African Travel Tips When Visiting Mozambique

Mozambique in famous mainly for its beaches and prawns, Mozambique also offers the visitor World Heritage sites, colonial architecture and a colourful local culture. Bustling markets sell exquisite carvings and basketware with the wood and ivory sculptures of the Makonde recognized as one of Africa’s most sophisticated art forms.

Mozambique has also produced talented painters such as Malangatana and the country’s murals adorn many a wall, especially in Maputo. Traditional music is in the form of Marrabenta music as well as Marimba and calabash orchestras. Keeping with the rhythm of Africa, the ritualistic Nhau and mapico initiation dances can be a frightening sight. Popular activities for travellers include diving, snorkelling, bird watching and fishing for marlin, sailfish or kingfish.

CAPITAL:

Maputo

CLIMATE:

Subtropical although droughts and low rainfall is common. Rainy season is Oct-Apr and dry season Apr-Sep.

CURRENCY:

1 Mozambican Metical = 100 centavos. USD or Pounds Sterling traveller’s cheques are recommended. Change money at authorized institutions. Credit cards are not widely accepted. A large number of merchants prefer USD. Import and export of local currency is prohibited.

ELECTRICITY:

220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 2- and 3-pin round.

HEALTH:

A yellow fever vaccination is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists throughout the year in the whole country), hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns are rudimentary medical facilities, unavailable medicines, cholera (maintain strict food and water hygiene) and influenza (risk extends throughout year).

LANGUAGE:

The official language is Portuguese, but Makua and Tsonga are also spoken. English is not widely spoken but can be understood.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Heroes’ Day (3 Feb); Women’s Day (7 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Independance Day (25 Jun); Victory Day (7 Sep); Armed Forces Day (25 Sep); Defunct’s Day (2 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)

SHOPPING:

basketwork; reed mats; woodcarvings; masks; printed cloth; leather articles; prawns; wine.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

Religion is mainly Roman Catholic, but other faiths include Muslim, Hindu and traditional beliefs. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting. Portuguese customs e.g. modes of address (Senhor/Senhora) apply. Dress is casual and formal wear is seldom required. For business safari suits are acceptable in hot weather, while lightweight suits are advised for the rest of the year.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT +2

TIPPING:

Ten percent is customary, but it’s discouraged in hotels. Taxi drivers expect 10 percent.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Maputo:

The capital city has wide avenues lined with red acacia and lilac jacaranda flowering trees; it offers many historical, cultural and scenic spots e.g. the Cathedral; City Council Chambers; Tunduro Gardens; Railway Station; the Fortress and Natural History Museum; beaches include Praia da Macaneta; Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane.

Xai-Xai:

224km from Maputo; the nearby beach is a popular tourist destination with its massive reef protecting the shores from strong waves at high tide; at low tide locals gather shellfish to sell to tourists; in the area also visit Praia do Chongoene, Bilene and the Banhine National Park, with its rich variety of wildlife.

Mozambique Island:

About two-thirds of the island was declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO due to the buildings being constructed from coral; places of interest include St Paul’s Palace, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Fortress of St Sebastian; nearby beaches are Praia de Fernão Veloso and Praia das Chocas; on the mainland, in Nampula city, see the Cathedral and Museum.

Beira:

The country’s second city, Beira is spread along the coast; see the Largo do Municipio, Casa Portugal, Casa Infante de Sagres, Casa dos Bicos and the Cathedral; the best beaches are found between the Clube Nautico and the lighthouse; nearby ‘Six Miles’ is an inland resort with an artificial lagoon with islands where you may swim or hire pedal boats; game viewing in the province is at the famous Gorongosa National Park and Marromeu Buffalo Reserve.

Bazaruto:

Archipelago Very popular tourist area consisting of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque and Santa Carolina islands off the mainland with high quality hotels; On Inhambane on the mainland, see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Conception; conservation areas include the Zinave National Park and the Bazaruto National Park.

Pemba:

The city has an unspoilt natural beauty; visit the Old Town, where you can visit several traditional markets, the beaches of Praia do Wimbe and Praia do Farol; nearby Ibo Island is part of the idyllic Quirimbas archipelago.

Lake Niassa & Niassa Reserve:

Niassa province offers breathtaking views and scenery; unspoilt Lake Niassa is accessible by 4×4 only and gives you a ‘real Africa’ experience, with fishing villages where you can buy fresh fish and coconut milk; Niassa Reserve is famous for its large quantity of elephants.

Inhaca Island:

34 km from Maputo in the bay, accessible by boat or plane; tours of Ponta de Santa Maria and Portuguese Island are possible.

Maputo Elephant Reserve:

79 km south of Maputo, the reserve is famous for its elephant herds; flamingos can also be seen on the large inland lakes near the sea.

Face of the Old Man:

In the city of Chimoio, ‘Cabeça do Velho’ is a spectacular natural stone formation resembling the face of an old man.

African Travel Tips When Visiting Zambia

In Zambia a third of the country devoted to conservation, Zambia offers the visitor some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas in Africa. A wide range of action adventures, from the legendary walking safari to river rafting on the mighty Zambezi, allows the enjoyment of nature at its wildest and most exhilirating.

A birder and angler’s paradise, Zambia has recorded more than 740 bird species in areas of great scenic beauty and has some of the best fresh water fishing available including excellent Tiger fishing. Best of all though, Zambia is one of the most stable countries in Africa, with 73 tribes living in harmony.

People are very friendly and display a rich cultural heritage during their vivid traditional ceremonies, which is open to Westerners to witness their ancient and timeless mystique.

CAPITAL:

Lusaka

CLIMATE:

There are three distinct seasons: Aug-Oct is warm to hot and dry offering the best time for game viewing as water is scarce; Nov-Mar is hot with thundershowers, but excellent bird watching season as migrants come from the north; and Apr-Jul when days are dry and warm and evenings and early mornings are cold – also good for game viewing.

CURRENCY:

1 Kwacha = 100 Ngwee. Foreign exchange is at authorized banks and bureaux de change. American Express is widely used, with more limited use of Access/MasterCard, Diners Club and Visa. US dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended.

ELECTRICITY:

220volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.

HEALTH:

You are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against hepatitis A, polio, typhoid, malaria (risk throughout the year in the whole country) and yellow fever. Other health concerns are dysentery, diarrhoeal diseases, cholera (avoid street vendors; filter and boil water), influenza (risk extends throughout year), limited medical facilities and AIDS. The climate aggravates chronic sinusitis. Dust in the dry season, molds in the rainy season and pollens much of the year can affect allergies.

LANGUAGE:

English is the official language and all media and business is conducted in it. There are over 73 tribal dialects of which the main languages are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Mambwe and Tumbuka.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Youth Day (12 Mar); Good Friday (9Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Africa Day (25 May); Heroes Day (5 Jul); Unity Day (6 Jul); Farmers’ Day (2 Aug); Defence Day (12 Aug); Independence Day (24 Oct); All Saint’s Day (1 Nov); Christmas Day (25 Dec)

SHOPPING:

ebony carvings; woven baskets; copper, brass and malachite objets d’art; printed cloth; masks; drums; thumb pianos; xylophones; conical fishtraps; clay pots. Souvenirs may be exported without restriction, but game trophies e.g. tooth, bone, skin, feather, etc. are subject to export permits.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

The majority follow traditional animist beliefs and this is reflected in their social culture and customs. Hand shaking is the common form of greeting.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT+2

TIPPING:

Tipping in hotels has been abolished by law, but a 10 percent tip may be expected or included in bills elsewhere.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

South Luangwa:

Zambia’s premier game park noted for its dense concentrations of game, with over 50 mammal and 400 bird species; the Luangwa river boasts more hippos and crocodiles than any other river in Africa.

Liuwa Plains:

Scene of dramatic blue wildebeest migrations with the attendant predators lion, leopard, cheetah and the endangered wild dog.

Kafue:

One of Africa’s biggest parks, with huge herds of antelope and superb lion sightings in the northern Busanga Plains; high concentrations of water birds occur on the flats.

Bangweulu Swamps:

The floodplains are renowned for high concentrations of water birds, of which millions feed in the nutrient rich shallows; it also attracts the endemic acquatic black lechwe antelope by the thousands.

Lochinvar National Park:

Regarded as holding the world record for the highest diversity of bird species (428 in only 410 square kilometres); over 30,000 Kafue lechwe antelope, found nowhere else in the world, roam here.

Lusaka:

In the capital, don’t miss the colourful markets, Munda Wanga Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Kalimba Reptile Park, Kabwata Cultural Village, Lusaka Museum, Zintu Community Museum of Arts and Crafts and the Copper Art Centre.

Livingstone:

In town, see the Mosi-oa-Tunya Zoo, the Livingstone Museum, the Railway Museum, Maramba Cultural Village, Mukuni tribal village, traditional ceremonies and markets. Nearby canoe or cruise on a boat along the upper Zambezi, go white water rafting, bungi jump off Vic Falls bridge, micro-light over the Falls and Batoka Gorge or go on horse riding, hiking or birding trails.

Lake Kariba:

Offers prime fishing, water sports, houseboating and lake camping.

Lake Tanganyika:

Africa’s deepest and longest lake offers great scuba diving and hiking to the top of Kalambo falls, the second highest in Africa at 220 m; other water sports, fishing and game viewing can be enjoyed at Sumbu park on the shore.

Lower Zambezi:

Excellent game viewing by boat or canoe; home to one of the largest remaining elephant herds in the world; also see buffalo and hippo at close range and birds in abundance.