Mozambique: Navigating this new travel hotspot

Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte in Mozambique

Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte.  Photo:  Stig Nygaard

Mozambique’s civil war has been over for more than two decades – it began in 1977 and ended during the 1990s. And, although the war had a negative impact on the country regarding tourism, the times are changing, and tourism is fast becoming the largest resource for the more than 25.3 million residents who live there.  

Mozambique, which is over 300,000 square miles, has managed to become one of the world’s most alluring and captivating countries for tourists to visit. 

And, there’s no doubt as to why.

There is so much to see and do in the country, with the Bazaruto Archipelago being a top travel destination for the 21st century – a real gem for both travelers and Mozambique experts.  The Bazaruto Archipelago comprises of six islands near its mainland city of Vilankulo. The six islands, which lie just off the country’s coast, are called Bangque, Shell, Santa Carolina, Magaruque, Benguerra, and Bazaruto.

Many often describe the islands as Earth’s paradise. Why?

It’s because the islands are amazingly beautiful – it’s not like other holiday destinations. It’s got an extremely rich marine life, with all kinds of activities for tourists to partake in.

Diving Expeditions

A colorful Sea Apple lies along Mozambique's sea bed.  Photo:  Tchami

Warm coastal waters lend itself to the plethora of marine life that divers can view and enjoy. In fact, the visibility of the islands is around 40 meters and over 600 species of sea life to see. The water is home to humpback whales, dolphins and an array of sea turtles, moray eels and so much more.

And, beyond the wildlife are the shipwrecks along the seabed – all there to be explored by adventurous folks. The Bazaruto waters will provide divers with unique experiences they’re sure not to find anywhere else.

What are some other dives sites you should consider checking out?

  • Barra Reef
  • Andres Reef (Nacala)
  • Disaster Drop Off (Situ Island)
  • Creche (Malongane)

The islands and dive spots offer so much for tourists to enjoy, away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds within the city and villages of Mozambique.

Outdoor Sporting Activities

Mozambique offers an array of fishing, hunting and hiking activities for visitors to partake in and enjoy.  For the fishers, there’s the challenge of game fishing as well as saltwater fly fishing. For game fishers, there’s a wide array of fish to be caught such as the Granders, Yellowfin Tuna, King Mackerel, Wahoo and Groupers to name a few. For saltwater fly fishers, there’s the Bluefin Kingfish, Bigeye Tuna, Largemouth Queenfish, Great Barracuda and Little Eastern Tuna that can be caught along with a host of others.

A majority of the fishing takes place three to four miles off the shorelines at depths of 15 to 200 feet.  Mozambique’s coastline runs around 2,700 kilometers, which means one can fish throughout the country – north to south.

Game hunting is allowed as long as it is carried out in conservation areas within the 12 different national parks and reserves throughout Mozambique. There are many tourists’ expeditions and adventures that can organize a legal wild game hunt.

Travelers who have a thing for hiking and even love to do a little bird watching can do so in the national parks. There was a time that land mines were an issue in these parks. However, in 2015, Mozambique was determined to be free and clear of those left behind from the civil war. So, what are the national parks that are worth visiting in Mozambique?

  • Quirimbas National Park
  • Gorongosa National Park
  • Marromeu National Park
  • Maputo National Reserve (also called Maputo Elephant Park)

Packing for Mozambique’s Environment

If you want to visit the country of Mozambique, you need pack carefully. There are two seasons:

  • Wet season – October to April
  • Dry season – April to October

It’s important to note that the climate conditions vary from one place to the next. Along the coast, the torrential rains occur more north than south. The average temperature for Mozambique is 82 degrees Fahrenheit, but since the climate conditions can vary based on location, your packing should include much of everything (depending on the time of year you go).

  • Winter Visit – Bring fall/spring clothing including a light jacket, sweaters or sweatshirt.
  • Summer Visit – Bring loose fitting clothing, light shirts, sun hat, light raincoat, swimwear, etc.

Of course, as always being slippers, boots, and hiking shoes (if you’d like to do some hiking).  

Traveling To and Around Mozambique

In addition to a passport, an entry visa must be attained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation before arrival into the country.

In order to attain a visa, the following documention must be supplied:

  • Copy of flight confirmation/return tickets
  • Hotel booking confirmation
  • Recent bank statement

The cost for attaining a visa is as follows but subject to change without notice:

  • Tourist and business: $55 or £40 (single-entry); $95 or £70 (multiple-entries)
  • One-day express service: $68 or £50 (single-entry); $137 or £100 (multiple-entries)

Regardless of how you get around the country, it’s important to have these documents with you at all times:

  • Personal ID (Driver’s License, Passport, Visa, etc.)
  • Driver’s License (should you decide to dry)
  • Car Insurance (this can be attained at the border)
  • Automobile Registration
  • Temporary Import License (Necessary for boats, caravans or trailers)

It’s not uncommon for Civil Police and Transit Police to stop vehicles and ask for documentation. Remember that it’s illegal to drink and drive, and seatbelts are a must.

Road access to some cities will be dependent upon the weather and traveling outside of the city after dark can be dangerous. Be sure you learn what you can about the roads before leaving for your destination.

Food and Drink

Although many people have transitioned toward the mining, transportation or port centers, four-fifths of Mozambique residents live in the rural areas of the country. These folks rely on the farming industry (farm plots known as macambas) and the environment to grow and harvest foods.

For those in the coastal regions, people will partake in fishing, using dhows or small boats that have been waterproofed with resin or natural gum.

All of their efforts can be seen in the local food that visitors are encouraged to try.  For instance, matapa is a sauce, which comprises of ground peanuts, cassava leaves or any green and often served with shrimp.

Photo: Paul Scott

The main food in the country is called ncima, which is a thick porridge that’s made from corn flour/maize. Other staples include rice and cassava, typically served with fish, beans, meat, and vegetables. A favorite meat staple is chicken, which is grilled and seasoned with spices like peri-peri (chili sauce). What are some of the foods you should consider trying?

  • Prawns – This seafood holds in a lot of flavors and is extremely juicy. They may be fried or grilled, depending on your preference and come with the peri peri sauce or some dashings of garlic.
  • Pao – This is a Portuguese white bread roll that’s baked in the villages’ wood-fired ovens.
  • Prego Roll – This food can be found along roadside snack shacks, which is a steak with the peri peri sauce covering it.

For alcoholic drinks, there’s the 2M, Laurentina and Tipo Tinto (the nation’s rum) that visitors ought to consider trying while in country. Of course, for those who don’t like alcohol, there are the worldwide recognized brands like Coca-Cola.

The country of Mozambique is extremely beautiful, with all kinds of things for travelers to enjoy. When you need a place to visit for your next trip, this is where you need to go to find a relaxing time.

 

About the Author

Susan Powell, an ASU graduate with a degree in News-Editorial Journalism, is a freelance writer, who spends her free time with her kids and at the gym.