15 Mozambique Travel Tips To Know BEFORE You Go

One of our favorite travel destinations has been Mozambique. We’ve had plenty of time to think about it, as everyone loves to ask us what our favorite country is once they learn we’ve been to nearly a hundred countries. We were unsure of what was in store when we traveled around Mozambique after South Africa and Swaziland. After a month in the country, it was one of our best decisions in Africa.

Sure, there is police and governmental corruption, a small rebel army, economic uncertainty, poor roads, slowly improving infrastructure, a high and confusing visa process, and crumbling transportation options—it does not sound appealing to most visitors. The country faces a huge number of challenging issues, and the northern regions of the country remain incredibly unstable with poverty, weak government, and terrorist organizations. However, the south remains stable, which has fostered a small amount of tourism thanks to the country’s glorious coastline.

After a few weeks in Mozambique, it remains one of the top places we can’t wait to return. Every day, I dream of empty beaches and delicious seafood on the African coast. If you’re thinking about traveling to Mozambique on your own and have made a wise decision, here are some things to note based on our personal travel experiences.

Tips For Travel in Mozambique

What Language do Mozambicans Speak?

Natasha Stands On An Empty Beach In Mozambique With A Fat Bike

Mozambicans speak Portuguese due to the historical influence of Portuguese colonization. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for nearly five centuries, from the late 15th century until its independence in 1975. The official language in Mozambique is Portuguese, and knowing some of the basics will make any experience when you travel there more enjoyable. “Obrigado” means Thank you, and “Bom Dia” means Good Day. That being said, we got around just fine with English—as we did most of Africa.

What is the Capital of Mozambique?

The Beach In Maputo Mozambique

Maputo has been the capital of Mozambique since 1898. It is the largest city and the country’s most important harbor. When traveling in Mozambique, this is where your trip will likely begin and end when flying. If traveling overland, this may change.

Like any other African capital city, Maputo requires vigilance and caution. While it’s not the most dangerous place in Africa, it is certainly not the safest. Violent crime is not too common, but pickpocketing and scams are, and don’t expect the police to be on your side.

If you’re going to stay in Maputo for a few days, remember to be aware, be present, not walk around at night, and not carry valuables on you. We personally only stayed a few hours in Maputo before traveling onward. We’re not big city people and just wanted to explore the more remote parts—which we don’t regret at all!

What Are the People of Mozambique Like?

Local Mozambique Man Hold Fresh Fish In Front Of Boat

Did I mention that the Mozambican people are one of a kind? I usually say that the locals are friendly or the *insert nationality here* are genuine, but the Mozambicans took us by surprise. Almost everyone we talked to throughout the country was full of smiles, laughs, and stories to share.

They seem happy to give us the shirt off their backs, even though they don’t have many material items to spare. If you need just one reason to visit Mozambique, it should be for the kind and unique people.

What Currency Will You Use in Mozambique?

Mozambique travel

The currency in Mozambique is the Mozambique Metical. The South African Rand and USD are usually welcomed everywhere as well. We suggest you always carry cash as it’s ill-advised to rely on a credit card, and ATM shortages outside Maputo are frequent. We waited in line for almost an hour to pull out cash in a small town while driving in Mozambique, and I felt lucky that the ATM worked when we needed the money.

We particularly found cash troubles when we arrived in the country from Swaziland with zero Metical on us and no ATMs in sight, and we had a three-hour drive ahead. We pulled over to ask where the nearest ATM was and got laughed at…so make sure to have some backup cash at all times. It’s worth mentioning that your Metical will be worthless outside of Mozambique. So make sure to spend it all before you leave!

Do You Need a Visa When You Travel in Mozambique?

Local People Walk Across Beach In Mozambique

All travelers (except citizens of Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) need a visa to enter Mozambique. We found information for obtaining a visa unreliably scattered across the internet. Do you need a visa beforehand, or is a visa on arrival possible? How much is a Mozambique travel visa for Americans arriving? These simple questions were very ambiguous online.

With little time to plan, we took our chances and hoped to get a visa at the land border. Thankfully, we could, and the process was fairly simple. In 2016, the cost for Americans traveling into Mozambique overland was 900 Rand (or 70 USD)—cash only. We paid in South African Rand but could have also paid in USD. Now, it appears that a single-entry visa to Mozambique costs $160.

When we traveled to Mozambique, we had no idea if this was the honest price or the price from a greedy border official. With no signs around and no information online, we had no choice but to pay what we were told. We met another American who paid 500 Rand for a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Prices in Mozambique seem to change for no apparent reason whatsoever—just luck of the draw. To be safe, you should obtain a visa before arriving in Mozambique. If the immigration official asks how long you will stay in Mozambique, tell them your plans or give yourself extra leeway. They may write down the exact days you tell them you will be there and pigeonhole you into those dates.

After I cross into any African nation, I always check the stamp on my passport and ensure everything from my name to the date is filled out correctly. Checking it on the spot means you can tell them when they made a mistake. Once you leave, you will be out of luck.

What’s the Weather in Mozambique?

Natasha Walks Along The Beach In Mozambique

Mozambique is in the tropics and experiences a hot and humid climate throughout the year. December to April is the rainy season, so the best time to travel to Mozambique is between May and November. This is their winter season and will yield cooler temperatures and fewer chances of rain.

We visited in early August and never saw a raindrop. Along the coast, it was hot and humid during the day but comfortable at night. If you are bringing electronics to Mozambique, make sure to get some packs of rice so that they can suck the inevitable moisture out of your devices.

Is There Malaria in Mozambique?

A Dusty City In Mozambique

Malaria is a serious threat in Mozambique, especially during the rainy season. Precaution against Malaria should be taken seriously here, even more so if you are in well-populated and wet areas. Cerebral malaria (the most deadly kind) is common in the country. Don’t be that person who has their holiday ruined by contracting a disease or, worse, faces life-threatening complications.

Protect yourself and ask the locals or business owners where you are staying if the mosquitos are bad where you are. Take malaria tablets, wear long sleeves at night, and apply bug spray. If traveling from South Africa, doxycycline and malarone can be acquired for quite affordable prices, even if you are a non-resident. Doxy is a good drug for malaria prevention. It’s also worth noting that malaria treatment pills are available at any Mozambican pharmacy without a prescription for about 500-1000 Mets.

We took advantage and stocked up for the rest of our African travels (but never needed to take them). Always take the proper health precautions when traveling to Mozambique and the rest of Africa. If you catch malaria in Mozambique, get to a clinic as soon as possible. African nations are much better at treating malaria and know how to handle the disease than going back home and dealing with it there.

How to Stay Connected in Mozambique

Woman Walking Down Village Road In Mozambique

Every place we stayed in Mozambique either didn’t bother having WiFi or had nonworking “internet.” The internet in Mozambique is developing. This is Africa, after all. Chances are you didn’t come to be online anyway. I suggest picking up a SIM card from Vodacom, as data is cheap in Mozambique.

The two main service providers are Mcell and Vodacom, and you won’t be able to shield your eyes from the crazy amount of advertising for these companies in the country. Registering a SIM card should be done at a real store.

You will find tons of people on the roads wearing Vodacom vests and selling top-up cards, but this is only for topping up your data and airtime. Registering a SIM card can take longer, and your passport information must be registered. Data is extremely inexpensive (500 MT for 5 GB) and works well.

Transportation in Mozambique

Boy Looks Out To Boat On The Coast Of Mozambique

The best way to get around Mozambique is with your own set of wheels. We traveled in with a two-wheel-drive bakkie that we rented from Hertz in Johannesburg. However, a 4×4 high-clearance vehicle is preferred in Mozambique. Once you get off the EN1, many roads and streets turn to dust and sand and are in disrepair. We got our truck stuck more than once and had to hire some locals to help us push it out.

If you don’t have a car, another option is to take the local buses and chapas. These are essentially minibusses and what the locals use to get around. This is the cheapest way to get around Mozambique but also the most unsafe. These buses are often appalling and overcrowded, and the drivers are not exactly exemplary. Life-threatening accidents are frequent. There are government chapas and unregistered chapas, and although neither is ideal, it’s safer to go with the government-registered chapas – but put on your adventure hat!

Hiring a private driver or getting private transfers for your trip is also possible. This isn’t the most cost-effective option, but it is safer than the chapas. Speak to your reputable hotel in Maputo for this option.

Water Or Beer?

Women Walking Along The Shoreline In Mozambique

2M (pronounced doysh-em) is the national brew of Mozambique, and a large bottle will cost you 50 Mets. The tap water in Mozambique is questionable, and drinking it should be done cautiously. The more rural you are, the more hesitant I would be about tap water. If you are staying at a nice lodge or hotel, they should have safe filtered drinking water, but ask first to be sure! We travel with a Grayl water bottle, which purifies water, removes viruses, and virtually eliminates all threats of waterborne illnesses. It’s expensive but worth it around Africa.

What’s the Food Like in Mozambique?

Mozambican Food With Fresh Spiny Lobsters

Unlike many other countries in Africa, we found the food in Mozambique to be rich and flavorful. Most of the population lives on the coast, and seafood is on every menu. Lobsters, prawns, and crabs are caught along the shores and thrown into even the most basic dishes. The local staple is “Matapa,” a fantastic blend of coconut, cassava leaves, and seafood (clam, crab, or prawn)—just be warned: it looks like baby food! A good local meal can cost between $5 and $10.

Is Mozambique Safe?

A Young Boy Steers A Small Boat On The Coast Of Mozambique

Is Mozambique a safe place to travel? At the time of writing, some safety concerns are noted on the Mozambique Wikitravel page, with a few Mozambique travel warnings. These safety concerns mostly pertain to the center and north of the country, where the Renamo still has a stronghold. Recently, tensions have begun to flare, and fighting has returned. However, Vilanculos and south of that, along with the main tourist sites, are typically violence-free.

We felt 100% safe while traveling southern Mozambique and felt welcome just about anywhere we went. You’ll likely experience no trouble in Mozambique besides the general annoyances traveling in Africa can bring. Keep your wits and street smarts about you, especially in Maputo; all should be fine. Avoid walking around at night or displaying signs of wealth, as an opportunist will always try to take advantage.

We’re always wary of the police in Mozambique. If you feel you are being fleeced for a bribe or something feels funny to threaten, call the anti-corruption or threaten to call the anti-corruption hotline. It’s meant to be there in case tourists run into trouble and has saved people from bad situations. One of the best things we did before traveling to Mozambique was to join the traveling Mozambique Facebook group. If you’re concerned about safety, looking into a Mozambique tour might be worthwhile!

The Police and Corruption in Mozambique

A Road Side Shop In Mozambique

Just about everyone who had traveled through Mozambique warned us of the police corruption. The night before we were set to cross the border, we spent hours reading horror stories online and then managed to completely psych ourselves out for getting hassled by the cops in Mozambique. There are frequent speed traps in Mozambique. The speed limit in towns is 60km/h, and once you are outside town, it goes up to 100 km/h. The speeds constantly change in places where it doesn’t make sense, so be alert if you are driving. The cops are waiting for you to mess up and pull you over. Or sometimes, they just pull you over for the heck of it.

If you are pulled over by traffic police (white shirt/blue pants)and given a ticket, get a receipt – this goes all over Africa. Insisting on a receipt means they don’t get to pocket the money they will charge you and have a set numerical fine. Asking for a receipt often dissuades police officers from continuing the conversation, and they may even just let you go. Dealing with your receipt means they miss out on other traffic violators and potential cash. Ask for identification if you are stopped by the police (grey uniforms). Never hand over your identification or passport to the police. Instead, show them that you physically have it and give them a copy to look at. Once they have your valuables, you could be paying to get them back.

Don’t ever initiate a bribe. Let them do the talking and ask them how they would like to handle the situation. When we were pulled over, we asked the policeman how we could help him. He told us he was thirsty, and we gave him a coke and were on our way. It’s worth noting that the country also has some “Mozambique travel vehicle requirements.” For example, traveling with two reflector vests in each car paired with triangles is mandatory.

Thankfully, the government has warned police not to rail tourists, affecting Mozambique’s tourism. Mozambique’s tourism numbers are the lowest of all the nations around them, and they are trying to change that. It’s worth noting that police don’t discriminate, either. We saw locals and tourists getting stopped, black and white.

Bring a Travel Adaptor When You Travel in Mozambique

Mozambican Men At A Market

When traveling to Mozambique, you’ll need a power adaptor. We bring this specific adapter everywhere. Plugs and sockets in Mozambique are type C, F, and M. The standard voltage is 220 V. If you need an adaptor, I highly recommend getting one before you arrive, as they will be tough to come by once you are in the country.

If you find yourself outside Maputo and need one, you may be out of luck. I would even recommend traveling with two just in case you lose one. The power sockets in Mozambique can be sketchy, so monitor the ones you use so they don’t short your electronics.

You Can See Dugongs in Mozambique!

Whale Shark Diving in Mozambique

I want to end this Mozambique travel tips post on a high note and let everyone know that it is possible to see dugongs in Mozambique. A dugong is a medium-sized marine animal sadly on the brink of extinction. They resemble manatees and are what the locals call “sea cows.”

I arrived in Mozambique to see one off the coast of Bazaruto Island. Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to see the sea cow, but we met those who were. Mozambique is one of the few places left in the world with dugong populations.

Diving and snorkeling are popular excursions on the Mozambican coast. Sea cow or not, I highly recommend spending at least a little time in the beautiful Indian Ocean. Some fantastic marine life is off the Mozambican shores, including whale sharks, humpback whales, and dolphins.

Plan Your Trip to Africa

  • Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans. 
  • Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
  • Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
  • Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
  • Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
  • Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
  • Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
  • Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
  • Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes every day, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
  • Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling to Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.
About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

1 thought on “15 Mozambique Travel Tips To Know BEFORE You Go”

  1. Thank you for sharing this Natasha. Such a very interesting post and it gets more interesting as you read thru. Mozambique is one on my bucket list and I’m relieved that it is still safe to visit. I’m also looking forward of seeing dugongs in PERSON. Lol. I like watching videos of them on Youtube grazing under the sea. Hahahha! They are just so peaceful.

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