Visitors Travel Essentials
Our Mozambique visitors guide covers the must-know travel essentials to ensure your stay in Mozambique is safe, scenic and successful.
Emerging as both a new tourist destination and new destination for big industries, Mozambique is growing and adapting. Rubies, coal, gas, marble, cashews, seafood and aluminum are big draws for big businesses, while untamed wilderness, untouched diving and a unique food and culture scene make this an African adventure worth experiencing.
As a developing nation still finding its feet after a tumultuous history, things might not be as quick or as efficient as you might like, but the real beauty lies past the challenges in a nation that is a one-of-a-kind on the African continent.
Money – the Mozambican Metical, or Meticais, is the official currency in Mozambique. Pronounced ‘Meticaish’ and known colloquially as ‘Meti’, the currency has the abbreviation Mtc. Denominations range from coins of Mtc1 to Mtc1000 (as well as smaller centavos coins). At the time of writing, 1USD was worth approx. Mtc60. Small denomination Meticais notes are always good to have on hand, as are coins. Market traders and even shops often run out of change, so avoid using large denomination notes unless you really need to.
Don’t be surprised if an ATM has run out of money or isn’t working. When they are working, you can generally use Visa (and often MasterCard) without problems throughout the country. Guests staying at Southern Sun Maputo are near to a choice of banks and ATMs.
While travelling with large sums of money should be avoided (both for safety and for customs declarations), smaller notes, and some USD or South African Rand can be very useful if a business doesn’t accept credit or debit cards. It goes without saying that market traders and local craftsmen along the roadside are cash only. If you’re shopping for something local don’t be afraid to barter politely, but it’s not expected, and the first price might be the best price.
- Metical is the currency
- 1USD = 60Mtc
- Accommodation is affordable, and eating out can be excellent value
Electricity – the electricity supply in Mozambique is 220v (50HZ). Plug types include the standard Euro style two pin and the South African style three round pins. Power outages are not unusual and choosing a hotel such as Southern Sun Maputo with modern and quick backup power is a smart choice for business guests.
Health & Safety – travel insurance is strongly recommended for a visit to Mozambique. It’s also advised that you check your existing coverage to ensure Mozambique is covered by your policy.
- Check with www.cdc.gov for a list of vaccinations before you travel.
- Yellow fever vaccination certification is only required if you are arriving from a yellow fever area.
- Malaria is a problem in Mozambique and precautions should be taken, especially if travelling beyond Maputo.
- Outside of Maputo quality medical care can be very limited, and even in the city, serious cases are better treated in South Africa.
Unsurprisingly a country with high-levels of poverty and a history of social inequality is also a destination where it pays to be crime-conscious. However, most visitors experience an entirely crime-free visit to Mozambique by following some general tips.
- Avoid dangerous areas and don’t show off your valuables.
- Don’t walk alone at night.
- Bribes are sometimes asked for by police officials. Stay calm and politely ask for more information or to speak to a superior if you are unsure as to why you have been fined.
- Make use of the safe in your hotel room and be ‘street smart’ when out and about.
- Let the hotel guest services arrange transport with registered taxi operators.
- Being friendly, polite and calm can diffuse potentially dangerous situations.
Language – the official language of Mozambique is Portuguese and around 80% of the population of Maputo are fluent in Portuguese. You will also hear Shangaan, Swahili and Makhuwa. Learning even a few Portuguese phrases definitely helps as English is not common even in the cities.
Basic phrases in Portuguese
- Hello – Hola
- Good morning - Bom dia
- Good afternoon - Boa tarde
- Good evening - Boa noite
- How Are You? – Como esta?
- I am fine - Muito bem obrigado
- Thankyou – obrigado
- Goodbye – Até logo
- When – Quando
Getting Around – if you are heading to southern Mozambique you will likely fly into Maputo International Airport. Visitors planning on flights to Inhambane, Beira, Tete, Nampula and Pemba will often make a flight connection in Maputo. Internal flights can be expensive, so booking in advance is a good idea if you are on a budget.
Buses connect to most major towns, but can be very slow, poorly maintained and travel on bad roads. While comfort is not a high priority, they do give an authentic experience and for the budget conscious you likely won’t find a cheaper way to get from A to B over a long distance in Mozambique.
Cars driving in Mozambique are required to carry a high-visibility vest, two hazard triangles, third party insurance and the vehicles ownership and insurance certificates. Car hire companies should provide vehicles equipped with what is necessary.
Roads can be busy, fuel stops can be scarce when away from main towns and main roads, and road conditions can be extremely poor (in Maputo the roads are generally well maintained).
It is also good to be aware that Mozambique police are very strict, and sometimes go beyond the law. When you are in the wrong, pay the fine and get a receipt. If you are not in the wrong, stay calm, be polite and ask to speak to a superior. While that sounds like a lot to be worried about, driving in Mozambique is mostly entirely incident free and an opportunity to experience this beautiful country at your own pace.
For the simplest way to get around, let your hotel guest services team book you a taxi. Fares can be pre-agreed.
Mozambique Weather – depending on why you are visiting to Mozambique and when you need to travel, it is very wise to plan around the weather. Some months can get unbearably hot (if you aren’t used to 35°C or more) and some can be very rainy. It is also good to remember that the further north you go, the hotter it gets – temperatures nearing (or exceeding) 40°C are not uncommon in places such as Tete.
January - March – hot and wet with temperature’s averaging in the high twenties and low thirties. The weather can get stormy and very wet especially in February and March.
April – June - the end of the rainy season and the start of the dry season in April makes for a good month to travel. May stays warm and dry, while things cool off (though cold would be an exaggeration) to lows of 15 degrees in June.
July - September – the three best months for wildlife visitors to Mozambique. Both big ocean mammals and game drives can be at their best during this drier time of year. By the end of September, temperatures are back at a more ‘usual’ 30°C.
October – December – things start to really heat up again. The dry season ends, and temperatures start to climb. With temperatures going up it’s the perfect time of year for a diving trip. December is a popular month for underwater exploration.
Travel Documents – with the exception of visitors from neighbouring countries including South Africa, you will need a visa to visit Mozambique.
Border crossing experiences in Mozambique are generally simple, but it is recommended to get visas in advance rather than trying to get one at the border. For all visitors it is strongly recommended to check with your nearest Mozambican Embassy for current visa requirements and prices.
Business visitors should apply for a work visa in advance of their visit. Allow plenty of time for it to be processed. The application process is similar to a tourist visa with the exception of additional business information (letter of invitation) required.
Yellow fever vaccination certificates are not required from most destinations, but you may be asked to provide your yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry. As such, it is recommended you have an up to date vaccination certificate before you travel, wherever you are travelling from.