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 from Malawi
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
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
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
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
definitely cheaper than Zambia, slighter than Malawi the budget
as couple for transp+ accomm+ food will be around 23€ each
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
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
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE
There's no way to describe Mozambique without, first of all,
splitting it in the Northern and the Southern part. The former
is definitely the wildest and the most Islamic, this makes the
travel here tougher but far more rewarding. The latest is the
right place to lie on the beach, enjoying some comfortable accommodation
(even with running water!), but a little spoiled by the South
African tourism, also in term of expensiveness.
On the other hand the element that still unifies the country
is its language; moreover the Portuguese gives Mozambique a
special exotic charm compared to his 'British neighbors'. In
fact, unlike Zambia, here the Big Five aren't the real draw,
but the culture with its population. Anyway you shouldn't underrate
it's also the poorest country of the area, that's why traveling
here can't get tough and at times it might be not the African
Paradise you would expect.
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