Mozambique is one of the most stunning countries for those who love beaches and marvelous coastline. If you love diving, quad biking, fresh seafood, and hanging in hammocks, Mozambique is one of those awesome budget beach destinations that few frequent.
If you’ve heard that Mozambique is difficult to travel through, I hate to say it’s entirely true. I can tell you, however, that it’s worth the pains to get around, because once you do reach your end destination, it’s sure to be stunning and the journey is half the adventure.Obtaining a visa is simple enough to get a visa on arrival at the airport or at land crossings into Mozambique. Recently, reports of Americans being denied entry at the border for not sorting out a visa ahead of time have surfaced, which means if you hail from the USA, you have to figure out the visa before you go.
The rules for other nationalities are (at least for now) as follows: If your country has a consulate or embassy for Mozambique, you are expected to obtain a visa ahead of time, unless you’re from one of the eight bordering countries, residents of which can travel to Mozambique visa-free. I obtained my visa easily and on the same day at the consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. There is also one in Pretoria, but it seemed silly to travel for an hour to get there, when there was a consulate much closer to me in the city. There wasn’t much information online, so I tried my luck and just showed up, which worked out.
Getting to Mozambique from abroad, you will probably have to route through Johannesburg or another close airport. In some cases, the flight onwards to Tofo or Maputo is prohibitively expensive, but luckily the busses to Maputo from Johannesburg are not bad at all. I took an Intercape bus that took 10 hours, was air-conditioned, and was comfortable. From Maputo, I took a 10-hour chapa to Tofo, which was a long and cramped experience, but it’s the reality of travelling in Mozambique.
Travelling Within Mozambique
There is no simple or straightforward way to travel through Mozambique, I’m sorry to say. A few options are available, an option is to take a Chapa which a van taxi that stops often to pick people up and will try very hard to overcharge you, if you don’t already know the price, and you’ll still overpay, that’s a guarantee. They are usually set to depart at 4am and will drive around for several hours finding people to pick up before they leave.
A very good option is to rent a car. If you bring a car through, chances are you’ll rent it in South Africa first. Most companies won’t let you bring a car rental to Mozambique, but a few will. In those cases, make sure you have the proper documentation that allows you to drive across the border.
Another unavoidable byproduct of driving will be the police soliciting bribes. They will find a reason, no matter what, to pull you over. For example, two girls I met in Mozambique were pulled over and fined for having bags in the back seat because, “seats are for people, not bags.” There’s not much you can do in this case, but haggle them down. Chances are good that you won’t have to pay much over the equivalent of $10 or $20, unless they really get angry with you.
Hitchhiking and chapas were my main modes of transport in Mozambique, and while hitchhiking always has an element of risk, so does taking a chapa. Speaking Portuguese will help monumentally, but as long as you ask around and find a logical spot for a ride, you probably won’t have to wait too long to get one. In some cases, the driver will want a tip, but I was never asked for one.
I didn’t hear much positivity about travelling to Mozambique prior to my trip. I was told that I’d get robbed in Maputo, that the border crossing would involve bribes, and that I might get pick pocketed. None of that turned out to be true and I actually really liked Maputo, and found Mozambicans to be generous and kind.
I just did what I always do – I stayed aware of my surroundings, brought a bag lock, which is a good idea in Mozambique, where I never saw lockers, and when I did things like hitchhike or walk at night, I did so with others. I treated locals with respect and when I haggled, I did so with a smile. Mozambique isn’t easy, but it is worth it. I loved my time there and can’t wait to return.
This article was written by KRISTIN ADDIS.