Plan a trip to Mozambique

I’m Farirai, I’m 27 and I really love to travel. I work full time as a chemical engineer in South Africa and I’m a travel blogger. I started this blog, Gophari, to be a voice that keeps it real about the barriers that stop people from traveling. The goal is to break these barriers and empower more people to travel their country and the world.

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Have you been to Mozambique before? I would love to hear about your experience and highlights in the comments.

Quick facts about Mozambique

  • Mozambique is on the south east coast of Africa. It’s neighboring countries are South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • The capital city of Mozambique is Maputo
  • The currency used is called Meticals
  • The main language spoken is Portuguese
  • Mozambique is one of the leading producers of cashew nuts

How to get to Mozambique

I flew in from Johannesburg, South Africa to the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. It’s only a 1 hour flight. Alternatively, it takes about 7 hours to drive to Maputo from Johannesburg. We opted to hire a car for ease of traveling however, though there is no Uber, there are alternative taxi services that work similarly such as Viva Taxi and Zip Taxi.

We stayed in Maputo for the duration of our visit so in this post I highlight three things I enjoyed most in Maputo and also talk about day trips that are possible to do while staying in Maputo.

What to do in Maputo

1) Visit one of the most beautiful train stations in the world

Did you know that one of the world’s most beautiful train stations is in Mozambique? I didn’t. Maputo Railway Station is the 4th (on some sites 3rd) most beautiful train station in the world. When I found out, I dragged my family there to check it out.

Maputo Railway Station

The architecture of the main entrance is grand, detailed and impressive. There is a museum at the station that is quite easy to miss if you don’t intentionally look out for it. It is only 30MT (R8) to enter which I think is way too cheap (Let’s up our entrance fees in Africa!).  A fair amount of time can be spent at the museum reading the timeline across the walls and looking at the collection of old artefacts on display.

For me, the highlight of the museum was going inside an old train. It felt like we were in a movie. In fact, we acted out a short movie scene while we were there (Check it out on my Instagram story highlights @Gophari).

Note: You must have cash in local currency to pay for entrance to the museum 

Inside Maputo Railway Station

2) Eat at the fish market

The Fish market was highly recommended by many people when I mentioned that I would be in Maputo. Thank you for all the recommendations! There is an indoor hall with stalls set up in rows selling all kinds of seafood – some that I had never seen before. This is as fresh as it gets! As you walk through, each vender is holding up their produce calling out for your attention.

There is a separate outdoor section where seafood dishes are prepared and served. You can buy your fish fresh from the market and then go over to get it prepared for you. Alternatively, you can go straight to order a seafood dish off of their menu. There are a number of stalls on this side too all competing for your attention.

Maputo fish market

Fish at Maputo fish market

3) Enjoy a luxury spa day

You might not see this on any other Maputo itinerary but it definitely was a highlight of mine. Spoil yourself with a spa treatment at 5 star hotel, Polana Serena. Free use of the facilities is included with all treatment and there is no time limit. So we spent the day there, relaxing at the Moroccan style spa called Maisha. We swam in the heated pool, in the sauna and steam room and enjoyed the complimentary refreshments. It’s a luxurious experience.

Polana Serena is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. It is positioned on a hill overlooking the ocean so the hotel building stands tall like a palace. Even if you don’t stay at Polana Serena Hotel, you are still welcome to book a treatment at their spa or enjoy a meal at their restaurant.

 

What to do outside Maputo

After arriving in Maputo, I quickly realised that this is not where I would find blue water beaches and white sand. The beach in Maputo is not the best, I am not sure why but the water is brown. There are beaches you can drive to  both north and south of Maputo that are much more beautiful.

1) Visit Macaneta Peninsula

Bilene is located 160 km north of Maputo. En route to Bilene you pass a turn off to Macaneta Peninsula so we made a stop there first. There is quite a bumpy dirt road for the final 5km towards Maceneta so having a 4×4 is more suitable. There isn’t any dedicated parking at this beach so we parked at Tan ‘n Biki accommodation and walked about one hundred metres to the beach. As you walk onto the beach there are locals selling colourful art. The water is warm and the waves are rough – be careful. If you are looking for a quiet beach with very little commercial development you will enjoy Macaneta beach.

Note: It costs 100 meticals to drive into Maceneta beach. 

Macaneta beach Mozambique

2) Day trip to Bilene

Bilene was my favourite beach because it was the most beautiful. Why does it seem the that the beaches get more beautiful the further north you go? There are palm trees and coconut trees along the sand. There are plenty of markets and food outlets on the road along the beach however it still maintains a very laid back atmosphere. The water is more calm here compared to Macaneta Beach which was great for lying along the water’s edge and having the gentle waves splash onto you. This beach is where I first spotted so many people selling cashew nuts. When in Mozambique, eat cashew nuts!

Bilene beach Mozambique

 

3) Day trip to Ponta Do Ouro

Ponta Do Ouro is in the south of Mozambique. It is a km drive from Maputo. There is a newly constructed bridge called Maputo-Catembe which has considerably shortened the drive to and from Maputo. As you enter Ponta do Ouro the roads are no longer tarred and require a 4×4 vehicle.

In Ponta Do Ouro you will see lots of backpacker accommodation, bars and food outlets. It’s a very vibey and popular area. I saw two companies that offer excursions to swim with dolphins and snorkel, however, there are limited spaces available daily so I would advise booking at least a week in advance. One of these companies is called The Dolphin Centre.

We spent our time there lounging on the sand and dipping in the warm ocean. The waves were quite strong and it was windy so we did not swim far in. If I could do this trio again, I would spend a night or two in Ponta do Ouro to have more time to check out all the shops and bars. I’ve heard the night life is epic!

 

Streets of Ponta do Ouro

Lessons Learnt

If I were to plan another trip to Mozambique, I would stay in more than one place instead of booking all of my accommodation in Maputo. By doing that you get to explore each area without a time limit and without having to drive back at night. I would also love to go further north to Vilanculos as I have seen that the waters are bluest and the sand is whitest there. That’s next on my Mozambique bucket list! I hope this blog post has been helpful and that you have a fantastic time exploring Mozambique when you do.

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