Stretching along the East African coast, between Tanzania and South Africa, Mozambique only recently emerged from a particularly bloody civil war. However, over the last decade or so, the country has enjoyed economic growth and a stability of sorts, all the while looking to open up its wonderful panoramas to tourism. Word has spread of Mozambique's fantastic beaches, excellent diving and untouched inland and, thankfully, tourist numbers are again on the rise.
The country's official language is Portuguese, which is spoken by approximately 40% of the population. African languages such as Swahili and Makua are spoken in different areas, while the Arabic and Chinese communities have kept up their respective languages. In Maputo and in the more touristy regions generally, English is understood, if not always spoken.
The currency in Mozambique is the Metrical (MTn) which replaced the Portuguese Escudo in 1980.
£1 : 51.4217 MTn (September 2006)
Mozambique’s year is divided into a rainy season and a dry season, the former beginning in November and ending around May. However, though it can rain hard in the country's hilly Western ridge, Mozambique's seasonal changes aren't as dramatic as elsewhere with the temperature averaging between approximately 18 and 30˚C.
Maputo hasn’t got much to keep visitors hanging around. Its location on the sea is pleasant, it has fun, lively markets and its Museum of the Revolution, chronicling Mozambique’s fight for independence against the Portuguese, is an interesting first pit stop.
It’s better to head for Mozambique’s beaches, which is what most visitors come here for and few leave disappointed. Ponta do Ouro in the South is the spot for diving and counts amongst its attractions lots of live coral, dolphins, manta ray, and, if in luck, maybe even the odd shark!
For seclusion, head to the North where beautiful, empty beaches stretch along the coast, not least around Nacala where palm trees give way to white, sandy beaches. The Bazaruto Archipelago is similarly spectacular, all jungle islands and turquoise waters, while the ancient trading town of Agache is a mishmash of Swahili and Arab traditions.
Inland, Laka Niassa, bordering Tanzania and Malawi, is wild, remote and exceptionally unspoilt. Unexploited, as of yet, by tourism, getting to it can be a challenge but is highly rewarding.
Mozambique is a good place to buy traditional African craft such as statues and wood work. African fabrics and batic cloth are also often on offer, usually at very low prices.
Unfortunately the nightlife in Mozambique isn’t as developed as elsewhere in Africa. In touristy areas shows are often put on and there'll be a few bars for an evening drink, while coastal resorts normally have their own disco.
Road conditions in Mozambique can often prove challenging, even when on the beaten track. In the cities the speed limit is officially 40km/h, in the countryside 70km/h. For the sake of caution, always leave with plenty of petrol and water, in case of a breakdown, and try and drive during the day as it's safer.
Food and Drink
Mozambique's seafood, taken straight from the Indian Ocean, is unfailingly excellent and extremely good value. Otherwise, the country's chilli peppers form the base of the popular periperi sauce, usually eaten with fish, shellfish or chicken and lots of lemon. As one would expect, fruit is always a good bet in Mozambique, as are cashew nuts, the country's second biggest export!