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SELF-DRIVING IN MOZAMBIQUE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW (THAT I WISH I DID)

Situated on Africa’s southern Indian Ocean coastline, Mozambique is one of the continent’s most popular beach destinations — for good reason. Its azure waters and postcard-perfect white sand beaches are some of the prettiest I have ever seen, and I’m talking anywhere in the world.

 

To explore Mozambique’s must-see destinations you have a few options when it comes to getting around. There’s flying by plane, taking public transportation, hiring a car service, and/or a combination of any of the above. But if ask me, the best way to really explore all that this coastal paradise has to offer is to get behind the wheel and road trip it. Which is exactly what my fiancé and I did during our recent 7-month, 7-country African adventure.

 

Mozambique was the first country that we drove into from South Africa (where we were based) and, quite honestly, we were pretty unprepared for the overlanding adventure that lied ahead. After a little over three weeks in the country (one of which was dedicated to doing a conservation project and the other two to exploring its southern travel circuit) I can definitely say we learned a lot, and not necessarily the easy way. 

 

Since I’d hate for any of the lessons we learned to go to waste, I thought I’d put together and share all the information, tips, and tricks we gained from our experience for anyone out there planning (or thinking of planning) their own road trip through Mozambique.

 

So without further ado, let’s jump into Self-Driving in Mozambique: Everything You Should Know (that I wish I did).

 

Table of Contents 

 

Renting A 4×4 Vehicle

 

Getting A Mozambique Visa

 

What You’ll Need To Enter By Car

 

What To Expect (Road Conditions, Safety, Cops, Gas & Diesel)

 

Other Things To Know (Language, CurrencyATMs, Credit Cards, Internet, Malaria, Best Time To Visit)

 

Part One

RENTING A 4X4 VEHICLE

 

Guide To Self-Driving in Mozambique - Mar Gone Wild

 

Since this post is all about self-driving through Mozambique, it’s probably a good idea to first touch on 4×4 rental options (because you’ll definitely want a 4×4 vehicle for this, trust me).

 

Option 1: Fly into Maputo & Rent A 4×4

 

Most international flights into Mozambique are going to be serviced out of its capital city, Maputo, located at the country’s southern tip. With most of the county’s popular tourist destinations being located in its southern half, the capital city does make for a convenient starting point.

 

With that said, renting a 4×4 vehicle in Maputo is possible, but inventory is limited and prices tend to be more expensive (about $200/day for a well-equipped 4×4) compared to Option 2 below (about $140/day).

 

Option 2: Fly into South Africa, Rent A 4×4 There, & Drive Across The Border

 

The more popular (and usually cheaper) option is to rent a 4×4 vehicle in South Africa (SA) and drive north across the border into Mozambique (MOZ). Most travelers will tack on some SA activities (like a safari in Kruger National Park or exploring SA’s famous Garden Route) to their Mozambique itinerary — which I definitely recommend — but for the sake of this post let’s pretend you’re not. 

 

Option 2.1 – Fly into O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) and rent a 4×4 vehicle there. Note thats it’s about a 5-hour drive north to the Mozambique border from JNB, so for the sake of not driving at night I recommend sleeping over in a northern town like Nelspruit and crossing the border first thing the next morning.

 

Option 2.2 – Alternatively, you could fly from JNB to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and arrange to rent a 4×4 there. From this small airport it’s only about a 1.5-hour drive to Mozambique’s main border crossing.

 

Extra Tip

 

A good way to save money is to rent a fully-equipped 4×4 vehicle and camp/cook/etc. your way through Mozambique (there are plenty of good camp sites throughout the country). While fully-equipped options will be bit more expensive than unequipped vehicles, overall you can save quite a bit of money on lodging and dining out.

 

Sidenote

 

It is important to mention that not all SA car rental companies allow their vehicles to be driven outside the country, so be sure you clear your road trip plans in advance. Drive South Africa is a good place to start your search and get an idea of pricing, availability, etc.

 

Part Two

GETTING A MOZAMBIQUE VISA

 

Tips For Self-Driving in Mozambique - Mar Gone Wild

 

All travelers (except citizens of South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe) need to obtain a visa in order to enter into Mozambique.

 

Prior to visiting, I was really confused by the information I found online — some sources said I needed to apply for the visa in advance while others said I could do it upon arrival to the border.

 

I decided to take my chances and apply for a travel visa upon arrival. Luckily, I was able to get it without any issues. Not that I did come prepared with a hard copy of everything I needed (see list below), which, I’ll warn you now, was a lot when compared to the visa application processes of other African countries.

 

Visa Cost

 

Effective as of January 19, 2018:

 

Single-Entry Tourist Visa — $70 (allows you to enter the country once and is good for up to 30 days of travel {renewable for up to 90 days of travel provided you apply for an extension before the visa expires}).

 

Multi-Entry Tourist Visa — $100 (allows you to enter the country as many times — as you want as long as the visa is active — and is good for up to 30 days of travel {also renewable for up to 90 days of travel provided you apply for an extension before the visa expires}).

 

For non-tourist visas (i.e. work, school, etc.) the cost and length of validity varies. The best way to find the latest information about Mozambique’s speciality visa requirements is to contact the embassy in your home country.

 

Extra Tips

 

– Be sure to pay attention to the authorized period of stay on your visa (“Duracao da Estadia” [duration of stay]”). This is the maximum number of days you may remain in the country before you must depart Mozambique. This is distinct from the “Valido de” (valid from) date of the visa which indicates when you may enter Mozambique, and the “Ate” (until) date which indicated when the visa expires.

 

– When asked how many days you will be in the country, know that whatever answer you give is usually how many you’ll get. If you tell the agent 8 days then don’t expect him or her to give you more than 8 days. To avoid any issues should your plans change, it’s best to (politely) ask for more days than you need (you can ask for up to 30).

 

What you’ll need to apply for a visa:

 

– A passport that is valid for at least six months after arrival and contains at least three blank/unstamped pages. 

 

– Proof of residency (I used my driver’s license to show my permanent residence).

 

– Two color passport-size photos (they actually took my picture on the spot so I didn’t even need these, but I’m not sure that all border posts do this so it’s definitely a good idea to have these).

 

– If you are coming from a country where Yellow Fever is present, a valid certification/immunization record showing you’ve been vaccinated for Yellow Fever is required.

 

– A copy of your planned itinerary and/or proof of a return ticket (i.e. flight reservations, or for those driving a basic rundown of where you’re going and which border post you’ll exit out of and when) .

 

– Proof of where you’ll be staying in Mozambique (i.e. hotel or campsite reservations — even if it’s just for the first couple nights which was all we had).

 

– Proof of adequate funds for the duration of stay (i.e. a recent bank statement).

 

– A completed visa application form (forms were provided at the main border crossing but that might not be the case at smaller ones so it’s best to come prepared, here’s a LINK to a printable version).

 

– For anyone crossing with minors, you will need an unabridged birth certificate for each one traveling with you.

 

The visa process itself only took about 45 minutes, however, we were at the border for almost 3 hours trying to sort out everything we needed to drive our vehicle into Mozambique (I’ll explain in the next section, Part Three).

 

Extra Tips

 

– BEFORE walking away from the immigration counter, double check that your passport was stamped with the proper visa you applied and paid for. We heard horror stories of people not checking, only to find out later when trying to exit that they couldn’t, well, not without spending hours (or days) sorting it out and/or paying someone off.

 

– Make copies of all your important documents and identification items (i.e. passport, driver’s license, insurance, registration, etc.). If you get pulled over and the cops want to take something back to their vehicle or post then give them a copy to get your information off of, not the original item.   

 

Sidenote

 

While you should definitely come prepared with all of the above ‘just in case’, the only items that the customs agent asked to see were my passport, proof of residency, and proof of accommodations. (Note that my fiancé and I only had accommodations for our first two nights booked because we wanted to stay flexible. So all I did was explain our itinerary, including where and when we planned to exit, and they accepted that just fine).

 

Part Three

WHAT YOU NEED TO ENTER BY CAR

 

Self-Driving in Mozambique Tips - Mar Gone Wild

 

Identification & Paperwork

 

– Valid driver’s license for the driver of the vehicle.

 

– Original vehicle registration papers (or if entering from South Africa, a SAPS certified copy that is not older than 3 months — if you own the vehicle I suggest having both of these if possible).

 

– If your vehicle is financed or under lease, a letter from the financial institution allowing your vehicle across the border.

 

– If the vehicle you’re driving isn’t yours, a certified letter of authority from the registered owner giving you permission to be in possession of the vehicle and authorizing cross-border travel.

 

– A completed Form DA65 (referred to as a TIP – temporary import permit) is required for all vehicles — you’ll get this and fill it out at the border. 

 

– Compulsory Third-Party Liability Insurance Certificate (valid for 30 days from date issued) per vehicle & per towed application — you can get this at the border for around $10 (also available at some gas station along the N4 in South Africa on the way to the border — we got ours at the Sasol gas station about 8 miles before the border crossing).

 

– Stamped vehicle voucher — you’ll obtain this at the entrance gate, get it stamped by customs, then present it when exiting.   

 

Vehicle Requirements

 

Vehicle Requirements for Entering Mozambique - MarGoneWild.com

 

– (1) Reflective vests for passengers. By law in Mozambique, all vehicles must carry reflective vests which must be worn by the car’s occupants when repairing or loading a vehicle at the side of the road or at the scene of an accident (people do sell these at the border crossing, they’re also available at most gas station along the N4 in South Africa on the way to the border).

 

– (2) Two red triangles. All vehicles traveling in Mozambique must have two red hazard triangles. If you break down and are conducting repairs or loading and unloading the vehicle you need to place one triangle about 50 meters in front and behind the vehicle one for the front and another for the back  (also sold at the border and many SA gas stations).

 

– (3) Fire extinguisher (recommended). Apparently having one is not required by law, but when we got pulled over (see the Cops subsection in Part Five below) the officer asked us to see ours. So if you ask me, get one if you can (we saw small fire extinguishers for sale at the Sasol gas station I mentioned earlier).

 

– (4) Sticker on the rear of the vehicle that indicates where it is registered. For example, a ZA sticker is required for South African vehicles (available at most outdoor stores and gas stations in SA).

 

– (5) If your vehicle is longer than 6 meters (i.e. you’re towing something) then you’ll need to attach a blue and yellow triangle sticker to the front of your vehicle as well as the back of the towed application. (These are also sold by people at the border crossing and/or available at most gas stations along the N4 in SA). 

 

Part Four

CROSSING THE BORDER

 

Guide To Self-Driving in Mozambique - Mar Gone Wild

 

Thanks to swarms of people trying to sell you stuff, (often) unclear administrative processes, and corruption (sad but true), navigating almost any border crossings in Africa is stressful. Add driving your own vehicle to the mix and it can be a total headache if you’re not prepared. 

 

The best advice I can give about crossing the Mozambique border is to come prepared with a little extra patience and, most importantly, all of your documents in order. For whatever reason, this particular border crossing required an extra level of the preparation when compared to the other 6 countries we tackled during our road trip. On top of that, Mozambique’s border agents and traffic cops seemed to go the extra mile when checking that we had everything required to self-drive around the country. 

 

With that said, there are four official South Africa/Mozambique border crossings that drivers can use — two in the northern segment (Giriyondo and Pafuri) and two in the southern segment (Kosi Bay/Ponta do Oro and Lebombo/Ressano Garcia. The main one is the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border post (sometimes referred to as Komatipoort), which is the one that we used to get into Mozambique.

 

Lebombo/Ressano Garcia Border Post

 

Now open 24-hours a day, this border post is located near the southeastern tip of Kruger National Park, right off the N4 highway in South Africa.

 

If you’re lucky (i.e. arrive when it’s not too busy and the border agents are in a good mood), crossing this border can be as quick as a 45-minute process. However, realistically, you’ll want to budget at least two hours for the whole process (it took us about three but I know travelers that got stuck at this border for more than four).

 

Extra Tip

 

Before you reach this border post you’ll see a handful of gas stations and shops where you can stock up on any last minute supplies. As mentioned, we stopped at the Sasol filling station (about 8 miles before the border along the N4) where we were able to exchange cash, buy the mandatory compulsory third-party liability insurance for our vehicle, and purchase some of the required items needed to legally drive in Mozambique (see Vehicle Requirements subsection in Part Three above).

 

On The South African Side

 

When first approaching the border on the South African side, if you see a long line of trucks in the lefthand lane do yourself a favor and go around them. Otherwise you’re in for a brutally long wait.

 

At the entrance you’ll be given a gate pass detailing your vehicle’s registration number and the number of passengers inside. Be sure to bring this with you when you go into the immigration office in order to get it stamped. (No one told us this and we had to go back outside to get it and re-wait in line). Whatever you do, DO NOT LOSE THIS, you’ll need to exit on the other side.

 

From there, follow the signs to ‘departures’ and park outside the South African customs building (be sure to hide any valuables and lock your vehicle). Before heading inside, it’s a good idea to have your passport as well as your vehicle’s information, registration, and insurance paperwork handy.

 

Once you entering the building, join the first line to get your gate pass stamped. From there, walk to the next line to get your passport stamped (adults will also have their photo taken and fingerprints scanned). After both your gate pass and passport have been stamped you’ll get back into your vehicle and proceed to the Mozambique side of the border, stopping along the way to give your stamped gate pass to the border official.

 

On The Mozambique Side

 

Here’s where things get a bit chaotic.

 

When you first pull up, expect to get bombarded by a ton of nonofficial people who look like official because they’re wearing makeshift badges and dressed in business-casual attire. They’re going to offer to assist you with navigating the immigration process, it’s advised you ignore them and do it yourself. Once you drive through the entrance gate you’ll be given another another gate slip, and it’s the same drill as before — bring it with you to get stamped and DO NOT LOSE IT.

 

After that, keep left and park outside the main immigration building (again, don’t forget to secure your valuables and lock your vehicle). When you go inside be sure to bring a pen, cash or credit card to pay for fees (Visa and Mastercard are accepted at this border post), as well as all your vehicle’s information and required paperwork (covered in Part Three above). If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to purchase compulsory third party insurance before heading into the immigration building (there are a number of stalls on the left, opposite the passport control building, where you can find a number of insurance kiosks).

 

If you need to get a visa, go straight to the counter on the right (everything you need to apply for one on arrival is covered in Part Two above). If you already have a visa or don’t require one, walk straight ahead to the passport control line. Note that everyone will need to fill out an immigration form in order to have their passport stamped by the customs official, regardless of whether or not they’re applying for a visa.

 

**IMPORTANT** At the customs counter let the agent know you are driving a vehicle and he or she will give you a Temporary Import Form (TIP) to fill out. On it you’ll declare any big ticket items that you’re traveling with, such as camera gear, laptops, refrigerators, generators, etc. Once competed, return it to the customs official who will stamp and return the top copy to you. Before leaving the building, make sure that your passport, gate slip, and TIP are all stamped.

 

Next, you’ll need to get an outdoor customs official (the peeps wearing cute berets and light blue shirts) to inspect your vehicle and sign your gate pass. Note this signature is in addition to the stamp you got inside.

 

Before approaching an officer to have your vehicle inspected, make sure you’re equipped with everything that’s required by law in order to drive in Mozambique (refer to Part Three above). If for some reason you’re missing something listed in the Vehicle Requirements subsection of Part Three, you’ll likely be able to find some selling it in the vender area across the parking lot.

 

When your vehicle is being inspected, bear in mind that these officials have the power to make this part a breeze or a total nightmare. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to remain patient, courteous, and respectful throughout the inspection process. Once you’re vehicle has been cleared and your gate pass has been signed, you’ll proceed to the control exit where a final official will collect your stamped and signed gate pass, check your documents, and wave you through to Mozambique.

 

Extra Tips

 

– The best time to cross the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia (aka Komatipoort) border post is in the morning, from 6:00 am to about 10:00 am (lines are much shorter this time of day). If possible, avoid crossing on weekends and most definitely try to avoid traveling on major (or even local) holidays.

 

– If you need to use the restroom on either side of this border crossing, or really any border crossing in Africa, be sure to BYOTP (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper). While most facilities are pretty well maintained, they’re almost always out of toilet paper. 

 

Sidenote

 

In the event you don’t hit the road early enough to make it across the border and to your first destination in Mozambique before dark, then there are plenty of places to stay in and around Komatipoort (the last town before you hit the border) on the SA side. Options range from guest houses and lodges (view some HERE) as well as campground options (like Komatipoort Caravan Park). 

 

Part Five

WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE ROAD

 

Things To Know About Driving in Mozambique - Mar Gone Wild

 

Road Conditions

 

What we really wish someone would have told us about driving in Mozambique was that most of the roads here are total sh*t (there are so many potholes that it literally looks like a meteor shower hit the country). Surprisingly, we managed to make it three weeks without getting a flat tire or suffer any other byproduct of bad road conditions, but we saw plenty of people who weren’t so lucky. With that said, be sure to have at least one spare tire and any necessary equipment needed (as well as any skills needed) to swap out a flat should you get one.

 

I should probably mentioned that work is being done on a lot of the main highways and roads throughout the country, but from what we expeirence (early 2018) they still have a long way to go. Therefore, drive times can be pretty brutal in Mozambique (so much so we just started doubling whatever drive time our GPS indicated). 

 

Safety

 

Prior to visiting Mozambique, most of what I read and heard about traveler safety was negative. I was warned about everything from getting pickpocketed to carjacked, and told over and over again how corrupt the cops here were.

 

Luckily, my fiancé and I didn’t experience any of these these things. In fact, we found Mozambicans to be really warm and welcoming people, and any authorities we crossed paths with were (for the most part) pretty pleasant to deal with.

 

That said, however, it’s still really important to exercise caution when traveling throughout Mozambique as crime and corruption are a real thing here. To help you stay safe and out of trouble, here are a few key things to keep in mind:

 

Do Not Drive At Night

 

Seriously, just don’t. We made this mistake our very first day in Mozambique (mainly because it was raining and we got lost so it took twice as long to get to where we needed to go) and it was probably the scariest drive of our entire 7-month, 7-country road trip. 

 

When it comes to driving at night in Mozambique most people will tell you not to because of “crime”. But if you want my opinion, what really makes driving at night so damn scary are the roads and the drivers on them.

 

Remember what I said about the pothole problem? Now factor in that, outside of major cities and towns, Mozambique’s roads are pretty much pitch black. Combine that with pedestrians and animals that seem to come out of nowhere and speeding truck drivers who love to use their high beams, and let’s just say that driving at night can be pretty darn scary.

 

If Possible, Skip Maputo

 

Unless you’re flying into Maputo and/or you have something you need to do there, it might be worth skipping Mozambique’s capital city all together.

 

According to a number of locals we spoke with, a lot of the negative things said about Mozambique in terms of safety and corruption are based off of what travelers have experienced in this city. With that in mind, and the fact that most must-see destinations are located well outside of Maputo, we decided to go around it and push through to our first beach destination. 

 

Extra Tip

 

To avoid driving at night, plan your drives wisely and give yourself plenty of extra driving time to reach your next destination before sunset. As mentioned, while we were in Mozambique we just got into the habit of doubling our drive time, but for less conservative drivers I’d say half of your original drive time is probably good. 

 

Cops

 

Our experience in this department wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in some of the other African countries we drive through (*cough, cough* Tanzania). Sure we get pulled over 7 times in 3 weeks, but for the most part each time felt pretty on the up and up and we never felt pressured to pay our way of an unjust situation.

 

For anyone curious, we mostly got pulled over for speeding (Mozambique loves its speed traps) and it usually happened in areas where the road conditions were good enough for us to try and make up some driving time. The fines for our minor traffic violations ranged from about $10 – $15 and were payable on the spot in cash (we always made sure to get a receipt). Two of the times we were pulled over were for routine traffic stops and in both instances we were asked to show our reflective vests, roadside triangles, and required driving documents — so it’s a good idea to always keep this stuff handy. 

 

If you happen to get pulled over in Mozambique first things first, don’t panic. Almost every self-driving traveler we met had been pulled over at some point, so if anything just see it as a rite of passage 😉. Another thing to keep in mind is that being respectful goes a long way, as does being stern (which is a lot easier to do when you know your rights). The best thing you can do to avoid any unwanted hassle on the road is to familiarize yourself with Mozambique’s driving laws and to follow them, obvi.

 

At the very least, here are some important ones to know and abide by:

 

– Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt.

 

– You must drive ‘hands-free ‘ (i.e. no texting or talking on your phone).

 

– Follow the speed limits (on open roads the limit is 80 kph, in towns it’s 60 kph, and on highways its 120 kph).

 

– Don’t photograph or film police officers. (Now I’ll be honest, I recorded video every time we got pulled over — you know, in case anything shady went down and I needed evidence later. I’d just hit record and put my phone facedown in my lap so that if anything popped off I’d be ready.)

 

– Don’t drive with parts of the body hanging outside of the vehicle (this means no hands, elbows, feet, heads, etc. out the window).

 

If you happen to get pulled over for any of the above, do yourself a favor — cooperate, pay the fine, and move on. It’s never a good idea to argue with an officer, especially in a foreign country. 

 

If you know for a fact that you’ve done nothing wrong but are being hassled anyway, play it cool. Politely (yet sternly) ask for proof that you’ve done something to warrant the situation. If an officer insists you to pay a fine, ask if they’ll give you an official receipt with their name and badge number written on it if you were to pay. Chances are they won’t want to and they’ll back off.

 

If that doesn’t work and you’re still being harassed then call Mozambique’s anti-corruption hotline, and actually tell the officer that you’re doing so (fake the call if you have to). The numbers are: +258 82 965 7804 and +258 21 31 06 93.

 

Whatever you do, DON’T PAY BRIBES. All that does is perpetuate corruption, not to mention negatively impact tourism within the country — which is something a lot of honest, hard-working local people depend on.   

 

Extra Tips

 

– There is an awesome Facebook Group called Drive Moz that serves as a support network for travelers that encounter issues (i.e. corruption) while driving through the country. You can also use this group to check road conditions (especially helpful if you’re venturing off the main roads), ask about stopovers, etc. To take it a step further you can even buy a Drive Moz sticker from one of the SA-side gas stations en route to the border for about $4. The idea behind the sticker is that it helps deter corrupt cops by showing you’re connected to the group.

 

– Be sure to carry enough cash to pay any (justified) traffic violations you might get, otherwise you’ll have to drive to the nearest police station (which could be 50+ miles in the opposite direction) to sort it out. As I mentioned earlier, the fine for most minor traffic violations is about $10 – $15. 

 

– Anytime you pay a fine be sure to get an official receipt.

 

Gas & Diesel

 

When it comes to gas and diesel, my best advice is to enter the country with an extra jerry can (or two if you’re doing a lot of remote driving) of whatever your vehicle needs. Once you’re in Mozambique it’s a good idea to top-up your tank and reserve can(s) any chance you get. 

 

Gas (aka gasolina, aka petrol) can be pretty hard to come by once you’re off of the main roads (especially in north). To top it off, it’s not uncommon for filling stations to regularly run out of gas. In our experience, diesel seemed easier and more reliable to come by throughout the country. 

 

Extra Tip

 

If you purchase gas or diesel in remote areas just be sure to check it before putting it into your vehicle. The one time we bought ‘diesel’ from a roadside seller in a small village it turned out to be dirty and caused us major filter issues. 

 

Part Six

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW

 

Driving in Mozambique: Safety Tips and More - Mar Gone Wild

 

Language

 

Mozambique’s official language is Portuguese. However, I did find English to be pretty widely spoken in the country’s more developed regions.  

 

With that said, it doesn’t hurt to learn some basic Portuguese phrases. Nor does it hurt to equip yourself with a translation app or pocket dictionary.   

 

Currency 

 

Mozambique’s currency is the new Metical, but US Dollars and South African Rand are accepted almost everywhere. 

 

ATMs

 

Good luck finding them outside major cities, and when you do, fingers crossed there’s actually cash in them. If you’re lucky enough to find a working ATM in Mozambique, I highly suggest taking out more than you think you’ll need.

 

To avoid any cash flow issues, it’s probably best to bring in enough cash to hold you over for the duration of your stay. 

 

Credit Cards

 

Visa and Mastercard are (slowly but surely) becoming more widely accepted throughout the country, but don’t bother trying to use American Express or Discover.

 

You shouldn’t have any issues paying by card at established businesses in major cities and towns, but as you venture out into more rural areas you’ll need cash to get by.

 

Internet

 

Like many African countries, internet connectivity in Mozambique is . . . a struggle. Most accommodations don’t even offer WIFI. When they do, I’d say it’s about an 80% chance that it’ll actually work.

 

If you must stay connected (it is super helpful for navigation purposes) then I suggest getting a local SIM card — the three main service providers are Vodacom, mCel, and Movitel. Each has pretty good coverage around the main towns, cities, and highways, but as you venture outside developed areas some providers work better than others. I opted for a Vodacom SIM card because I heard it had the best coverage in the southern regions we were traveling to. 

 

Getting a local SIM card is easy and affordable. You can find kiosks selling them at most border crossings, alternatively you can find providers’ stores in any of the major cities. To register for a SIM you’ll need to show your passport and have an unlocked phone in order to use it. Data packages across all three providers average about $10 for 5GBs, and you can easily find shops selling top-up (refill) cards throughout Mozambique. 

 

Malaria

 

Malaria is present all over the country, so no matter where you plan on traveling in Mozambique you will want to take precautions.

 

If you choose to take anti-malaria pills (it’s best to consult with a medical professional on this) you will need to take them before, during, and after your trip — so be sure to plan ahead.

 

In addition to preventative medication, there are a number of other ways to protect yourself against malaria. These include using mosquito repellant, wearing loose-fitting pants and long sleeve shirts (especially after dark), burning mosquito coils, and sleeping under a mosquito net.

 

Best Time To Visit

 

The best time to visit Mozambique’s coastal regions is during the dry winter months (May through November) when temperatures are cooler and chances of rain are lower. For game viewing/safaris, August and September are ideal because they tend to be the driest winter months.

 

December through April is considered Mozambique’s wet season. Like other tropical destinations, rains here tend to be brief downpours followed by sunshine, so it’s not the end of the world if you have to travel during these months. However, if you’re planning to visit any of the countries islands, it’s best to avoid travel in January and February as that’s peak cyclone season.

 

Extra Tips

 

If you’re not one for crowds (or kids), avoid Mozambique’s southern public beaches during South Africa’s school holidays as they can get really crowded.

 

Note there’s a three-week school break which starts at the end of March and finishes mid-April, a month-long break from late June to late July, a two-week break starting in late September, and a six-week break from early December to mid-January. To check South Africa’s latest public school schedule visit www.schoolguide.co.za/school-holidays.html.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

While some might argue that self-driving in Mozambique requires more planning and preparation than flying, using public transportation, and/or hiring a driver, if you ask me, the tradeoffs are more than worth it.

 

Being able to explore this stunning coastal country on our own time and take advantage of the spontaneity that comes with being self-reliant are what completely made our Mozambique experience. In fact, some of our favorite memories and most adventurous moments happened out on the open road. If Mozambique happens to be on your travel bucket list (which it totally should be), do yourself a favor and opt to self-drive your way through this coastal paradise.

 

 

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10 Things To Do In Tofo Beach Mozambique
Guide To Planning Your First African Safari

 



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