||GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE
Mozambique has regained its position at the forefront of the international tourism scene and is now, once again, one of the most attractive and intriguing tourist destinations in Southern Africa. Many new, international hotels and award-winning, luxury lodges have opened while the country’s national parks and game reserves, some under private management, are being swiftly re-stocked and returned to their former glory. The establishment, with neighbouring countries, of cross-border wildlife reserves being a vital factor in this resurgence. Mozambique’s 2,500 km of white, palm-fringed beaches - and the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago in particular – have long been the major draw for tourists. The extensive coral reefs host a dazzling array of unique marine life and offer unbelievable diving and fishing opportunities covered, in-depth, later in this brochure.
But Mozambique offers so much more. Other exotic destinations include the mysterious mountains of Namuli and Unango; the historical settlements of Angoche; the World Heritage Site of Mozambique Island; the magnificent natural harbour of Pemba; and the Quirimbas Archipelago which now rivals Bazaruto as the country’s main tourist attraction. The first lodge to open there is still rated one of the top 100 hotels in the world. Several equally luxurious lodges have recently opened on other islands while further exciting projects are scheduled for 2008. In fact a major USAID initiative will focus on the promotion and development of sustainable tourism in Northern Mozambique that will stretch from Mozambique Island, Nacala and Angoche; through the Quirimbas Archipelago and Pemba; to Lake Niassa and the Niassa Reserve.
Mozambique provides a contrast to other countries in Southern and East Africa, with its rare blend of African, Arab and Portuguese influences. The Mediterranean charm lives on within a fun-loving African setting, creating an atmosphere that is unique within the region. This mix is especially noticeable in the Afro-Portuguese cuisine and the Latin beat of the music in the clubs and discos. Visitors will warm to the liveliness and exuberance of Mozambique – country of contrasts and ’Land of Smiles’.
The Bantu people settled in Mozambique about 2,000 years ago, setting up the great Mwenemutapa Empire in the centre and south of the country. By about 900 AD trading links had been forged with India, Persia, China and, above all, with the Arab world. Gold was the major lure for these merchants and it was this precious mineral that first attracted the Portuguese to Mozambique, Vasco de Gama landing there in 1948 on his way to India. The Portuguese set up their first trading post at Sofala in 1505, exporting gold and challenging Arab domination. By the late 17th century ivory had replaced gold as the main export while, some 50 years later, slaves became the major commodity. Mozambique was governed from Goa until 1752, when it was brought under direct control from Lisbon. As a result of this link with India, numerous Indian trading communities settled in the country, and their influence can still be seen today. Independent Arab trading ’states’ survived until the end of the 19th century when, after Portugal’s colonial role was ratified, these trading ’kingdoms’ were destroyed leaving the legacy of the Islamic religion in areas where these sultanates had existed.
In the early part of the 20th century vast tracts of land were rented to and administered by private companies. Agriculture became the main activity, creating huge numbers of poor, rural black workers, while a policy of white supremacy was pursued. Repression and exploitation provoked a backlash which led to the growth of the independence movement and the founding of freedom organisations like Frelimo in 1962. Armed struggle led to independence on June 25, 1975. A 17-year-long civil war which then broke out was only resolved in 1992. Multi-party elections were then held in October 1994 with Frelimo emerging as victors. Mozambique, which joined the Commonwealth in 1995, is now building on its stability by promoting foreign investment and tourism.
Mozambique covers an area of over 800,000 sq. km, three times the size of Great Britain. Situated to the south east of the African continent, it shares borders with six other countries, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the west, South Africa and Swaziland to the south. The 2,500 km long coastline boasts numerous superb beaches fringed by lagoons, coral reefs and strings of small islands. A vast, low, grassland plateau which rises from the coast towards the mountains in the north and west covers nearly half the country’s land area. The population is concentrated along the coast and the fertile river valleys. The Zambezi is the largest of the country’s 25 rivers. Mozambique is rich in mineral resources such as gold, emeralds, copper, iron ore and bauxite and is currently engaged in oil exploration.
CLIMATETropical to sub-tropical with coastal temperatures high for much of the year while the interior is warm to mild, even in the cooler, dry season from April to September. In the south the hot, humid rainy season is from December to March, farther north this period lengthens by a few weeks. The coast of northern Mozambique is occasionally affected by tropical cyclones. It is usually sunny throughout the year.
Traditional ways of life are well preserved in Mozambique – varying from province to province. This cultural kaleidoscope provides visitors with a host of treasured experiences and memories. The Makonde, from Cabo Delgado Province in the north-east, are known for their fearlessness and initiation rituals. For male initiation, participants dance in "mapico" masks. The body is tattooed and the teeth are sharpened purely for aesthetic purposes. The Makonde are also accomplished craftsmen, producing fine hardwood – mainly mahogany, ebony or ironwood - and ivory carvings which often depict the stories of earlier generations. Music is very important to the Niassa people who live in the sparsely populated north-western region. They use wind instruments, made from dry and hollowed calabashes, which produce a similar sound to a trumpet. Musicians in a band play instruments of different sizes. Makua women, from Nampula Province, paint their faces with “muciro”, a white, root extract. They also make straw baskets, mats and other articles as well as sculptures from ebony and clay.The traditional, spicy cooking of Zambézia is highly regarded. Zambézian chicken, grilled with palm oil, is a particular delicacy. The agility of the Nhau dancers of Tete Province is much admired. To the sound of resounding drum beats, they dance holding huge and frightening wooden masks. For the Chope people of Inhambane Province the "timbila" is both the name of a percussion instrument and a dance. The instrument is similar to a xylophone. During the dance, up to 23 different sized instruments are played. The Chope also use the “mbira”, made of strips of metal attached to a hollow box and plucked with the fingers.
THE ISLANDS BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO The most popular tourist area inMozambique, the archipelagoconsists of four main islands -Bazaruto, Benguera, Magaruque,and Santa Carolina. They aresituated some 35 km off themainland and are accessible byboat, or small aircraft, from the townof Vilanculos. High quality accommodation attracts internationalvisitors who, as well as swimmingand sunbathing, can take part innumber of outdoor activities and afull range of water-sports thatincludes snorkelling, scuba diving,deep-sea fishing, salt water flyfishing, sailing and water-skiing.Small antelope roam the islandsalongside fresh-water crocodiles,mangrove crabs and samango monkeys while flamingo nest on thefreshwater lakes. The islands are infact home to over 240 varieties ofbirds including fish eagles, beeeaters,harriers, ospreys and theelusive crab plover and greencoucal. Bazaruto Marine Park nowcovers the entire BazarutoArchipelago making this 1400 sqkm reserve one of the largest in theIndian Ocean. In addition tohumpback whales, dolphins, mantarays and five species of turtle, some100 dugongs survive here - one ofthe very few viable populations onthe East African coast.
IBO ISLANDPart of the Quirimbas Archipelago, and a former Portuguese trading post, this beautiful island has been nominated for World Heritage status. Only accessible by boat from Pemba, it is well worth the effort as the island is steeped in history and ancient culture. A number of investors have identified this and community and conservation projects are underway to protect Ibo’s biodiversity. The island prides itself on its three historical forts. The largest, St Jao Baptista on the northern side of the island, was used to imprison political prisoners from Portugal as late as the 1970’s. Today the fort is used for more peaceful work and is home to traditional silversmiths that practice their ancient art of hand made jewellery design.
INHACA ISLANDAbout 34 km out into Maputo Bay, Inhaca Island is accessible either by boat or light aircraft. The lovely island offers many different activities including a tractor ride to the lighthouse or a visit to the Marine Biology Museum. Scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing and surf or deep-sea fishing are just some of the more exciting activities. An excursion to neighbouring Portuguese Island or an escape to the ‘wild side’ of the island - with its crashing surf, deep blue sea and glorious wind – are also recommended. The abundant wildlife includes flamingo, pelicans and loggerhead turtles.
MOZAMBIQUE ISLANDNow a World Heritage Site, this former capital of Portuguese East Africa was a trading post, for gold, ivory and slaves, used by Portuguese ships on their way to India. The old part of the island is full of historical and architectural features. Numerous buildings, some constructed of coral, date from the 16th century.
QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGOConsisting of 32 small islands, including Ibo Island, and stretching 100 km from Pemba to the Rovuma River on the border with Tanzania, the area boasts some of the richest coral reefs in the world and is home to an abundant array of marine life.
Luxury lodges provide ample opportunity for relaxation while scuba diving, snorkelling, deep-seafishing, sailing, surf-casting and bird watching are just some of the activities on offer. The southernmost of the islands, and a vast expanse of mainland forest, form the recently declared Quirimbas National Park. Elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo, wild dog and an amazing bird-life may be seen here while the marine fauna and flora includes sharks, sea turtles, humpback whales, the occasional dugong and over 50 types of coral.
THE WILDLIFEMozambique’s environmental conservation areas, which presently cover over 12% of the country, comprise the following six National Parks and six National Reserves.
BANHINE NATIONAL PARK
Situated in Gaza Province, this 6,000 sq km park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area which links Mozambique with parks in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Comprising open savannah with mopane and miombo forests, it is home to lion, leopard, impala, kudu, nyala, oribi, reedbuck, sable, grey duiker, hippo, ostrich and crocodile.
BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO NATIONAL PARKComprising five islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago, 20 km off the coast of Inhambane Province, the 1,400 sq km area protects dolphin, dugong, sea turtles, sharks, rays and various species of whale and over 240 varieties of bird including the rare crab plover and green coucal. The 150 dugong found here being one of the major populations of East Africa.
GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARKOne of the world’s best known conservation areas, this park lies on the south edge of the Great Rift Valley, 80 km north-west of Beira in Sofala Province. Lion, leopard, civet, genet, serval, buffalo, elephant, bushbuck, hartebeest, impala, kudu, nyala, oribi, reedbuck, sable, waterbuck, warthog, zebra, vervet monkey, chacma baboon, hippo and crocodile may be seen. The bird-life is prolific with over 200 species, including the rare green-headed oriole, having been identified.
LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARKLinked with the Kruger, in South Africa, and Gonarezhou, in Zimbabwe, this area, in the west of Gaza province, forms part of the huge Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. With numerous different landscapes it is home to the ‘big five’ – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo - and a host of other wildlife including wild dog, hyena, kudu, oribi, hippo and zebra.
QUIRIMBAS NATIONAL PARKSituated in Cabo Delgado Province, this 7,500 sq km park covers a large area of the mainland in addition to eleven islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago. Elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, jackal, wild dog, eland and sable may be seen. Marine species include dolphin, turtle, shark, whale, the rare and endangered dugong and 375 species of fish while the birdlife is amazing.
ZINAVE NATIONAL PARKYet another park which forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, this 4,000 sq km park is situated along the Save River in the far north-west of Inhambabe Province. Lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena can be viewed along with bushbuck, impala, kudu, nyala, reedbuck, steenbuck, both grey and red duiker, hippo and crocodile.
CHIMANIMANI NATIONAL RESERVESituated in Manica Province this 640 sq km reserve is home to buffalo, bushbuck, grey and red duiker, eland, oribi, reedbuck, sable, waterbuck, warthog and a wide variety of birds and reptiles many of which are endemic to the area.
GILE NATIONAL RESERVEThis 2,860 sq km mountainous reserve, in the north of Zambezi Province, lists 95 species of mammal - including elephant, lion, leopard, wild dog, spotted hyena, kudu, nyala and waterbuck - and 114 species of bird.
MAPUTO NATIONAL RESERVELinked with parks in Swaziland and South Africa this reserve, situated south of Maputo, now forms part of the Lumombo Transfrontier Conservation Area. It is a major elephant stronghold but other mammals include duiker, kudu, reedbuck, waterbuck and crocodile. There is a wide variety of birds while the marine fauna includes dolphin, turtle and whales.
MARROMEU NATIONAL RESERVE
Situated along the delta of the Zambezi River, in Sofala Province, this reserve has a huge population of buffalo while the birdlife is extensive. Other wildlife that may be seen includes elephant, lion, leopard, eland, impala, kudu, nyala, reedbuck, wildebeest and wild boar.
NIASSA GAME RESERVELocated in Niassa Province, in the far north of the country, this is the largest reserve in Mozambiqe and is home to its largest population of both elephant and wild dog. Lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, grey and red duiker, eland, hartebeest, impala, kudu, sable, waterbuck, wildebeest and zebra may also be seen.
POMENE NATIONAL RESERVESet on the dunes and sandy forests of the Inhambane Province coast, this small 126 sq km reserve is home to grey duiker, impala, steenbuck, wildebeest, wild boar, chacma baboon and grey monkeys. There is also a wide and varied range of bird species.
THE DIVINGDiving in the warm, crystal clear Indian Ocean waters of Mozambique and its islands, is a thrilling and rewarding experience. Mozambique is one of the finest diving destinations in the world, with remarkably unspoilt coral reefs and an abundant variety of marine life that all levels of divers can enjoy all year round. Sea temperatures vary between 30°C in summer to 21°C in winter and the structure of the reefs offer pinnacles, overhangs, coral arches and much more. Reef depths vary from 10m to 40m and offer good visibility and fantastic photo opportunities. Not only of the incredible range of coral but of over 6,000 species of fish. The reefs attract a variety of game fish while the coral is home to myriads of brightly coloured smaller fish including schooling banner fish, moorish idols, butterfly fish, blue striped snappers, barred sweetlips, goldies, and trigger fish. Diving is excellent all year-round and a range of exciting and varied diving itineraries can be organised. Barracuda, manta rays, moray eels, sharks, huge schools of kingfish, giant lobsters, and numerous species of reef fish are commonly seen. The whale shark, the largest fish in the world which can reach lengths of up to 14m and weigh up to 15 tons, can be spotted between December and April. Above the waves, dolphin are frequently encountered as are leatherback, loggerhead and green turtle. Humpback whales can be sighted between August and October while the lucky few may get to marvel at the sight of the rare dugong. Most lodges are pleased to welcome all levels of divers and lessons can be arranged for both beginners and intermediates.
FISHINGMozambican is an angler’s paradise which offers world-class rock & surf, salt water fly and game & bill fishing. Deep-sea fishing expeditions along the Mozambican coastline are exceptional with the Bazaruto Archipelago, Inhaca, Nacala, Pemba, Ponto do Ouro, the Quirimbas Islands and Xai Xai considered among the highspots. The Bazaruto Archipelago is, in fact, recognised as one of the best destinations in the world for black marlin. The best months for black marlin are between October and the end of January. Blue and striped marlin are found from September to January, while the main sailfish season runs from the beginning of June until the end of September.
From December to February anglers may see one of the archipelago’s most interesting creatures. This is the rare whale shark, the largest shark and the largest fish in the world, which can reach lengths of up to 14m and weigh up to 15 tons. Fly-fishing, for queenfish, ladyfish, bonefish, pompano and several species of kingfish, in the narrow channels between Bazaruto and Benguerra, is unsurpassed with the best season being from March to July. Rock and surf fish include kingfish, couta, king mackerel, springer, and big garfish. Other catches include, barracuda, bludger, dorado, green jobfish, kawakawa, prodigal son, rainbow runner, skipjack and yellowfin tuna, and wahoo. A variety of other shark species also occur offshore including blackspot, blacktip, bull, dusky, silvertip, tiger and Zambezi. Most lodges in Mozambique are happy to welcome, and teach, novices while tackle and equipment is normally available to hire. Boats are fully equipped with navigational and fish finding aids in addition to all the usual safety equipment. A tag and release policy is widely encouraged.
OTHER ACTIVITIESIn addition to diving and fishing, Mozambique’s coastline is an ideal place for a wide range of watersports, while its rugged interior will appeal to lovers of the outdoors.
HIKING & CLIMBINGMozambique’s rugged terrain makes it a good place for hikers. Climbers can tackle the challenge of the Unango’s, to the north of the country.
HORSE RIDINGThere are numerous opportunities for equestrian activities, especially on the major islands where there are special horse trails.
PARASAILINGAn exhilarating experience, launched and recovered from a small powerboat, it turns you into a human kite suspended hundreds of feet above the water.
QUAD BIKINGQuads are fun and easy to ride. Trails twist and wind through the sand and bush, offering climbs, descents and flat-out straights. There are other routes for the less daring.
SANDBOARDINGUnlike surfing and snow boarding, sand boarding is easy to learn and readily accessible to beginners so an adrenaline surge is just a slide away.
SEA KAYAKINGPaddle next to ancient dhows and dugout canoes as you explore the islands, Lake Niassa or the Bazaruto or Quirimbas Archipelagos in a one or two person kayak.
WATERSPORTSCanoeing, sailing, surfing, waterskiing, windsurfing and yachting take place along the coast and on lakes in the interior. Ponta do Ouro and beaches close to Inhambane are especially good for surfing.
INTERNATIONAL AIRLINESMain access from Europe and North America is via Johannesburg although TAP Air Portugal and LAM Mozambique Airlines operate direct services to Maputo from Lisbon. From Johannesburg connecting flights to Maputo are operated by South African Airways and LAM while other operators serve Inhambane, Pemba and Vilanculos. Regional flights to Mozambique are also available from Durban, Cape Town and Mpumalanga in South Africa; Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; Nairobi in Kenya; and Harare in Zimbabwe. LAM’s domestic services connect Maputo with the country’s major cities and tourist destinations.
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTSMavalane International (MPM), five miles (8 km) north of Maputo. Beira (BEW), eight miles (13 km) from the city, Inhambane, Lichinga, Nampula, Pemba and Vilanculos.
PASSPORTS & VISASAll visitors must present a passport, with a minimum six months validity, and visas are required by visitors other than nationals of Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is advisable to get one’s visas in advance. These are obtainable from Mozambique embassies or consulates, on presentation of two passport size photographs and the necessary visa fee, but they may also be acquired at international airports and border posts.
HEALTH & IMMUNISATIONA course of anti-malaria tablets is strongly advised. Vaccinations against hepatitis A, polio tetanus and typhoid are also recommended. A yellow fever certificate is required for those arriving from infected areas.
AIRPORT TAXA tax of US$30 is payable, at the airport, by passengers departing on international and regional flights or US$10 on domestic flights.
CURRENCYMozambique’s currency is the Metical. Banks and Foreign Exchange Bureau will exchange any recognised currency while credit cards and travellers cheques in US dollars and South African rand are widely accepted. Most city banks have ATM machines from which local currency may be withdrawn at all hours.
CAR HIREInternational car hire companies are represented in Maputo and Beira. Driving is on the left. An international driving license is required.
SHOPPING & SOUVENIRSThere are good bargains available in Mozambique’s markets and roadside stalls. Brightly coloured landscapes by Mozambican painters are becoming collectors’ items. Woven baskets, bags and hats as well as beautiful, locally produced printed cloths are also worth looking out for - as is silver jewellery made by craftsmen on the islands of Mozambique and Ibo. There are lots of shops in Maputo selling locally made arts and crafts including wooden sculptures, pottery, decorated plates and ceramics.
WHAT TO TAKEDon’t forget to take the camera, camcorder and binoculars. Stock up with plenty of film and batteries. If you’re visiting a game reserve, take a torch for finding your way around the camp at night. Also bring some insect repellent for spraying on exposed areas of skin at dusk. Sunglasses, suntan lotions and possibly lip-balm should also be packed. If you do forget something, most accessories can be bought in major centres.
WHAT TO WEARFor most of the year light clothing is a must. However, during the winter (June-August), it can get chilly in the evenings so pack a sweater or jacket. In restaurants ’smart casual’ is the norm: short-sleeved shirts and slacks for men, blouses and skirts or informal dresses for women - but not shorts and vests. Topless sunbathing is frowned upon. When visiting game reserves neutral colours are preferred, but not white, because bright hues may unsettle the animals. Shorts and safari shirts in brown, beige, dark green or khaki are best. Wear sensible walking shoes and take a hat for protection from the sun. In the evening it is a good idea to wear long sleeved shirts and slacks so as little skin as possible is exposed to mosquitoes.
TRAVEL LIGHTSome safari/air charter companies limit baggage to a 10 kilo maximum.