Mozambique travel guide
Mozambique’s messy post-colonial history and poor infrastructure mean that most visitors are cut from fairly intrepid cloth. But travelling this enigmatic and underexplored country is well worth the occasional bump in the road, both literal and metaphorical.
First and foremost amongst the country’s many attractions is its pristine Indian Ocean coastline – all 2,414km (1,500 miles) of it – which offers palm-fringed beaches, warm tropical waters, abundant marine life, great fishing, excellent diving, fantastic snorkeling and a number of idyllic islands from which you can enjoy all of the above in sweet isolation.
And then there are the parks. Though much of the country’s big game was wiped out during the desperate days of the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992), sterling conservation efforts have seen several national parks restored to something like their former glory. Their remoteness and relative inaccessibility, compared to the parks in neighbouring South Africa, mean you’ll never be jostling for space with the masses.
Mozambique’s Portuguese heritage and faded art deco charm characterises much of the capital, Maputo, in the form of colourful, crumbling and sometimes bullet-ridden colonial buildings, which stand in stark contrast to the more modern parts of this vibrant port city. The music, the nightlife and the food are equally interesting and eclectic; head to the bustling fish market to enjoy what many locals will tell you is the best seafood in East Africa.
There is also good hiking with little-visited mountains dotted throughout the Mozambican hinterland, but extreme caution should be taken due to the large amount of leftover landmines.
Since peace returned to the country in 1992, Mozambique has been trying to piece itself back together and realise its substantial tourism potential. But for now, a large part of the country’s appeal lies in its relative obscurity from the more beaten paths of Southern Africa.
799,380 sq km (308,642 sq miles).
28,751,362 (UN estimate 2016).
31.7 per sq km.
President Filipe Nyusi since 2015.
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário since 2015.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. South African-style three-pin (round) plugs are used in the capital and most tourist areas.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits to Mozambique are trouble-free, but street crime, sometimes involving knives and firearms, is common in Maputo and increasing in other cities and tourist destinations. There are some areas in cities which are more dangerous; seek local advice.
Be vigilant at all times. Beaches or offshore islands are not policed. Avoid walking alone at night and don’t display valuables or money. Use a hotel safe if possible. Avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs at night.
There has been an increase in reports of carjacking, particularly in Maputo. Keep your car doors locked while driving. Be particularly vigilant when arriving at or leaving residential properties after dark. Avoid driving alone at night.
There have sometimes been incidents of car-jackings between Boane and the Swaziland border crossing points of Namaacha and Goba. Be vigilant if you’re travelling by road to Swaziland.
Be extra vigilant and avoid travelling around after dark.
Don’t pick up strangers or stop to help distressed motorists or pedestrians. Hijackers sometimes use these techniques to trick motorists into stopping their vehicle. If in doubt, drive directly to a police station.
Some visitors to Mozambique report being victims of police harassment, including robbery, or requests for bribes. If a police officer threatens you or asks for a bribe, report the incident to the British High Commission.
If you are a victim of any form of crime, contact the local police immediately and get a police report. If your passport is stolen you should also contact the British High Commission and inform the local immigration authorities.
There have been kidnappings reported in Mozambique, mainly in Maputo. While most victims have been Mozambicans, foreigners have also been targeted.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
All known minefields in Mozambique have been cleared. In the central and southern provinces (Sofala, Tete, Manica, Gaza, Inhambane, Maputo) mines may still exist in remote areas, away from main routes. Seek advice from district authorities if you’re travelling in these areas.
Traffic accidents are common due to the condition of the roads and poor driving and vehicle standards. Always drive carefully and be aware of pedestrians using the roads.
Overland travel on public transport can be hazardous due to poor vehicle and road conditions. If you doubt a vehicle’s condition, make alternative arrangements.
Low lying areas around major rivers flood regularly during the rainy season (November – April) making many roads impassable. Check local conditions before travelling. Make sure you have emergency supplies, including a first aid kit.
Only travel by road outside Maputo and other major cities during daylight. Where possible, keep to major roads and travel in convoy in rural areas. Fuel is often only available in larger towns.
UK driving licences are valid for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should get an International Driving Permit or apply for a Mozambican licence. It is an offence not to carry your driving licence with you when driving. Be ready to present original car documentation when requested by the police.
Third party insurance cover is compulsory. You can buy this at most land borders.
You should carry two reflective triangles and a reflective vest in your vehicle at all times. You must wear the reflective vest when repairing, loading or unloading a vehicle. Police officers sometimes attempt to extract bribes from tourists. Don’t pay a bribe to anyone. If you are stopped by the police, ask for a clear explanation of the offence and a written fine that can be paid at a police station.
All Mozambican airlines have been refused permission to operate services to the EU. The EU ban was imposed because the Mozambican regulatory authority was unable to verify that these airlines comply with international safety standards.
You should avoid flying with Mozambican certified carriers subject to the EU operating ban. British government employees are advised to use carriers that are not subject to the operating ban.
While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
Protests or demonstrations can occur in the cities with little notice. You should remain vigilant, monitor local media reports, avoid large crowds and carry ID with you at all times. Make sure you have a means of communication with you at all times and that your mobile phone is charged.