Mozambique Travel and Vacations

Exotic beaches, islands & azure oceans make Mozambique the ideal destination for a one-of-a-kind tropical vacation. Travel to Mozambique would normally be part of a longer package that explores other parts of the sub-continent of Southern Africa on tours or safaris before days of relaxing on the sandy beaches of Mozambique, washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

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Mozambique

Top Travel Destinations in Mozambique

Mozambique is Southern Africa's tropical paradise travel destination, with pristine shores and remote islands for the ultimate beach vacation.

Mozambique Travel Overview

Those who visit Mozambique will encounter sun, sea, and sand in abundance.

Mozambique is naturally tropical and located on the eastern coast of the Southern half of the African continent. Though the country is extensive, its tourism base is focused just offshore on the myriad islands and the brilliant waters that encircle them.

Capital City
Maputo
Size
799 380 sq km / 308 642 sq mi
Coastline
2 470 km / 1 535 miles
Provinces
10
Official Languages
1
Population
25 930 150
Currency
Mozambican Metical (MZN)

Other Recommended Travel Destinations in Mozambique

As with its top destinations, most other destinations in Mozambique focus on worshiping the sun, sea, and sand. Gorongosa and Niassa are the only national parks currently recommended by African Sky for a unique safari experience.

An indigo twilight falls over the bay of Vilankulo in Mozambique.

Vilankulo

Vilankulo is one of Mozambique's major coastal cities. A tourism injection has seen the town thriving in post-civil war Mozambique. Though it is primarily a gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, Vilankulo is a popular beach resort destination with many fine hotels and beautiful, sandy stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean.

The turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean caress the beaches near Inhambane.

Inhambane

Inhambane is one of the least commercially developed tourism areas in Mozambique. Though the city itself is a short distance inland, the most important sites are, but a short drive through breathtaking palm tree forests and rural beauty. The waters around Tofo and Barra are among the finest in the world to encounter whale sharks and manta rays.

The rambling wilderness of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Gorongosa National Park

Gorongosa National Park is in the heart of Mozambique. Since restoration began in 2004, several lion prides have repopulated the park's predator force. Great elephant herds are also frequently encountered, with other large herbivores such as buffalo and wildebeest gradually reintroduced into the park's ecosystem.

Jaw-dropping island scenery off the coast of Pemba.

Pemba

Pemba is a port city in northern Mozambique. The city is located on a peninsula in Pemba Bay, one of the world's biggest natural harbors. Pemba is the gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago. It is a great beach destination, with Wimbi Beach being specifically notable as one of the finest beaches in Mozambique.

The shores of the Ruvuma River in the Niassa Reserve.

Niassa Reserve

The Niassa Reserve was founded in 1954 when Mozambique was still a Portuguese colony. It is a large conservation area, 42 000 square kilometers in size, located in the far north of the country. It is home to about 16 000 elephants and protects a wild dog population of 350, which is quite significant as the total number of these animals in the wild number only 8 000.

The statue of former president Samora Machel outside City Hall in Maputo.

Maputo

Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique. It has a population of just under 1.8 million people and is primarily a port city. The city is the gateway to the attractions and destinations of Southern Mozambique. The city has a long and colorful history. Maputo's initial settlement was developed around a fort built by the Portuguese. In 1787 it was destroyed by locals and subsequently rebuilt around 1850.

Rundown buildings on Ilha de Mozambique.

Ilha de Mozambique

Ilha de Mozambique is emerging as one of Mozambique's most exciting destinations. It has a rich history, having served as an Arabic boat building center before being visited by Vasco da Gama in 1498 when the Portuguese established a port and naval base on the island. It served as the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa until 1898. The island currently has a population of about 14 000.

The sun sets over the beaches of Ponta D'Ouro.

Ponta D’Ouro

The Portuguese name Ponta D'Ouro - which translates to 'tip of gold' - is the largest town in the far south of Mozambique. It is a destination known for its fine beaches, fishing, reef diving, and the many dolphins playing offshore. Ponta d'Ouro can be accessed from the Kosi border post between Mozambique and the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Mozambique Vacation Options and Travel Tips

A vacation in Mozambique will involve lazy days spent unwinding on the beach and unforgettable adventures in and on the Indian Ocean.

Best Beach Vacation Packages

10 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Exclusive Top-End Code: S44

The two most popular island chains on the coast of Mozambique combine on this ten-day luxurious beach adventure that starts in Johannesburg.

7 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury 5-Star Code: S45

Enjoy a week of sun, sea, and sand on the Southern Coast of Mozambique, not far from the town of Ponta Malegaan.

5 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury 5-Star Code: S18

This beach holiday travels to the remote and exotic Azura Benguerra Lodge of the Mozambique coast.

Reasons to Visit Mozambique

1

Paradise

Due to the Mozambique Current that flows south between the continent and Madagascar, the water is sublimely warm year-round, ceding hours of unwinding in the lull of the ocean. Enjoy your breakfast, watch the sun spill its gold onto the Indian, and delight in exotic seafood dinners under a canopy of infinite stars. Replace the whine of the traffic with the whisper of the sea on the shoreline.

2

Activities

Leisure activities can range from cooking lessons in local flavors, island picnics, horse-riding on the beach, deep sea angling, snorkeling, and various water sports and excursions to prime diving locations (all depending on your elected resort). Whether you fancy spending your afternoons bronzing on the beach, relieving your urban burden in the spa, or exploring all the treasures the natural surroundings offer, the experience is unforgettable.

3

Seafood

Mozambique is a seafood mecca. The prawns sourced from these waters are widely revered. Bathed in garlic lemon butter (or a sauce of your choice), it is not uncommon for visitors to gorge themselves on prawns until they need to be rolled to bed. Crayfish (rock lobster) is the other esteemed favorite. Typically, however, if it is fresh and from the sea, it is delicious. The seafood is indelibly tasty: Calamari, barracuda, and fish of the day.

4

Seclusion

The top destinations in Mozambique are remote, and it may take quite some time and expense to reach them, but their secluded qualities make them so appealing to the world-weary. Many reefs and beaches have hosted only a handful of visitors over the past few decades. Mozambique is a place to unwind and get away from it all.

Experiences to be Savored when traveling in Mozambique

When traveling to Mozambique, you'll relish the opportunity to savor some of the most pristine beaches, islands, and coral reefs you're ever likely to encounter. Mozambique is a coastal paradise, pure and simple.

Diving & Snorkeling

Mozambique is one of the world's prime diving destinations, with PADI-registered dive centers thriving up the coast from Inhambane to Bazaruto, Pemba to the Quirimbas Archipelago. Most centers and resorts cater to every level of diver and offer beginner and advanced courses. Snorkeling is just as popular.

Deep Sea Fishing

Mozambique is an angler's paradise - its waters are abundant with game and sailfish. Chartered deep sea trips are easily arranged and standard for most resorts. Enjoy a memorable day out on the Indian Ocean with mackerel, kingfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, and barracuda dominating the finned pursuits on the menu.

Dhow Sailing

A dhow is a traditional lateen-rigged Arabian vessel with one or two masts, which is used chiefly amongst locals for fishing and transport between islands. Modern dhows are motorized yet still offer very tranquil excursions. A leisurely dhow cruise at sunset is synonymous with the paradise nature of island life.

Tropical Island Paradise

A dream destination of azure waters and white sandy beaches that line the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Mozambique is a dream travel destination with azure waters and white sandy beaches that line the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Excellent level of service received from the initial discussions of the itinerary to the holiday itself. Everything ran so smoothly, we enjoyed it tremendously, and it exceeded our expectations. We would not hesitate to use African Sky again or recommend them to fellow travelers.

Ian & Ethel Marley, Canada
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Accommodation

The accommodation recommended by African Sky in Mozambique consists of small intimate Island and Beach Lodges. These properties are remote and set in pristine environments.

View Beach & Island Lodges

Beach Lodges

The most popular beach destinations in Mozambique lie in the Southern part of the country around Ponta d' Oura and Ponta Malegaan and the central region around Inhambane.

Island Lodges

Only remote and idyllic are the words that most aptly describe these small intimate, secluded beach getaways on various tropical islands of the Mozambique coast.

Transport

Transportation in Mozambique is mainly over water. As there are many extraordinary island lodges available for your indulgence, you will typically be ferried over in a dhow, powerboat, helicopter, or light aircraft – depending on the distance.

It is essential to remember that the more arduous it is to reach your destination, the more expensive the transport is likely to be. However, the most far-flung destinations are often the most extraordinary. If you can afford it, it is worth it to venture to these pristine archipelagos.

When charters of any kind are involved, luggage restrictions apply. Though 20kg of soft luggage is standard, each lodge may impose its limits when it comes to boats and helicopters.

Foods to try in Mozambique

With an endless coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, most of the delicacies in Mozambique are seafood-based dishes.

Prawns

Mozambican prawns are the foodstuff of dreams. These delectable shellfish are sourced fresh from the waters of the Indian Ocean, grilled in garlic and lemon butter or Piri-Piri sauce, and piled high for decadent consumption.

Coconut Rice

Mozambicans like to make liberal use of coconut milk, as coconut trees grow in handsome groves all along the coastline. Coconut milk-based fare is widespread, particularly a side of coconut rice as a delectable complement to seafood.

Piri Piri

The famous local Piri-Piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese. It is made from crushed African bird's eye chilies, herbs, and spices and adds a stunning, piquant depth to poultry and seafood dishes.

Tipo Tinto

Tipo Tinto rum is a firm (and outrageously affordable) favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. Tipo Tinto is distilled from local sugar cane; and is popularly served with Spraberry, a raspberry-flavored soda, but everyone has their preference.

FAQ

What activities do vacation package prices include?
All non-motorized water sports are included in package prices. Some lodges will include one motorized sport - like parasailing or scuba diving - per visit. Be sure to check beforehand.
Will I have mobile reception and Internet access?
The lodges of Mozambique - mainly the island lodges - are pretty far-flung. Mobile reception and Internet access are typically either poor or non-existent. Sit back and relax without the interruptions of constant connectivity.
Will I have access to clean drinking water?
All lodges have a generous supply of bottled mineral water available. Is Mozambique expensive?
Is Mozambique expensive?
As many of the lodges are pretty remote, acquiring fresh supplies can be a costly affair. Reaching these far-flung destinations can also be relatively expensive, considering that helicopter, light aircraft, or boat charters are often necessary. Mozambique is, therefore, unfortunately not the most affordable destination.
If I am staying on an island, how will I reach it?
Either by boat transfer, light aircraft or helicopter. Each lodge determines the mode of transport.
What is the ideal duration for a vacation in Mozambique?
Either by boat transfer, light aircraft, or helicopter. Each lodge determines the mode of transport.
Where is the best place in Mozambique to go scuba diving?
While fantastic scuba diving opportunities abound up and down the coastline, the Bazaruto and Quirimbas archipelagos provide the finest.
Can I go scuba diving if I've never done it before?
Many lodges offer beginner PADI-registered scuba diving courses - check beforehand.
Can I go on a safari in Mozambique?
Though slowly recovering, the wildlife populations of Mozambique's national parks were severely depleted due to rampant poaching and side effects of the country's civil war.
What about land mines?
In 2015, Mozambique was officially declared free of all land mines (a former relic of the country's civil war).

Useful Travel Info

Getting There

Vilankulo is a coastal town in the Vilankulos District of the Inhambane Province. Dhows travel between the town and the Bazaruto Archipelago. It is home to a relatively new international airport, which offers daily flights to several regional destinations, including Johannesburg, Maputo, Swaziland, and elsewhere. Pemba is the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado and lies on a peninsula in Pemba Bay. It is the closest major city and airport for those who wish to visit the Quirimbas Islands and Quirimbas National Park.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

Mozambique's azure coastline stretches for almost 2000km. The tropical Mozambique current of the Indian Ocean runs along its length, warming the translucent waters. Despite the wide range of latitudes, the country generally follows a typical Southern African weather pattern, with the wet season occurring mainly between December and March. Humidity can be uncomfortably high during this period.

Around April or May, the rain decreases, and the humidity drops. June to October is the dry season, with near-perfect tropical weather: clear skies, generous sunshine, and barely any rain. This is generally the best time to visit Mozambique.

Although still tropical, June, July, and August are Mozambique's coolest months; you may even need a light jacket in the evenings, despite temperatures exceeding 30°C (86°F) during the day. The period between September and October remains dry as daytime temperatures climb. As is often the case, November is difficult to predict, but generally, it tends to become increasingly hot and humid just before the rains arrive.

Passport & Visa Info

Visas are required for most visitors traveling from outside of Africa and can be obtained beforehand at your nearest Mozambican embassy or, for a higher fee, upon arrival at certain borders and airports. However, acquiring your visa before your arrival is recommended to avoid the queues or unforeseen red tape that may delay your travels. Many British embassies also receive Mozambican visa requests. Tourist visas are valid for 90 days following their issue and allow a maximum stay of 30 days.

Medical Considerations

As a precaution, it is advisable to obtain an antimalarial from your physician before entering Mozambique, as malaria occurs throughout the country. In more rural areas or northern regions, avoid drinking tap water or using ice made from tap water and opt to purchase bottled water. As of 2015, Mozambique has been officially declared free of land mines – initially a relic of the civil war.

Additionally, ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date. These include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and polio vaccine. The CDC also recommends vaccinations for typhoid and Hepatitis A in case of contaminated water or food exposure. However, the lodges used by African Sky are of a world-class standard, and the risk is fairly low.

Health & Safety

Surrounded as they are by spectacular wilderness, petty crime at Botswana's remote lodges is hardly an issue to worry about. Nevertheless, be discreet with valuables and, should you be traveling with items of considerable value, confine them to your in-room safe or ask reception to look after them for you for the duration of your stay.

As the majority of lodges are unfenced and susceptible to 'wild' visitors, be sure to follow any instructions recommended by lodge staff (i.e. not wandering alone at night between buildings) and heed your ranger's advice during safari activities.

Popular Activities

Visit Turtle Nesting Sites

The largely untouched beaches of Mozambique are some of the best places in the world to see a few different species of turtle. These include the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles. Nesting typically starts in the last couple of months of the year and extends into the new year, with peak nesting season in March. Several of the hotels and lodges offer excursions to view these nesting sites. Visits usually are at night when the turtles come onto the beach for nesting purposes.

Snorkeling & Diving

Mozambique is a snorkeler's and diver's paradise. Soft coral reefs teem with a colorful melange of marine life, from angelfish and puffer fish to potato bass and sea turtles - a kaleidoscope of anemones and starfish completes the seabed rainbow. Depending on the depth and location of the dive, manta rays, stingrays, moray eels, and reef sharks are all on the close encounter list. Divers and snorkelers alike may also meet the majestic whale shark or the ever-inquisitive pod of dolphins.

Boat Trips

The calm waters of the Indian Ocean make it the ideal setting for skimming the surf. Sail in a colorful dhow like a local or explore the shallow reefs with a kayak and paddle. Try your hand at navigating the wake of a boat on skis, a board, or a tube. A beach holiday need not necessarily be spent lazing your afternoons away on the sand when the occasion for adventures is beckoning at the shoreline.

Big Game Fishing

Mozambique is an angler's paradise, with waters abundant with game and sailfish. Chartered deep sea trips are easily arranged and standard for most resorts. Mackerel, kingfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, and barracuda dominate the finned pursuits on the menu.

Swimming with Dolphins

Several of the resorts in Mozambique offer a swimming experience with wild dolphins. In all cases, a strict code of conduct ensures no harm to dolphins during these interactions.

Leisure Activities

Leisure activities can range from cooking lessons in local flavors, island picnics, horse-riding on the beach, deep sea angling, snorkeling, and various water sports and excursions to prime diving locations (all depending on your elected resort). Whether you fancy spending your afternoons bronzing on the beach, relieving your urban burden in the spa, or exploring all the treasures the natural surroundings have to offer, your experience will be characterized by utter relaxation.

Sailing on a Dhow

The traditional boats used by Arab traders in centuries past lend a different dimension when traveling between the various islands and the Mozambican coast. Whether you opt for an overnight trip, fishing from a dhow, or simply enjoying a sunset cruise from one of the lodges found on the islands, this traditional method of travel on the Indian Ocean is sure to lend a sense of romance and authenticity to the experience.

Bird Watching

Gorongosa and the Quirimbas Archipelago - Ibo Island, more specifically - offer birders untouched natural areas with superb bird watching. From the wading species found on the islands to the endangered Tyolo alethe and the stunning white-tailed blue flycatcher, amateur bird watchers and experienced ornithologists will delight in the bird-watching opportunities available in Mozambique.

Whale & Dolphin Spotting

While enjoying the pristine beaches and watersports in Mozambique, you will also likely spot some whales between June and November. The most common species encountered are the humpback and Southern Right whales, while those who are very fortunate may also spot the Baleen whale. The best areas for whale watching include the Bazaruto and the Quirimbas islands and Pemba and Inhambane on the mainland.

Marine Life

One of the primary reasons for visiting Mozambique is to come in contact with the amazing marine life in these tropical waters. Whether diving or snorkeling, you are likely to see the rare dugong, whale sharks, and manta rays. A great number of reef fish and even predatory fish species can also be viewed in these waters.

Horse Riding

Horse riding on the beaches of Vilankulo and Benguerra Island offers a unique way of experiencing the pristine beaches of Mozambique. Mozambique Horse Safaris offers a range of different rides in these destinations. Some cater to novice riders, and others to those with more experience in the saddle. A horse riding school is also available to those keen to get involved in this rewarding pastime.

Recommended Attractions

Fort Sao Sebastian

Fort Sao Sebastian is of great historical significance, as it is the only entirely preserved fort in sub-Saharan Africa. It was constructed by the Portuguese on the Island of Mozambique. The construction lasted about fifty years and was completed around the year 1608.

Machilla Magic

Machilla Magic is in the coastal city of Vilankulo. This community arts and crafts project focuses on bringing the best in local handwork to the international visitor from a central location. If you are in the area, some fine examples of uniquely local artistry and handiwork warrant further inspection. At present, the work of more than fifty artists are displayed here.

Two Mile Reef

Two Mile Reef is located between Benguerra and Bazaruto on the Mozambican coast. It is one of the most incredible diving destinations in the country. Protected in the Bazaruto National Park, the reef offers near-pristine diving conditions. The best months to dive in the region are between April and September. It is best to avoid the area between October and March when tropical storms may occur.

Maputo Central Market

This vibrant marketplace is a hive of activity, local flavors, sights, and sounds. A wide variety of products and produce is available here, from local fruits and vegetables to the catch of the day and a host of crafts and curios. Remember to barter for the various products on offer and, if possible, try to get prices from at least two competing merchants to ensure a fair deal.

Casa do Ferro

Casa do Ferro was designed by the famous creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Gustav Eiffel; this strange dwelling, though a masterpiece in its construction and design, is not very practical in tropical climates. The house has been built entirely from steel. It includes the walls, roof, and ceilings. A sight to behold but not practical to live in when outside temperatures approach - and sometimes - exceed 40 degrees centigrade.

Maputo Elephant Reserve

Located about an hour south of the Mozambican capital city of Maputo, this unique 50 000 hectare reserve is dedicated to protecting the biodiversity and large mammal species in the area. It should be noted that travelers will need a 4x4 vehicle when visiting the site from Maputo, for roads are often in bad shape or no more than two-lane dirt tracks.

Palace and Chapel of São Paulo

The main attractions found on Ilha de Mozambique, this four-hundred-year-old governor's residence, initially held a Jesuit College. From 1700, it was exclusively used as a residence for the governors of Portugal until 1898, when the capital of Portuguese East Africa was moved to Lorenzo Marques, which was subsequently renamed Maputo.

Diving Sites

The finest locations for diving in Mozambique are in the Quirimbas Archipelago, accessed via Pemba, and the Bazaruto Archipelago accessed via Vilankulo. These stunning slices of underwater Eden are protected as national parks and offer some of the best diving in the world.

Diving in the Quirimbas means temperate waters and fantastic visibility, and sightings of pristine coral reefs, game fish like yellowfin tuna and marlin, healthy schools of barracuda, king fish, red snappers, green and Hawksbill turtles, and encounters with a whale shark, pods of humpback dolphins and the Humpback whales in season. The diving sites are centered around the island lodges, like Medjumbe, Vamizi, Quilalea, and the legendary St Lazarus Banks.

The Bazaruto Marine National Park is also a scuba diver's paradise, with crystal clear waters and a range of spectacular soft coral ridges and reefs to explore. The national park allows visitors to encounter a wealth of marine life, including sightings of dolphins, whales, and the rare dugong. It is home to the famous Two Mile Reef and Manta Ray Reef.

The People

The vast majority of Mozambique's inhabitants are of African origin. The remainder of the population is Europeans (mainly Portuguese), Indians, east Asians, and 'mesticos' - people of mixed African-European ancestry. As is the case across much of the continent, the tribes living in Mozambique share cultural and linguistic similarities with their counterparts in neighboring states.

The primary tribal pattern in Mozambique results from pre-19th-century migrations from the north and west and people fleeing in the early 19th century from the violent Zulu Kingdom in South Africa. This has left a north-south split, with the Zambezi River as the dividing line. The tribes north of the Zambezi are predominantly agriculturalists and have matrilineal societies. The two largest tribes, the Macua and the Lomwe, who are concentrated in the Zambezia, Nampula, Niassa, and Cabo Delgado provinces, make up about 35% of the total population.

Another notable northern tribe is the Makonde, famous for their art, wooden statues, and masks, who live on both the Mozambican and Tanzanian sides of the Ruvuma River. The tribes south of the Zambezi River are mainly cattle-rearing and have patrilineal societies. The most important is the Thonga, the country's second-largest ethnic group, who are concentrated in the area south of the Save River and makeup around 23% of the population. The majority of Africans in Maputo are Thonga. Meanwhile, most of the Sofala and Manica provinces are inhabited by Shona, a tribe whose numbers have grown due to migrations into Mozambique of Shona from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Geography

The topography of eastern Mozambique is dominated by a low-lying coastal belt that widens from north to south to account for almost half of the country's surface area. The coastal plains rise gradually towards the west to meet a high plateau of 500m to 1 000m. Mozambique is generally characterized by relatively flat terrain. The country is mountainous throughout much of the northwest, and several areas of the western plateau are dotted with isolated granite koppies.

In the areas bordering Malawi and Zimbabwe, a few mountains rise to an altitude of more than 1 800m. Mount Binga in the Chiamanimani Range on the Zimbabwean border is Mozambique's highest peak at 2 436m. Other notable mountains include the massive inselberg of Gorongosa (1 862m) in Sofala Province, Mount Domue (2 095m) near Braganca in Tete Province, Mount Chiperone (2 054m) near Milange, and Mount Namuli (2 419m) near Gurue in Zambezia, and Mount Txitonga (1 848m) and Mount Jeci (1 836m).

Countries

View of the Drakensberg in South Africa. South Africa
Elephants in the sunset in Botswana. Botswana
A desert landscape in Namibia. Namibia
People swimming in the clear waters of Mozambique. Mozambique
View of the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Zambia
Antelope standing on a river bank in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe