WHY SHOULD I VISIT MOZAMBIQUE?
Here are the top five reasons why you should visit Mozambique
- Bazaruto Archipelago – Benguerra, Bazaruto Islands and Vilanculos
- Quirimbas Archipelago – including Azura Quilalea, Ibo Island and dhow safaris
- Inhambane area – long unspoilt beaches
- Southern Mozambique – White Pearl & Ponta do Ouro
- Ilha de Mozambique – history and Coral Lodge
With over 2400 km of coastline, Mozambique has some of the most beautiful beaches on earth. The advantage is that it is still largely undeveloped, and you are most likely to be one of only a handful of people enjoying kilometres of sandy beach. Its islands are unspoilt and offer luxury a step away from the Indian Ocean. During whaling season, it is a great place to watch whales’ breech and dolphins play in the waves. The Inhambane area is also one of the best places to swim with the Dugong. While safaris are on offer, they are still in their infancy, reasonably difficult and expensive to get to.
What is the best time to visit Mozambique?
The best time to visit Mozambique is the dry period from June to October with June, July and August, being a little cooler. While Mozambique is partially protected from cyclones by Madagascar, January and February would be the time that cyclones would be most likely to hit. Most of the rain falls between December and March.
Which places should I include in my visit?
Mozambique is essentially a beach destination and while most of the beaches are excellent, the places that have the infrastructure to support tourism are:
- Ponto da Ouro
- Ponta Mamoli
- Machangulo Peninsula
- Inhambane & Pomene
- Vilanculos & the Bazaruto Archipelago
- Ilha da Mozambique
- Quirimbas Archipelago
If you want a Mozambican island experience, the Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos are your best choices while the mainland has a wide variety of holiday options to fit most budgets.
How long should I visit Mozambique for?
While it is possible to sun yourself on the beach for 3 nights, we recommend that you stay a little longer to unwind and stays up to 14 nights are not uncommon. It is essential to select the property you stay at for longer periods carefully as some properties have very few additional activities besides sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling.
What is the weather like in Mozambique?
Mozambique is tropical with temperatures very seldom going below 15°C. Being 2470 km from north to south the further north you travel, the closer you are to the equator and the hotter the weather.
The country experiences two seasons, a wet season (October to March) and a dry season (April to September.
While there is some variation between the north and south, the wet period is mostly between December and March and is also accompanied with high humidity, sometimes uncomfortably so.
The dry period offers clear skies, little rain and lots of sunshine.
February and August are traditionally the windiest months and visibility during dives may be reduced greatly. January and February are also the months that cyclones may be experienced although this is not a very common occurrence.
Do I need a visa to travel to Mozambique?
Citizens of SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries do not require a visa to enter Mozambique. All other countries do require a visa which must be obtained beforehand if the country has Consular representation. A visa can be obtained on arrival by citizens of those countries that do not have consular representation.
What are the health requirements for Mozambique?
Mozambique is a malaria risk area. Anti-malaria medication is recommended, and you should consult your doctor in this regard. To minimise the risk of contracting malaria, wear long trousers and cover your arms in the evening, and apply mosquito repellent.
A Yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from an endemic country. The following vaccinations are recommended, but not compulsory:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis (TDAP)
- Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR)
- Meningococcal meningitis
How can I travel around in Mozambique?
You can self-drive through Mozambique, but you will need a 4×4 vehicle to get to most places on the coast as once you have left the reasonably good north/south tar road, the roads become sandy. Just north of Vilanculos to Beira it is not recommended that you self-drive as the roads are very bad. From Beira to Pemba, the main road improves and a 4×4 vehicle is needed to get to the coast.
Chapa’s (is it a bus or a truck?) are the local means of transport from town to town. They are primitive and uncomfortable. Taxis are available in the bigger centres, but by far easiest way is to fly into one of the main centres and have your lodge transfer you from the airport.
TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Mozambique is renowned for its diving and deep-sea fishing. Diving the coral reefs of Mozambique, most of which are close to shore, is very rewarding and in addition dolphin, manta rays, whale sharks and turtles are often seen. Diving or swimming with dolphins is one of the drawcards in certain areas of Mozambique. The area around Inhambane is known as ‘the’ spot to see the endangered dugong along this coast. With the deep Mozambique Channel on its doorstep, deep-sea fishing is particularly good.
Whale watching can be done between July and December, when the humpback whales frequent these warm waters to mate. Other water activities include snorkelling, kayaking, canoeing, kite surfing, dhow cruises and sailing, to name but a few. Other activities on offer may include horse riding, mountain biking, safaris, walking or just chilling on the beach.
Mozambique is truly a beach mecca that is not yet crowded or too busy. It is also one the most romantic places for honeymoons that you can visit.
Ponta do Ouro, Malongane & Mamoli
Set in the southernmost part of Mozambique, the series of long, sandy bays with exquisite beaches offers the traveller anything from a small town beach vibe to a secluded luxury beach lodge set on the dunes where you can sip cocktails on your deck overlooking the Indian Ocean. This is the place to dive, swim with dolphins, kayak, surf, shore and deep-sea fish, eBike and enjoy turtles walks during turtle hatching season.
Easily accessible from Maputo, the Machangulo Peninsula is a stone’s throw from Inhaca Island. It is surrounded by marine reserves which offer excellent diving, some of the best in Mozambique. Machangulo is certainly off-the-beaten track as it is the only lodge in the whole area. Fishing; shore, rock and deep-sea are excellent and with the range of activities on offer, this is a pace for the whole family.
Maputo is a truly African city, a combination of a few modern buildings, old colonial structures, quiet leafy suburbs, slums, industrial areas, a harbour and beachfront all in close proximity. Most roads in the city are untarred and in the rainy season are muddy and smelly. Recovering from a devastating civil war, Mozambique is trying to claw its way into the 21st century and nowhere is this more evident than is Maputo. It is a city that is constantly on the go, vibrant is its own way, poor and not very attractive.
While it does have a beachfront, the water quality is poor, so we recommend that you make use of the hotel pool instead.
The area is made up of several bays and peninsulas, all with long sandy beaches. Inhambane and Maxixe are the largest coastal towns in the area, but most of the lodges and resorts are in the surrounding areas and often stand alone on their section of this part of the Mozambican coastline.
Bays like Tofo (known for its whale sharks), Barra Beach, Inhambane Bay (has a small number of dugongs in its waters), Pomene Peninsula with its water chalets, Travessia and Massinga offer a myriad of activities, both on and off the water.
Vilanculos and surrounding area
Just outside the vibrant town of Vilanculos and scattered along the beach and cliffs along the coast you will find holiday lodges, hotels and resorts. Vilanculos looks over the shallow water that separates the mainland from the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. The coral reefs around the Islands and the islands themselves protect the beaches of Vilanculos where the water is calm and hardly ever experiences large waves.
From self-catering lodges, large resorts, more boutique honeymoon hotels to the magnificent 5 star Santorini set high on a cliff just north of the town, most budgets are catered for. Surprisingly, with the number of tourist establishments, the beaches are not very busy allowing you to bake in the sun quite comfortably. Some of the hotels are well known for their excellent standard of cuisine.
The vibrant town is a short drive or less than a 30min walk away (depending where you are staying). You can visit the local shops, the outdoor stalls, have a cup of coffee in a coffee shop or just take in the vibe of the village.
Close to Vilanculos is the San Sebastian Peninsula which forms part of The Sanctuary, a conservation and eco-tourism initiative that includes both land and ocean reserves. The reserve protects some of the areas where the dugong is found and also boasts antelope, giraffe and other species that have been reintroduced into the area.
The activities available are almost endless, varied and for the whole family.
The Bazaruto Archipelago is made up of the two main islands of Bazaruto, the largest, Benguerra and 4 smaller islands, namely Margaruque, Santa Carolina (Paradise Island), Banque and Pansy Shell Island. The islands lie within the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, a 1583 km² area that was established to protect the marine wildlife, including turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, whales, sharks and the only viable population of Dugongs, numbering about 250 individuals, along the coast.
The islands have beautiful sandy beaches, sand bars, azure blue seas, sand dunes, coral reefs and freshwater lakes, complete with crocodiles. The activities available are almost endless, varied and for the whole family.
Gorongosa National park
Unique in that it is the first private ecotourism initiative in the world, the “Serengeti of the South” is starting to open up again for tourism. With lakes, mountains, swamps and huge savannah plains this National Park, at the end of the south-eastern most spur of the Rift Valley, is truly beautiful. As the most ecologically diverse park in the world, Gorongosa has huge tourism and conservation potential.
Ilha de Mocambique area
Once the capital of Portuguese East Africa, Ilha de Mocambique, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to about 14000 people. Dating back to the 15th century, it has a rich history which today can be explored by visiting the Palace of Sao Paulo, the church of the same name, the museum and walking through its streets. The island is roughly divided in half, one half being the original slave quarters and the other the ruling elite.
While the island does have beaches, these are crowded and unattractive. A short sail away, on a stunning peninsula lies Coral Lodge. With mangrove swamps, a private lagoon, a long sandy beach, corals reefs and a local village a short walk away you are spoilt for choice of how to fill your days here. A historical day trip to Ilha de Mocambique is a must for all visitors to this unique part of Mozambique.
A town on the Mozambique coast boasts the deepest port on the East African Coast which serves, via railway, countries in the interior like Malawi.
Nuarro Lodge is located north of Nacala on a dune overlooking Nanatha Bay. With coastal bush backing the property and the ocean in front, it is a true bush & beach destination. The lodge lends itself to mountain biking amongst the bush and Baobabs, snorkelling, scuba diving, sun-bathing, kayaking, dhow sailing and paddle-boarding. As it is quite remote, it is ideal for a quiet, and if required, romantic getaway.
Pemba has seen rapid development in recent years as it is the staging point for the exploitation and development of the huge gas reserve found out to sea in the area. This has led to a small fishing village being transformed into a small busy city. If you travel for about 20min or more, either south or north, you will find some beautiful lodges and resorts that bely the fact that a busy city is just a short distance away. With the calm, blue Indian Ocean, long sandy beaches and warm tropical waters, a stay here can be truly special.
The Quirimbas Archipelago is a series of 32 islands, not all inhabited, dotted around the northern Mozambique coast. Eleven of the islands are part of the protected Quirimbas National Park, which while being mainly a marine park, also extends to include a large portion of land on the mainland. With most of the islands being protected by coral reefs, the warm waters are calm and great for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, paddle-boarding and relaxing on the white sandy beaches.
The sea floor drops away in certain areas and provides the perfect conditions for deep-sea fishing. At certain times of the year whales can been observed adding to the already impressive list, which includes turtle breeding excursions, of activities you can enjoy.
Ibo Island, Azura Quililea and Vamizi Islands are those most developed for tourism and rival the Maldives for beauty and experience.
Be it your honeymoon, family beach vacation or annual holiday, contact Q2 Travel for expert advice on this exciting destination.
GENERAL INFO & HISTORY
Mozambique is roughly the size of Turkey, the 36th largest country in the world at just under 802 000 km². With 2470 km of coastline it is dissected by 5 major rivers, the biggest being the Zambezi River. Mozambique has 4 large lakes, which include Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi), which it shares with its neighbour and the biggest of which is man-made, namely the Cahora Bassa.
The Zambezi River seems to act as a geographical divide. The north is characterised by a narrow coastal plain which gives way to a hillier area with inselbergs and eventually highlands and the south by a much broader coastal plain ending in the west at the Lebombo Mountains (not a very high range).
The reasonably recent civil war, while tragic, has ensured that the coastline for the most part has remained pristine and under-developed. It is a place to get away from it all and experience nature in close to its natural state.
The port in Maputo is an important part of the infrastructure of Southern Africa. Exports from Mozambique include nuts, sugar, rubber, chromite, citrus, timber, copra, coconuts and coal most notably.
The Bantu people moved into the area that developed into the country of Mozambique between the 1st and 5th centuries. Small emirates were founded along the coast of Mozambique by Arabs from the Omani Empire that traded with the local inhabitants. This was during the period before the 16th century. Shortly after Vasco da Gama discovered Mozambique in 1498, the Portuguese too started to settle along the coast. Vasco da Gamma called Mozambique, Terra de Boa Gente (The Land of the Friendly People). In 1507 a port and naval based were established on Ilha de Mocambique which was to serve as the capital for Portuguese East Africa prior to 1898. The Portuguese came into conflict with the Arabs and Swahili people who had being trading in commodities and slaves. The Portuguese successfully fought off Dutch in 1607/8 but due to local resistance only really controlled the coast and a smattering of inland areas by 1885.
The Berlin Conference of 1885 formalised the colonial boundaries in Africa, and the Portuguese set about subduing the local population in the rest of the country. Large concessions of land were auctioned off and The Mozambique, Niassa and Zambezi Companies were established and set about using the local people as slaves to create large plantations in central and north Mozambique. Large numbers of local people in the south found employment in South Africa on the mines.
Portugal made Mozambique its overseas province in 1951 and moved some 200 000 Portuguese settlers into the country in the next 19 years. The 1960’s saw the formation of nationalist movements of which three united to form Frelimo (Frente de Libertaçâo de Moçambique) who started to war against the Portuguese for independence. Owing to the revolution of 1974, negotiations for self-determination started which resulted in Mozambique gaining independence in July 1975 as the “People’s Republic of Mozambique”. Shortly after, the capital city, Lourenco Marques was renamed to Maputo and 90% of the Portuguese settlers left the country.
The Frelimo movement became the first government of the People’s Republic of Mozambique making great strides in education and health care. They had socialist/communist leanings and forced the creation of communal rural villages and generally applied a very heavy hand while ruling the new republic.
Only two years passed before a civil war between the ruling Frelimo and the Renamo Mozambican National Resistance broke out and lasted almost 16 years, ending at the end of 1992. Renamo, first sponsored by the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organisation and later by South Africa, was started in 1975 as an anti-communist backlash against the pro-communist Frelimo Party. During the civil war over 1 million people were killed, almost all Mozambique’s infrastructure was destroyed, and large numbers of refugees fled to the neighbouring countries. Peace was brokered by the Roman Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, and a peace agreement was signed in October 1992. A peacekeeping force from the UN established in 1993, demobilisation of troops took place in early 1994 and multiparty were elections held in October 1994.
Now of the 4 poorest countries in the world and almost completely drained of all skills, Mozambique had to claw its way out of poverty and restore political stability, which processes are ongoing until today. Mozambique became a member of the Commonwealth in 1995.
Mozambique experienced rapid growth in the early 2000’s but this growth has slowed somewhat recently, and Mozambique remains the 2nd poorest country in the world. Built on agriculture, other sectors such as tourism, mining and natural gas are starting to contribute substantially to the GDP.
The local currency is the Meticais. The US dollar is widely accepted at tourist establishments, but for buying local goods, it is good to have the local currency. You will receive change from the locals only in the local currency.