Places To Visit / Top Tourist Attractions
Mozambique offers some of the best diving and fishing spots on the planet, with some believing that the civil war and lack of modern fishing vessels have brought about a rejuvenation of marine life. Many coral reefs are found close to the shore with some being up to 40 feet deep and possess bountiful varieties of tropical fish. Sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and the giant whale shark have made these waters their home and are found throughout the year.
During July to December humpback whales engage in a spectacular ritual of aerobic movements and fortunate divers have been able to listen to the mating songs of the male whales. Various scuba centers are found along the coastline and can also provide training up to dive master level.
Snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and various nature tours are available for those individuals who do not wish to dive. Strict laws are in place to protect the natural habitat of the fauna, flora and marine life; quad biking, jet skiing and automobile rides on the beaches are therefore prohibited for this specific reason.
Mozambique also called the land of smiles, offers a unique holiday experience as it encompasses the mysteries of primitive East Africa as well as the indulgences of a tropical paradise.
Mozambique is progressing out of obscurity since the end of the Mozambican civil war in 1992 and is becoming known for its supreme diving and fishing spots.
Over 2400km of breath-taking coastlines are set against rolling hills and low plateaux whilst other areas have rugged high and lowlands, many of which are still unexplored. Quaint villages and small towns are situated along the coastline where visitors can stroll through the markets and soak up the abundance of color, music, art, and aroma. Visitors must be warned to refrain from purchasing items containing sea and turtle shells as locals harvest and kill them for monetary benefit.
Maputo is the capital and largest city in Mozambique and its economy is centered around the harbor and many ports which are used for trade. Although the local Africans inhabited the land, it was only until the Portuguese explorers, in the 1500’s landed on the shores, when modern infrastructures and towns were established.
Maputo is the most modern city in Mozambique and also is the manufacturing hub for most of the exports including sugar, coal, chromite, cement, shoe rubber and various other commodities; for this reason, various modern facilities including accommodation, restaurants, and shops exist. Mozambique was given its independence from Portuguese rule in 1975 and many ethnic Portuguese, almost overnight, left Mozambique taking with them the skills and knowledge to run and maintain the infrastructure of the country. Subsequently, civil war broke out lasting from 1977 to 1992 resulting in a collapsed economy, causing Mozambique to become the poorest country in the world.
Regardless of the above, the government, with help of other foreign countries, has regained some of its composure and are now focusing on making Mozambique an ideal holiday destination. Visitors to this beautiful subtropical paradise can travel around the city in chappas (minibus taxis) exploring the many modern and antique Portuguese buildings, with some still vivid reminders of the civil war. Universities and various museums including the military-, natural history- and Mozambican history museums will tell tales of the birth and growing pains of the country. Tourists can also visit the beautiful Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima where the Fatima events of prophecy, eschatology, and apparitions were declared ‘worthy of belief by the Catholic church.
There are various cultural influences ranging from the more dominating local and Portuguese influences to the more subtle influence of Indian, Chinese and Arabic. These influences are also found in the diverse cuisine prepared at various modern restaurants or tourists can simply indulge in seafood, which is always fresh and succulent, and sip down on local Maputo beer which is very popular.
Continuing with the culture aspect of Mozambique, the Núcleo, famous for displaying sculptures where weapons have been transformed into objects of art and nestled in an age-old Villa in the center of Maputo, also display exhibitions of both local and international artists. Maputo also hosts The Dockanema Documentary Film Festival as well as other international festivals in which documentary films are shown from all over the globe.
If you do not feel like too much culture exploration on your holiday, why not take a stroll in the Tunduru Gardens, which is found in the centre of town, and which were designed by a British gardener dating back to 1885; tennis courts belonging to the Mozambique Tennis Federation are also situated in the gardens. The MERCADO municipal market is also a very interesting place and bursts with colors and aromatic smells of the various fruit, vegetables, and nuts available for sale. It also hosts various craft stalls where visitors can purchase souvenirs to take back home.
Maputo is the hustle and bustle of Mozambique and the departure point to various other tropical destinations such as Pemba, Inhambane, Vilanculos, the Qurimbas, and Zanzibar, to name a few. It truly is the heart of Mozambique and visitors will here be able to get a true feeling of the history of the country as well as the potential that it has to offer.
Mozambique accommodation for holiday makers can be found at various hot spots around the country. Most of the popular tourist destinations include that of Bazaruto and Benguerra Islands, Vilanculos, Inhambane, Pemba, Quirimbas, Ilha de Mocambique, Maputo, Ponta Do Ouro, Ponta Mamoli, Machangulo peninsula, Xai-Xai, Bilene, Garongosa, and Beira.
Mozambique is one of the countries that are still surrounded by a cocoon of mystery as it has only fairly recently egress from obscurity since the civil war ended in 1992. In order to improve the economy of the country, the government is promoting tourism to its various tropical beaches which have bountiful fish and marine life. Diving and fishing enthusiasts constantly return to these tropical areas as the water is crystal clear, calm, warm and contain many fish species, including bountiful sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and giant shark whales which are found in these waters throughout the year.
Mozambique accommodation includes secured and dedicated campsites for caravans and tents in most coastal towns. Individuals who want to experience the true African experience and who doesn’t mind to rough it out may even, with the chief’s blessing, be able to camp out in the rural areas itself; usually, a gift in the form of liquor, food or cigarettes is seen as an offering of appreciation.
Backpacker lodges and cheap motels is another form of accommodation especially for the traveler on a tight budget and several are found in Maputo, Tofo beach, Pemba, and Vilanculos.
Self-catering units and bungalows are also available for use and often have a 180-degree view of the ocean. Depending on where you stay, facilities might be lacking and visitors must always determine beforehand if mosquito nets, cooking equipment, such as gas canisters, is available for purchase. In other areas, facilities are catered well for the tourist and this type of accommodation is ideal for family or groups.
Hotel accommodation also ranges from well priced to extremely expensive.
Mozambique accommodation is available in a variety of forms and will cater for every need type and budget. Tourist must ensure that the accommodation, especially in lodges and self-catering bungalows have mosquito nets and necessary equipment.
Mozambique is a tropical paradise which is still well undervalued and with time will become one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. Very decent accommodation facilities, especially for tourists, have been established all along the coast and include various diving centers and eco-friendly sites. Regular visitors to the country know to travel by 4WD as many of the roads are either sand roads or in poor condition.
Currency & Banks
Meticais is the Mozambican currency used and the U.S.Dollar or the South African Rand are the most accepted form of currency and can be exchanged at banks and hotels. Towns, especially around tourist destinations, also have banks and ATMs, and valid international credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa are accepted for payment.
The origin of the name “Mozambique” is not certain, but it is believed to have come from the name of a Muslim leader called “Musa al Bique” that lived on Ilha de Mocambique, where Vasco da Gama in 1498 anchored his ship.
Soon the area became a trading and resting post, bringing great benefits and riches to the Portuguese through the trade of gold, ivory, and slaves. The Portuguese came to colonize this land in 1505.
Mozambique became the “People’s Republic of Mozambique” on 25 July 1975, which brought an end to almost five centuries of colonization. And on 3 February 1976, the capital “Lourenço Marques” (a name given by the Portuguese) was renamed “Maputo” a dedication to those that fought for independence. But this land’s hardships continued through the great damage it suffered during its civil war, lasting until the end of 1992.
Mozambique offers stunning beaches, excellent diving, magical islands and wild safaris into its National Parks. Its hospitable population, which Vasco da Gama back in 1498 recognized by calling it: Terra de Boa Gente (The Land of the Friendly People).
After the suppression of its culture during colonialism, the Mozambican cultural renaissance came to flourish during the anti-South African apartheid system fight.
The Cultural renaissance did not come from the government or academics but from the population, even after all the storms that this land has endured its people are full of passion, friendliness and a high sense of national identity and pride. And that includes the passion for its culture that remains intact and personal.
Music and dance is not only a form of entertainment but also of expression, being part of traditional and/or religious events. Music is constant and predominant. There are many different forms of dancing each with its different instruments and rhythms but also with its different purpose of expression. Traditional music instruments are handmade using wood, fruits and animal skin. The most popular are the lupembe, the marimba, and the timbila.
There is nothing shy or dull in the Mozambican dance. There are many types but some of the examples are: the Xigubo (the dance of war), the Semba (the dance of love), the Xigogoro (from the Chope ethnic group and performed on the timbila), the Makwaya (the dance of joy, performed mostly at weddings); however these traditional dances are not actually danced when you go out at night, in this scenario you will have dances like the marrabenta or passada. Being it a slow or fast rhythm, the movement is honest, free and powerful; truly a form of expression that comes from the populations’ roots, history, ancestry and present daily life.
Its paintings and sculptures are inspired by the impressionism and abstract movements. However, Mozambican art has a unique individuality of its own, its culture and history are often the subject matter; being a celebration portraying its music and dancing or one of struggle portraying labor and wars, often having the hoe and the rifle incorporated, as it also is in its flag. Malangatana and Mankew Valente Muhumana are two of the names that have captured the international eye.
Other names such as Carlos Cardoso, José Craveirinha, Paulina Chiziane, Mia Couto and Nelson Saúte have captured the national and international eye through their words, through journalism, poetry, fiction or non-fictional, they have pursued to uncover the truth, to inspire pride and aspirations.
Mozambican theatre is witty and funny, but most importantly it always has current social issues as a subject matter, an important awareness transmitted by entertainment and very good actors.
Western clothes are used by everyone, where style and fashion are given a great importance. However, the capulana (a thick cloth, that has art and commerce inspired designs on it) is used by some women on top of whatever piece of clothing they are using, wrapped from the waist downwards. Also smaller pieces of the same material are used by being wrapped around the women’s’ head covering their hair, or on top of the head, folded in a pillow like form, serving as support when carrying and transporting things.
Sports is another great component of the Mozambican culture, be it on the sports fields, or in the streets. Football and basketball are the two sports that have most interest amongst the Mozambican society. Its most famous athlete, Maria de Lurdes Mutola, specialized in the 800 meters. She won the first gold medal for Mozambique at the Sydney Olympic Games.
Mozambican cuisine, like its people, originates from 3 continents. Not only including African and European but as well Indian, Malayan and Chinese. Flavour is one of the most important ingredients; being it the fresh taste of its seafood, or the spices, and sometimes nuts, or the time and preparation that is put into each dish, which includes a wide range of ingredient.
Traditional medicine and traditional healers (the curandeiros) are an important part of its culture and are highly respected by its believers, which constitute half of the population. The second biggest percentage follows Christianity in its many forms. The other most predominant smaller groups are composed by Muslims (mostly Arabs and blacks in the northern part of the country), by Buddhists (mostly Mahayana and Chinese), and by Hindus (mostly Indians). However, about 20% of the population is not associated with any particular belief.
Mozambique has a few airports which are used by international visitors to enter and exit the country and include Harare, Lisbon, Portugal and South Africa. Within the country smaller airports in Beira, Nampula, Lichinga, and Pemba exist; same procedures with regard to airport tax, fees and customs apply.
Most of the main roads in the country has been upgraded and tarred although many other roads in the countries are in poor condition or tar roads don’t exist at all. Regular visitors to Mozambique know to travel by 4WD when using their own transport. Chappas, which are minibus taxis, and buses are the main form of transport in the country.
Mozambique is a great holiday destination which can cater to the tastes of most individuals. Various museums, markets, nature reserves and points of interest can be visited for a culture rich experience. Nodding palm trees on white sandy beaches with its Turquoise Ocean and warm waters have provided numerous breathtaking and entertainment experiences for visitors.