Best ways to Travel : Mozambique
You can get Direct Flights from :
- South Africa – South African Airways
South African Airways (SAA) offers a few flights daily out of Johannesburg to Maputo. There are also airports in Tete, Nampula, Pemba, Beira, Vilanculos and Inhambane, they are less frequent however.
The only train line in Mozambique runs from Nampula to Cuamba. You have a choice of first class, second class and third class. This particular form of transport is very popular and often packed. Book in advance if you are looking to use the train.
You will require original registration documents for your vehicle or written permission to use the vehicle. If the vehicle is financed you require a letter from the financier stating they are aware of you taking the vehicle outside the country and grant you permission to do so.
Please note that it is highly advisable to use 4 x 4 vehicles with off-road ability. People who know the roads can navigate them in smaller cars but this is near impossible for people who are not familiar with the area.
From South Africa
- Johannesburg (Lebombo/Ressano Garcia), (N4 towards Nelspruit, follow it until you reach the border just after Komatipoort). Open 6AM to 7PM (Occasionally open 24 hours during busy periods). On the Mozambican side follow the EN4 for a further 100km to reach Maputo. The stretch of the EN4 after the border leading up to the border has two toll stations that can be paid in USD, EUR, ZAR or MZN. Change is provided in Mts.
- Kruger Park (Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park), (Enter Kruger Park from Phalaborwa Gate and follow the signs for 95km to the Giriyondo Border Post.). Open 08:00 to 15:00 from April to September and 08:00 to 16:00 from October to March. Caution 4WD only. On entering Mozambique you will be charged a conservation fee for entering Parque Nacional do Limpopo which is currently 200Mts/R67/USD10 per person and per vehicle. You do not need 3rd party insurance unless you exit Parque Nacional do Limpopo but this can be purchased at the park exit gate to Massingir.
- Kosi Bay, (Follow the R22 from Kosi Bay to the Mozambique border (signed as Ponta d’Ouro) and then take the right road as you leave the border then keep left until Ponta d’Ouro). Open 7:30AM to 5:30PM. Caution 4WD only. Due to the use of seasonal dirt roads after the border it is advisable to use a GPS route provided by someone who has recently completed the journey. Access to Maputo is via a ferry service (R45) in Catembe.
- Mhlumeni. Open 7AM – 6PM. Easily one the quietest and easiest of all the Mozambique borders to pass through, it is deserted most of the time. Getting a visa and 3rd party insurance at this border can be problematic so arrange ahead of time. If coming from Johannesburg and traveling over the weekend or during South African holidays you can expect to save at least an hour transiting via Swaziland to this border compared to using Ressano Garcia.
- Namaacha. Open 7AM – 8PM. The busier of the two Swaziland/Mozambique border posts and is very busy over weekend and holiday periods.
There are a number of border crossings to/from Malawi. By far the easiest and most frequently plied is at Zóbuè. The road is in good condition. Daily chapas run to/from Tete to the border, where you will have to walk about 300 m to get to Malawian transport. Daily through buses from Chimoio and Beira also use this crossing.
There is another border crossing to the north, at Dedza, which may be more convienient for Lilongwe but the public transport on either side can be sporadic.
To leave/enter Malawi to the east, there are two crossings, Milange and Mandimba. Milange is in the south-east of Malawi, and to get there you need to catch one of the daily vehicles that run between Mocuba and Milange. At Milange there is a 2 km walk to the border, and then another 1km to where Malawian transport leaves.
Mandimba is further north, used mainly to get to Malawi from Lichinga. Several vehicles run daily between Lichinga and Mandimba, from where it is another 7km to the border. Hitching is relatively easy, or bicycle-taxis do the trip for about $1.
It is also possible to cross the Lake – see BY BOAT below.
From South Africa
You can take the Intercape Mainliner , +27 861 287 287, from Johannesburg to Maputo. These buses run in both directions on a regular basis, one in the morning, and another overnight, and are safe and affordable. Other carriers include Greyhound  and Translux . If you intend on obtaining a visa at the border you should only purchase a ticket as far as the border, bus companies will not permit you to board with a ticket to Maputo if you are not in possession of a visa. If you ask the bus conductor they will help you obtain a visa a the border and avoid the usually extremely long wait at the Mozambique side. Once through immigration either re-board the bus and pay the fare to Maputo on board, or pick up a minibus taxi to Maputo from the border.
Three times per week there are bus connections to and from Durban (via Big Bend, Swaziland). There is also a service from Nelspruit and Komatipoort to Maputo.
There are the “taxis” to and from any destination in South Africa at affordable prices, now from 4AM to 12AM.
Chapas leave from both Manzini and Mbabane to Maputo via Goba typically around 11AM. Usefuly they arrive in to Baixa (and can drop you at 24 de Julho) so you are within walking distance of both Fatima’s and Base. The fare is R80.
The border between Mozambique and Tanzania is formed by the River Rovuma. Daily pick-ups connect Moçimboa da Praia with Palma and Namiranga, the border post on the Mozambique side. The main route runs from Moçimboa da Praia (on the Mozambiquan side), via Palma (Mozambique), to Mtwara (on the Tanzanian side) and vica versa. It is recommended to take 2 days over this trip due to the low quality of the roads on the Mozambique side, and the low level of traffic. When coming from Tanzania, lifts depart from Mtwara and Kilambo to the Rovuma river. Kilambo is a small place with one road running through it, so lifts should be easy to find. Mtwara is much larger however, so ask the locals where and when lifts leave from. When coming from Mozambique, your lift to the river will normally start from either Palma (more likely), or – if you’re lucky – Moçimboa da Praia and go to the border post at Namiranga. It will generally wait for you to have your passport stamped at the border post (a mud hut in Namiranga). During the wet season, your lift will then probably drive to the banks of the Rovuma. During the dry season it will drive you to the end of the road, from which there is a walk of between 1 and 2km’s (depending on the water level that day) to the Rovuma river. At the moment there is an unreliable ferry that goes across the river. Typically however, the crossing is done by dugout canoes or slightly larger wooden motorboats. The trip across the river shouldn’t cost more than around 8USD, but can only normally be paid for using Tanzanian shillings, although if you find yourself without these, there are plenty of locals who will offer you “generous” exchange rates for your hard-earned Dollars and Meticais. If water levels are low you may have to wade to get to and from your boat on the Tanzanian side, so possessing a heavy-duty waterproof sack may be a good idea, but it is by no means essential. On the Tanzanian side you will often find yourself mobbed by people offering you transport. Pick-pocketing is common on both sides of the river, so care must be taken whilst finding transport to the nearby towns, a good method of reducing your trouble is to befriend a local on the boatride over, you will find most of your fellow travellers are willing to help you in one way or another. Transport then carries you on to the Tanzanian border post at Kilambo, and normally, further on to Mtwara, the capital of Southern Tanzania. For further information and up-to-date news on this crossing, go to “Russell’s Place” (also known as Cashew Camp) in Pemba.
There are other crossings to Tanzania, but these all require long walks. Ask around for local information.
The main crossing is at Cassacatiza, north-west of Tete. This border is in good condition, but lightly traveled. Daily chapas run between Tete and Matema, from there the public transport is sporadic. The best way to travel from Mozambique to Zambia is to go via Malawi.
There are two crossings – Nyamapanda (south-west of Tete), and Machipanda (west of Chimoio). Both are heavily traveled, especially Machipanda due to its location at the end of the Beira Corridor.
Currently there is no scheduled sea travel to and from Mozambique.
Outside of monsoon season it may be possible to hire a dhow from Tanzania down to Mozambique but this will generally be extremely expensive. The Tanzanian ports of Mikindani, Mtwara and Msimbati are all within range of Mozambique and will be the best places to secure dhow transport. In reverse the ports of Moçimboa da Praia and Palma are the two best ports on the Mozambique side to find a dhow to Tanzania.
The MV Ilala operates across Lake Malawi from Monkey Bay, Chilumba, Nkhata Bay to Likoma Island. From Likoma Island it is a 3km boat ride to the Mozambique border at Cobue.
It is possible to travel across Lake Malawi, though international travelers must legally enter through a border post and have the appropriate documentation (visas, etc. depending on nationality). Once on the Mozambique side, local transport would need to be arranged.
Taking the Ilala ferry is certainly a once in a life time experience. Sleeping on the upper deck of this second world war ferry and watching the sunrise over far rolling hills along the Mozambican and Malawian coast is breath taking. You can enter the ferry from any of the harbors where the ferry arrives.
IF you plan to travel on to Malawi, you should get on the ferry at the harbor in Metangula.
The EN1 runs the length of the country generally staying close to the coast from Maputo up. Roads throughout the country are generally in poor condition, especially when compared to South Africa, although the stretch of the EN1 between Maputo and Inchope is in decent condition with the exception of the 120 km directly north of Vilankulo, which is still in decrepit condition and poses a serious challenge to any driver in a low clearance vehicle. The EN6 between the Machipanda border crossing with Zimbabwe and Inchope is in good condition, but deteriorates considerably between Inchope and Beira, becoming almost impassable at points. Note also that north of Vilankulo service stations are scarce – motorists may go 150 km between service stations so fill up at every opportunity. WARNING: As of October 2016, the UK Foreign Office advises that police have been escorting traffic on the EN1 Save-Muxungue and Gorongosa-Caia sections, and on the EN7 between Vanduzi and Luenha. These convoys have been subject to fatal attacks, therefore the Foreign Office advises not to use these sections at all.
Chapas and Buses
Buses and chapas leave early in Mozambique – 4AM is not unusual, particularly as you go further north. Chapas take the form of both mini & midi buses but often pick up trucks and cargo trucks will offer a ride for the same fare as a chapa. Government and privately owned buses ply the same routes as Chapas but typically stop a great deal more often so are inadvisable for anything other than short journeys.
The chapas themselves, particularly on shorter routes, are generally in shockingly poor condition. Expect seats, doors and interiors falling apart. Having said that since 2007/2008 the Mozambican government has been regulating prices on key routes which means chapa travel in Mozambique is extremely good value. In larger cities this translates to signs with destinations and prices in chapa stations (EG – Junta in Maputo), these prices will not come down no matter how hard you negotiate but many an enterprising chapa conductor/navigator/bouncer will try to extort you if you are silly enough to ask what a price is. If in doubt ask at your hotel, a local or as a last resort simply hand them a large note; often they will asume you know the correct fare and give you the correct change.
Since about the beginning of 2011, there are now government registered chapas and unregistered chapas. While both are unsafe and are in many accidents each year, always take the governemnt chapas. These can be recognized by being the large buses. These buses are newer and thus slightly safer. They cost slightly more (at the time this was written they were 10 mets a journey, and unregistered were 5). Unregsitered chapas though are extremely dangerous and overcrowded and should never be used if you can help it.
Once only found in Maputo taxis can now be found in many cities throughout the country. They never have meters so you must negotiate regarding cost before your journey. Taxis are often in as perilous condition as chapas (from balding tires to someone sitting in the passenger seat holding a plastic gas can with the cars fuel line going in to it) and breakdowns should be considered likely. Never pay for your journey until you reach your destination. If you are female, never take a taxi alone, especially not one found on the side of the road. If you must, ask around for the number of a trusted taxi driver who will come pick you up and can usually be there in under half an hour depending on how far away they are. Always add ten minutes or more to how long they say they will take to collect you though.
In Maputo there is a flat rate of 200Mts for any journey in the city center. Longer journeys (EG to Junta) cost 400Mts and up. In the early morning they will often attempt to gouge you, doubling the price to 400Mts, as there are often very few taxi’s about at this time.
Chapas can also be rented as taxis but are typically more expensive and far less comfortable.
Domestic flights are the fastest and most sane way to get around the country if you can afford it. Linhas Aereas de Moçambique  flies between the major cities. A detailed timetable for domestic flights is available as a pdf file at .
LAM operate a small and diverse fleet, some of which are brand new, others much less so (the Embraer 120s flying to Inhambane are 25 years old). Maintainance is generally good, although it should be noted that LAM is on the EU blacklist. Due to the small fleet, delays can occur, and can be long. There are no passengers protection rights in such cases, and you will be at the whim of the staff as to any compensation/amenities during the delay.
The majority of flights include a free snack box, plus a variety of soft drinks. On the larger 737 aircraft alcohol (beer & whiskey) is available for purchase. All crew speak English.
LAM operate an old style booking system where you can reserve a flight over the telephone and then pay for it on check in. If you do use this facility ensure that you confirm your flight 72 hours before departure or your reservation will likely be canceled.
Whilst all LAM offices in towns and airports can book and receive payment for flights throughout the country, the best fares are only bookable online. The LAM website is in Portuguese and English, and is easily nagivigated.
The domestic terminal in Maputo is clean, effcient and modern, and connected to the international terminal. 15 minutes free wifi is available. On the upper level are two cafes, and a pay-to-enter lounge, although at the times of writing, all boarding is from the lower level (where you enter). Check in desks open around 2 hours before the flight. There is no online check in.
There are three train lines: one it’s in the far north of the country traveling from Nampula to Cuamba near the Malawian border, other running from Maputo to Chicualacuala at the border with Zimbabwe and the last one connecting Maputo with Pretoria. This makes Maputo an important stop in the Tanzania-South Africa train conection. See get in above for more details.
Mine clearance from the old coastal railway running the length of the country has been finished in many areas but with the costs involved and the level of corruption in the country it will be decades before any rail service with reasonable coverage arrives in the country.