A Holiday in the Sun | A Short Guide to Mozambique

Mozambican coastline -Sleeping-OUTIt is perfectly understandable that contemplating South Africa’s winter should fill you with dread. The Western Cape becomes a damp, grey squib, while the Highveld’s icy temperatures go straight to the bone. Mozambique, on the other hand, with its post-card pretty beaches of white sand, coconut trees and turquoise ocean offers an idyllic escape, and one which is entirely attainable.
 
Mozambique is a large country with a surface area comparable to that of Turkey! It lies to the north of South Africa and shares boundaries with Northern KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. There are 3 land borders between South Africa and Mozambique and going it overland from South Africa to Southern Mozambique is a popular pilgrimage among South African travel fiends.
 
Given the vastness of the country it’s easy to imagine that there are endless opportunities for exploring and innumerable points of interest. However, if your goal is to enjoy the sunshine-y weather and take advantage of the picturesque beaches and warm Indian Ocean, a flit through the south will more than suffice.

Tofo market

Tofo market

Maputo

The most southern province in Mozambique is Maputo, and the capital city is found in that province and shares its name. Most people only give the city of Maputo a cursory look over, spending a day or two admiring the beautiful colonial architecture, the impressive Mercado Central (central market) and the old central train station, before heading for the coast. If you consider yourself a twitcher though, get yourself to Inhaca Island because the bird life on this narrow strip of land in the Maputo Bay is home to roughly 300 bird species.
 
Perhaps the most accessible beach resort for over-landing South Africans is Ponta d’Ouro. It lies just north of the South African border and 130 kilometres south of the city of Maputo. It boasts a stunning beach, wonderful off-shore diving, deep sea fishing and many opportunities for spotting dolphins.

Gaza

Just north of Maputo province is the province of Gaza, yet another trove of gorgeous Mozambican beach destinations. The most frequented spot is known as Xai-Xai (pronounced ‘shy-shy’), 200 kilometres from Maputo (city). Xai-Xai proper is a small port city on the banks of the Limpopo River.
 
Tofo Beach by Martijn.Munneke, Sleeping-OUT 2
It has a fascinating, bustling market and a mesmerising furniture factory situated under a cluster of cashew trees, while 12 kilometres from the main town is an example of Mozambique’s paradise-worthy beaches.
 
Praia do Xai-Xai (praia is ‘beach’ in Portuguese) is very popular thanks to the coral reef which runs parallel to the beach. Not only does it provide great conditions for snorkelling, but it acts as a protective barrier between the beach and the feisty ocean beyond the reef. As a result the ocean is not only warm, but calm and ideal for swimming. Furthermore, 2 kilometres down the beach is the Wenela Tidal Pool, a tunnel with a spectacular blow-hole connecting it to the sea.

Inhambane

Next up from Gaza is the province of Inhambane. The province’s capital city is also known as Inhambane, and like many of Mozambique’s cities boasts beautiful crumbling colonial architecture. Four hundred and seventy kilometres from Maputo, the town of Inhambane lies on the Bay of Inhambane and in the heart of Mozambique’s best diving areas. A short way across the sea is one of Mozam’s most famous tourist attractions – the Bazaruto Archipelago. It consists of 6 islands and Mozambique’s only marine reserve. Here you can spot a wealth of reef fish as well as giant turtles and the highly endangered dugong. The most idyllic way to reach the archipelago is via traditional dhow boat.

market at Inhambane

market at Inhambane


Other excellent spots near Inhambane are Tofo and Barra, with Tofo taking the cake as the unofficial whale shark capital of the world. You also stand a good chance of spotting giant manta rays.

General Information

Mozambique’s beaches tend to be similar in that they are all lapped by warm Indian Ocean waves, and more often than not, are lined by palm-like coconut trees. Never-the-less, each town and city has its own distinct character – best experienced by a shopping trip to the local market.
 
Apart from lazing around on the beach – perfectly legitimate way to spend your time on the Mozambican coast – there are great surfing, fishing, snorkelling and diving spots sprinkled up and down the coast.
All of the beach towns will have a range of accommodation options from basic camping facilities to 5 star lodges. While the ‘Africa-ness’ of Mozambique is inescapable, the tourist hot spots will have all the amenities you need from fabulous seafood restaurants to bars and scuba-diving schools.
 
Mozambican diving - stingray by Jay.corriveau, Sleeping-OUT 2

Essential information

Getting there: There are 3 official border crossing from South Africa into Mozambique. Kosi Bay is the border crossing in KwaZulu Natal, and it’s just outside the town of Kosi Bay. Both the Giriyondo border post (Limpopo) and the Parfuri border post(Mpumalanga) cross from the Kruger National Park in South Africa, to the Parque Nacional do Limpopo in Mozambique.
 
Currency: The official currency is the Mozambican Metical, but both US Dollars and South African Rands are widely accepted.
 
Language: The only official language in Mozambique is Portuguese, but in most of the coastal tourist spots there will be plenty of English too. Heading into the north of the country, and more rural parts of the south, even Portuguese becomes rare as communication is dominated by indigenous languages.
 
Climate: Mozambique has a tropical climate with 2 distinct seasons: the wet season from October to March and the dry season from April to September.

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4 Responses to A Holiday in the Sun | A Short Guide to Mozambique

  1. Hi , the main road en1 going north is fantastic you won’t regret the drive, can just remember seeing all those coco nut trees in the rear view mirror a bliss i tell you. And i was driving a front wheel drive audi a4, there’s not much to worry about on the main roads except for traffic spots yeah they don’t work like us hear they have a board that will tell that there is police ahead , except when u get to the turn of or sort of a fork to inhambane there’s no board there n i got stopped for speeding 65 in a 60 zone, they very easy to get away with bribes but communication i tell is hard , always obrigado documenta ‘ , then the roads get bad once you enter into there towns it was like ten km of pot holes in the rain i didn’t even see one u just feel them, it was sunny the whole way there until we entered, then u get to the beach i tell u tofo beach is a dream , a fantastic beach but there’s where i got stuck on the sandy roads next to the beach u only get stuck if u stop it was so full there as i arrived new years eve i didn’t have to get out of the car the people where so friendly they gave my audi a little push n we where of again, if u do go there u must passby some restaurant we kept going to every meal as the steak is so cheap there don’t know the name, i don’t get full at spur here in sa with the same amount of money spent there , neways it’s better to have a little4x4 there, hope that answers ur question coz I’d go on all day, do go u will have fun made my booking for next year Feb already!

  2. I would like to know more about a Mosambique family holiday for December, we do not have a 4×4, is it possible without a 4×4

    • Catherine Sempill says:

      Hi there Antoinette. It is definitely possible to travel in Mozambique without a 4×4, you just need to make sure you pick destinations that are accessible, do plenty of research before you go (a good tactic is when you reserve your accommodation, double check that they are accessible without a 4×4). It goes without saying though that you need to drive carefully!

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