Mozambique: Why it’s Worthy of a Spot at the Top of Travel Hit Lists

Nestled between South Africa to the south and Tanzania to the north, this Portuguese colony – on Africa’s eastern frontier – boasts prizeworthy features unfamiliar to the majority.  Stepping foot within its borders, although perceptibly challenging, will leave adventure-laden travellers replete with satisfaction and a yearning to return.      

Dune-Fringed Beaches

Simply traveling a short distance along the coast - in any direction - presents travellers with a taste of the pristine dune-fringed charm one can expect to encounter.  Understandably then, Mozambique’s coastline is notably on the radar of most who wish to visit. 

Beach-hopping from Beira to Vilankulos, Maxixe, Imhambane and Tofo has thus become a popular pastime, and for good reason: the long white sandy beaches are surrounded by hued turquoise waters swarming with schools of vibrantly coloured fish.  Add to this thrashing waves from the current of the Indian Ocean, traditionally bedecked palhotas dotted along the shoreline and wind-propelled dhows sailing to remote archipelagos, then Mozambique’s beaches may just be the jewel that sparkles in Africa’s nature crown. 

Heed must be paid, however: stepping foot into paradise – that is, visiting one of Mozambique’s many beaches – means forfeiting the chance to uncover the diverse charm existent throughout the country in other less paradisiac locations.  Starting at the beach means staying idle, at least until one’s visa expires.      

Sparsely Populated Bush and Revitalised Parks

Infrequently visited and slightly off the beaten track, Mozambique’s wilder frontier – to the west of the pristine beaches - rewards visitors with impressive mountain scenery, plentiful wild fauna and local inhabitants often unfamiliar with foreign visitors.  Despite certain logistical challenges in getting to such bucolic locations - as highlighted below - the reward is magnífico. 

Aside from encountering bodacious souls on environmental crusades to save the world, there are plentiful opportunities to unearth elements of natural beauty indigenous to Mozambique.  Simply hitchhiking between Chimoio and Vilankulos provided a glimpse of such beauty. 

However, for a richer and more revealing experience, visiting Parque Nacional da Gorongosa provides the full nature immersion.  Although controversial in Mozambique’s recent history, in 2011 the national park was deemed to be “ecologically, the most diverse park in the world” by biologist Edward Wilson.  It is a conservation story laden with notions of heroism recounted for those easily imbued by ideals of romanticism: a park near destruction is now thriving - teeming with animals in their natural habitat - and it’s only happened thanks to the kindness and generosity of caring souls.  

Unique Cultural Fusion

Colonialism has left few corners of the earth untouched: Mozambique, by far, is no exception.  Historically, and as a result of passing trade via the Indian Ocean, Mozambique’s national character morphed as Arab, Indian and Portuguese explorers left their mark.  Fast forward a few decades, and this dynamic is still well represented in the nation’s food, language, architecture and attitudes.  These facets are closely linked to the way of everyday life for Mozambicans.

Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, perfectly resembles this fusion: whether visiting the Municipal Market, meandering through Baixa’s narrow streets bubbling with Indian traders and women draped in capulanas or appreciating the city’s jacaranda-lined wide avenues from a Mediterranean-style sidewalk café, it’s evident.  With a vibrant waterside setting, it is easily - from a personal perspective - one of Africa’s most desirable cities.  Strolling along suburban streets, it is not uncommon to smell the aroma of barbecued chicken wafting from Portuguese homes - festooned with traditionally designed balustrades – and hear the romantic intonation of Portuguese words gliding through the moist mid-morning air. 

Traveling further afield, the fusion is less transparent, yet the nuances of blended culture never entirely dissipate.  Portuguese – aside from indigenous languages - is spoken fluently by natives and immigrants alike throughout the country.  It is this attribute that makes visiting even the most far-flung corners of the vibrant country so generously rewarding.

Rich travel Rewards

Even though Mozambique’s modern history books have been tarnished with blood, spilled as a result of wars fought for independence, the country’s natural charm is compensatory: intrepid travellers are offered their very own slice of paradise.  Whether the appeal is paradisiac beaches, remote archipelagos or rural exploration, Mozambique never fails to provide satisfaction.  Although it is less developed than some of its opulent and idyllic island neighbours, it offers a sense of esoterism that is often lacking from frequently travelled destinations.  Its turbulent past has seen few travellers pass through.  However, the nation is developing rapidly, so for a chance to feel adventurous - like Ferdinand Magellan - before tourism escalates, visit Mozambique now.   

Unique Overland Transport Opportunities

At the core of any adventurer is a burning desire to unearth something new and of importance.  As a side to this, having the opportunity to undertake novel and unique experiences - ones that veer away from the road well travelled - brings countless joy and satisfaction.  Perhaps not considered daring by history’s great explorers, getting from Chimoio to Vilankulos inspired a sense of audacity derived only from intrepid travel. 

With a significant dearth in transportation linking the two cities, there remained only one option: hitchhiking – at the mercy of Mozambican truck drivers.  After constructing a handwritten sign asking for “um passeio, por favour”, standing at the roadside eventuated – after only fifteen minutes – in the gradual deceleration of a semi trailer.

Despite obvious language barriers, an elementary form of cross-cultural communication emerged during the journey along with a spirit of conviviality.  As the countryside flashed by, a rapport was built.  An otherwise solitary and repetitious journey for the driver diversified: the encounter – for both - became an opportunity to smile, laugh and make convivial exchanges between two unlikely souls who, in other circumstances, may never have met.  Aside from a temporary sleep induced loss of control, with a swift grab of the wheel to return to safety, the seven-hour journey ended affably and sentimentally.  Stepping outside the infamous comfort zone, therefore, yielded rewards derived only from engaging in such a seemingly risqué activity.  Was it courageous?  Perhaps not, but it was certainly memorable, and invokes a sense of joy every time it comes to mind.

Undecided?

Visiting Mozambique yields rich rewards, and for the spirited traveller yearning for adventure, getting a Mozambican passport stamp will lead to unique experiences inconceivable to the majority.  Hurry though, as times are changing, and these experiences may soon be commonplace.   

More Information

Getting there

Overland:

  • There are numerous border crossings from neighbouring countries.  For up to date information, visit this website.

By air:

Maputo International Airport receives flights from the African subcontinent as well as flights from further afield.  See the following websites for accurate details and prices regarding flight information:

Accommodation

The author stayed at various lodgings throughout Mozambique, many of which can be researched online:

Visas

Visas should be relatively easy to obtain, however certain challenges can often arise at certain border crossings.

See the consulate website for Mozambique in your country:

For many nationalities, visas can be acquired on arrival at both the airport and border crossings.  However, ensure the accuracy of this with the consulate before arriving. 

Ben McGarry

Born and raised in rural Australia, I've spent most of my adult life living abroad and travelling the world. I now wish to share the moments I've captured with you.
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