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USEFUL INFORMATION FOR TRAVEL TO MOZAMBIQUE
Entry Requirements: All nationalities require a visa to enter Mozambique. Visas are to be obtained prior to arrival in Mozambique as entry visas will NOT be issued upon arrival at any border post or airport. Multiple-entry visas valid 3 months from date of issuance, and single- and double-entry visas valid for 2 months, require 1 application form, 2 photos, $20 (single-entry) or $40 (double- or multiple-entry) processing fee for 2 weeks or an additional $20 fee for 3 day service, or additional $50 fee for same day service, and a letter (from company or individual) giving detailed itinerary and address of where visitor is staying. For more information, contact the Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique, Suite 570, 1990 M St., NW, Washington, DC 20036 (202/293-7146). For the residents of New York, please apply at the Mozambique Consulate at 420 East 50th St., New York, NY 10022 (212/644-5965).
It is advised that you carry certified copies your passport and all travel documents, and always have either your passport or these copies with you.
Seasons and Climate: SUMMER: October – March, WINTER: April – September. The climate is tropical, with a rainy season from December through to April. Almost every day is sunny, and rainfall is usually in the form of brief, intense showers The average temperature for Mozambique is around 28ºC (82ºF) all year round. The climate varies slightly according to the regions of the country.
The coast experiences a sub-tropical climate while the northern parts of the county are tropical. Generally, the hot rainy season is from October to March. Daytime temperatures vary from the mid-30° C (88ºF), in the warmer months to the mid-20° C (68ºF), in the cooler season from May to September. Water temperatures vary between 24° C (75ºF) and 27° C (81ºF), ensuring comfortable diving all year.
Language & Culture: Portuguese is the official language and English is only spoken in the southern tourist regions. The major ethnic groups each have their own languages: Makhuwa, Tsonga, Lomwe, Sena, and numerous others.
The indigenous tribal groups of Mozambique make up about 99% of the population. There are 16 major ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Makua of the northern region. The Makonde, another northern group, are famous for their traditional and contemporary carved figures and also their lupembe (wind instruments). Other major groups include the Sena, found in the centre of Mozambique, and the Shangaan of the south. Europeans including native Portuguese and Asian residents make up less than 1% of the population. The traditions, stories and arts of Mozambique's ethnic groups have survived colonial corruption and years of civil war. Since Mozambique gained independence, these are emerging and Mozambican sculptors, painters and writers are becoming known worldwide.
Health Requirements: It is imperative that you obtain malaria prophylactics before entering Mozambique. Take precautionary measures to prevent contact with mosquitoes, like: sleeping under a bed net or in a room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times); spraying your accommodation with insecticide; making use of a mosquito repelling lotion or stick; and wearing long sleeved clothing, trousers and socks when outside at night.
No inoculations for smallpox, cholera or yellow fever are required unless you are coming from an infected area. This could change and you should check with the Mozambique Embassy when you obtain your visa. However, travel clinics generally recommend that visitors should take precautions against yellow fever, cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, smallpox, malaria and hepatitis A, particularly if you will be in the country for more than three weeks. If you are staying in lodges which have a good supply of water you should not encounter these problems.
Medical Services: There are private clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in most large towns, but you may need the help of someone who speaks Portuguese to communicate your needs. It is recommended you carry a good supply of medicines you may need, as well as a first aid kit. Doctors expect cash payment, so ensure your medical insurance covers your trip to Mozambique.
Safety: You should be aware of the risks of crime, poor road safety standards and minimal health facilities in Mozambique. That said, Mozambique is a relatively low-risk country as far as crime is concerned and the vast majority of visits to Mozambique are trouble-free. Keep a close watch on your possessions in busy places and keep all your valuables in a hidden money belt. Never drive at night and set off as early as possible so that you have as much time as possible to deal with delays. When dealing with officials, be friendly and patient and treat them with respect. They are likely to reciprocate.
If you are visiting the Bazaruto Archipelago, the only real dangers are razor clams which are exposed at low tides. It is recommended you wear sandals to avoid cutting your feet on these.
Water: Tap water is usually safe to drink, but bottled water is available should you prefer this. Avoid eating food which has not been cooked or peeled.
Currency: The unit of currency is the meticais (M) which is divided into 100 centavos. If you are traveling in the southern parts of the country, South African Rands, US dollars and pounds sterling are also accepted and can be used to pay for accommodation. North of Beira US dollars and sterling are widely accepted.
Exchange Rate: The exchange rate is in your favor. Generally you will find that fine cuisine, wine and entertainment cost a fraction of the tariff charged by equivalent establishments elsewhere in the world. Private exchange bureaus in Maputo usually offer better exchange rates than banks. Changing money on the black market is strongly discouraged.
Banks: Local banks have branches in most cities which are open from Monday to Friday from 07:45 to 11:00 or 12:00. The main banks include Banco Commercial de Mozambique (BCM) and Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento (BPD), which both have branches throughout the country, as well as Banco Standard Totta.
Credit Cards: Credit cards are usually accepted at more upmarket hotels, but apart from this your credit card will be of little use.
Tipping: Tipping is not usually expected, or even accepted, though in tourist areas, locals are becoming used to this and a tip of 5-15% is often appreciated.
Souvenirs: Local crafts and indigenous art can be purchased from markets in the cities and tourist areas. These include masks, carvings and ornaments made of wood, soapstone, malachite and wire, as well as pottery, paintings and basket ware. A lot of what you will see will be tacky souvenirs, but quite often you will find unique works of art. Avoid purchasing natural items like ivory as it is illegal to export these without a license. Bargaining for local handicrafts is commonplace
General Accommodation Information: Mozambique's best hotels, including major international hotels, are found in the cities and along the coasts, particularly on the islands. The tourist industry is growing in Mozambique and more private lodges of high standards are to be found in tourist areas. Very basic, cheap hotels, pensãos, or slightly better pousados are found in the cities and bigger towns. A range of campsites are found along the coast too.
Public Transport: Mozambique does not have a very good network of public transport. There are limited train services within Mozambique, which link its neighbouring countries to the Indian Ocean. A service operates from Johannesburg to Maputo via Komatipoort, Nelspruit and Pretoria three times a week. Another line links Nacala with Liwonde in Malawi, via Nampula and Cuamba. Buses only operate between major towns where roads are in good condition. In rural areas you may catch a ride in converted passenger trucks, chapa-cems (or just chapas) or normal trucks (camions). Along the coast there are some ferry services. These are more frequent along the northern coast with regular services operating between Quelimane and Beira, and Quelimane, Nacala and Pemba.
Flights: Domestic air services operate between Beira, Maputo, Nampula, Pemba, Quelimane, Tete and Vilanculos. Many charter airlines have scheduled services and these are usually preferable. Charter flights to Pemba and to Vilanculos on reliable scheduled charter flights.
Roads: Driving in Mozambique is not always as easy as it could be. The combination of the civil war and the floods has had a severe impact on the condition of the roads and in many parts of the country a 4x4 is essential.
Roads are gradually being improved, however, and the roads south of Beira tend to be in good condition. Potholes are actually the biggest road hazard in Mozambique. Other hazards to be aware of are roadblocks (make sure you have your driving license, vehicle registration, temporary import papers and traffic triangles, and that you are wearing your seatbelt), vehicles without lights at night and livestock on the roads. Car hire is possible in most major towns, but should be booked in advance. There is a good network of gas stations, though not in game reserves. For ecological reasons, we urge you not to drive on dunes and beaches. Driving in
Mozambique is on the left side of the road.
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