African Travel Tips When Visiting Mozambique

Mozambique in famous mainly for its beaches and prawns, Mozambique also offers the visitor World Heritage sites, colonial architecture and a colourful local culture. Bustling markets sell exquisite carvings and basketware with the wood and ivory sculptures of the Makonde recognized as one of Africa's most sophisticated art forms.

Mozambique has also produced talented painters such as Malangatana and the country's murals adorn many a wall, especially in Maputo. Traditional music is in the form of Marrabenta music as well as Marimba and calabash orchestras. Keeping with the rhythm of Africa, the ritualistic Nhau and mapico initiation dances can be a frightening sight. Popular activities for travellers include diving, snorkelling, bird watching and fishing for marlin, sailfish or kingfish.

CAPITAL:

Maputo

CLIMATE:

Subtropical although droughts and low rainfall is common. Rainy season is Oct-Apr and dry season Apr-Sep.

CURRENCY:

1 Mozambican Metical = 100 centavos. USD or Pounds Sterling traveller's cheques are recommended. Change money at authorized institutions. Credit cards are not widely accepted. A large number of merchants prefer USD. Import and export of local currency is prohibited.

ELECTRICITY:

220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 2- and 3-pin round.

HEALTH:

A yellow fever vaccination is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists throughout the year in the whole country), hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns are rudimentary medical facilities, unavailable medicines, cholera (maintain strict food and water hygiene) and influenza (risk extends throughout year).

LANGUAGE:

The official language is Portuguese, but Makua and Tsonga are also spoken. English is not widely spoken but can be understood.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Years' Day (1 Jan); Heroes' Day (3 Feb); Women's Day (7 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Independance Day (25 Jun); Victory Day (7 Sep); Armed Forces Day (25 Sep); Defunct's Day (2 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)

SHOPPING:

basketwork; reed mats; woodcarvings; masks; printed cloth; leather articles; prawns; wine.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

Religion is mainly Roman Catholic, but other faiths include Muslim, Hindu and traditional beliefs. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Portuguese customs e.g. modes of address (Senhor/Senhora) apply. Dress is casual and formal wear is seldom required. For business safari suits are acceptable in hot weather, while lightweight suits are advised for the rest of the year.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT +2

TIPPING:

Ten percent is customary, but it's discouraged in hotels. Taxi drivers expect 10 percent.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Maputo:

The capital city has wide avenues lined with red acacia and lilac jacaranda flowering trees; it offers many historical, cultural and scenic spots e.g. the Cathedral; City Council Chambers; Tunduro Gardens; Railway Station; the Fortress and Natural History Museum; beaches include Praia da Macaneta; Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane.

Xai-Xai:

224km from Maputo; the nearby beach is a popular tourist destination with its massive reef protecting the shores from strong waves at high tide; at low tide locals gather shellfish to sell to tourists; in the area also visit Praia do Chongoene, Bilene and the Banhine National Park, with its rich variety of wildlife.

Mozambique Island:

About two-thirds of the island was declared a 'World Heritage Site' by UNESCO due to the buildings being constructed from coral; places of interest include St Paul's Palace, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Fortress of St Sebastian; nearby beaches are Praia de Fernão Veloso and Praia das Chocas; on the mainland, in Nampula city, see the Cathedral and Museum.

Beira:

The country's second city, Beira is spread along the coast; see the Largo do Municipio, Casa Portugal, Casa Infante de Sagres, Casa dos Bicos and the Cathedral; the best beaches are found between the Clube Nautico and the lighthouse; nearby 'Six Miles' is an inland resort with an artificial lagoon with islands where you may swim or hire pedal boats; game viewing in the province is at the famous Gorongosa National Park and Marromeu Buffalo Reserve.

Bazaruto:

Archipelago Very popular tourist area consisting of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque and Santa Carolina islands off the mainland with high quality hotels; On Inhambane on the mainland, see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Conception; conservation areas include the Zinave National Park and the Bazaruto National Park.

Pemba:

The city has an unspoilt natural beauty; visit the Old Town, where you can visit several traditional markets, the beaches of Praia do Wimbe and Praia do Farol; nearby Ibo Island is part of the idyllic Quirimbas archipelago.

Lake Niassa & Niassa Reserve:

Niassa province offers breathtaking views and scenery; unspoilt Lake Niassa is accessible by 4x4 only and gives you a 'real Africa' experience, with fishing villages where you can buy fresh fish and coconut milk; Niassa Reserve is famous for its large quantity of elephants.

Inhaca Island:

34 km from Maputo in the bay, accessible by boat or plane; tours of Ponta de Santa Maria and Portuguese Island are possible.

Maputo Elephant Reserve:

79 km south of Maputo, the reserve is famous for its elephant herds; flamingos can also be seen on the large inland lakes near the sea.

Face of the Old Man:

In the city of Chimoio, 'Cabeça do Velho' is a spectacular natural stone formation resembling the face of an old man.


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