be exchanged at banks, hotels and Mercados Secundário de Câmbios (Bureaux de Change) where you’ll get best rates for US$ and SA Rand; other currencies are difficult, travellers’ chequesalmost impossible, to change.
Credit cards: In Maputo, other provincial capitals and most larger towns Visa cards can be used to draw the local equivalent of US$200 at Cirrus ATMs (so long as a PIN number has been loaded onto the card), VISA also accepted at the more up-market hotels and restaurants. Get a cash advance (up to the equivalent in meticais of US$500) from branches of the Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM). Mastercard holders can get cash from the Banco Austral, and use Cirrus ATMs if they have a PIN number.
Traveller’s cheques: American Express Traveller’s Cheques in US$ can also be exchanged at BIM ($15 appears to be the standard charge). Banks may charge commission per cheque, regardless of denomination.
Tipping: Waiters, porters, car guards (guardas) and other casual workers expect to be tipped. 10% for waiters, MT20for the others.
Outside of Maputo there a growing number ofquality hotels, and comfortable lodges (from self-catering to full board) dot the coastline from Ponta do Ouro in the south to the lodges on Ibo, Quilalea and Medjumbe Islands in the far north.
The small, quaint boarding houses (pensãos) range from the ‘rather-sleep-in-your-car’ variety to delightfully homely places where you can rest and recuperate. The supply of reasonably good and affordable accommodation cannot meet demand, and it is recommended that visitors book at least six months in advance to be assured of a room.
The predominance and variety of seafood reflects Mozambique’s maritime location. Restaurants range from pricey international (US$70 per meal) to simple sidewalk (US$3 per plate). Many establishments specialize in spicy Indo-Portuguese cuisine such as curries (caril) and grilled prawns (camarão grelhado), while market stalls may offer simple local fare like mu-khuwane (spinach and shrimps). The variety of fresh produce on sale at the markets increases in the larger towns but is poor in the rural areas. Prices in Maputo and Pemba have become relatively high.
Air: The capital cities of eight of Mozambique’s 10 provinces (Inhambane and Xai-Xai excluded), are served by the domestic wing of LAM (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique, www.lam.co.mz). Booking at least six months in advance is recommended. Air Corridor recently began operations: www. aircorridor.co.mz
Road: The principal coastal road (Estrada Nacional 1, or EN1) which links Maputo, Xai-Xai, Inhambane, Vilankulo, Beira and northern Mozambique (the Caia ferry is operating reliably, and the bridge is due to be completed by 2009) has been, or is currently being, upgraded. Roads linking Mozambique to neighbouring countries have been repaired or are presently receiving attention. In the Zambézia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, 4WD vehicles are essential during the rainy season (December–April).
Road rules: Although to the newcomer traffic will appear anarchic, Moçambicanos (should) drive on the left. Speed limit (strictly enforced using radar) within a built-up area is 60kph (25mph), including sections of rural roads which simply pass a trading store. Outside urban areas, the general speed limit is 100kph (62mph).
Car hire: Avis, Imperial and Europcar are represented in Maputo, Beira and Nampula. For Pemba look up www.kaskazini.com and for Vilankulo, www.vilankulo.com Unless you are doing a round trip, you will have great difficulty hiring a vehicle.
Overland visitors driving their own vehicle are required to purchase third-party insurance (seguros) and temporary import permit (TIP) at the border; a carnet is not needed. Visitors are advised to carry a fully comprehensive travel and vehicle insurance and a medical evacuation policy, which can be issued by such organizations as TIC: www.tic.co.za South of the Zambezi and in Nampula, fuel (diesel especially) is widely available and costs a little more than in South Africa. Diesel (gasóleo) is cheaper than petrol (gasolina). Unleaded petrol is widely available but currently no low, or ultra-low sulphur diesel.
Buses: Coach services offering varying comfort and reliability link Maputo to Beira, stopping at all large towns in between. Try Panthera Azulor Transportes Oliveiras (near Praça 16 de Junho), tel: (1)42-1634 (both in Maputo).
Trains: Daily between Maputo and Chicualacuala (Zimbabwe), and on alternate days Nampula and Cuamba.
Shops and offices usually open 07:30–12:30 and 14:00–18:30 Monday to Friday, and 09:00–13:30 and 15:00–18:30 on Saturday. Banks generally open from 08:00–15:00. Sidewalk quiosques (many are informal bars) stay open late at night.
Mozambique is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean (or Universal Standard) Time, one hour ahead of European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of the USA’s Eastern Standard Winter Time. Sydney is eight hours ahead of Mozambique. Ilha de Moçambique is far enough east for the sun to rise 1hr earlier (many visitors adjust their watches accordingly).
Mobile Phones: Major towns and many smaller ones are now on the mcel and Vodacom cellular phone networks. International public phone offices (telecommunicações are usually close to the post offices (correios), sometimes in converted, air-conditioned containers. Dialling codes are: Maputo 21; Xai-Xai 281; Beira 23; Chimoio 251; Quelimane 24; Tete and Songo 252; Nampula and Nacala 26; Lichinga 271; Pemba 272. Calls from province to province don’t need a zero (0) at the beginning and within a province all eight digits are dialled. Calls from outside the country still need the country code 258 before the eight-digit number. To call a mobile from anywhere in Mozambique you no longer need a zero (0) at the beginning. Mozambique has two (regularly updated) telephone directories: Zona Zul for Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane provinces; Zona Centro Norte for the rest.
Post offices are open 07:30–12:30 and 14:30–16:30 Monday to Friday, but are closed over weekends.
Internet and WiFi: All provincial capitals have internet cafés, while many hotels (including Chitengo Lodge) and restaurants are WiFi ‘hotspots’.Electricity
Power supplied is 220 volts AC (50HZ), but as variations are common in Mozambique, appliances should be surge-protected. Socket types vary from 3- and 2-pin round to
2-pin square, so bring along a universal adapter plug.
Weights and Measures
The metric system was introduced in the early 1960s. A pocket fisherman’s spring balance is a very useful item.
The tropical climate carries with it a high incidence of insect as well as waterborne diseases and infection. Consult organizations dealing with tropical diseases for advice, bearing in mind that new strains of malaria, resistant to both chloroquine and pyrimethamine, occur throughout Mozambique. Enquire about the possible side effects of treatments such as Larium and take a trial dose a couple of weeks before departure. If staying for more than a week, take along a course of malaria treatment such as Coartem. Don’t drink tap water unless the source is an uncontaminated borehole at one of the lodges. Boil all water or drink only the bottled variety, which is widely available but expensive. It is safest to assume that all lakes and rivers are infested with bilharzia, which is, however, fairly easily treated. Use sun lotions with the highest protection factor (Doxycycline, used as a malaria prophylactic, commonly causes mild to severe sun-sensitivity).
AIDS is rife in Mozambique and the usual precautions applicable elsewhere should be followed. Since blood at the hospitals may not have been screened properly for the HIV virus, opt for evacuation to South Africa if you need a blood transfusion. Stonefish, bluebottles, hammerhead and Zambezi sharks occur off the Mozambican coast. Snakes such as the deadly black mamba are not uncommon, but the chances of snakebite or shark attack are so small that they hardly warrant a mention. The bluebottle (or Portuguese man-of-war) belongs to a group of feeding polyps capable of inflicting a dangerous (but usually just very sore) sting.
Only in Maputo is adequate medical care available, and then at a price. If you are injured or become ill, you are strongly advised to make immediate use of your medical evacuation insurance and be transferred to one of Johannesburg’s excellent private hospitals or to your home country. Although Mozambique’s rural clinics are being refurbished, qualified doctors or other trained medical personnel may not be in attendance. Buy medications, including antibiotics, at a private farmácia.
In the larger cities such as Maputo, Beira, Pemba and Nampula, beware of pickpockets and don’t venture into deserted or badly lit places at night unless you are with locals. Poverty is rife and so is petty thieving, but backpackers and overlanders can relax at recognized camp sites which employ guards. Car hijackings and other armed robberies do occur, especially in Maputo and usually from the late afternoon onwards. Safe parking is scarce, but make an effort to seek it out, as vehicle parts, including windscreens and indicator lenses, are often stolen within minutes after you have left your vehicle. Groups of street children sometimes surround tourists and surreptitiously remove watches, wallets and other valuables from their unsuspecting victims.
Without downplaying the horrific injuries that have been inflicted on Mozambicans by land mines, visitors who follow a few sensible precautions are far more likely to be stricken with malaria than come across land mines. A massive and thorough mine-clearing operation has already swept major roads, and is now concentrating on the minor ones and the more remote areas. Heed local knowledge, stick to well-used roads and trails, don’t veer off – even for a call of nature – and you will be safe.
Contact your embassy in the event of accident, vehicle theft or trouble with the law. If you run over someone, produce your third-party insurance (seguros) and accompany the police, who will have to arrest you. The police force and ambulance service are generally poorly trained and equipped. In Maputo call the police at tel: (21) 42-7343 or 42-7575, and the fire brigade at tel: 198. For private medical air rescue services call Netcare/S.O.S Servicos de Assistencia, Lda 24 hr helicopter and ground rescue 82 911 and Maputo 21 313103.
Mozambicans value good manners and courtesy. Modest dress is expected off the beach, but formal attire is rare. Request permission before taking photographs of people or entering private or communal property. Rather than paying any ‘bribes’, adopt a relaxed, friendly and unhurried attitude, which will usually confound unscrupulous customs officials.