FACTS ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE AND IT’S ISLANDS
Moçambique lies along the southeastern coastline of Africa and boasts 2500 kilometres of pristine coastline. Formerly a Portuguese colony, it has once again become the playground of South African and international tourists who visit the turquoise waters of various islands and coastal resorts.
The Capital City of Mozambique is Maputo, situated in the south. The official language is Portuguese, although English is quite widely spoken especially at the various resorts.
The coastal plain, in the south, rises to mountains and plateaus in the north and west. Two of Southern Africa’s longest rivers, the Zambezi and the Limpopo, flow through Mozambique. Other major rivers include the Save and the Rovuma, which forms the northern border with Tanzania. Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, forms part of the border with Malawi.
As you go westward, the land changes abruptly from a narrow, palm-studded strip of beach along the coast to a broad belt of savannah and woodland, then forested mountains. Trees include hardwoods, acacia and papaya. Fauna include the rare, endangered black rhinoceros.
There are many regional variations in Mozambique, but generally the hot, rainy season is from October to March with the average daily high hitting 31°C (88°F). The dry season runs from April to September, when the average daily high tops out at 27°C (80°F) on the coast, while it is somewhat cooler inland.
One can drive from Johannesburg to Maputo, or travel by bus or train. South African Airways and LAM (Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique) fly regularly to Maputo. Because of the great distances, to reach the magnificent islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago and the Quirimbas Archipelago, it is better to fly.
LAM, the Mozambique Airline offers regular flights from Jo’burg to Inhambane, Vilanculos, Pemba, and various other centres in Mozambique.
Airlink offers convenient direct flights between Jo’burg to Pemba on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. Benefits for Airlink travellers include Voyager Miles and convenient interline connections with SAA, their Star Alliance partner flights and other international carriers both locally and globally, making Pemba and the stunning Quirimbas Archipelago even more accessible!
Mozambique GSA have specially reduced IT fares on all the airlines, so please contact us for the best rates on fly-in packages.
VISAS FOR MOZAMBIQUE
Important Notice regarding VISA requirements for travel to Mozambique
Citizens and nationals of all countries, except citizens of the following countries: Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, require a visa when travelling to Mozambique for Tourism. This legislation prevails and has not changed in anyway – the Mozambican government has merely enforced the regulation regarding pre-application of visas for these nationalities, and it is now a matter of the relevant border control areas implementing the necessary measures, following a high volume of travellers attempting to enter the country with no valid purpose or suitable documentation.
A comprehensive list of international Mozambican Consular offices / representatives, can be found on:
Further details according to ACIS, Mozambique:
Border visas are only issued to people travelling for purposes of tourism, and only for people coming from countries where there is no Mozambican consular representation. If a person is travelling from a country which has a Mozambican consulate which issues visas then a tourism visa must be applied for before travelling.
People travelling for tourism purposes and coming from countries which do not have Mozambican consular representation must present on entry: a passport with at least 6 months validity and several blank pages; a return air ticket (for air travelers); an invitation from family / friends that they are visiting or a confirmed hotel reservation.
There is room for approval of a border visa for someone coming from a country with a Mozambican consulate who has not had time to apply for a visa, if they can demonstrate that they have an urgent need for the visa, for example on compassionate grounds. However the issue of a visa in this case is discretionary.
(ACIS is an a-political, autonomous, private, non-profit association which was founded in 2000 with the aim of contributing to the promotion and development of commerce and industry through the strengthening and sustainability of local business, as well as contributing to the development in Mozambique of an economy based on private sector participation.)
Kindly note that Mozambique GSA is a Tour Operator, and these regulations are beyond our control. We cannot be held responsible for any amendments to visa legislation, changes in consulate contact details and information relating to visa applications or the application thereof. We recommend you contact your local Mozambican Consulate for updated information and advice.
Should you require confirmation letters for any of your bookings for visa application submission, we will gladly assist you in providing the necessary documentation.
Visas for Mozambique are not required by SA Passport Holders. Please contact us if you have any queries.
No vaccinations are required when visiting Mozambique. However, as a precaution, Malaria tablets should be taken. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist. Except at the upmarket resorts, it is not a good idea to drink unbottled water. We recommend you bring along the following personal medication: Insect repellent, suntan and blockout creams, Immodium, Malaria tablets and antihistamine creams.
The unit of currency is the Metical (plural Meticais), however US Dollars and South African Rands are the more readily accepted currencies.
SOUTH OF MAPUTO is the stunning upmarket White Pearl Resorts. This resort can be accessed from Maputo by Helicopter or by road, or it can be accessed from the Kosi Bay border by road. As a 4×4 is necessary the resort arranges transfers from either Maputo or the Kosi Bay border.
MAPUTO AND SURROUNDS
Mozambique’s capital, Maputo is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Since the end of the civil war, roads have been resurfaced, running water and electricity have been restored, and a lot of development is taking place. There are several museums and other places of interest, including the well-known Mercado Municipal market, an 18th century fort, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is one of Maputo’s most impressive buildings.
There are numerous hotels offering a range of accommodation, but visitors looking for a beach holiday would do better to find accommodation out of Maputo as Maputo does not have the lovely sandy white beaches found further north and on the islands. Only the Southern Sun Hotel in Maputo is situated on the beachfront; others offer wonderful sea-views, but do not have access to any beach. The business hotels are excellent and offer transfers to the main business areas and to the airport. It is only a short drive from Mavelane International Airport to the city centre.
ILHA DA INHACA
Inhaca Island is the closest island getaway, situated in the bay of Maputo, just 40 km from the capital. It is easily accessed with daily air transfers, just 10 minutes flying time from Maputo. There are also some boat companies that arrange boat transfers for larger groups. There is only one resort on Inhaca Island, the Pestana Inhaca Lodge Island Resort. There is a small village on Inhaca, with a rather quaint but well-known restaurant called Lucas’ and a small market. One can also visit the Marine Biology Museum and excursions are taken to the lighthouse and to Portuguese Island, just a few minutes from Inhaca Island. Portuguese island is totally deserted with magnificent expanses of beautiful white sandy beaches, and safe bays for swimming.
INHAMBANE – SOUTHERN MOZAMBIQUE
There are now daily flights from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg to Inhambane (some direct, some routed via Vilankulo).
The town of Inhambane is approximately 485km north of Maputo, and the roads are mostly tarred and suitable for normal two wheel drive vehicles, for those preferring to drive.
The road from Maputo to Xai Xai has been upgraded and resurfaced. North from Xai-Xai there is an old section of road, approx. 70km, which is potholed. This section is being patched and will be completed in due course. After the initial 70km section the road is new and upgraded making the drive a lot easier. Be aware of construction vehicles and road crews.
Please note that there are numerous towns and villages en-route and the main road often passes directly through these villages. Speed limits are enforced in these places and it is advised to drive with caution. Do not drive at night. The drive from Maputo to Inhambane can take anything between 6 – 8 hours and sufficient time needs to be allowed to avoid night driving.
Barra Lodge is set in a picturesque area in Mozambique, with unspoilt beaches, and is bordered by the Inhambane estuary on one side and the sea on the other. The lodge is nestled amongst groves of coconut trees and the warm Indian Ocean offers safe bathing all year round. Wide open, sun-drenched beaches offer endless hours of strolling pleasure.
Barra Lodge caters for families with children and is geared towards fun and activities for the whole family. Activities include scuba-diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, quad biking, catamaran sailing, horse riding and various excursions.
The more upmarket Flamingo Bay Water Lodge is built on stilts in the crystal clear waters of Inhambane Bay. This eco-paradise is home to flocks of flamingos, tropical fish and the very rare dugong. Flamingo Bay is an ideal honeymoon destination.
Located only 89 kilometres north of the historic city of Inhambane and with spectacular 180 degree ocean views, five-star cuisine and luxurious accommodation, lies the newly built Massinga Beach Lodge.
Approximately 800km north of Maputo lies the town of Vilankulo, (formerly Vilanculos). Vilankulo is the gateway to the romantic islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. It is easily accessible by two wheel drive vehicles, and the International Airport has flights arriving regularly from Johannesburg and Maputo.
Vilankulo is a busy, bustling town with friendly people and a lively atmosphere. Electricity is generated by means of natural gas. At the Vilankulo markets fresh produce is readily available, and there are shops selling basic supplies, as well as a petrol station and a clinic with competent doctors. There are also numerous restaurants serving a variety of fresh seafood and Portuguese cuisine.
Approximately 130 km north of Vilanculos is Rio Azul on the banks of the Govuro River. This is a wonderful fishing venue from deep sea fishing to shore fishing, estuary fishing to salt water fly fishing. Rio Azul offers comfortable accommodation in 6 thatched chalets & 2 large Villas with private pools. Each has its own boat for use in the estuary.
THE BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO
Opposite the coastal town of Vilankulo, lies a chain of five islands. Once part of the mainland, this “spit” broke away from the African continent 25 000 years ago to form the Archipelago, comprising three larger islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, as well as the smaller Banque and Santa Carolina, (previously known as Paradise Island).
The Archipelago, declared a National Park in 1971 sustains a diverse population of fauna and flora including forest, savannah and wetland eco-systems. To maintain the ecology and social integrity of the Bazaruto National Park, a long-term “Multiple Resource Use” Project for the Archipelago is underway. The various Lodges subscribe to the wise and sustainable use of the resources and contribute financially to the project.
Sunsets, peace and solitude are a reality on the Bazaruto islands, allowing the visitor to choose what to do – or not to do. However, guests can relax on unspoilt, uncrowded, pristine beaches while for the more active there is excellent bird watching, superb diving and snorkelling as well as excellent fishing.
SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELLING
Scuba diving in the Bazaruto Archipelago has been likened to diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The corals alone can keep the diver spell-bound as the full spectrum of coral species are present. Over 600 species of fish have been recorded during Scuba diving. Humpback whales, dolphins and moray eels often accompany the diver on explorations of the marine world. Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill turtles and the mystical dugong are also sometimes sighted.
The big game fishing around the Bazaruto Archipelago is world-renowned. Being on the very edge of the deep Mozambique Channel, Bazaruto is Africa’s most productive area for Marlin (Black, Blue and Striped) and Sailfish as well as warm water game fish such as Giant Kingfish, Wahoo, King Mackerel, Dorado and Bonito. October to March are the prime Marlin months with June to September being best for Sailfish. Many other species of fish are caught all year round. With regard to Rock & surf fishing, it may be necessary to hire a Landrover to reach the best spots. Boats can also be hired for fly-fishing. Kingfish, Bonito, Bonefish and Gars are prevalent at evening high tide.
Approximately 164 different birds have been identified and confirmed on the islands in habitats varying from the coastal dunes, open grasslands and fresh water lakes to savannah and acacia woodlands. The shores fringing the islands are a paradise for plovers, sandpipers and other wading birds. Thousands of Palearctic migrants cram the shallow waters during the summer months and a keen eye and a good pair of binoculars will reveal many rarities among them. Other animals to be seen are the plentiful Red-tailed squirrels, Samango Monkeys, Suni and Duiker, which have been re-introduced to the islands.
ILHA DO BAZARUTO
The largest island in the Archipelago is Bazaruto Island, approx. 37 km in length and 7 km at its widest point. The name Bazaruto originates from a local word; “Ushurutswa”, which means “island of the mist”; the Portuguese later converted it to Bazaruto. Legend has it that pearls were collected for the Queen of Sheba off the coast of Bazaruto.
The eastern strip of the island is composed of enormous sand dunes. The remainder of the island is thicket, grassland, scrub and wetland. Wildlife species include dolphins, dugongs, humpback whales and marine turtles. The freshwater lakes are home to big crocodiles. Near the north point of the island is an old lighthouse, the Farol do Bazaruto, built by the Portuguese over 100 years ago. This has not been in operation for many years, but the view from the top of the lighthouse is truly spectacular. Bazaruto Island has two airstrips, one near each of the resorts.
There are two lodges on this island; the 4-star Pestana Bazaruto Lodge Island Resort, which is situated in a sheltered bay below the lighthouse, and the newer 5-star Indigo Bay Island Resort & Spa, further south.
ILHA DE BENGUERRA (also known as Benguerua Island) is approximately 55 square kilometres in extent. Benguerra Island was originally named “Santa Antonio” by Portuguese explorers and was later named Benguerra after a local Tribal chief. The island is approximately 11km in length and 5,5km wide and lies 14km offshore from the mainland and the town of Vilankulo.
Cashew nut trees are indigenous and grow on the seaward side of the island. The locals harvest the nuts and the toxic husk from the nuts is used to brew very intoxicating liquor. Wild orange trees contain a natural strychnine poison when green but can be eaten when ripe. Sisal plants are plentiful and are used in a manufactured form by the locals to repair their fishing nets. Mlala palms are in abundance and the leaves are used for the weaving of mats, baskets and hats, which are then sold. The sap from the stem of the plant is also used to brew potent liquor. The locals who grow a small amount of sweet potatoes, paw-paws and onions also harvest coconut palms. On the southern point of the island you will find Casuarina trees planted by convicts from Penal colonies in the area during Portuguese rule. The trees are not indigenous and were planted to prevent erosion on the island. The island has a usable hard grass airstrip. Co-ordinates are: 21.51.00S 35.27.00E 1000 metres
ILHA DE MAGARUQUE the third largest island in the Archipelago. The hotel is being refurbished. Magaruque has a tarred airstrip, and is the closest island to the town of Vilankulo. The island boasts superb snorkelling and scuba diving on a reef just a few metres from the front of the hotel.
ILHA SANTA CAROLINA, known previously as Paradise Island, and sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian ocean”, is a tiny island midway between Bazaruto Island and the town of Inhassoro, on the mainland. The old hotel is not operational at this time, but the island is truly beautiful, and well worth a visit if staying at one of the Lodges on Bazaruto.
PEMBA & THE QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGO
Direct flights from Johannesburg to Pemba in the northern most Cabo Delgado Province have recently been introduced, which is opening up the beautiful unspoilt area of Pemba, and the little-known group of 32 islands that make up the Quirimbas Archipelago, that begin some 70 km north of Pemba and continue right up to the Tanzanian border.
South of Pemba and the Cabo Delgado Province lies the Nampula Province where the fascinating Ilha da Mozambique can be found. This small island, originally the capital city of Mozambique, and just 2 500 metres long & 600 metres at it’s widest, is a microcosm of the country, encompassing all the major cultural and linguistic influences which have contributed to today’s rich Mozambican society. A single lane bridge links the southern point of the island to the mainland. A stunning new resort; Coral Lodge 15.41 provides luxury accommodation near this famous island. Accommodation is also available at Nuarro Lodge an eco-resort offering supurb diving & snorkeling.
Pemba, formerly known as Porto Amelia, is the vibrant capital of Cabo Delgado Province. The city lies on the south shore of Pemba Bay, the third largest bay in the world. The modern port, the international airport, world-class hotels and restaurants, and a network of newly-repaired roads combine with the historic charm and colonial architecture of the old city to give a fascinating and vibrant destination situated on this stretch of Mozambican coast. Historic charm and colonial architecture.
There are two airlines that fly from OR Tambo Airport in Jo’burg to Pemba. LAM, the Mozambique Airline which flies 3 times a week, via Maputo. And Airlink which offers convenient direct flights between Jo’burg to Pemba on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. Benefits for Airlink travellers include Voyager Miles and convenient interline connections with SAA, their Star Alliance partner flights and other international carriers both locally and globally, making this stunning part of Mozambique even more accessible!
In central Pemba there is an authentic local market or Souk, where arts and crafts, as well as traditional silverware can be bought – a bargain hunter’s delight.
Pemba is also renowned as being a prime destination for water sport and diving enthusiasts as the coral reef lies close to the shore and their magnificent display of colourful coral species, thousands of tropical fish and mammals like whales and dolphins are waiting to be explored. The abundant fishing waters at St Lazarus Banks are also within easy reach.
There are many pristine, white beaches along the coast, including the famous Wimbe beach. Nestling amongst swaying palm trees and the warm Indian Ocean, the luxurious 100 bedroom Pemba Beach Hotel and Spa offers you the ultimate getaway. Situated just outside of Pemba, the hotel offers exclusivity and tranquillity in an idyllically beautiful and tropical setting on the unspoilt Mozambican coastline, but with easy access to the town of Pemba and all its fascinating attractions. Pemba Beach Hotel is ideal for groups & incentives, offering a wide range of activities.
Just North of Pemba town you will find the exclusive Londo Lodge, with a secluded private beach, superb game fishing, fly fishing, scuba diving near coral reefs right in front of the resort, mangrove rivers, lush vegetation, abundant small game and a stunning birdlife amidst the true virgin Indian ocean coastline of Mozambique. Londo Lodge is just 15 minutes by speed boat from Pemba town.
THE QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGO
Pemba is close to a number of breathtaking attractions. These include the beautifully untouched Quirimbas Archipelago, a group of 32 islands, including historic Ibo; a major trading centre in previous centuries when Africa’s East Coast was controlled by Arabs, and later became a Portuguese colony.
Two forts guard Ibo, one of them a magnificent example of Portuguese architecture in the 1800s, the other reduced to a ruin. Yet Ibo itself remains a bustling local centre, silversmiths still practicing their fine work outside these forts to offer unique mementos of a special place in Africa. The relaxed and informal Ibo Island Lodge is set amongst beautiful tropical gardens with palms, established trees, bougainvillea and frangipani.
The Quirimbas Archipelago stretches from Pemba (the capital of Cabo Delgado Province) to the Rovuma River, which forms the natural frontier between Tanzania and Mozambique. The area has never been developed and remains an unexplored tourist paradise. The famous St Lazarus Banks – a huge sea mound with coral reefs offering unsurpassed diving & fishing forms part of the Quirimbas Archipelago.
The southernmost 11 of these coral islands and a vast expanse of mainland forest are included in the Quirimbas National Park – a conservation effort to preserve and protect the area.
The 5-star secluded resort Azura at Quilálea, “the undiscovered island” rests in the marine sanctuary with Sencar Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago. Azura at Quilálea, with only 9 luxury Villas, is 12 kms from the mainland town of Quissanga and 55 kms north of Pemba. The island is 34 hectares in area and lies alongside a deep channel with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
The upmarket Matemo Island Resort with 24 beach chalets is ideal for family leisure as well as fishing & diving enthusiasts. A full range of water sports and island activities are offered. Explore the rich cultural history and diversity of nearby islands of the Quirimbas from this ideal vantage point. Matemo is accessed from Pemba by a 20 minute light aircraft transfer.
Medjumbe Private Island Resort is on a tiny, quaint island teeming with fascinating bird life, including the Black Heron. Game fish including marlin, sailfish, dogtooth tuna, mackerel, various species of kingfish and the infamous bonefish can be found here. This is an intimate, highly exclusive resort on a special, tiny island in the pristine Quirimbas Archipelago. For dedicated diving enthusiasts as well as those seeking a secluded island sanctuary, Medjumbe Private Island Resort with just 13 luxury chalets will provide a private island haven unique to Africa and perfect for those romantic getaways. The island is only one kilometre in length and 500 metres in width, accessed from Pemba by a 35 minute light aircraft transfer.
The Quirimbas Archipelago is a most unique and unspoilt area of Mozambique.
Not all who wander are lost…