Kind of travel:
me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel
08th Aug- 02nd Sept09
I need a visa?: yes, and you can get at the
land borders (not in all) even if it takes his time. We paid
our 30-days single entry visa 60$ at the Mandimba entry point
I moved: run-down buses connect all the main towns,
or at worst there'll be crowdy minibuses. The Cuamba- Nampula
train is an unmissable adventure, and sometimes the back of
the trucks is the only option. Moving around in Mozambique is
not a cup of tea, but the efficient LAM
airline can help a lot
or baking?: the temperature ranges from 16C to 30C:
in the North in the very early morning or in the night in the
inland areas you'll need a thick sweater, while on the coast
it gets more than warm. Southern of Vilankulo is definitely
colder and a jacket'll help
I slept: no lack of cheap places (13- 18€ for
a double room) but standards drop at the bottom and running
water gets a dreams. In Maputo it'll be hard to find a double
for less than 26€. In Ilha de Moz accommodations get fancier
without prices soaring
I liked: the remote
red-dusty road from the Malawi border to Mandimba on foot, the
sculptureus enormous baobabs around Massinga, and the ghostly
old town in the Ilha de Mozambique
What I disliked:
the domain of the cell phone company of people without even
the electricity, the agrressiveness among locals on the public
means of transport, the scaring atmosphere in Beira at dusk
and the money-eager soldiers in Maputo
daily: definitely cheaper than Zambia, slighter than
Malawi the budget as couple for transp+ accomm+ food will be
around 23€ each per day
hassles: in towns as Beira at dusk a taxi is a must,
while in Maputo ashole soldier ask us for money, stand the ground
in pushing them back
you do need:
if you travel cheap carry your mosquito net and the stuff to
put up with traveling in the back of the trucks as a wind-jacket,
a cap or a bandana. Flash lamp is a must and studying a minimum
of portuguese language will make your travel more funny and
From the Mozambique border it took 1h on foot to cover the 4km
were separating us to the first village. We realize we entered
the ex Portuguese colony not only for being given a full page
visa glued on our passport, but also for the kids shouting us
'Olà, como esta?' instead of 'Hello, how are u?' heard
so far. We pulled in Mandimba in the late afternoon, when we
were told no more minibuses were leaving to Cuamba, but there
was free space on the back of a truck.
We waited 1h and we got convinced the truck was our only choose,
hence we jumped on it. Obviously as soon as we were on, a comfortable
minibus passed collecting people, they called at us, we tried
to dash in, but the drivers started to beat each other, so we
kept our first choose.
The tough travel to Cuamba took almost 4h, if initially the
dust was our only concern, after the twilight, we were suffering
more for the coldness.
One of our travelmate on the back of the truck was a young guy
the following day would have taken the train heading to Nampula.
We felt lucky of our acquaintance when he told us there wasn't
the train we had planned to take the day after the next. So
we opted to skip the spare day we wanted to spend in Cuamba.
We went to the station the same night and the found out just
the 3rd class was running. We took the ticket anyway, been unaware
we were doing a huge error: in the day since the beginning we
planned to travel, not only there was the train, but there was
even the 2nd class.
Nampula station at 4.00 am: we were queuing in the darkness
to get on the train, that then left on time at 5.30am. At the
beginning the temperature was chilly and the wagon already crowdy,
but almost empty compared what it would have been in few hours
time after passengers began to shop at the stations stuffing
it with every kind of vegetable or animal. The travel took 11h
in 3rd class and it turned out both amazing and painful. The
positive part was the impressive trading of any dead or alive
commodity at the stations, while on the other hand we were packed
like animals in the dirt for such long time, unable even to
enter the un-walkable toilet.
Nampula is the hub of the North of Mozambique, and even if at
the end we spent there 2 days, it's not one of that places you
are gonna to fell in love with. Take into account that both
the hotels we visited were without running water: then we stayed
in a shitty place for 13€ a double. Nampula- Ilha de Mozambique
are 'quick' 5h by minibus, that'll drop you at the beginning
of the 1km long bridge, where for free a small truck shuttles
to the Ilha.
We were immediately amazed by the beauty of such island that
definitely deserves its fame as the main highlight of Mozambique.
Being 3km long and 0.5km wide is a tiny place but especially
in the northern part the abandoned old Portuguese buildings
create an atmosphere of movie-set ghost town. Moreover the background
is the light blue sea, although beaches are used by the locals
instead of their missing toilets.
We enjoyed the island for more than 2 days staying at the recommendable
'Patio dos Quinalinhos' that, given the atmosphere and the cleanness,
is very worth the 20€ a double.
After bargaining a lift with a fisherman to the northern mainland,
we started a long walk to the village of Chocas mostly on the
dry sea-bed chased from the rising tide. It took more than 2h
on bare foot to cover the 6km up to Chocas. Then we ran out
of energy at such extent that the first private house of the
village was the one were we settled, even if looking dodgey
and quite disgusting. The village itself turned out not that
much better mainly due to its run down and bleak atmosphere,
nevertheless the fish dinner at the only restaurant was remarkable.
Luckily the only other guests here were some Italian doctors
who, the next day, gave us a 30km long lift up to the nearest
tarred road where we jumped on a truck to reach the first minibuses
in turn heading to Nampula.
From here by the efficient LAM (103€ each one way) we flew
to Beira that initially well impressed us, maybe for the nice
hotel we found 400mts from the bus station with hot running
water in a double for 18€!
However when we were caught by the dusk while looking for something
to eat, the deserted town scared us. So we dashed into the first
(empty) place resembling a restaurant and here we got acquainted
with the Italian- Ethiopian owner Paris. He was so kind, that
after having served the dinner, he offered us the taxi paying
also the lift for the following early morning to the bus station
The trip to Maxixe was 9h long and the usual pain, although
the giant Baobabs dotting the landscape as huge sculptures make
it quite scenic.
In Maxixe we felt almost as being in another country
compared with the north of Mozambique. In fact this is the northernmost
place where the South African tourism carries its wealth.
It's immediately evident by the clean and uncrowdy ferry crossing
the sea-tongue to reach Inhambane. This town is a nice and convenient
hub for the several nearby beaches well known by the South African
masses. We found two beds in a dorm for 17€ each and we
spent some hours loitering around the town characterized by
two mosques, a church and even an Hindu temple.
The following day in 1h by minibus we were in Tofo, one of the
most famous beaches of Mozambique, where the main activity is
to lay down and being given a tan.
To reach Maputo then it's another long 9h odyssey on a big orange
bus; the capital is one of that places you might not want to
spend more than half day to buy the souvenirs, so we did. Don't
expect cheap accommodations unless you haven't booked (we found
the hotels full), and the second cheaper option we found was
26€ for a double. When it comes the dusk it's not the case
for outdoor strolls, but there's a wide choice of restaurant
to spend indoor your evening.
The 70km separating Maputo to the border crossing to Swaziland
are an easy 40min by minibus, but the border town of Namaacha
well deserves a 2h stopover to have a taste of its colorful
atmosphere, the church, and even the casino with swimming pool.
For those as us, coming from Mozambique it's a pleasant introduction
Mozambique travel tip
EU citizens need a visa and they can
get it at most of the entry points as airports or
crossing borders (but not in all). A single entry
visa 15 days valid is 60$ and it's a full-page nice
sticker + a stamp on another page
The currency is the
Metical, the plural is Meticais (1€= 38 Meticais).
You can change almost everywhere against € or
I took Lariam against Malaria; having
a mosquito net, wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts
and abounding with insect repellent, you avoid the
famigerated Lariam profilassys, but you are always
taking a risk
Take into consideration to buy Malarone instead of
Lariam, although it's a daily dose (Lariam weekly)
and more expensive, it is said to not give the Lariam
If you r gonna staying for a long period in the country,
obviously you have to do your counts on risks, money
Morevoer I had the usual vaccinations:
Ephatite A, B, Typhus, Tetanus, Meningitis.
I hadn't any problem with the food or the drinks,
never drinking tap water, obviously.
I used Lonely Planet 'Mozambico 2007'
(in italian translated from 2nd edition Feb 07). I
found it particularly shallow in the details of the
frequency of the public means of transports (especially
to reach the villages) and also giving the distances,
but it's still a helpfull travelmate
- Train Cuamba -Nampula
This train leg will be for sure your
headache planning your trip if you cannot afford
to waste a day waiting for a train. Consider the
schedule are volatile since the operators seem to
change frequently, so check out on the LP
thorn tree for confirmation. However at the
time of traveling (Aug09), the trains Cuamba- Nampula
and also viceversa were daily except on Monday,
when no train was running in both ways. From Cuamba
to Nampula on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday also
the 2nd class is available, all the other days just
the 3rd one.
The ticket can be bought till the late evening
even the day before, if not full booked.
The departure is at 5.30 am, but I recommend to
be at 4.00am at the station.
Don't count too much on both the restaurant and
toilet, but at least you are not going to starve
since it's plenty of food vendors at each of the
The arrival is around 16.30pm.
- LAM airlines
Don't underrated the convenience of
using the national flight carried LAM.
Its standards are European ones and the prices very
- Policemen in Maputo
In Maputo while taking a picture to
the Eiffel house we have been stopped by a jeep
with 5 policemen.
They asked for our passport and we gave them the
photocopy saying the original was at the hotel.
they complained it was not regular since we needed
a stamp to authenticate it. This is actually true
and we knew it, but I would have never given my
passport in the hand of the first person with an
uniform stopping me. Hence we politely said we wanted
to go to the police station and call our embassy
for supporting us. We really stood the ground without
hesitating while looking for the embassy phone number
on the Lonely Planet. The began saying bullshit
like:' we want to close it as among friends'; we
didn't give up and at the end they left.