One of our favorite experiences in life has been to travel to Mozambique. It’s thought we’ve had plenty of time to think about as every person loves to ask us what our favorite country is once they learn we’ve been to nearly a hundred countries.
When we set out to travel Mozambique after South Africa and Swaziland we were unsure of what was in store. After a month in the country, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made in Africa. Traveling to Mozambique brings back some of our favorite travel memories ever.
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.
However, Mozambique brings something much more to the table that any adventurous soul will come to love. After a few weeks in Mozambique, it remains one of the top places we can’t wait to return to someday.
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 if you have made a very wise decision, here are some things to note based on our personal travel experiences.
Things to Know Before You Travel in Mozambique
1.) What Language do Mozambicans Speak?
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 in Mozambique more enjoyable. “Obrigado” means Thank you and “Bom Dia” is Good Day.
That being said we got around just fine with English – as we did most of Africa.
2.) What is the Capital of Mozambique?
Maputo has been the capital of Mozambique since 1898. Maputo is the largest city in Mozambique and serves as the most important harbor in the country. When you travel 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, vigilance and caution should be practiced in Maputo. 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, don’t walk around at night, and don’t 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 get out to the more remote parts to explore – which we don’t regret at all!
3.) What Are the People of Mozambique Like?
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 really took us by surprise.
All throughout the country almost everyone we talked to was full of smiles, laughs, and stories to share. They are the kind of people who seemed 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.
4.) What Currency Will You Use in Mozambique?
The currency in Mozambique is the Mozambique Metical. Though the South African Rand and USD are usually welcomed everywhere as well. It’s advisable to always carry cash on you as credit cards have not really caught on yet and ATM shortages outside of Maputo are frequent. We waited in a line for almost an hour to pull out cash in a small town while driving Mozambique, and I felt lucky that the ATM actually worked when we needed it to.
We particularly found cash troubles when we arrived in the country from Swaziland with zero Metical on us and no ATMs in sight with 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!
5. Do You Need a Visa When You Travel 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 to get 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 that we could 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 a single entry visa to Mozambique is $160 USD.
When we traveled to Mozambique, we have 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 did meet another American who paid 500 Rand for a visa on arrival at the airport. Prices in Mozambique seem to change for no apparent reasons whatsoever, just luck of the draw. If you want to be absolutely safe you should obtain a visa before arriving to Mozambique. If the immigration official asks how long you are going to stay in Mozambique be sure to tell them your plans or give extra leeway, they may write down the exact days you tell them you are going to be there and pigeonhole you into those dates.
After I cross into any African nation I always make sure to check the stamp in my passport and make sure everything from my name to the date is filled out correctly. Checking it on the spot means you have the opportunity to tell them when the made a mistake. Once you leave you are out of luck.
6.) What’s the Weather in Mozambique?
Mozambique is in the tropics and experiences 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 bring some packs of rice so that they can suck the inevitable moisture out of your devices.
7.) Is There Malaria 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 of where you are staying if the mosquitos are bad where you are at. Take malaria tablets, wear long sleeves at night, and put on 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 prevention drug for malaria. 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 ended up needing to take them). Always make sure to take the proper health precautions when traveling to Mozambique and the rest of Africa.
If you do 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 to a Western nation and dealing with it there.
8.) How to Stay Connected in Mozambique
Every place we stayed while 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 anyways.
I suggest picking up a sim card from Vodacom as data is really 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 with Vodacom vests selling top-up cards, but this is for topping up your data and airtime only. Registering a sim card can take more time, and your passport information will need to be registered. Data is extremely inexpensive (500 MT for 5 GB) and works decently well.
9.) Transportation in 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 overall 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 your own 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 it is 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!
It’s also possible to hire a private driver or get private transfers for the duration of your trip. This isn’t the most cost-effective option but it is definitely safer than the chapas. Speak to your reputable hotel in Maputo for this option.
10.) Drink Up!
2M (pronounced doysh-em) is the national brew of Mozambique, and a large bottle will run you all of 50 Mets. The tap water in Mozambique is questionable, and drinking it should be done with caution. 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 filtered drinking water that is safe, but asks first to be sure!
We travel with a Grayl water bottle that purifies water, removes viruses, and virtually removes all threats of waterborne illnesses. It’s expensive but worth it around Africa.
11.) What’s the Food Like in Mozambique?
Unlike the 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 crab are caught along the shores and thrown into even the most basic of dishes in Mozambique.
The local staple is “Matapa” which is a fantastic blend of coconut, cassava leaves, and a seafood variety (clam, crab, or prawn) – just be warned it looks like baby food! A good local meal can be between $5 and $10.
12.) Is Mozambique Safe?
Is Mozambique a safe place to travel? At the time of writing, there are some safety concerns 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 flair, 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’re likely to experience no trouble in Mozambique, besides the general annoyances that traveling 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.
Don’t trust the police in Mozambique, and don’t rely on them to get you out of any trouble. If you feel you are being bribed or something feels funny to threaten, call the anti-corruption or actually 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, it might be worthwhile to look into a Mozambique tour!
13.) The Police and Corruption in Mozambique
We were warned by just about everyone that had traveled through Mozambique 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. In towns, the speed limit is 60km/h, and once you are outside of town, it goes up to 100 km/h. The speeds constantly change and 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 make sure to 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 has some “Mozambique travel vehicle requirements,” as well. Things like traveling with two reflector vests in each car paired with triangles are mandatory to have. We joined this Facebook group before going to stay up to date on all information regarding Mozambique travel.
Thankfully the government has warned police not to rail tourists and affect tourism in Mozambique. 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.
14.) Bring a Travel Adaptor When You Travel in Mozambique
When traveling to Mozambique, you’ll need a power adaptor – this is the one we bring around the world. The power plugs and sockets in Mozambique range from type C, F, and M. The standard voltage is 220 V. If you need an adaptor, I would highly recommend getting one before you arrive as they will be tough to come by once in the country. If you find yourself outside of Maputo and you need one, you may find yourself 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 that they don’t short your electronics.
15.) You Can See Dugongs 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 that is sadly on the brink of extinction. They resemble a manatee and are what the locals here refer to as “sea cows.”
I arrived in Mozambique with the intent of seeing 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.
Check Out Some Lodges in Mozambique
Anvil Bay is a collection of casinhas, or little huts, nestled within the coastal forests of Mozambique. It is a secluded beach camp located along the Southern Mozambique coastline in the protected wilderness region of the Maputo Special Reserve.
Travessia Beach Lodge
The lodge itself was brought to fruition by some passionate ex-pats who appreciate what an incredible spot in the world it is. After several years of paperwork and construction, Travessia became the perfect destination for a holiday in Mozambique. It was five days with no shoes, coconut water, and relaxation for us.
Book A Safari in Mozambique
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They suggested camps and lodges and then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way; you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you by booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.
Another great option is Safari Bookings. Safari Bookings offer safaris all around Africa in every price range!
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 Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.