Africa – Mozambique

Mozambique is one of Africa’s up-and-coming hot-spots, with stunning beaches, excellent diving and magical offshore islands. Go snorkelling around the Bazaruto Archipelago, sail on a dhow through mangrove channels or laze under the palms in the Quirimbas Archipelago, take an off-beat safari in the wilds of Gorongosa National Park, wander along cobbled streets past stately colonial-era buildings on Ilha de Moçambique, sip a café espresso at one of Maputo’s lively sidewalk cafés (or maybe a caipirinha at one of its jazz bars), watch the silversmiths at work on Ibo Island or dance to the country’s trademark marrabenta music.

For almost two decades, many of these attractions were inaccessible due to a protracted guerrilla war. Now dark times are in the past, and Mozambique is one of Africa’s rising stars, with an upbeat atmosphere, overflowing markets and a 2500km coastline waiting to be discovered.

If you’re inclined to something tamer, stick to the south, where roads and transport links (especially with neighbouring South Africa) are good and accommodation options abound. For more adventure, head across the Zambezi into the wild north, one of Africa’s last frontiers. Getting around here takes time, but the paradisiacal coastal panoramas and sense of space, the sheer adventure of travel and – for those with a healthy budget – some of the continent’s most idyllic island lodges make the journey well worthwhile.

HIGHLIGHTS

Maputo Explore lively sidewalk cafés, pumping salsa bars, flame-treelined streets, and excellent art and cultural scenes.

Bazaruto Archipelago Swim and snorkel in a quintessential tropical paradise with turquoise and jade waters full of colourful fish.

Tofo Relax against a backdrop of white sand dunes and a long, curving beach in a town with a perpetual partytime atmosphere.

Ilha de Moçambique Catch up with history in the former capital of Portuguese East Africa, now a haunting town of pastel-painted mansions, whitewashed churches and waving palm trees.

Quirimbas Archipelago Soak up Ibo’s magical ambience amidst ruined colonial villas, or luxuriate in some of the continent’s most exclusive island getaways.

CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO

Sunshine, blue skies and temperatures averaging between 24°C and 27°C along the coast are the norm, except during the rainy summer season from about December/January through to April when everything gets soggy and sticky, and temperatures exceed 30°C in some areas.

The best time to visit is from May/June to November, during the cooler dry season. During the Christmas/New Years holidays, around Easter and in August, the southern resorts fill up with the vacationing South African neighbours.

ITINERARIES

One Week For a week in the south, start with a few days enjoying Maputo’s ( p939 ) vibe before heading to Inhambane and Tofo, or on to Vilankulo and the Bazaruto Archipelago.

Two Weeks Follow the One Week itinerary. Continue north to Nampula – if time is tight you’ll need to fly – and divide your remaining time between Ilha de Moçambique and Pemba or one of the other Quirimbas Islands.

One Month Follow the previous itineraries, but now with time for all the options mentioned, plus a detour to Gorongosa National Park enroute north. Alternatively, from Nampula head west to Cuamba and on to Lichinga, Lake Niassa and into Malawi.

. . HOW MUCH?

  • Plate of grilled prawns US$12
  • Single-day dive US$40 to US$50
  • Short taxi ride US$2
  • Day dhow safari US$45
  • Maputo–Inhambane bus fare US$9

LONELY PLANET INDEX

  • 1L petrol US$1
  • 1L bottled water US$0.70
  • 2M beer US$1
  • Souvenir T-shirt US$10
  • Plate of xima and sauce US$1

HISTORY

While Europeans were still struggling in the Dark Ages, the light of the ancient world had already fallen on Mozambique. From the 9th century AD, Mozambique’s coast was part of a chain of civilised merchant kingdoms, visited by ships from as far afield as India, Arabia and Persia. They came sailing in on the monsoon winds to buy slaves, ivory, gold and spices. Muslim merchants intermarried with African families, and set up trading posts along the coast.

Sailing onto this scene came the first Europeans – Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama. These 15th-century buccaneers pursued their trade interests with armed raids on coastal towns or cannon bombardments from their warships, and constructed forts to protect themselves from their English and Dutch rivals. In the 17th century, the Mozambican interior was divided into huge agricultural estates,  nominally under the Portuguese crown but in fact run as private fiefdoms with their own slave armies.

In the late 19th century, Portugal and several other European powers began a lengthy political arm-wrestle for a chunk of Africa to call their own. British eyes began to fall on Mozambique, and Portugal reacted by strengthening its previously lax colonial control. The country was so wild, however, that the government had to lease large areas of land to private firms, which soon became notorious for the abuses they inflicted on their workers.

Resistance

The early stirrings of resistance were kindled, and the independence movement erupted into life after the ‘Mueda Massacre’ in 1960, in which peacefully protesting villagers were gunned down by Portuguese troops.

In 1962 the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) was formed, led by the charismatic Eduardo Mondlane. Mondlane was assassinated in 1969 and succeeded by Frelimo’s military commander, Samora Machel. Frelimo decided early on a policy of violent resistance. Finally, after bitter struggle, the independent People’s Republic of Mozambique was proclaimed on 25 June 1975, with Frelimo as the ruling party and Samora Machel as president.

The Portuguese pulled out virtually overnight – after sabotaging vehicles and pouring concrete down wells – and left Mozambique in chaos with few skilled professionals and virtually no infrastructure. Mozambique’s new government threw itself into a policy of radical social change. Ties were established with European communist powers, cooperative farms replaced private land, and companies were nationalised. Mass literacy programmes and health initiatives were launched. For a while, the future looked rosy, and Mozambique was fêted in left-wing Western circles as a successful communist state. Bob Dylan even wrote a song about it.

Civil War

By 1983, the country was almost bankrupt. The roots of the crisis were both economic and political. Concerned by the government’s support for resistance movements such as the ANC, the white-minority-ruled countries of Rhodesia and South Africa deliberately ‘destabilised’ their neighbour with the creation of a manufactured guerrilla movement known as the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo).

Renamo was made up of mercenaries, coopted soldiers and disaffected Mozambicans, and funded by the South African military and a motley collection of Western interests.  Renamo had no desire to govern – its only ideology was to paralyse the country. Roads, bridges, railways, schools and clinics were destroyed. Villagers were rounded up, anyone with skills was shot, and atrocities were committed on a massive and horrific scale.

But by the late 1980s, change was sweeping through the region. The collapse of the USSR altered the political balance in the West, and new, more liberal policies in South Africa restricted Renamo support. Samora Machel died under questionable circumstances in 1986 and was succeeded by the more moderate Joaquim Chissano. Frelimo switched from a Marxist ideology to a market economy, and Renamo began a slow evolution into a genuine opposition party. A formal peace agreement was signed in October 1992.

In October 1994, Mozambique held its first democratic elections. Frelimo won, but narrowly, with Renamo netting almost half the votes. The 1999 election produced a similar result, this time followed by rioting and discord. Since then, things have settled down.

Mozambique Today

In December 2004, long-time Frelimo insider Armando Guebuza was elected with a solid majority to succeed Chissano. While the government has certainly not acquitted itself cleanly in all areas over the past decade-plus – recent scandals include massive bank fraud and the murder of investigative journalist Carlos Cardoso – Mozambique is enjoying unprecedented peace and stability. The cornerstones have recently been laid for bridges over the Rovuma and Zambezi Rivers. Once completed, these bridges will open up the country and facilitate further development. Most observers rank Mozambique among the continent’s rising stars.

CULTURE

You don’t need to travel long in Mozambique before hearing the word paciência (patience). It’s the great Mozambican virtue, and most Mozambicans have it in abundance, for each other and for outsiders. You’ll be expected to display some in return, especially in dealings with officialdom, and Western-style impatience is always counterproductive. But don’t let the languid, tropical pace sway you completely: underlying it is a rock-hard determination that has carried Mozambique from complete devastation following two decades of war to near the top of the list of Africa’s success stories.

Most Mozambicans work at least part-time tending small plots with cassava and other crops, and you’ll see these machambas (farm plots) wherever you travel. Along the coast, fishing is a major source of livelihood. The small ports are fascinating to watch at dawn and in the late afternoon when the boats arrive with their catches.

While tourism and the economy are booming, life continues to be a struggle for many, with an annual per capita income of about US$300. HIV/AIDS (with infection rates at 16%) and malaria also take heavy tolls.

But despite the hardships, Mozambicans have a flair that sets them apart from their more strait-laced neighbours, and partying is a central feature. Sunday in particular is a day to gather on the beach or village square, put on smart clothes, open a bottle of wine or a cask of home-brewed beer, and dance to pop music blasting from old car stereos.

PEOPLE

There are 16 main tribes, including the Makua and Makonde in the north, and the Shangaan, who dominate the southern provinces of Gaza and Maputo. Although Mozambique is relatively free of tribal rivalries, there has long been an undercurrent of north–south differences, with geographically remote and independent-minded northerners often feeling neglected by the upwardly mobile denizens of powerhouse Maputo.

Religion, once suppressed under the Marxist regime, now flourishes, and most villages have a church, a mosque, or both. About 35% of Mozambicans are Christians, about 25% to 30% are Muslims – mostly in the north and along old trading routes – and the remainder follow traditional animist beliefs.

. . MAPUTO EXPRESS

One of Mozambique’s most famous women is Maria de Lurdes Mutola, the rags-toriches sprinter known as the ‘Maputo Express’. She began playing football with an all-boys team in the shanty towns around Maputo, before being discovered by national poet (and football fan) José Craveirinha, and went on to snare the country’s first Olympic gold in 2000. The celebrations lasted for days, and a Maputo street was even re-named in her honour.

ARTS & CRAFTS

Mozambicans are superb dancers, and experiencing the rhythms and moves – whether in a Maputo nightclub or at a traditional dance performance in the provinces – is a chance not to be missed. In the north, especially on Ilha de Moçambique, watch for the slow-paced, Arabic-influenced tufo, and for the masked mapiko dancing of the Makonde.

Modern music flourishes in the cities, and the live-music scene in Maputo is excellent. Marrabenta is Mozambique’s national music, and features a light, upbeat guitar-driven style and distinctive beat. New generation groups to watch out for include Kapa Dêch and Mabulu, which fuses marrabenta rhythms with hip-hop.

Among the most famous musical traditions are the Chopi timbila (marimba) orchestras, best seen around Quissico, north of Xai-Xai.

The late José Craveirinha (1922–2003) is Mozambique’s greatest poet, and his work, including Poem of the Future Citizen, is recognized worldwide. Among the best-known contemporary authors are Mia Couto, whose works include Voices Made Night and Every Man is a Race, and Lilia Momple, known for Neighbours – The Story of a Murder, and The Eyes of the Green Cobra.

The most famous painter in the country is Malangatana, whose art is exhibited around the world, and the most famous sculptor is the late Alberto Chissano. Makonde carving traditions flourish in the north.

ENVIRONMENT

A wide coastal plain rises to mountains and plateaus on the borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Three of Africa’s major rivers (the Zambezi, the Limpopo and the Rovuma) flow through Mozambique, and have played a major role in its economic history.

Mozambique has six national parks: Gorongosa, Zinave, Banhine and Limpopo (part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier park – see www.greatlimpopopark.com) in the interior; Bazaruto National Park offshore; and Quirimbas National park, encompassing northern offshore and coastal areas.

Bazaruto is the most visited, famed for its corals and dugongs. Several of the Quirimbas islands can also be easily (albeit rather expensively) visited. Gorongosa is an easy journey if you have your own vehicle, and Limpopo park can be accessed with a 4WD from South Africa’s Kruger. The main wildlife reserves are Niassa Reserve on the Tanzanian border, and Maputo Special Reserve.

FOOD & DRINK

Near the coast, you won’t have to go far before you’re tucking into a plate of giant camarões (prawns) or lagosta (crayfish), washed down with a cold Dois M (2M, Mozambique’s favourite lager). Elsewhere the options include xima (maize porridge), frango grelhado (grilled chicken) or matapa (peanut and cassava-leaf stew). Freshly-baked rolls are available everywhere.

Larger towns have restaurants, and many have sidewalk cafés where you can enjoy a light meal while watching the passing scene. For inexpensive meals, try the stalls (barracas) at markets, which offer plates of xima and sauce for about US$1.

Maputo, Beira, Chimoio and Nampula have Shoprite branches for self-catering.

MAPUTO

pop 1.4 million

With its Mediterranean-style architecture, flame-tree-lined avenues, sidewalk cafés and waterside setting, Maputo is easily one of Africa’s most attractive capitals. Jellaba-garbed men gather in doorways to chat, while colourfully clad women hawk seafood and spices at the massive Municipal Market and banana vendors loll on their carts in the shade There are museums, shops and markets galore – don’t miss spending time here before heading north.

ORIENTATION

Many businesses, the train station, banks, post and some budget accommodation are in the low-lying baixa, on or near Ave 25 de Setembro, while embassies and most better hotels are about a 20-minute walk uphill from here in the city’s more staid upper section, especially in and around the Sommerschield diplomatic and residential quarter. A good landmark is ‘trinta e trés andares’ (33 Storey Building), in the baixa on the corner of Aves 25 de Setembro and Rua da Imprensa. At the northernmost end of the Marginal, about 7km from the centre, are Bairro Triunfo and Costa do Sol, with a small beach and several places to stay and eat.

INFORMATION

Bookshops

  • Publicações Europa-América Livraria (Ave José Mateus) Sells English-language books and magazines.

Cultural Centres

  • Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano (tel 21-320787; www.ccfmoz.com; Praça da Independência; 2-6pm Mon, 9am-6pm Tue-Fri, 9am-noon Sat) An excellent place with art exhibitions, music and dance performances, films (some in English), theatre and more.

Internet Access

  • Mundo’s Internet Café (Ave Julius Nyerere; per hr US$2; 8am-10.30pm Mon-Sat, 10am-11.30pm Sun)
  • Pizza House Internet Café (Ave Mao Tse Tung; per hr US$1.60; 8am-10pm Mon-Fri, 10am-10pm Sat & Sun) Upstairs at Pizza House.
  • Teledata (Ave 24 de Julho; per hr US$1.20; 7.30am-8pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat)

Medical Services

  • Clínica 222 (tel 82-000 2220, 21-312222, 21-313000; cnr Ave 24 de Julho & Rua Augusto Cardoso; 24hr) Similar to Clínica de Sommerschield.
  • Clínica de Sommerschield (tel 82-305 6240, 21-493924, 21-493926; 52 Rua Pereira do Lago; 24hr) A lab, and a doctor on call. Advance payment required (meticais, rand, dollars or Visa card).

Money

There are 24-hour ATMs all over town.

  • BIM Expresso (cnr Aves Mao Tse Tung & Tomás Nduda) ATM.
  • Cotacambios Airport (6am-9.30pm Mon-Thu, 6am-10pm Fri, 7am-10pm Sat, 11.30am-10.30pm Sun); City Centre (Polana Shopping Centre, Ground fl, cnr Aves 24 de Julho & Julius Nyerere; 9am-9pm Mon-Sat, 10am-10pm Sun) For changing cash outside of business hours.
  • Standard Bank Headquarters (Praça 25 de Junho); Maputo Bay (Hotel Polana) Changes travellers cheques and also has an ATM.

Post & Telephone

  • Main post office (Ave 25 de Setembro; 8am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-noon Sun)
  • Telecomunicações de Moçambique (TDM; Ground fl, 33 Andares, Rua da Imprensa; 8am-10pm) You can make international calls. It also has a branch inside Hotel Pestana Rovuma (Rua da Sé), next to the cathedral.

Tourist Offices

  • Fundo Nacional de Turismo (Futur; www.futur.org.mz; 1203 Ave 25 de Setembro) Has colourful brochures covering all of Mozambique.

DANGERS & ANNOYANCES

Walking around central Maputo during daytime hours is generally safe, and most tourists visit the city without mishap. However violent crime does occur. Be vigilant when out and about, avoid isolating situations and avoid the areas between Ave Patrice Lumumba and Ave 25 de Setembro, between Ave Friedrich Engels and Ave Marginal, and Ave Marginal between Praça Robert Mugabe and the Holiday Inn.

Always carry your passport.

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

The artists at Núcleo de Arte (tel 21-492523; www.africaserver.nl/nucleo; 194 Rua da Argélia; closed Sun) turn arms into art, as AK-47s, landmines and other weapons are exchanged for agricultural tools, and then welded into moving sculptures. They’re on display (and for sale – along with other artwork) in the gallery and the small garden.

The National Art Museum (http://musart.tvcabo.co.mz; 1233 Ave Ho Chi Min; admission free; 2-6pm Tue-Sun), just west of Ave Karl Marx, showcases a wonderful collection of paintings and sculptures by Mozambique’s finest contemporary artists.

The impressive domed train station on Praça dos Trabalhadores was designed by a pupil of Gustave Eiffel (of Tower fame) and has been well restored with a coat of pistachio-green paint, potted plants, and several old locomotives.

Nearby at the Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal; Ave 25 de Setembro) stalls overflow with fruits, vegetables and spices. On Praça da Indepêndencia, check out the imposing City Hall, the spired Cathedral of Nossa Senhora de Conceição and the Iron House.

The beach at Catembe fishing village across the bay comes alive on weekends as the town’s fly girls and guys crank up their stereos and flirt, drink or play football on the sand, with the Maputo skyline as a backdrop. A great place for a plate of prawns and people-watching.

SLEEPING

Budget

Maputo’s backpackers have English-speaking staff and heaps of city info, and can help with airport pick-ups and bus-depot transfers.

Base Backpackers (tel 21-302723; thebasebp@tvcabo.co.mz; 545 Ave Patrice Lumumba; dm US$8, d US$20) Often full, the Base has a central location, a kitchen, and a backyard bar, terrace and braai area overlooking the port in the distance.

Maputo Backpackers (tel 21-451213; Quarta Avenida, Bairro Triunfo, dm US$8-10, d/tw US$32/35, tr with/without bathroom US$55/49) A cosy place near Costa do Sol with spotless rooms with fans, and use of the kitchen if the house isn’t too crowded. Chapas to/from town stop nearby.

Fatima’s Backpackers (tel 21-302994; www.mozambiquebackpackers.com; 1317 Ave Mao Tse Tung; camp sites per person US$5, dm US$6-12, d with/without bathroom US$32/24) A long-running place in the upper part of town, Fatima’s has an outdoor kitchen-bar, plus rooms and dorm beds in a house next door.

Midrange & Top End

Ibis (tel 21-352200; www.accorhotels.com; 1743 Ave 25 de Setembro; r US$49) Centrally located and good value, Ibis has small, spiffy rooms, satellite TV and business facilities.

Residencial Palmeiras (tel 21-300199; carlos.pereira@tvcabo.co.mz; 948 Ave Patrice Lumumba; s/d with bathroom US$40/55, s without bathroom US$35) A converted residence with quiet, good-value rooms near the British high commission.

Mozaika (tel 21-303939, 21-303965; www.mozaika.co.mz; 769 Ave Agostinho Netto; s/d from US$60/70) Bright, well-equipped rooms around a garden courtyard, and a bar.

Hotel Terminus (tel 21-491333; www.terminus.co.mz; cnr Aves Francisco Magumbwe & Ahmed Sekou Touré; s/d from US$60/100) Three-stars-plus in the upper part of town and very popular, this place has small, well-appointed rooms, a tiny garden and a restaurant.

Hotel Polana (tel 21-491001; www.polana-hotel.com; 1380 Ave Julius Nyerere; s/d from US$150/168, ste from US$450) In a prime location on the cliff top with sea views, this is a wonderful spot to relax. Rooms are in the elegant main building or in the newer ‘Polana Mar’ nearer the water; there’s a beautiful pool, gardens and daily breakfast and weekend-dinner buffets.

EATING

The gigantic prawns that made Maputo famous in the 1970s are still jumping out of the sea and into the pan in the city’s many fantastic seafood restaurants.

Restaurante Costa do Sol (tel 21-450038; Ave Marginal, Costa do Sol; meals from US$5; lunch & dinner) A Maputo classic, this Art Deco seafood restaurant on the beach draws the crowds on weekend afternoons.

Restaurante Marisol (tel 21-380050; www.catembe.net; meals from US$5) In Catembe, with Mozambican cuisine, make-your-own pizzas and live music on Sundays. It’s 4km from the ferry – call first and they’ll collect you.

Villa Itália (tel 21-497298; 635 Ave Friedrich Engels; meals from US$6; lunch & dinner Tue-Sun) An oasis of calm in the city centre, with a plunge pool, a peaceful garden, pastas, pizzas and seafood.

Feira Popular (Ave 25 de Setembro; admission US$0.60; lunch & dinner) is another Maputo institution, with dozens of small bars and restaurants around sprawling fairgrounds, including

O Escorpião (tel 21-302180; meals from US$6) with hearty Portuguese fare, and Coqueiro (meals from US$3) with Zambézian cuisine.

There are dozens of sidewalk cafés (all open from about 8am to 9pm daily) where you can get scrumptious pastries and light meals, and watch the passing scene. Try Náutilus Pastelaria (cnr Aves Julius Nyerere & 24 de Julho) or the faded colonial-era Café Continental (cnr Aves 25 de Setembro & Ave Samora Machel).

For self-catering try Shoprite (Ave Acordos de Lusaka) or Mercado Janeta (cnr Aves Mao Tse Tung & Vladimir Lenine), which has cheap plates of maize meal, cassava and peanut sauce.

DRINKING & ENTERTAINMENT

Pubs & Clubs

Thursday through Saturday are the main nights, with things getting going after 11pm.

  • Mfumo’s (Praça dos Trabalhadores; hWed-Sat) This classic jazz café (formerly known as Chez Rangel) at the train station is one of Maputo’s best night spots, especially on Saturdays when there’s live music (admission US$12). An ideal spot to sip a caipirinha while taking in afro-jazz beats.
  • África Bar (tel 21-314821; 2182 Ave 24 de Julho; admission US$2; Wed-Sun) Hyper-trendy hangout popular with expats and local media types. Beautiful decor, and live jazz on Thursdays (admission free).
  • Coconuts Live (tel 21-322217; Complexo Mini-Golfe, Ave Marginal; admission weekend disco US$8, lounge free ) This place has a sleek weekend disco on Friday and Saturday nights and a popular chill-out lounge open Wednesday to Sunday.

Traditional Music & Dance

Check with the Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano for upcoming music and dance performances.

Rehearsals of Mozambique’s renowned Companhia Nacional de Canto e Dança (tel 21-400913; www.cncd.org.mz; 1719 Ave Albert Luthuli) are often open to the public.

SHOPPING

Maputo has fantastic woodcarvings, textiles and other crafts. In addition to the Saturday morning craft market (Praça 25 de Junho) and the vendors at Hotel Polana, try the following (all closed Sunday):

Artedif (Ave Marginal; 9am-2.30pm Tue, 9am-3.30pm Mon & Wed-Sat) A disabled persons’ cooperative, with carvings, basketry and leatherwork.

Casa Elefante (Ave 25 de Setembro) Shelves and shelves of capulanas (sarongs).

MozArte (Ave Filipe Samuel Magaia) Artists’ workshops around a courtyard, and a craft shop.

Shanty Craft (Segunda Avenida, Bairro Triunfo) Highquality crafts from around the country.

GETTING THERE & AWAY

Air

Airline offices include the following:

  • Air Corridor (tel 21-311582, 21-311585; 33 Storey Bldg, cnr Ave 25 de Setembro & Rua da Imprensa)
  • Kenya Airways (tel 21-320337, 21-320338; aquarium@tvcabo.co.mz; 171 Ave Karl Marx) At Aquarium Travel.
  • LAM Central reservations (tel 21-4680000, 21-326001, 21-465801; www.lam.co.mz; cnr Aves 25 de Setembro & Karl Marx); sales office (tel 21-490590; cnr Aves Julius Nyerere & Mao Tse Tung)
  • South African Airways (tel 21-495483, 21-495484, 21-498097; www.flysaa.com; Ave Fernão Melo e Castro, Sommerschield) Together with SAAirlink.
  • Swazi Express (tel in South Africa 031-408 1115; www.swaziexpress.com; Maputo airport)
  • TAP Air Portugal (tel 21-303927/8, 21-431006/7; www.tap-airportugal.pt; Hotel Pestana Rovuma)

Bus

For fares and journey times, see the town headings. Buses to Beira stop overnight in Vilankulo or at the Savé River. Major stops include the following:

  • Fábrica de Cerveja Laurentina (cnr Aves 25 de Setembro & Albert Luthuli) Daily morning chapas to Swaziland, South Africa, Namaacha, Boane and Goba.
  • Junta (Ave de Moçambique) The city’s chaotic longdistance-bus depot is located about 7km from the centre; there’s no organisation – you’ll have to ask where to find buses to your destination. Almost all departures are at about 5am. Coming into Maputo, some buses continue to Ponto Final (corner of Aves Eduardo Mondlane and Guerra Popular), from where it’s about US$2 in a taxi to the central area.
  • Panthera Azul (tel 21-302077/83; www.pantherazul.com; 273 Ave Zedequias Manganhela) Weekly bus to Beira, departing at 5am Tuesday (US$44, 18 hours).
  • Transportes Oliveiras (tel 21-405108, 21-400475; Ave 24 de Julho) About 4km from the centre, with Inhambane buses at 6am and 11am. It’s just beyond Praça 16 de Junho (US$6 in a taxi). Some buses from the north continue into town, to the intersection of Aves 24 de Julho and Amilcar Cabral.
  • Departure and ticketing points for express buses to Johannesburg include the following:
  • Greyhound(tel 21-355700; www.greyhound.co.za; 1242 Ave Karl Marx) At Cotur Travel & Tours.
  • InterCape Mainliner (tel 21-431006; www.intercape.co.za; 899 Ave 24 de Julho) At Tropical Air Travel.
  • Panthera Azul (tel 21-302077/83; www.pantherazul.com; 273 Ave Zedequias Manganhela) Behind the post office.
  • Translux (tel 21-303825; 21-303829; www.translux.co.za; 1249 Ave 24 de Julho) At Simara Travel & Tours.

. . HOT TIP

Travelling north from Maputo, sit on the left-hand side of the bus to avoid being baked by the rising sun.

Boat

The ferry (per person US$0.20, per vehicle US$6) and boats to Catembe run from dawn to about 11pm from the dock near the Ministry of Finances. The trip takes about 20 minutes.

GETTING AROUND

Maputo’s Mavalane International Airport is 6km northwest of the city centre (US$8 to US$10 in a taxi).

Chapas go everywhere (US$0.20). Some have name boards, otherwise listen to the destination called out by the conductor. For Junta, catch a chapa going to ‘Jardim’ from the Natural History Museum (‘Museu’). Coming from Junta into town, get a chapa heading to ‘Museu’. For Costa do Sol, take bus 17 or a chapa from the corner of Aves Mao Tse Tung and Julius Nyerere.

Car-rental agencies include Avis (tel 21-465497, 21-465498; www.avis.co.za; cnr Aves Julius Nyerere & Mao Tse Tung) and Europcar (tel 21-497338; europcar@virconn.com; 1418 Ave Julius Nyerere).

There are taxi ranks at Hotel Polana and at the Municipal Market otherwise you can call the taxi company (tel 21-493255). Town trips start at US$2 (US$12 from Costa do Sol to Junta).

SOUTHERN MOZAMBIQUE

Fantastic beaches, heaped plates of prawns, good tourism infrastructure, and easy road and air access make the southern coast Mozambique’s most popular destination, and an easy introduction to the country. Be prepared to share your space with hordes of vacationing South Africans at holiday time.

INHAMBANE

Sleepy, charming Inhambane is one of Mozambique’s oldest settlements, and well worth a stroll before heading to the beach at nearby Tofo. Pensão Pachiça (tel 293-20565; farolturismo@teledata.mz; Rua 3 de Fevereiro; dm US$11, d US$40) is a waterfront backpackers that has been completely refurbished and is the best place to stay, with dorms, doubles, a restauran t-bar and a rooftop terrace. Go left from the ferry jetty for about 300m. Restaurant Tic-Tic (Ave da Revolução; meals US$2-3), opposite the market, has cheap meals.

The ageing ferry to/from Maxixe runs from sunrise to sundown (US$0.50, 25 minutes), alternating with small motorboats and slow dhows (US$0.15).

Oliveiras buses to Maputo depart from behind the market (US$9, seven hours, 6am and 11am). Faster buses depart at 5am (US$8). For northbound transport, go to Maxixe.

TOFO

Tofo has long been legendary on the southern Africa holiday-makers’ circuits, with its azure waters, sweeping white sands, rolling breakers and perpetual party-time atmosphere. There are no ATMs or banks – sort out your finances in Inhambane.

For diving (with lots of manta rays), contact Diversity Scuba (www.diversityscuba.com) or Tofo Scuba (www.tofoscuba.com). For surfing, head to Turtle Cove (www.feralsurf.com) in nearby Tofinho.

Sleeping & Eating

  • Bamboozi (tel 293-29040; camp sites US$9, dm US$14, 2-/4-person bungalows from US$23/46) Budget travelers should head to Bamboozi, set among the sand dunes about 3km north of town.
  • Pensão Tofo (tel 82-827 4590; dm US$8, d US$23) In the town centre and without the beach vibes, but nevertheless a good budget bet. The dorm and double have nets, shared bathrooms and kitchen use.
  • Fatima’s Nest (tel 82-414 5730; www.mozambiquebackpackers.com; camp sites per person US$5, tent rental US$18, dm US$7-9, d/tr bungalow US$24/36) The more makeshift Fatima’s is just north of town on the beach.
  • Nordin’s Lodge (tel 293-29009; 2-/4-person chalets US$50/100) At the northern end of town on the beach and quiet, with large, thatched, faded chalets and basic self-catering facilities.
  • Casa Barry (tel 293-29007; www.casabarry.com; camp sites US$8, d reed/brick casita US$70/86, 4-/6-person chalets US$172/206) Well-located on the beach at the southern end of town, with closely spaced and rustic but well-equipped reed-and-thatch self-catering chalets, plus a restaurant.
  • Dino’s Beach Bar (meals from US$2; lunch & dinner Thu-Tue) Tofo’s main hangout, with good vibes, good music and good food. It’s on the beach just past Fatima’s Nest.
  • Albatroz (tel 293-29005; meals from US$5; lunch & dinner) Head here for something fancier. It’s at the top of the hill in the town centre, with seafood grills and a Sunday breakfast buffet.

If you are self catering, be sure to stock up in Inhambane.

Getting There & Away

Chapas to Tofo leave from behind Inhambane’s market throughout the day (US$0.60, 45 minutes). The first reliable departure from Tofo is about 6am.

MAXIXE

Maxixe is the place to get off the bus and onto the boat if you’re heading to Inhambane, across the bay. Stop (tel 293-30025; EN1; meals US$2-3, r US$26; breakfast, lunch & dinner), at the jetty, is a good place for breakfast. It also rents clean rooms nearby. Buses to Maputo (US$8, 6½ hours) depart from the Tribunal from 6am. Chapas to Vilankulo (US$6, 3½ hours) leave from Praça 25 de Setembro.

VILANKULO

Vilankulo is Mozambique’s foremost holiday destination, and the gateway for visiting the nearby Bazaruto Archipelago. During holidays it’s overrun with 4WDs, but otherwise it is a very quiet town.

Sail Away (tel 293-82385; www.sailaway.co.za), near Vilanculos Camping, offers day and overnight dhow safaris to the Bazaruto Archipelago. To arrange something locally, ask for pointers at the helpful Tourist Services (tel 293-82228; margie@teledata.mz; 2-5pm Mon-Sat), just off the beach road. For diving, contact Vilanculos Dive Charters (tel 82-856 2700; bigblue@teledata.mz; Aguia Negra Lodge), which also arranges island transfers.

Sleeping & Eating

The best places to stay are along or near the beach road and its northern extension.

  • Zombie Cucumber (www.zombiecucumber.com; dm US$10, d chalet US$28) Everything a backpackers should be, with comfy hammocks, a garden, home-cooked meals and local info from the English owners.
  • Vilanculos Camping (tel 293-82043; www.vilanculoscamping.co.za; camp sites per person US$11, chalets per person US$16-23) A large, shaded camping area with good facilities, plus no-frills rooms and bungalows with bedding.
  • Complexo Turístico Josef e Tina (tel 293-82140; camp sites per site US$10, d/q rondavel US$24/32, d from US$30) Basic reed chalets in a pleasant garden, and a few rooms.
  • Aguia Negra Lodge (tel 293-82387; www.aguianegra.co.za; s/d/6-person chalets US$55/86/147) About 2km north of the old Dona Ana Hotel, with breezy A-frame chalets on sea-facing grounds and a restaurant.
  • Smugglers (tel 293-82253; www.smugglers.co.za; s/d US$44/66, without bathroom US$38/55) A reliable midrange bet with rooms around lush gardens, and a restaurant serving up hearty pub fare from US$3.
  • Casa Rex (tel 293-82048; www.casa-rex.com; s/d from US$95/150) A small, upmarket getaway in peaceful, manicured gardens.

Other eating options include Restaurante Monica (meals US$2.50-6) at Na Sombra guesthouse near BIM Expresso and Bar Ti’Zé (meals from US$1) near the bus stand, both of which have good local cuisine. Complexo Âncora Seafood Restaurant/NY Pizza (tel 293-82444; pizzas & meals US$4-10; 7am-10pm Wed-Mon) serves pizzas, apple pie and has a waterside eating area.

Getting There & Away

Buses to Maputo, Beira and Chimoio depart around 4am from the main road near Padaria Bento. Coming from Maputo, get to Junta by 4.30am to catch the first bus to Vilankulo.

BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO

The Bazaruto Archipelago – much of which is a national park (admission per adult/child US$8/2) – is a stunningly beautiful divers’ and snorkellers’ paradise, with turquoise and jade waters, pristine coral reefs and white sand dunes.

The soon-to-open Ponta Dundo Camp (Bazaruto Island; camp sites per person US$15) is the only option for budget travellers. It will supply the tent; you bring food and drink. If cost is not an object, try Bazaruto Lodge (tel 21-305000; reservas@pestana.co.mz; Bazaruto Island; s/d with full board from US$225/365), an unpretentious four-star getaway, or the intimate Benguerra Lodge (tel in South Africa 011-452 0641; www.benguerra.co.za; Benguera Island; s/d with full board from US$534/790).

CENTRAL MOZAMBIQUE

Central Mozambique doesn’t draw the tourist crowds, but it’s a convenient transit zone for travel to/from Malawi and Zimbabwe. Among its attractions are wild Gorongosa National Park and beautiful, rolling hill landscapes.

BEIRA

pop 400,000

Mozambique’s second-largest city is as famed for its steamed crabs and prawns as for its tawdry nightlife. A decent beach (at Makuti, 5km out of town) and a few wellpreserved colonial buildings are the major attractions, but it’s primarily of interest as a transport hub.

Sleeping & Eating

  • Biques (tel 23-313051; Makuti Beach; camp sites per person US$3.50) A faded seaside camping ground, but the sunset views from the restaurant adequately compensate.
  • Pensão Moderna (tel 23-329901; Rua Alferes da Silva; d/tr from US$24/31) Near the cathedral, with adequate budget rooms and a café next door.
  • Jardim das Velas (tel 23-312209; jardimdasvelas@yahoo.com; 282 Ave das FPLM, Makuti Beach; r/f US$75/85) Well-equipped doubles near the lighthouse, plus a family room with kitchenette. No meals are available.
  • Hotel Tivoli (tel 23-320300; h.tivoli-beira@teledata. mz; cnr Ave de Bagamoyo & Rua da Madeira; s/d US$83/99) Beira’s business-travellers’ hotel, with small rooms and a restaurant-bar. It’s in the baixa section of town near the port.
  • Café Riviera (Praça do Município; snacks from US$1.50; breakfast, lunch & dinner) Plump, pink sofas inside, and outdoor tables overlooking the praça – ideal for watching the passing scene.
  • Clube Náutico (Ave das FPLM; meals US$6-11; lunch & dinner) Seafood grills by the beach. For self-catering, there’s Shoprite (cnr Aves Armando Tivane & Samora Machel).

Getting There & Away

Buses leave from Praça do Maquinino, northwest of Praça do Município (Beira’s main square) to Chimoio (US$5, three hours), Vilankulo (US$12, nine hours) and Maputo (US$24 to US$30, 18 hours). Buses to Quelimane (US$16.50, nine hours) depart from Mar Azul in Pioneiros bairro, 1km north of the centre.

Otherwise, take a chapa to Inchope, 130km west of Beira at the EN6-EN1 junction, and try your luck with passing buses there. Travel north is much improved these days thanks to the excellent sealed road from Inchope to Caia, where there’s a ferry over the Zambezi River.

GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK

This park (www.gorongosa.net; adult/child/vehicle Mtc200/50/200, payable in meticais only; 1 Apr-1 Dec), once one of southern Africa’s premier wildlife areas, is getting a second wind thanks to assistance from the US-based Carr Foundation.

Arrange vehicle rental and wildlife guides, plus hikes on nearby Mt Gorongosa, at park headquarters (tel 23-535012; travel@gorongosa.net), where there’s also a camp site (per person US$4), a restaurant and rondavels (s/d US$26/38).

Head 43km north from Inchope to Nota village, then 17km east to the park gate, or take a chapa to Vila Gorongosa (25km further north) and arrange a pick-up from there in advance with park staff.

CHIMOIO

pop 250,000

Low-key Chimoio sits on the edge of scenic country near the Chimanimani Mountains. Access to the foothills is time-consuming, and you’ll need a guide for hiking.

Pink Papaya (tel 82-555 7310, 82-237 2980; helenmlarge@hotmail.com; cnr Ruas Pigivide & 3 de Fevereiro; camp sites per person US$4, dm US$8, d US$24) is the best budget accommodation option. With the bus stand to your right and train station to your left, walk straight, take the fourth right into Rua 3 de Fevereiro; continue one block to Rua Pigivide.

Hotel-Residencial Castelo Branco (tel 251-23934; Rua Sussundenga; r US$50-62) is just off Praça dos Heróis, and caters mostly to business travellers.

Elo 4 (Ave 25 de Setembro; meals US$3-8) has pizzas and Italian dishes, and there’s also a Shoprite (EN6).

Buses depart at 4am from the train station to Tete (US$9, six hours) and Vilankulo (US$14, 10 hours). Chapas to Beira (US$5, three hours) and the Machipanda border (US$1.20, 1½ hours) run throughout the day.

TETE

Tete’s reputation as one of the hottest places in Mozambique discourages visitors, but it’s a useful transport hub. Pass the time sipping a cold drink at a riverside bar.

Hotel Zambeze (tel 252-23100, 252-23103; Ave Eduardo Mondlane; s/d US$16/22) is cheap and central, with a good pizzeria, but otherwise highly unappealing. It is near the Standard Bank. Prédios Univendas (tel 252-23198, 252-23199, 252-22670; Ave Julius Nyerere; s/d from US$22/31) is much better, with clean, spacious rooms. On the river 20 minutes’ walk from town along the Changara road, Motel Tete (tel 252-22345; EN103; r US$42) has pleasant rooms and a riverside restaurant (meals from US$3).

Chapas for Zóbuè (US$2, two hours) and Nyamapanda (US$3.50, two hours) depart from along Ave 25 de Junho. Transport to Chimoio (US$9, six hours) departs from Prédio Emose near Univendas.

QUELIMANE

pop 170,000

Friendly compact Quelimane is ideal for a few days of peace on the journey north. Zalala beach is an hour’s drive away through the coconut plantations.

Hotel 1 de Julho (cnr Ave Samora Machel & Rua Felipe Samuel Magaia; tw US$16-28) is near the old cathedral, with reasonable no-frills rooms, and a pastelaria downstairs. Hotel Rosy (tel 24-214969, 24-213825; cnr Aves 1 de Julho & Paulo Samuel Kankhomba; s/d US$24/28), near the old mosque, is better.

Hotel Flamingo (tel 24-215602; sogetra@teledata.mz; cnr Rua Kwame Nkrumah & Ave 1 de Julho; s/d US$50/60) has newish midrange rooms with full breakfasts, and a restaurant.

Go to Esplanada A Coquinha (tel 24-214019; cnr Aves Josina Machel & Julius Nyerere; meals from US$4; lunch & dinner) for delicious Zambézian cuisine. Overlooking the river, Bar Refeba (Ave Marginal; meals from $2.50) offers grilled prawns, grilled chicken and drinks.

Transport departs from the northern end of Ave Eduardo Mondlane. The Mecula bus to Nampula departs at 4.30am (US$14, 10 hours), buses to Beira depart at 5am (US$16.50, nine hours), and vehicles go daily to Milange (Malawi border). Chapas to Zalala (US$1) leave from the capuzinio, 1km from town on the Zalala road.

NORTHERN MOZAMBIQUE

Northern Mozambique is one of the continent’s last wild frontiers – rugged and challenging for travel, except for a few oases of island luxury. Yet the rewards are spectacular, including magical, time-warped Ilha de Moçambique, stunning beaches and the unspoilt Swahili culture of the Quirimbas Archipelago.

NAMPULA

pop 303,000

Bustling Nampula is the jumping off point for visiting Ilha de Moçambique ( below ). The National Ethnography Museum (Ave Eduardo Mondlane; admission free; 2-4.30pm Tue-Thu & Sat, 2-6pm Fri, 10am-noon & 2-4pm Sun) has English explanations and a mask collection.

For budget rooms, try the bleak Hotel Lúrio (tel 26-218631; Ave da Independência; s/d US$20/32, ste s/d US$48/60), several blocks south of the train station or the somewhat better Hotel Brasília (tel 26-217531; 26 Rua dos Continuadores; tw/d US$26/30) near Shoprite, and a 20-minute hike from the bus/train depots.

Residencial Expresso (tel 26-218808/9; fax 26-218806; Ave da Independência; s/d from US$53/67) has six large, spotless rooms with both fridge and TV. Hotel Girassol (tel 26-216000; www.girassolhoteis.co.mz; Ave Eduardo Mondlane; s/d US$90/105, ste US$130-150) is a four-star place located in the Centro Commercial de Nampula high-rise, and boasts Nampula’s best rooms. There are cafés and restaurants scattered along Ave Eduardo Mondlane between Hotel Girassol and the museum.

Mecula buses depart for Pemba (US$7, seven hours) and Quelimane (US$14, 11 hours) at 5am from the Mecula garage on Rua da Moma, off Ave 25 de Setembro.

To Ilha de Moçambique (US$3.60, three to four hours), get a tanzaniano chapa from the Padaria Nampula transport stand east of the train station between 7am and 10am. Be sure it’s going direct, otherwise you’ll need to change at Monapo.

Trains to Cuamba (US$20/10/4 for 1st/2nd/economy class, 10 to 11 hours) leave Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 5am.

ILHA DE MOÇAMBIQUE

Tiny reed houses and pastel-coloured colonial mansions rub shoulders among the palm trees on tiny Ilha de Moçambique (Mozambique Island), the former capital of Portuguese East Africa. It’s haunting, magical, and a must-see.

The ‘Ilha’ is attached to the mainland by a 3.5km causeway. Chapas and buses arrive at the southern tip of the island, from where it’s a short walk north through the makuti (reed) town to the old colonial stone town.

The tourist office (tel 26-610081; 9am-noon & 2-5pm) has island information and guides; it is next to the museum.

Sights

Get up early and wander through makuti town as it’s waking up, with cocks crowing in the narrow streets. After a breakfast of spicy bhajias (fried Indian-style vegetable pancakes) from the food market, walk into the stone town as the museums open.

The bright red Palace and Chapel of São Paulo (adult/child US$4/1; 9am-4pm) has been impeccably restored, with opulent furniture, tapestries and sinister portraits of colonial grandees. Adjoining are a Maritime Museum, the Church of the Misericórdia and the Museum of Sacred Art (closed at the time of research), all included in the entry price.

The massive Portuguese Fort of São Sebastião (admission free, guide US$2; 8am-5pm) is best visited in the late afternoon, when it’s bathed in glorious golden light.

Dominating Ilha’s southern tip is the whitewashed Church of Santo António, overlooking turquoise seas and fishermen repairing their nets on the sand.

Sleeping & Eating

  • Casa de Luís (Travessa dos Fornos, Makuti Town; camp sites per person US$4, s/d US$8/14) Quite basic, but an Ilha institution, with a friendly owner and a tiny courtyard. It is near the green mosque.
  • Casa de Yasmin (tel 26-610073; Rua dos Combatentes; r US$20) Near the fort, with small rooms in an annex next to the owner-family’s house.
  • Mooxeleliya (tel 26-610076; iannika@teledata.mz; d US$22, f US$48) Good value, with large, highceilinged rooms and breakfast. Near the Church of the Misericórdia.
  • Casa Branca (tel 26-610076; flora204@hotmail.com; Rua dos Combatentes; r US$24) Excellent value, with spotless rooms (one with bathroom), sea views and breakfast.
  • Patio dos Quintalinhos (Casa de Gabriele; tel 26-610090; www.patiodosquintalinhos.com; Rua do Celeiro; s/d without bathroom US$20/25, d/q with bathroom US$30/35, ste US$35) Opposite the green mosque, with Italia n-Mozambican fusion design, a rooftop terrace and help with info and excursions.
  • O Escondidinho (tel 26-610078; ilhatur@itservices.co.mz; Ave dos Heróis; s/d US$36/52) About three stars, with atmospheric, spacious, highceilinged rooms, some with bathrooms, and a great restaurant.
  • O Paladar (market; meals from US$3; lunch & dinner) has local meals. O Escondidinho, Relíquias (tel 26-610092; Ave da República; meals US$4-10; lunch & dinner) near the museum and Café Âncora (tel 26-610006; brunch US$9; 8am-11pm), diagonally opposite the Church of the Misericórdia, have delicious seafood, curries and some veg dishes. Café Âncora also has Sunday brunch.

Getting There & Away

Transport departs from the bridge. Direct tanzaniano chapas to Nampula (US$3.60, three hours) leave daily between 3am and 5am; ask your hotel to arrange a hotel pick-up with the driver. For travel to Pemba, take the 4am tanzaniano to Namialo, and – with a bit of luck – connect there with the Mecula bus from Nampula.

CUAMBA

A lively rail and road junction, Cuamba is a convenient stop en route to/from Malawi. Namacha (s/d US$12/18) and Hotel Vision 2000 (tel 271-62632; h-vision2000@teledata.mz; cnr Aves Eduardo Mondlane & 25 de Junho; r US$50-70) are the places to stay.

Road transport leaves from Maçaniqueira market south of the railroad tracks. Trains to Nampula (US$20/10/4 for 1st/2nd/economy class, 10 to 11 hours) depart at 5am on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

LICHINGA

This low-key town with jacarandas and pine groves is a hub for travel to/from Lake Niassa and Malawi. Ponto Final (tel 271-20912; Rua Filipe Samuel Magaia; r from US$22) has small, low-ceilinged rooms with bathroom, plus a bar. Hotel Girassol Lichinga (tel 271-21280; www.girassolhoteis.co.mz; Rua Filipe Samuel Magaia; s/d US$85/92) Lichinga’s most upmarket option, catering primarily to business travellers.

All transport departs early from next to the market, including to Cuamba (US$12, 6½ hours) and Metangula (US$5, 2½ hours).

LAKE NIASSA

The tranquil Mozambican side of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi) sees a small but steady stream of adventure travellers.

In Cóbuè there’s Mira Lago (r US$10), or Mchenga Wede (per person US$5, meals US$7-10), 20km south, with camping or budget bungalows, bush walks and canoe trips.

Nkwichi Lodge (www.mandawilderness.org; s/d full board US$240/380) is a wonderful lakeside ecolodge 15km south of Cóbuè, with hand-crafted chalets, bush walks, boating and snorkelling. Advance bookings are essential.

The Ilala ferry connects Cóbuè with Metangula and Likoma Island. From Cóbuè, walk to Mchenga Wede, or arrange a boat transfer with Nkwichi Lodge.

PEMBA

The main draw of the sunny seaside town of Pemba is long Wimbi (also spelled Wimbe) beach, 5km down the coast. Kaskazini (tel 272-20371; www.kaskazini.com; Pemba Beach Hotel, Ave Marginal, Wimbi Beach) has information on the town and the islands, and can organise dhow safaris on your behalf. CI Divers (tel 272-20102; www.cidivers.com; Complexo Náutilus, Ave Marginal, Wimbi Beach) does diving.

Sleeping & Eating

  • Pensão Baía (cnr Rua 1 de Maio & Rua Base Beira; d with fan US$16) Spartan budget rooms in the town centre.
  • Russell’s Place (Cashew Camp; tel 82-686 2730; www.pembamagic.com; Wimbi Beach; camp sites per person US$6, dm US$4, d/tr chalet US$35) A chilled-out backpackers 3.5km beyond Complexo Náutilus (US$5 in a taxi from town), with travel info, a bar and pizzas.
  • Complexo Turístico Caraçol (tel 272-20147; sulemane@teledata.mz; Ave Marginal; s/d US$40/50, 1-/2- room apt US$75/85) Just across from the beach, with no-frills rooms and apartments. Residencial Regio Emilia (tel 272-21297; c.forna@teledata.mz; Ave Marginal; r from US$50) On the beach road extension, with nice self-catering chalets in green, quiet grounds.
  • Pemba Beach Hotel (tel 272-21770; www.pembabeachresort.com; Ave Marginal; s/d from US$160/220) Five-star luxury overlooking the water.
  • Restaurante-Bar Samar (tel 272-20415; Ave 25 de Setembro; meals US$3-8; breakfast, lunch & dinner Sun-Fri) has good-value Portuguese cuisine, and Aquila Romana (tel 272-21972; Ave Marginal, Wimbi Beach; meals US$4-10; hdinner Tue-Fri, breakfast, lunch & dinner Sat & Sun) has pizzas and Italian dishes.

Getting There & Away

Mecula buses go to Nampula, Nacala, Moçimboa da Praia and Mueda (all about US$7, seven hours), departing at 5am from the Mcel office (corner of Aves 25 de Setembro and Eduardo Mondlane). To Wimbi beach from town, hitch or take a taxi (US$2) from near Mcel.

QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGO

Ancient wooden sailing dhows take fisherman around the Quirimbas Archipelago, one of Mozambique’s most remote and beautiful destinations. Ibo, with creepers growing through its crumbling colonial mansions, seems to have been untouched for centuries, while Vamizi has some of the region’s most stunning beaches. Many of the islands are part of Quirimbas National Park (adult/child US$8/2), which also includes parts of the fringing coastline.

All accommodation is moving upscale. Ibo Island Lodge (tel in South Africa 021-702 0643; www.iboisland.com; s/d with half board US$360/560) is a beautifully restored boutique hotel overlooking the water near the dhow port. Vamizi Island Lodge (www.vamizi.com; r per person incl full board & activities from US$485) is part of the Maluane project (www.maluane.com), and one of the continent’s most idyllic island getaways.

Kaskazini in Pemba arranges charter flights, speedboats and dhows. Otherwise, take a chapa from Pemba’s Paquitequete fish market, departing daily at 4am, to Quissanga and on to Tandanhangue village, where you can get a dhow to Ibo (one to six hours). There’s parking at Casa de Isufo, 2km before Tandanhangue port.

MOÇIMBOA DA PRAIA

This one-horse port town is the last major stop between Pemba and the Tanzanian border. Pensão Leeta (tel 272-81147; Ave Samora Machel; camp sites US$5, r US$10), near the transport stand, has basic rooms. Hotel Chez Natalie (tel 82-527 9094; natalie@teledata.mz; 4-person chalet US$68) is 2km from town on the estuary, and is the best, with family-style chalets and a grill. Pickups to the border leave from opposite Pensão Leeta from 3.30am. The Mecula bus to Pemba departs at 4.30am sharp.

MOZAMBIQUE

DIRECTORY

ACCOMMODATION

There are many great camp sites along the southern coast. Cheap hotels aren’t as cheap here as in neighbouring countries – most pensões start at around US$8 and are comparatively overpriced. Backpacker places, found especially in the south, are much better value; dorm beds average US$10. Midrange options are more limited than in South Africa, though the selection is fast increasing. For top-end travel, there are some idyllic island lodges. When quoting prices, many establishments distinguish between a duplo (twin beds) and a casal (double bed).

Around Christmas, Easter and during August, the southern coast fills up and most places raises their prices – advance bookings are highly advisable.

Except as noted, all midrange and topend listings in this chapter include private bathroom, while budget listings usually have communal facilities.

. . PRACTICALITIES

Weights, measures and road distances use the metric system.

Electricity is 220-240V AC, 50Hz (use South African–style two- or threeround-pin plugs).

For English-language news: www.poptel.org.uk/mozambique-news.

Radio Mozambique (www.rm.co.mz) and TVM (TV) have occasional English programming.

ACTIVITIES

The best places for arranging dhow safaris are Vilankulo and the Bazaruto Archipelago (contact Sail Away) and Pemba (contact Kaskazini).

There are diving and snorkelling operators all along the coast, with the most popular centres at Tofo, Vilankulo (for the Bazaruto Archipelago) and Pemba. Visibility is best from March/April to July. Single-day dives cost between US$30 and US$50, and PADI openwater courses average US$300 to US$450 (best booked in advance).

BOOKS

Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers: Travels in Mozambique by Nick Middleton and With Both Hands Waving – A Journey Through Mozambique by Justin Fox are highly entertaining travelogues full of historical snippets.

BUSINESS HOURS

Banks are open from 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

DANGERS & ANNOYANCES

Mozambique is generally safe, but there are some areas and situations where caution is warranted.

Thefts and robberies are the main risks: watch your pockets in markets, avoid carrying a bag or otherwise giving a potential thief reason to think you have anything of value, and avoid isolating situations.

More likely are simple hassles, such as underpaid authorities in search of bribes. You’re required to carry your passport or (better) a notarised copy at all times. If stopped by the police, remain polite, but don’t surrender your documents – insist on going to the nearest police station (esquadrão) instead.

Land mines – a legacy of the war days – are still a risk. Always stick to well-used paths, and don’t free-camp or wander off roadsides or into the bush anywhere, without first checking with locals.

EMBASSIES & CONSULATES

Mozambican Embassies & Consulates

Mozambican diplomatic representations abroad include the following:

  • France (tel 01 47 64 91 32; 82 Rue Laugier, Paris 75017)
  • Germany (tel 030-3987 6500; emoza@aol.com; Stromstrasse 47, 10551 Berlin)
  • Malawi Lilongwe (tel 01-774100; off Convention Dr); Limbe (tel 01-643189; 1st fl, Celtel Bldg, Rayner Ave, Limbe, near Blantyre)
  • South Africa Pretoria (tel 012-401 0300, 012-321 2288; 529 Edmund St, Arcadia); Johannesburg (tel 011-484 6427; 11 Boundary Rd, cnr with Carse O’Gowrie Rd, Houghton); Cape Town (tel 021-426 2944; 45 Castle St, Castle Bldg, 7th fl); Durban (tel 031-304 0200; 320 West St, Room 520); Nelspruit (tel 013-752 7396; 32 Bell St)
  • Swaziland (tel 404 3700; Mountain Inn Rd, Mbabane)
  • Tanzania (tel 022-211 6502; 25 Garden Ave, Dar es Salaam)
  • UK (tel 020-7383 3800; www.mozambiquehc.org.uk; 21 Fitzroy Sq, London W1T 6EL)
  • USA (tel 202-293 7146; www.embamoc-usa.org; 1990 M St, NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20036)
  • Zambia (tel 01-239135; 9592 Kacha Rd, off Paseri Rd, Northmead, Lusaka)
  • Zimbabwe (tel 04-253871; 152 Herbert Chitepo Ave, Harare)

. . WARNING!

All travellers, but especially women, and especially at Tofo and Vilankulo, should avoid isolating situations, particularly isolated stretches of beach. Enjoy the coastline, but always stay within sight of your hotel or the crowds.

Embassies & Consulates in Mozambique

The following are in Maputo; most are open from 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

  • Australia (tel 21-322780; www.embassy.gov.au/mz.html; cnr Aves Zedequias Manganhela & Vladimir Lenine, 33 Storey Bldg, 1st fl)
  • Canada (tel 21-492623; www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/mozambique/menu-en.asp; 1128 Ave Julius Nyerere)
  • France (tel 21-490444, 21-492896; www.ambafrance-mz.org; 2361 Ave Julius Nyerere)
  • Germany (tel 21-492714; www.maputo.diplo.de; 506 Rua Damião de Gois)
  • Malawi (tel 21-492676; 75 Ave Kenneth Kaunda)
  • Netherlands (tel 21-490031; www.nlembassy.org.mz; 285 Rua de Mukumbura)
  • South Africa (tel 21-490059, 21-491614; consular@tropical.co.mz; 41 Ave Eduardo Mondlane)
  • Swaziland (tel 21-492117, 21-492451; swazimoz@teledata.mz; Rua Luís Pasteur)
  • Tanzania (tel 21-490110; 852 Ave Mártires de Machava)
  • UK (tel 21-320111, 21-310111; bhc.maputo@teledata.mz; 310 Ave Vladimir Lenine)
  • USA (tel 21-492797; www.usembassy-maputo.gov.mz; 193 Ave Kenneth Kaunda)
  • Zambia (tel 21-492452; 1286 Ave Kenneth Kaunda)
  • Zimbabwe (tel 21-490404, 21-486499; 1657 Ave Mártires de Machava)

HOLIDAYS

Public holidays include the following:

1 January New Year’s Day

3 February Heroes’ Day

7 April Women’s Day

1 May Labour Day

25 June Independence Day

7 September Victory Day

25 September Revolution Day

25 December Christmas/Family Day

INTERNET ACCESS

All larger towns have internet cafés, often at the local TDM (telecom) office. Rates average US$2 per hour.

MONEY

Mozambique’s currency is the metical (plural – meticais). As of mid-2006, the ‘metical nova família’ (new family metical) was introduced, at a rate of 1000 old meticais to one new metical.

All major towns have ATMs, often operated by Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM), and all accepting Visa, but not MasterCard.

You can change US dollars cash at most banks (though not at most BIM branches) without paying commission, and South African rands are widely accepted in southern Mozambique. Travellers cheques can be changed only at Standard Bank (minimum US$35 commission per transaction, original purchase receipt required).

TELEPHONE

Provincial area codes must always be dialled. The cheapest international dialling is with TDM’s pre-paid Bla-Bla Fixo card, sold at telecom branches everywhere. Mcel (the main mobile provider) has bright-yellow shops countrywide where you can buy SIM-card starter packs (US$2) and get linked into the network.

VISAS

Visas are required by everyone except citizens of South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana, and can be bought at most borders (but not the Tanzania border) for US$25, though they’re best arranged in advance. If you are travelling to Mozambique by bus from Johannesburg, it’s essential to get your visa in advance; lines are long and most buses won’t wait.

Visas can be extended at immigration offices in all provincial capitals.

Visas for Onward Travel

Visas for neighbouring countries are available at most borders except Tanzania. Tanzania visas cost US$50 plus two photos and issued within 24 hours from the Tanzania high commission in Maputo (see left ), which is open from 8am to 11am for visa applications.

TRANSPORT IN MOZAMBIQUE

GETTING THERE & AWAY

Air

  • Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM; code TM; tel 21-4680000, 21-490590; www.lam.co.mz) links Jo’burg (South Africa) with Maputo, Vilankulo and Beira; Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) with Pemba and Maputo; and Lisbon (Portugal) with Maputo. Other connections include the following:
  • Kenya Airways Nairobi (Kenya) to Maputo.
  • Pelican Air Services (tel in South Africa 011-973 3649; www.pelicanair.co.za) Jo’burg to Vilankulo via Nelspruit, with connections to the Bazaruto Archipelago.
  • SAAirlink (www.saairlink.co.za) Jo’burg to Beira, and Durban (South Africa) to Maputo.
  • South African Airways (tel 21-495483, 21-495484; www.flysaa.com) Jo’burg to Maputo.
  • Swazi Express Durban (South Africa) and Matsapha (Swaziland) to Maputo and Vilankulo.
  • TAP Air Portugal Lisbon to Maputo.

Land

All overland travellers must pay an immigration tax of US$2 or the local currency equivalent. Most borders are open from 6am to 6pm.

MALAWI

There are at least eight border crossings, with only the main ones covered here.

To/From Blantyre

For the Zóbuè crossing between Blantyre and Harare (Zimbabwe), vehicles depart Blantyre for the border via Mwanza (US$4), connecting in Mozambique with chapas to Tete.

The Milange crossing is convenient for Quelimane and Ilha de Moçambique, with regular buses from Blantyre via Mulanje to the border. Once across, daily vehicles service Mocuba, then Quelimane and Nampula.

Mandimba is convenient for Cuamba and northern Mozambique. There’s frequent transport on the Malawi side to Mangochi, where you can get minibuses to Namwera and Chiponde. Once in Mozambique, vehicles go daily from Mandimba to Cuamba and Lichinga.

To/From Lilongwe

From the Dedza border post, 85km southeast of Lilongwe, chapas run along the sealed route to Tete via Ulongwé. Otherwise, go in stages via Moatize. Arrange your Mozambique visa in advance.

. . ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE TAXES

International arrival tax is US$2. Intercontinental and regional departure tax is US$20, payable in meticais, US dollars or South African rand, cash. Domestic departure tax is US$8, payable in dollars, meticais or rand.

SOUTH AFRICA

To/From Johannesburg

Large ‘luxury’ buses go daily between Jo’burg and Maputo (US$30 to US$38, eight to nine hours) via busy Komatipoort/Ressano Garcia (6am-10pm). It is essential to organise your Mozambique visa in advance if you’re travelling by bus. Companies include the following:

Greyhound (tel in South Africa 011-276 8500; www.greyhound.co.za)

InterCape Mainliner (tel in South Africa 021-380 4400; www.intercape.co.za)

Panthera Azul (tel in South Africa 011-618 8811/3; www.pantherazul.co.za)

Translux (tel in South Africa 011-774 3333; www.translux.co.za)

You can travel by train, though it’s much slower. South Africa’s Komati line (tel in South Africa 011-774 4555; www.spoornet.co.za) serves Jo’burg and the Komatipoort border post daily (13 hours), from where you can continue to Maputo by rail, but it’s much faster to take a chapa.

To/From Kruger National Park

Neither of the borders between Mozambique and South Africa’s Kruger park – Giriyondo (8am-4pm Oct-Mar, 8am-3pm Apr-Sep), west of Massingir, and Pafuri (8am-4pm), in northeastern Kruger – are accessible via public transport, and both require a 4WD on the Mozambique side. You’ll need to pay entry fees for Kruger and for Limpopo park (US$8/2 per adult/child). Mozambique visas aren’t issued at Pafuri.

Other Routes

There are bus connections three times weekly with Panthera Azul (tel in Durban 031-309 7798) between Durban and Maputo via Namaacha and Big Bend in Swaziland.

The Kosi Bay border post (8am-4pm) is 11km south of Mozambique’s Ponta d’Ouro. There’s no public transport on the Mozambique side, and you’ll need a 4WD. Coming from South Africa you can leave your vehicle at the border and arrange a pick up in advance from Ponta d’Ouro hotels. To/from Mapute there are direct chapas twice weekly between Ponta d’Ouro and Maputo’s Catembe ferry jetty.

SWAZILAND

There are daily minibuses to Maputo (US$5, 3½ hours from Manzini) via Lomahasha/Namaacha (7am-8pm).

Bill’s Bus runs between Manzini, Maputo and Tofo; contact Grifters (www.grifterslodge.com) in Swaziland or Diversity Scuba, Tofo.

Sobantu Guest Farm (www.swaziplace.com/sobantu) and Maputo Backpackers run similar services (US$23/55 to Maputo/Tofo).

The quiet border at Goba/Mhlumeni (7am-6pm) is good for drivers.

TANZANIA

Pickups depart Mtwara (Tanzania) daily at 6.30am to the Kilambo border post, and on to the Rovuma River, crossed – adventurously or dangerously, depending on your perspective and water levels – via dugout canoe. Once across, two pick-ups daily go to the Mozambique border post (4km further) and on to Moçimboa da Praia (US$10, four hours).

A vehicle ferry (US$50 per vehicle) at Kilambo operates at high tide several times weekly.

ZAMBIA

The main crossing is at Cassacatiza, northwest of Tete. Chapas go daily from Tete to Matema, from where there’s sporadic transport to the border, and then daily vehicles to Katete (Zambia), and on to Lusaka or Chipata.

ZIMBABWE

The main crossings are at Nyamapanda (which lies on the well-travelled route linking Harare with Blantyre via Tete), and at Machipanda on the Harare–Beira route. Chapas go from Tete to Changara (US$3, 1½ hours) and on to Nyamapanda, where there are vehicles to Harare. Through buses between Blantyre (Malawi) and Harare are another option.

From Chimoio chapas go to Manica and the border. Take a taxi to Mutare for Zimbabwe transport or the night train to Harare.

Boat

MALAWI

The Ilala ferry stops at Cóbuè and Metangula weekly on its way up Lake Malawi via Likoma Island (Malawi). Contact Malawi Lake Services (ilala@malawi.net). Mozambique visas are issued at Cóbuè. Slow sailing boats also go between Likoma Island, Cóbuè and Metangula.

GETTING AROUND

Air

  • Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique (LAM; tel 21-468000; www.lam.co.mz; reservaslam@lam.co.mz) links Maputo with Inhambane, Vilankulo, Beira, Chimoio, Quelimane, Tete, Nampula, Lichinga and Pemba. For discounts, ask for advance purchase ‘Jacto Popular’ fares.
  • Air Corridor (tel 21-311582; 26-213333; aircorridor@teledata.mz) does a daily run along the coast, stopping at Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba. Serviço Aéreo Regional (SAR; tel 26-212401; sargaw@teledata.mz) flies twice weekly between Nampula and Cuamba. TTA (tel 21-465484) flies daily between Vilankulo and the Bazaruto Archipelago with Pelican Air Services.

. . TANZANIA BORDER CROSSING

For overland travel from Tanzania, arrange your Mozambique visa in advance, and start early from Mtwara (Tanzania) to avoid sleeping at the Rovuma. Contact Russell’s Place in Pemba or the Old Boma (www.mikindani.com) in Mikindani (Tanzania) for vehicle ferry updates.

Car & Motorcycle

You will need a South African or international drivers license (as well as your home country license) to drive in Mozambique, plus the vehicle-registration papers, a temporary import permit (available at most borders), and third-party insurance. Driving on the beach and driving without a seat belt are both illegal. While main roads in the south are fine with a 2WD, you will need a 4WD for most other areas. Unleaded fuel is generally available in major towns.

Hitching

Despite the potential dangers, hitching is often the only transport option in rural areas. Modest payment is expected.

Local Transport

Machibombos (buses) are the best option for getting around on main routes. Elsewhere, overcrowded, wildly-careening chapas (minibuses) connect smaller towns daily. Always take a bus if there’s a choice.

The main companies are the ageing Transportes Oliveiras in the south, and the much better Grupo Mecula in the north. ‘Express’ services are slightly more expensive, but faster and more comfortable.

All transport leaves early (between 3am and 6am), and often on time.