Mozambique is one of the more spectacular places I have ever seen. But with such uniqueness and beauty, places like this are typically difficult to get to and Mozambique is no exception. A trip of this magnitude requires planning and knowledge of the area before just booking a flight and showing up. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Mozambique. Keep in mind I am utterly obsessed with this place but I have some criticisms that all travelers should keep in mind before planning their next trip.
Ok, so this isn't particularly useful information but it must be said. Everything you do to get is here is WORTH IT. I am in love with this place from the low tides and sand bars to the crystal clear water to the small huts on the beach. Mozambique is awesome and no other place can you run a mile out into the middle of the ocean at low tide. I couldn't believe my eyes when I woke up to a normal sea level in the morning only to watch it recede at least a mile by noon. Sand bar party anyone?
It's cheap yet pricey
Mozambique is on the Metical. When we spoke with South Africans during our Stellenbosch adventure they told us Mozambique was the one place they could go and feel rich on the South African Rand. Well, although the exchange rate is low compared to the dollar, Mozambique still gets very expensive from food, to accommodations, to transportation. Why? The lack of development within the country makes it difficult to come by even basic standards of living. Which brings me to my next point:
Bribery Is A Problem
The only way things can get done in a timely and efficient manner is through bribery. This is a huge problem within the country as you even need to bribe police to file a police report! Thus, the few luxury resorts within the country are outrageously expensive and food (other than local seafood) is expensive because it needs to be imported. There are not really any major farms or mass food production companies. Individual villages grow or provide their own food for themselves. So getting basic necessities is very difficult and very expensive. We were able to find an incredible BnB (Casa Babi) for USD $150 a night. A reasonable price for the incredible spot and well worth it but still more than you would expect from such a seemingly cheap place.
**Avoid bribing anyone at all costs. All it does is support a corrupt and inefficient system that suppresses those who can't afford it**
YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT MISS OUT ON BAZARUTO ISLAND
Bazaruto Island is a National Park known for its snorkeling and a 300m white sand dune. The island has one of the most unique, vast ocean views I have ever seen as the white sand bars swirl into the bright water. I can't think of a better paradise than this place. Not to mention there were about 5 people on the entire island - all of which were in my group. My perfect day involved walking to the top of the dune in the morning and watching the tide recede, exposing sand bars as far as the eye can see.
You need a Visa
The Visa situation can get tricky and one is definitely needed to get into the country. It is possible to get one on arrival even though the government states you cannot online, however it is a roll of the dice.
**Note, you need at least 3 blank pages in your passport in order to get a Visa here. 2 of the pages need to be next to each other.
IT IS A HIGH RISK MALARIA REGION
This is perhaps one of the most important things to consider. Do you take malaria pills or not? Well, this depends entirely on you. Similar to what I explained in my post on a Safari in Kruger, I will explain here. It all depends on when you travel and how often you get bit by mosquitos in general. I did take malaria pills (and HIGHLY regretted it - they made me feel awful and weren't necessary) while traveling through Mozambique at the end of May. There were not a ton of mosquitos when we were there and with a mosquito net and loads of bug spray, I only got bitten once during the week I was there. I am also a magnet for these things. I started to get lax on the bug spray at sunset because I was taking the pills and it was the only time I got bitten. I would never advise not to take malaria pills but do a lot of research on them prior as well as the area you are going to visit. Many times all you need is a bug spray/mosquito net combo. If you do take pills, consult your doctor and only opt for the best quality within the U.S. (or your country) - not generic!
AVOID LAM MOZAMBIQUE AIRLINE AT ALL COSTS
Ok, this might be the worst airline I have ever flown. The planes are practically falling apart and smell awful yet the prices for tickets are outrageous. Oh and the worst part? Flights will often randomly get canceled with little notice leaving you stranded. They typically only run a few times a day (or once a day!) so if you are trying to make a connecting flight you can easily get, well, screwed. Fly South African Airways instead on their express plane. You may pay slightly more but I promise it's worth it.
A rule of thumb to Mozambique, the more North you go, the friendlier the people. Like I said before, the least friendly people are in Maputo that I experienced. The city is very poverty stricken without any really nice beaches. You literally won't want to leave your overpriced hotel if you come here. We had to stay 2 nights in Maputo to ensure we made our LAM flight back to Joburg and actually didn't leave the building. The area is unsafe and unappealing. Next time I will only schedule flights through Inhambane or Vilanculos! These slightly Northern cities were just incredible and the people were lovely.
**If you are getting a Visa on arrival, definitely avoid Maputo's border control as your chances of rejection are much higher here.
Flights are $$$$
Like all of Africa, flights are so expensive it hurts. There are major monopolies of airlines that, without competition, can jack up prices as they please. Also the majority of people flying are tourists so it is just one more reason that prices can be higher than usual. Flying to Mozambique is no exception as little hopper flights start around USD $250 and shoot up from there. One option that may be difficult to do is using United miles to book through South African Airways. Try calling the airline as you won't be able to find this one online.
You can choose extreme luxury or mid tier BnB's
There are gorgeous resorts on Bazaruto and surrounding islands alike that range from $400 to $2000 a night. A helicopter picks you up from the Vilanculos airport and delivers you to these fancy hotels. Talk about a dream trip!
On the other hand, small hostels at a much lower rate exist along Vilanculos' coast. Still a dream trip and a great option if you are on a budget is Casa Babi. This adorable BnB runs for $150 a night and I cannot say enough good things about it.
The culture is indigenous
Expect a bit of a culture shock in the best way imaginable. One thing I loved about Mozambique was how preserved the culture was here. The local women carry baskets overhead without the help of their arms and wear bright African prints. Every night we heard singing and dancing from next door to our BnB that couldn't have provided a better African feel.
The national language is PORTUGUESE
I had no idea! I was so surprised to hear Portuguese as the main language spoken here. There are indigenous languages also spoken among the people but the National language is indeed Portuguese.