PLAN­NING A TRIP TO MOZAM­BIQUE

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Travel Info | Mozambique - Words: KRISTIN ADDIS

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 visafree.

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.

Gen­eral Safety

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.