Road trip through Southern Africa: Idyllic Mozambique

Charlen Raymond
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 BALL OF A TIME: There is a lot more to Mozambique than just beaches and diving. ~ iStock

Cape Town - South Africans are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a holiday destination; each province has a host of awesome attractions to make any holiday a memorable one.

But just across the border, along the North-east coast of South Africa, lies Mozambique. A coastal country with amazing weather and some of the best beaches in the world.

Not only does Mozi’s offer great weather, its waters are close to having perfect temperatures and offer ideal swimming conditions for almost 24 hours a day.

Finding the best route

The two easiest routes to enter Mozambique from South Africa is through the Kosi Bay or Lebombo border control posts.

From Durban: To reach Kosi, drive about 270km north along the N2 from Durban, take the off-ramp heading to the R22 and turn right. At about 130km, exit the traffic circle and continue with the road until reaching border control (40km).

From Johannesburg: Drive along the N4 until reaching the Lebombo Border Control. Depending on where in Gauteng you live, the trip from Jhb CBD to the border post is well over 400km.

It’s sufficient to arrive at both borders with a car but the real test of your driving skill will begin when setting off in the country.

Sand, dunes and bushes are the initial primary roads and anything bar an SUV/4x4 or bakkie (with dif-lock, at least) could potentially become stuck. The sand-filled roads can also accommodated one-way traffic in most places and drivers will be required to move off to the side of the road to allow other road users to pass.

Cars will be able to do the trip via Lebombo but travel ill be limited at the other border posts.

The coastal road from #Mabibi to #KosiBay is the most fun you can have in a #4x4

A photo posted by Kwenda Travel (@kwendatravel) on

Currencies and papers

Mozambique’s currency is the Metical (MT) and one South African rand is equivalent to 3.21MT (at the time of publishing).

The Mozambican government allows South Africans to make purchases in their own currency but South Africans with MT in their possession will either have to exchange it back to Rands before exiting the country, or at a bank upon returning home - if they wish to do so.

READ: Mozambique - Budget-friendly escapes for South Africans

Interestingly, it is a Mozambican requirement that if a visiting vehicle is still financed, a letter from the bank needs to give the owner permission to drive the car across the border, as well as a copy of the original papers. The letter from the bank needs to contain the name of the vehicle’s owner, as well who will be driving it in the country. If you have a rental vehicle, best make sure you have all the necessary paperwork with you; as well as certified copies.

It’s best to also have certified copies of your driver’s license, ID and passport. Should you be pulled over by the police in the country, it’s best to show them the copies. There have been instances where law officials have taken original documents and charge you a fine to get it back.

For a stay up to 30 days no visas are required.

Attractions

Apart from the list below, Mozambique’s nightlife is any visitor’s dream and it has a vast array of attractions. See a full list of things to do here.

To do in Mozambique:

  • Kayaking and canoeing

  • Surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing

  • Bike tours

  • Shark diving

  • Scuba and snorkeling

  • 4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours

  • Parasailing and paragliding

  • Safaris

  • Swim with dolphins

  • Horseback riding

A photo posted by Julia (@julia_potselueva) on

5 important points to keep in mind

1. Beware of criminal behaviour

There is a high risk of crime throughout Mozambique, which increases significantly during the festive season (mid-December to mid-January).

This is due, primarily, to increasing levels of violent crime in - and around - Maputo. However, the vast majority of recorded crimes committed against tourists tend to be more opportunistic and non-violent - such as pick-pocketing. This does not completely rule out the possibility of violent crimes, as armed robberies and violent assaults against tourists have occurred in the past, specifically when victims have fought back or resisted. 

2. Political unrest

Mozambique has generally been regarded as politically stable after the 16-year civil war ended in 1992 with a peace agreement between the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) party and the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), the main opposition party.

While multi-party elections have run relatively smoothly since, RENAMO often accuse the government of perpetrating systematic electoral fraud.

Rebel forces associated with RENAMO have, however, taken matters into their own hands and have been known to revert to violence. Having staged multiple attacks in recent months, there is no indication that RENAMO rebels are planning attacks against tourists or holiday resorts. However, this risk cannot be entirely excluded and travellers are advised to take precautions.

Travel to central and northern Mozambique is not advised due to ongoing conflicts between RENAMO rebels and government forces. Generally, resort towns along the southern coast have been assessed as safer than in the north or the country’s capital where political protests are usually contained.

3. Road travel

Due to a lack of maintenance throughout Mozambique, the roads are poor and it is advisable to travel around the country in a 4x4 vehicle. Hijackings have been reported on roads near the South African Border, and en-route to Maputo, Mutare and Moamba. With a high risk of extortion and harassment by local police at checkpoints or roadblocks, travellers should avoid travelling alone and without the required paperwork or permits. 

4. Health considerations

Foreign visitors are urged to consult a medical professional ahead of their travels to Mozambique and take preventative measures to combat risks relating to malaria, Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid. Prior to travel, it is advisable to research private medical facilities in case of an emergency.

In terms of water safety, tap water in Mozambique carries a risk of contamination and travellers are therefore encouraged to only drink bottled water and to check that the seal has not been compromised before opening. 

5. Terrorism 

While it cannot be entirely excluded, the threat of terrorism in Mozambique has been assessed as low to moderate. Local security sources within the region have noted that there are no known or specific terrorist threats inside Mozambique at this time. With this in mind, there have been recent indications that potential jihadists from African countries have looked to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) - potentially using Mozambique as a transit point en-route to the Middle East.