Officially the Republic of Mozambique (Portuguese: Moçambique or República de Moçambique), is a country in South East Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. The capital and largest city is Maputo (previously called Lourenço Marques before independence).
The Bantu-group languages of Mozambique that are indigenous to the country vary greatly in their groupings and in some cases are rather poorly appreciated and documented. Apart from its lingua franca uses in the north of the country, Swahili is spoken in a small area of the coast next to the Tanzanian border; south of this, towards Moçambique Island, Kimwani, regarded as a dialect of Swahili, is used. Immediately inland of the Swahili area, Makonde is used, separated farther inland by a small strip of Makhuwa-speaking territory from an area where Yao or ChiYao is used. Makonde and Yao belong to a different group, Yao being very close to the Mwera language of the Rondo Plateau area in Tanzania. Some Nyanja is used at the coast of Lake Malawi, as well as on the other side of the Lake bordering on Malawi. eLomwe and eChuwabo, with a small eKoti-speaking area at the coast. In an area straddling the lower Zambezi, Sena, which belongs to the same group as Nyanja, is spoken, with areas speaking the related CiNyungwe and CiSenga further upriver. A large Shona-speaking area extends between the Zimbabwe border and the sea: this was formerly known the Ndau.XiTswa or Tswa occurs at the coast and inland, XiTsonga or Tsonga straddles the area around the Limpopo River, including such local dialects as XiChangana. This language area extends into neighbouring South Africa. Still related to these, but distinct, are GiTonga and CiCopi or Chopi spoken north of the mouth of the Limpopo, and XiRonga or Ronga in the immediate region around Maputo. The languages in this group are, judging by the short vocabularies, very vaguely similar to Zulu, but obviously not in the same immediate group. There are small Swazi- and Zulu-speaking areas in Mozambique immediately next to the Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal borders.
Arabs, Chinese and Indians primarily speak Portuguese and some Hindi.
With South Africa :
- Pafuri 8:00–16:00
- Giriyondo 8:00–16:00 October–March 8:00–15:00 April–September . Crossing in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park; tourist use only.
- Lebombo 6:00–24:00
- Kosi Bay 8:00–16:00
- With Zimbabwe
- Forbes Border Post Mutare 06.00 – 18.00
- Nyamapanda 06.00 – 18.00
- With Zambia
- Cassacatiza 24 hours
- Other border post hours are not clear, however assume the standard 8 am – 4 pm applies to be safe.
Visas and border fees
All visitors (except citizens of Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe) need a visa, which can be obtained on arrival at some airports (Maputo, Vilankulo and Pemba), at some land borders and at Mozambican (and some British) embassies/high commissions/consulates. Visas on entry can be purchased in Meticais and US dollars, in the south South African Rand are also accepted.
As of January, 2011, the cost for EU and US passport holders at the recently opened and modern Maputo International Airport facility was US$82 for a single entry visa. Euros and US dollars are accepted, although be prepared to have currency that has been issued within the past five years. They will not accept older currency due to the possibility of counterfeiting. A visa can be picked up at the Mozambique embassy in Pretoria, costing R750 for US citizens and issued the same day- often even within minutes.
Not all borders and airports issue visas, contact your nearest Mozambican embassy, high commission or consulate to ensure that the border you intend to use does, otherwise you should apply for a visa before travelling to Mozambique. Or look in this list, PDF: http://www.portaldogoverno.gov.mz/Servicos/migracao/vistos_front.pdf
If you require a Mozambican visa, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Mozambican diplomatic post. For example, the British embassy and consulates in Jeddah, Riyadh and Al-khobar accept Mozambican visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a Mozambican visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in Mozambique require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Mozambique can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.
Land borders may also charge a stamping fee on entry, which is generally US$2, but is often waived if you buy your visa at the border. In addition, you must use the visa forms provided at the consulate or border as self-printed versions will not be accepted; at borders, these are free, but Mozambican embassies/consulates generally charge US$1 for the form. If applying at a British embassy, high commission or consulate, the application form is available free of charge from the UK Border Agency website .
A tourist visa is valid for 90 days after issue and permits a 30 day stay. This can be extended by a further 30 days at immigration offices in provincial capitals, but given the risk of passport theft, it is much safer to exit via a land border and re-enter to obtain a new visa.
There is a USD $100 a day fine for overstaying a visa.
Most international flights arrive from South Africa, although direct international routes also exist between Mozambique and Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Portugal.
There are several flights daily from Johannesburg to Maputo, operated by South African Airways (SAA) and the Mozambican flag-carrier Linhas Aereas de Moçambique (LAM) . British Airways (operated by Comair) also offers daily flights from Johannesburg to Maputo.Federal Air fly daily direct to Vilanculos International airport http://www.fedair.com/mozambique-vilanculos-scheduled-flights . These and other airlines such as Kenya Airways , Swazi Express Airways , TAP Portugal , Qatar Airways also fly from Durban, Swaziland, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Nairobi and Lisbon and Doha. In addition, local carrier Air Corridor may start operating one or more international routes soon.
There are also several flights during the week from Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi to Pemba in the North, operated by either South African Airlink (SAA) or LAM. If you make a telephone booking with LAM and will not be paying for your flight until check-in you must reconfirm the flight 72 hours before departure or they are liable to cancel it.
After checking in you need to get a tax stamp on your boarding card. For internal flights the tax is 200 Mts and for International flights 500 Mts to be paid in cash.
Insert Air Namibia Flight Schedule from http://www.airnamibia.aero/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Air-Namibia-Schedule-01Dec-29Mar.pdf
For scheduled flight details contact and book below:
There is only one train line in Mozambique, which connects Nampula with Cuamba (near the Malawi border). The train carries first, second and third class passengers and is usually packed.
From Nampula, the train leaves around 5-6AM, although you should arrive earlier to buy tickets from the booking office at the station. The area is packed with people traveling towards Malawi so expect queues. Once on board the journey is long and slow but fairly efficient and will get to Cuamba mid-afternoon. From here chapas will take you to the border (Entre Lagos) as only freight trains use this bit of the line. Be warned that even hardened African travelers will likely find this stretch of road very rough – expect it to take a fair amount of time.
Once at Entre Lagos, the border formalities are located within the station building (easy to find as the town is a typical small border town). The process can take some time as this is a little used crossing. From here it is about a 1km walk to the Malawi side of the border. BE WARNED – the Malawi border closes before the Mozambique one, although there is a guesthouse if you get trapped. The easiest way to get from here to Liwonde is by train – sweet-talk the guards and they may let you share their compartment.
In order to enter Mozambique by car you will need the original registration documents and if it is not your vehicle a letter from the owner granting permission to take the vehicle in to Mozambique. All foreign vehicles are required to have 3rd party insurance, which is available at many borders for R150, and also to pay road tax which is currently 26.50 Mts.
From South Africa
Johannesburg (Lebombo/Ressano Garcia), (N4 towards Nelspruit, follow it until you reach the border just after Komatipoort). Open 6AM to 7PM (Occasionally open 24 hours during busy periods). On the Mozambican side follow the EN4 for a further 100km to reach Maputo. The stretch of the EN4 after the border leading up to the border has two toll stations that can be paid in USD, EUR, ZAR or MZN. Change is provided in Mts.
Kruger Park (Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park), (Enter Kruger Park from Phalaborwa Gate and follow the signs for 95km to the Giriyondo Border Post.). Open 08:00 to 15:00 from April to September and 08:00 to 16:00 from October to March. Caution 4WD only. On entering Mozambique you will be charged a conservation fee for entering Parque Nacional do Limpopo which is currently 200Mts/R67/USD10 per person and per vehicle. You do not need 3rd party insurance unless you exit Parque Nacional do Limpopo but this can be purchased at the park exit gate to Massingir.
Kosi Bay, (Follow the R22 from Kosi Bay to the Mozambique border (signed as Ponta d’Ouro) and then take the right road as you leave the border then keep left until Ponta d’Ouro). Open 7:30AM to 5:30PM. Caution 4WD only. Due to the use of seasonal dirt roads after the border it is advisable to use a GPS route provided by someone who has recently completed the journey. Access to Maputo is via a ferry service (R45) in Catembe.
Mhlumeni. Open 7AM – 6PM. Easily one the quietest and easiest of all the Mozambique borders to pass through, it is deserted most of the time. Getting a visa and 3rd party insurance at this border can be problematic so arrange ahead of time. If coming from Johannesburg and traveling over the weekend or during South African holidays you can expect to save at least an hour transiting via Swaziland to this border compared to using Ressano Garcia.
Namaacha. Open 7AM – 8PM. The busier of the two Swaziland/Mozambique border posts and is very busy over weekend and holiday periods.
There are a number of border crossings to/from Malawi. By far the easiest and most frequently plied is at Zóbuè. The road is in good condition. Daily chapas run to/from Tete to the border, where you will have to walk about 300 m to get to Malawian transport. Daily through buses from Chimoio and Beira also use this crossing.
There is another border crossing to the north, at Dedza, which may be more convienient for Lilongwe but the public transport on either side can be sporadic.
To leave/enter Malawi to the east, there are two crossings, Milange and Mandimba. Milange is in the south-east of Malawi, and to get there you need to catch one of the daily vehicles that run between Mocuba and Milange. At Milange there is a 2 km walk to the border, and then another 1km to where Malawian transport leaves.
Mandimba is further north, used mainly to get to Malawi from Lichinga. Several vehicles run daily between Lichinga and Mandimba, from where it is another 7km to the border. Hitching is relatively easy, or bicycle-taxis do the trip for about $1.
It is also possible to cross the Lake – see BY BOAT below.
From South Africa
You can take the Intercape Mainliner , +27 861 287 287, from Johannesburg to Maputo. These buses run in both directions on a regular basis, one in the morning, and another overnight, and are safe and affordable. Other carriers include Greyhound  and Translux . If you intend on obtaining a visa at the border you should only purchase a ticket as far as the border, bus companies will not permit you to board with a ticket to Maputo if you are not in possession of a visa. If you ask the bus conductor they will help you obtain a visa a the border and avoid the usually extremely long wait at the Mozambique side. Once through immigration either re board the bus and pay the fare to Maputo on board or pick up a minibus taxi to Maputo from the border.
Three times per week there are bus connections to and from Durban (via Big Bend, Swaziland). There is also a service from Nelspruit and Komatipoort to Maputo.
There are the “taxis” to and from any destination in South Africa at affordable prices, now from 4AM to 12AM.
Chapas leave from both Manzini and Mbabane to Maputo via Goba typically around 11AM. Usefuly they arrive in to Baixa (and can drop you at 24 de Julho) so you are within walking distance of both Fatima’s and Base. The fare is R80.
The border between Mozambique and Tanzania is formed by the River Rovuma. Daily pick-ups connect Moçimboa da Praia with Palma and Namiranga, the border post on the Mozambique side. The main route runs from Moçimboa da Praia (on the Mozambiquan side), via Palma (Mozambique), to Mtwara (on the Tanzanian side) and vica versa. It is recommended to take 2 days over this trip due to the low quality of the roads on the Mozambique side, and the low level of traffic.
When coming from Tanzania, lifts depart from Mtwara and Kilambo to the Rovuma river. Kilambo is a small place with one road running through it, so lifts should be easy to find. Mtwara is much larger however, so ask the locals where and when lifts leave from. When coming from Mozambique, your lift to the river will normally start from either Palma (more likely), or – if you’re lucky – Moçimboa da Praia and go to the border post at Namiranga. It will generally wait for you to have your passport stamped at the border post (a mud hut in Namiranga).
During the wet season, your lift will then probably drive to the banks of the Rovuma. During the dry season it will drive you to the end of the road, from which there is a walk of between 1 and 2km’s (depending on the water level that day) to the Rovuma river. At the moment there is an unreliable ferry that goes across the river.
Typically however, the crossing is done by dugout canoes or slightly larger wooden motorboats. The trip across the river shouldn’t cost more than around 8USD, but can only normally be paid for using Tanzanian shillings, although if you find yourself without these, there are plenty of locals who will offer you “generous” exchange rates for your hard-earned Dollars and Meticais. If water levels are low you may have to wade to get to and from your boat on the Tanzanian side, so possessing a heavy-duty waterproof sack may be a good idea, but it is by no means essential. On the Tanzanian side you will often find yourself mobbed by people offering you transport.
Pick-pocketing is common on both sides of the river, so care must be taken whilst finding transport to the nearby towns, a good method of reducing your trouble is to befriend a local on the boatride over, you will find most of your fellow travellers are willing to help you in one way or another. Transport then carries you on to the Tanzanian border post at Kilambo, and normally, further on to Mtwara, the capital of Southern Tanzania. For further information and up-to-date news on this crossing, go to “Russell’s Place” (also known as Cashew Camp) in Pemba.
There are other crossings to Tanzania, but these all require long walks. Ask around for local information.
The main crossing is at Cassacatiza, north-west of Tete. This border is in good condition, but lightly traveled. Daily chapas run between Tete and Matema, from there the public transport is sporadic. The best way to travel from Mozambique to Zambia is to go via Malawi.
There are two crossings – Nyamapanda (south-west of Tete), and Machipanda (west of Chimoio). Both are heavily traveled, especially Machipanda due to its location at the end of the Beira Corridor.
Currently there is no scheduled sea travel to and from Mozambique.
Outside of monsoon season it may be possible to hire a dhow from Tanzania down to Mozambique but this will generally be extremely expensive. The Tanzanian ports of Mikindani, Mtwara and Msimbati are all within range of Mozambique and will be the best places to secure dhow transport. In reverse the ports of Moçimboa da Praia and Palma are the two best ports on the Mozambique side to find a dhow to Tanzania.
The MV Ilala operates across Lake Malawi from Monkey Bay, Chilumba, Nkhata Bay to Likoma Island. From Likoma Island it is a 3km boat ride to the Mozambique border at Cobue.
It is possible to travel across Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi), though international travelers must legally enter through a border post and have the appropriate documentation (visas, etc. depending on nationality). Once on the Mozambique side, local transport would need to be arranged.
Taking the Ilala ferry is certainly a once in a life time experience. Sleeping on the upper deck of this second world war ferry and watching the sunrise over far rolling hills along the Mozambican and Malawian coast is breath taking. You can enter the ferry from any of the harbors where the ferry arrives.
IF you plan to travel on to Malawi, you should get on the ferry at the harbour in Metangula.
- 1 January New year
- 3 February Mozambican heroes day
- 7 April Mozambican women day
- 1 May International workers day
- 25 June National Independence day
- 7 September Victory Day
- 25 September National Liberation Armed Forces Day
- 4 October Peace and Reconciliation
- 25 December Family Day