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Quick Facts
Capital Maputo
Government Republic
Currency Metical (MZM)
Area total: 801,590 km2
water: 17,500 km2
land: 784,090 km2
Population 19,406,703 (July 2006 est.)
Language Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects
Religion Indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code 258
Internet TLD .mz
Time Zone UTC +2

Mozambique (Moçambique) [6] is a country on the Indian Ocean coast of Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Tanzania to the north and has inland borders with Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Mozambique's eastern coastline along the Indian Ocean is more than 1,000 km long, a fantastic draw for scuba divers, fishermen, sailors and beach lovers.


Map of Mozambique

Mozambique has 10 provinces that can be grouped into the following three regions:


  • Maputo - the thriving capital in the far south of the country.
  • Beira - a busy port town and capital of Sofala Province.
  • Inhambane - a pretty historic town on a bay.
  • Nampula - an industrial city in the north and capital of Nampula Province.

Other destinations

  • Bazaruto Archipelago - a beautiful island resort and underwater marine park with great diving, geared to high-end tourism.
  • Cahora Bassa dam - Hydro-electric dam on the Zambezi river and the second largest man-made lake in Africa.
  • Gorongosa National Park
  • Quirimbas Archipelago & Quirimbas National Park - at the North of the country, a scenic and secluded holiday destination off the beaten track with lush African bush on the mainland and white sand beaches/crustal blue water in the Archipelago and on the coast. Accessible through Pemba.
  • Ilha de Mozambique - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former capital under Portuguese rule.
  • Pemba - in Northern Mozambique, a popular holiday destination for Mozambicans, although its isolation has kept it off the tourist route for most Western visitors.
  • Ponta d'Ouro - a great dive spot, more easily accessible from South Africa than from Maputo.
  • Tofo Beach - a backpacker haven on the coastline east of Inhambane with excellent diving.
  • Vilanculos - a popular beach town and the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago.


Almost five centuries of Portuguese colonization came to a close for Mozambique with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration by European inhabitants, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development. The ruling party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multi-party elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement with rebel forces ended the fighting in 1992. Heavy flooding in both 1999 and 2000 severely hurt the economy. It's now slowly working towards building stability and an economy, and is slowly positioning itself as a major tourist destination. With all it has to offer, the future looks bright.

Get in


Most nationalities need a visa, and while there are rumors that some borders and airports may issue them on arrival, don't count on it and obtain a visa before arrival. They usually cost around $25. Multiple entry visas are also available. South Africans do not require visas for holiday, only for business. At the South African land border (Lebombo/Ressano Garcia) you can choose the currency in which you want to pay for your visa, meticais being slightly cheaper than rand.

By plane

Most international flights arrive from South Africa, although direct international routes also exist between Mozambique and Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Portugal.

There are several flights daily from Johannesburg to Maputo, operated by South African Airways (SAA) and the Mozambican flag-carrier Linhas Aereas de Moçambique (LAM) [7]. These and other airlines such as Kenya Airways [8], Swazi Express Airways [9], TAP Portugal [10] also fly from Durban, Swaziland, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Nairobi and Lisbon. In addition, local carrier Air Corridor [11] may start operating one or more international routes soon.

There are also several flights during the week from Johannesburg, Dar Es Salaam, and Nairobi to Pemba in the North, operated by either South African Airlink (SAA) or LAM. TAKE NOTE: LAM is known to cancel bookings, do confirm your flight at least 72 hours before departure.

After checking in you need to get a tax stamp on your boarding card. For internal flights the tax is 200 Mts and for International flights 500 Mts to be paid in cash.

By train

From Malawi

There is only one train line in Mozambique, which connects Nampula with Cuamba (near the Malawi border). The train carries first, second and third class passengers and is usually packed.

From Nampula, the train leaves around 5-6AM, although you should arrive earlier to buy tickets from the booking office at the station. The area is packed with people traveling towards Malawi so expect queues. Once on board the journey is long and slow but fairly efficient and will get to Cuamba mid-afternoon. From here chapas will take you to the border (Entre Lagos) as only freight trains use this bit of the line. Be warned that even hardened African travelers will likely find this stretch of road very rough - expect it to take a fair amount of time.

Once at Entre Lagos, the border formalities are located within the station building (easy to find as the town is a typical small border town). The process can take some time as this is a little used crossing. From here it is about a 1km walk to the Malawi side of the border. BE WARNED - the Malawi border closes before the Mozambique one, although there is a guesthouse if you get trapped. The easiest way to get from here to Liwonde is by train - sweet-talk the guards and they may let you share their compartment.

By car

From Johannesburg

The highway from Johannesburg to Maputo is very good. From Johannesburg, take the N4 towards Nelspruit. From Nelspruit, continue following the N4 to Komatipoort, the last town on the South African side. Just past Komatipoort is the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border post. NB: current car registration papers (or good facsimile thereof) are required to get a car past the border. If you are not the owner of the car, you will need a letter of permission from the owner. On the Mozambican side, just follow the N4 (now called EN4) for a further 100 km or so to reach Maputo.

There is another border crossing at Giriyondo. From the South African side, the access is via the Kruger National Park and takes one past Letaba Camp to the new Giriyondo border post. It is new, clean and staffed by friendly officials and is a refreshing change from Lebombo. Be warned however that this border post is definitely only recommended for 4 x 4 vehicles as the road is truly off road. Once past the border post you enter the Limpopo National Park (Mozambique). Entrance fees are Meticais 200 per person and per vehicle. The next town is Massingir.

From Swaziland

The road from the Swazi border to Maputo is in reasonable condition. Avoid driving after dark due to the high amount of traffic without proper lights. The border ceremonies are similar to those on the South-African border, although there is less traffic and you should be able to pass quite fast.

By bus

From Malawi

There are a number of border crossings to/from Malawi. By far the easiest and most frequently plied is at Zóbuè. The road is in good condition. Daily chapas run to/from Tete to the border, where you will have to walk about 300 m to get to Malawian transport. Daily through buses from Chimoio and Beira also use this crossing.

There is another border crossing to the north, at Dedza, which may be more convienient for Lilongwe but the public transport on either side can be sporadic.

To leave/enter Malawi to the east, there are two crossings, Milange and Mandimba. Milange is in the south-east of Malawi, and to get there you need to catch one of the daily vehicles that run between Mocuba and Milange. At Milange there is a 2 km walk to the border, and then another 1km to where Malawian transport leaves.

Mandimba is further north, used mainly to get to Malawi from Lichinga. Several vehicles run daily between Lichinga and Mandimba, from where it is another 7km to the border. Hitching is relatively easy, or bicycle-taxis do the trip for about $1.

From South Africa

You can take the Intercape Mainliner [12], +27 861 287 287, from Johannesburg to Maputo. These buses run in both directions on a regular basis, one in the morning, and another overnight, and are safe and affordable. Other carriers include Greyhound [13] and Translux [14].

Three times per week there are bus connections to and from Durban. There is also a service from Nelspruit and Komatipoort to Maputo.

There are the "taxis" to and from any destination in South Africa at affordable prices, now from 4AM to 12AM.

From Swaziland

The border at Namaacha is west of Maputo, and heavily traveled. Chapas travel direct between Maputo and Mbabane and also Manzini. Otherwise you can do the trip in stages, swapping vehicles at the border. Chapas run throughout the day between Maputo and Namaacha.

From Tanzania

The border between Mozambique and Tanzania is formed by the River Rovuma. Daily pick-ups connect Moçimboa da Praia with Palma and Namiranga, the border post on the Mozambique side. The main route runs from Moçimboa da Praia (on the Mozambiquan side), via Palma (Mozambique), to Mtwara (on the Tanzanian side) and vica versa. It is recommended to take 2 days over this trip due to the low quality of the roads on the Mozambique side, and the low level of traffic. When coming from Tanzania, lifts depart from Mtwara and Kilambo to the Rovuma river. Kilambo is a small place with one road running through it, so lifts should be easy to find. Mtwara is much larger however, so ask the locals where and when lifts leave from. When coming from Mozambique, your lift to the river will normally start from either Palma (more likely), or - if you're lucky - Moçimboa da Praia and go to the border post at Namiranga. It will generally wait for you to have your passport stamped at the border post (a mud hut in Namiranga). During the wet season, your lift will then probably drive to the banks of the Rovuma. During the dry season it will drive you to the end of the road, from which there is a walk of between 1 and 2km's (depending on the water level that day) to the Rovuma river. At the moment there is an unreliable ferry that goes across the river. Typically however, the crossing is done by dugout canoes or slightly larger wooden motorboats. The trip across the river shouldn't cost more than around 8USD, but can only normally be paid for using Tanzanian shillings, although if you find yourself without these, there are plenty of locals who will offer you "generous" exchange rates for your hard-earned Dollars and Meticais. If water levels are low you may have to wade to get to and from your boat on the Tanzanian side, so possessing a heavy-duty waterproof sack may be a good idea, but it is by no means essential. On the Tanzanian side you will often find yourself mobbed by people offering you transport. Pick-pocketing is common on both sides of the river, so care must be taken whilst finding transport to the nearby towns, a good method of reducing your trouble is to befriend a local on the boatride over, you will find most of your fellow travellers are willing to help you in one way or another. Transport then carries you on to the Tanzanian border post at Kilambo, and normally, further on to Mtwara, the capital of Southern Tanzania. For further information and up-to-date news on this crossing, go to "Russell's Place" (also known as Cashew Camp) in Pemba.

There are other crossings to Tanzania, but these all require long walks. Ask around for local information.

From Zambia

The main crossing is at Cassacatiza, north-west of Tete. This border is in good condition, but lightly traveled. Daily chapas run between Tete and Matema, from there the public transport is sporadic. The best way to travel from Mozambique to Zambia is to go via Malawi.

From Zimbabwe

There are two crossings - Nyamapanda (south-west of Tete), and Machipanda (west of Chimoio). Both are heavily traveled, especially Machipanda due to its location at the end of the Beira Corridor.

By boat

Currently there is no scheduled sea travel to and from Mozambique. You might be able to hire a dhow from Tanzania, and then travel southwards along the coast. The best places to ask in Tanzania are the dhow ports of Mikindani, Mtwara and Msimbati. For travel from Mozambique to Tanzania, ask at Moçimboa da Praia and Palma.

To/from Malawi, it is possible to cross Lake Malawi (aka. Lake Nyassa), via Likoma Island, which lies about 10 km off the Mozambique coast, but belongs to Malawi. Local boats make the trip between Likoma Island and Cóbuè, Mozambique, leaving roughly every other day - the route is slow. Boats also sail from/to Metangula, further south, but they all stop at Cóbuè to take care of passport formalities.

Be aware that the lake crossing can be risky, as squalls blow up suddenly.

Get around

Mozambique is absolutely huge and getting between major destinations can take days not hours. Roads are generally in poor condition, especially when compared to South Africa, although significant improvements are underway.

Buses and chapas (minibuses) leave early in Mozambique - 4AM is not unusual, particularly as you go further north. It needs to be pointed out that connections away from the main cities may not be in the best condition, and breakdowns cannot be ruled out - it's wise to carry a decent supply of water.

Domestic flights are the fastest and most sane way to get around the country if you can afford it. Linhas Aereas de Moçambique [15] and Air Corridor [16] fly between the major cities. A detailed timetable for domestic flights is available as a pdf file at [17]

Trains aren't really very useful, considering there's only one and it's in the far north of the country traveling from Nampula to Cuamba near the Malawian border. See get in above for more details.


The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, though many people speak English in the capital Maputo and in touristed areas. The further north you travel the less likely you are to encounter English speakers, and as you enter more rural areas even Portuguese is limited.

Swahili is useful in the far north of the country as you get close to Tanzania, especially along the coast. Some native words from the Shona language can be useful if you are traveling near Cabora Bassa.


The currency of Mozambique is the Metical (plural: Meticais, pronounced 'meta-caysh', abbreviation: Mts.). Prices are often given verbally with the thousands dropped, e.g., Mts 150,000 would be 'one hundred fifty'.

From March 2006 all prices have to be displayed in both Meticais (old currency - Mt) and Meticais Nova Família (new currency - Mtn). The practical effect of this is to just divide everything by 1000. From the end of June 2006 the new banknotes and coins will start being issued, and the old currency will cease to be legal tender at the end of December 2006. However you can exchange old currency for new at any bank up to the end of December 2012.

Full new meticais pricing is now in effect (December 2006). One consequence of this is that you have to be careful when settling prices. People still refer to things as if priced in old Meticais, therefore if someone asks for "1 Million" they generally mean one thousand New Meticais. So don't give them 1million Mtn! Alternatively someone may quote something as being five hundred, meaning five hundred new meticais, and will be very upset if you give them 500 old meticais: which to confuse things even further is only 50 new Centavos. Centavos are available in denominations of 10, 20 and 50: there are 100 centavos to 1 new metical.

Note that many businesses in the tourist centers are run by South Africans and prices are often quoted in Rand (for which the usual abbreviation is ZAR). In this guide we've also quoted in Rand when applicable.

US$, ZAR, British pounds and Euros are freely convertible at commercial rates at any bank or exchange. Other currencies such as Canadian or Australian dollars or Japanese Yen, are not accepted anywhere, even at official banks and exchanges.

There is very little black market currency exchange, since the commercial exchanges offer the best market rate. You cannot exchange meticais outside Mozambique, but you can convert them back at exchanges prior to leaving the country. Also you cannot buy meticais outside Moçambique.

In all towns you will find cash dispensers (ATMs) which accept all major creditcards.

Be aware that many businesses including banks will not accept older US banknotes. Only the latest series of US notes with the large presidential portraits should be used.


  • Guludo Beach Lodge, Guludo, Quirimbas National Park, +44 (0)2071274727 or +258826815570, [1]. Guludo Beach Lodge ( is situated on a 12 km. white sand beach on the coast in the Quirimbas National Park within the Quirimbas Archipelago, about 250 km north of Pemba in the Northern Mozambique. They've won awards for their architectural design and guests can sleep in 1 of 9 private bandas which are directly on the sea.

There's a wide range of accommodation in the country depending on location. The larger tourist areas have the widest selection, from local fleabag hotels and backpacker lodges with dorms for those on a budget to 4 and 5 star resorts and hotels in Maputo and some of the beach destinations.

  • Baleia Bay Lodge, Barra, Inhambane, +27-82-8523789, [2]. Baleia Bay Lodge is situated on the coast of Inhambane, at Barra, about 500 km north of Maputo in the beautiful country of Mozambique.

There's a wide range of accommodation in the country depending on location. The larger tourist areas have the widest selection, from local fleabag hotels and backpacker lodges with dorms for those on a budget to 4 and 5 star resorts and hotels in Maputo and some of the beach destinations.

  • Pestana Rovuma, Rua da Sé, 114 Caixa Postal 4376 - Maputo, +55 (21) 254 86 332 (, fax: (+258) 21 305 305), [3].
  • Naartjie Beach House, Bilene Beach, Gaza Province, +258 8206 22490 (, fax: -), [4].
  • Coco Rico, Ponta Do Ouro, [5]. The Coco Rico complex is within walking distance of the beach.


  • Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, [18] is the oldest and largest university in the country.


  • You may be able to find work teaching at a school such as The American International School of Mozambique [19].

Stay safe

Risks are much the same as many other countries in Africa (and significantly less than some, including parts of South Africa). Nevertheless muggings, robberies, rape and murder do occur, so the normal precautions should be taken. Women absolutely should never walk alone on beaches, in recent years, attacks on women have grown in tourist areas. In particular it's worth checking with local hostels and other travellers as to where dangerous areas are.

But in general the Mozambican people are extremely warm and friendly and you will encounter far less hassle than in almost all of the countries surrounding it.

Since Mozambique recovered from a brutal civil war that ended in the early 1990s there have been occasional reports of people being maimed by landmines or unexploded ordinance.

Stay healthy

  • Malarial prophylaxis is essential in all parts of Mozambique. Chloroquine/Paludrine are now as ineffective as in other parts of east Africa, and it's worth going to see your doctor to get decent protection.
  • Get all your vaccine shots before arriving Medical facilities in Mozambique are now generally reasonably stocked, but it is always worth getting a range of vaccinations before you leave. Prevention is better than cure. It is worth considering carrying some clean needles if you are visiting out of the way areas, purely as remote medical facilities may have problems getting hold of them.
  • Mind what you eat. As common in most countries in the world, if you are concerned about the standards of hygiene in a place, don't eat there.
  • Do not have unprotected sex. As in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a very high HIV incidence.
  • Do not drink tap water or use any ice. South of the Zambezi river that divides the country, Mozambique is much more developed, especially around Maputo, tourist areas such as Inhambane and the industrial city of Beira. Here, especially in built-up areas, it is safe to drink the tap water, hence water in this area is marketed as "mineral water" and not "drinking water" and is sold at an inflated price as a semi-luxury item (sometimes for as much as 50 or 60 Meticais in backpackers lodges and restaurants). The infrastructure in the north of the country is much less developed and, as such, caution must be exercised, especially in rural areas and the area near Palma and bordering Tanzania. The tap water is usually safe to drink in the main cities such as Nampula and Pemba, and on Mozambique Island. If you are ever unsure about the quality of the tap water, water-purifying liquids (normally chlorine-based) are widely available and very cheap - normally much cheaper than buying bottled water, also consider bringing puri-tabs if you are planning on going well off the "beaten track".
  • Private clinics. There are a few private health clinics in Maputo that will also arrange repatriation in emergencies. Clinica da Sommerschield (tel: 21 493924) Clinica Suedoise (tel: 21 492922).



Mobile phones

Mcel [20] is the state-owned provider, and as of yet the government has only licensed one other company, the South-African owned Vodacom Mozambique [21]. Apparently a third is arriving shortly.


Internet is widely available in Maputo, with many internet cafes and all major hotels having internet access. Both Mcel and Vodacom have recently introduced internet to cellphone service. Outside Maputo internet coverage is sporadic, mostly available in places frequented by tourists, (Inhambane, Xai-Xai, Bazaruto etc, or at major hotels such as the Pemba Beach hotel in Pemba (but slow!) but outside of those it's hard to find.

This country guide is usable. It has links to this country's major cities and other destinations (and all are at usable status or better), a valid regional structure and information about this country's currency, language, cuisine, and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!