Mozambique is a fascinating strip of land sharing borders with Tanzania in the North, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa going south, and stretching along the Indian Ocean in the East. It is home to the most beautiful beaches in Southern Africa.
Mozambique is an ancient Portuguese colony that recently opened itself to the tourism industry and offers a mosaic of exhilarating landscapes: an almost untouched nature and the paradisiacal islands of Bazaruto and Ila de Mocambique in the North, and a growing tourism in the South towards the capital Maputo, offering charming infrastructures.
Water sports in the pristine blue sea, idleness or adventure in the nature reserves, exploration of the vibrant and fascinating cultures and the artistic and musical traditions among the best on the continent….Mozambique has it all and will welcome you warmly into its land.
Called “Terra da Boa Gente” by Vasco de Gama, because of the kindness of its people, Mozambique counts 19.8 million inhabitants (25 inhabitants/km2), 40% of which live in the Nampula and Zambezia provinces (North East). The less populated provinces are Niassa and Tete (North West).
There are 30 ethnic groups split into 99% Blacks, 1% Indians and Europeans.
The largest ethnic groups are:
- The Macua, living in the province of Cabo Delgado and part of Niassa area (North).
- The Makonde, known for their craft and their struggle for the independence of the country. The visit of Mueda region in Makonde land is fascinating as the people managed to preserve their traditions.
- The Tsonga (or Changana), living in the provinces of Gaza and Manica as well as a few communities in the province of Tete (Centre and South West).
- The Caranga, living between the Save and Zambeze Rivers (Provinces of Sofala and Manica) (Centre East and West).
- The Nhanja, spreading over the North East of the country, most of the Zambezi valley and the Niassa Province.
The official language is Portuguese, mother tongue of 800 000 people including Europeans and a Mozambican elite. The many Mozambican languages are all of Bantu origin and are widely spoken in the rural areas. There are more than 30 languages split into 14 groups divided into various dialects.
The name ‘Mozambique’ comes from the sultan Mussa Mbiki’s name, who was in control of a small island opposite Madagascar. When Vasco da Gama discovered it, he named it after him ‘Mocambique’ in Portuguese. The island kept the name and then the whole country.
The first inhabitants of Mozambique were the ancestors of the Bushmen. They were then invaded by Bantu people.
Mozambique being the commercial route linking Zimbabwe to the Indian Ocean, Indian and Arab sailors opened many trading posts on the East Coast of Africa.
Year after year, waves of colons, immigrants and seasonal workers contributed to the cultural, religious and economic diversity of the country.
The country has three religions: Animism (50%), Christianity (30%) and Islam (20%).
Area: 800 000km2 including a coastline that stretches over 2500km along the Indian Ocean.
Divided into 11 provinces and by two of the largest Rivers in Southern Africa, the Zambezi and the Limpopo, Mozambique consists essentially of plains stretching from Tanzania (Rovuma River) to the Zambezi Delta and blossoming into dunes and lagoons along an untouched coast revealing magnificent beaches.
Going further North offers landscapes of isolated beauty. The centre of the country is home to estuaries, mangrove swamps, savannas, and plateaus ranging between 200 and 600m above sea level in the North of the country.
The highest point of the country is Monte Binga peaking at 2436 m above sea level on the border of Zimbabwe. It offers a magnificent panorama of the valley, the prairies full of flowers and the hope to catch a glimpse of the Indian Ocean on clear days.
Mozambique has a tropical climate with a dry season (April to October) with temperatures at 15 to 20 C and a clear blue sky.
In the rainy season (November to March), average temperatures range from 26 to 31C with high humidity inland.
Mozambique is pleasant to visit throughout the year. However temperatures rise as you go north.
The main agricultural resources of the country (including food) are wood, millet, cassava, cashew nuts, cotton, tea, maize and prawns.
The main economic development sectors are the tourism and the mining industries with mineralised sands, coal, gold, bauxite and tantalum.
An elite descendant of the assmilados (Africans who were initiated by the Portuguese in the colonial era) and mostly South Africa run the economy and the politics of the country.
Visas and passports...International visitors must be in possession of a valid passport of at least 6 months. The Visa is purchased on arrival at the airport (or at the border arriving by road) at R140.
Departure taxes…International visitors who leave Mozambique by air must pay a departure tax of US$20.
Money…The currency is the Meticais. 1 Rand ~ 4000 Meticais. Mozambique lodges accept Euros, US$ and Rands. Credit cards are also accepted.
Telephone…The international code is 258.
The voltage is 220 volts, but the plugs are non standard (Similar to those of South Africa) and you will need an adapter.
Cabo Delgado province
The Cabo Delgado Province is the cradle of many ethnic groups including the Makonde people renowned for their wood sculptures and their artistic sense.
The Quirimba National Park consists of 32 green islands and magnificent mangrove swamps protecting species such as a variety of giant turtles. The Pemba village offers beautiful beaches and diving possibilities.
The province of Niassa is a larger province of traditional hut villages where people still live traditionally and where music holds a very important cultural role; orchestras use calabash to make wind instruments.
The Niassa Lake (Lake Malawi) on the Malawian and Tanzanian borders is very unique and its shores can only be reached by 4x4. You will find fresh fish and coconut water in the neighbouring fishermen villages.
In the North of the country the lake is a gift of Mother Nature, surrounded by heights of 2000m above sea level.
Manda Wilderness on the shores of the lake, has an area of 100 000 hectares of untouched lands of swamps, streams, mountains and endless beaches with crystal clear waters, home to a magnificent wildlife. Manda Wilderness has always been known for its biodiversity and very rich ecosystem. All the safaris are either by foot or canoe.
Home to the Manpua, it is characterised by its rocky mounts and its craft inspired by Arab, Portuguese and Hindu influences such as the very intricate and subtle wood work.
The Mozambique Island, 2km long and 500m large, is the crossroad of many civilizations and has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site, having a unique historical and architectural appeal.
On the border of Zimbabwe, the Province of Manica and its capital Chimao is a more developed and urbanised area.
It is agriculturally rich with grapes, papayas, mangoes, litchis, cereals, tea and tobacco.
The Chicamba Lake is ideal for bird watching and offers beautiful hiking trails as well as a crocodile farm
Visiting the province of Sofala is a beautiful stage of the tour. It is well known for its nature reserves, its beaches and lagoons and welcomes you into safari land.
Beira is an attractive and charming city imbued with a British influence revealed in its market, its colonial monuments and its Indian quarter.
The Gorongoza Park (3700km2) in the North of Beira hosts a spectacular wildlife including elephants. The landscapes of prairies and beautiful swamps inspire tranquillity and are ideal for bird watching.
The Mount Gorongoza will offer you more adventures. You will need a guide to climb it and it makes a perfect spot for bird watching including rare species like the Green Headed Oriole and the Moustached Warbler.
The buffalo reserve of Marromeu, home to 46 000 buffaloes in 1981 only hosts 6000 buffaloes today due to war, famine and poaching. The untouched nature and the recent development projects still make it well worth the exploration.
The Inhambane Province or “the land of kind people” is a popular area of endless lines of coconut trees, cashew trees and paradisiacal beaches. The natural parks and the well known archipelago are an irresistible experience.
Bazaruto Archipelago, opposite Vilanculos will inspire you to idleness and yet arouse a desire to discover the marine life with its turtles and colourful reefs.
The small neighbouring islands Santa Carlina, Magarruque and Benguerra are tropical paradises.
The Zivane Natural Park in the South of the Save River is home to an abundant Flora and Fauna.
The Banhine Natural Park in the heart of the Province of Gaza and its swamps protect the herbivores, buffaloes, the rare sable antelopes, zebras and wildebeests, ostriches, kudus, impalas…it is part of the reserves that should make the great Transfontier Park.
Pomene on the coast between Inhambane and Vilanculos is a reserve dedicated to the sea, a paradise for divers and fishermen.