Two swiss ladies, two weeks in Mozambique

With two weeks in Mozambique, to discover this amazing country (wich some people we spoke to did not know where to locate on a map) we had to make choices. After long thoughts we decided to go for the coast. Our main questions were: should we drive ourselves (we love doing that) or should we better have a driver/guide, and should we do the whole trip by car or take planes. Looking at the horrendous car rental prices and hearing about difficult roads and driving conditions, we had our answers: driver/guide it will be. Also, despite all the terrible stories we had heard about plane being unreliable we decided to take up the challenge.

Our quite classical itinerary took us from Maputo to Vilankulos by car, then we hopped on a plane to Nampula to head for Ilha de Moçambique and back by plane to Maputo.

Choosing the car with the driver/guide was the right decision and you do need to have a solid 4×4 if you want to discover the inland roads that lead to paradisiacal beaches and lodges. The other great advantage was that James our guide and driver, spoke Portuguese and local languages as well as English.  Thanks to him for example, we discovered local dishes such as Matapa.  Finally, you do need to know how to deal with the multiple police checks on the road and us not speaking the language would have faced lots of troubles.

two weeks in mozambique

Regarding the planes, indeed they were never on time…. but always ahead of schedule – lucky us?  Anyway, a very convenient way to travel if you want to avoid the bad roads (which start after Vilankulos from what we have been told).

Two Weeks in Mozambique, meeting friendly people

We loved our trip and we love Mozambique. We have had only friendly encounters with the local people and we can only imagine how much closer we could have interacted with them if we spoke Portuguese (our only regret). We (two white girls) never felt insecure or hassled at any point of time. So, don’t listen to people who will tell you the country is a dangerous place.  Sure, the north of the country is more unstable and probably should be avoided but that’s only a tiny part of the country (if you go in NY, you probably don’t visit the rough places either).

We really appreciated all the magnificent landscapes of Mozambique, the untouched nature and yet the comfort we could find to relax in nice and cozy hotels.

Cathy and Izzy

FAQ

How should I plan my adventure of two in Mozambique: by car or by plane?

Well, it really depends on the budget you are willing to expend here and the time for your holiday.
Plane is a good option if you need to save time, but you will lose the contact with the real Mozambique. Let’s imagine you decide to go to Vilankulo as Cathy and Izzy did: if you fly you will reach the destination in less than 2 hours (plus the time you invest at the aiport) and will have the afternoon and evening free (or maybe not, as flights aren’t really on time); and if you go by car you will explore 700 km of the inland Mozambique, its people, styles, markets, customs and how they lead their lives at their own pace, the different colors and shapes of the trees, the lagoons, the landscapes, the lakes… This will take you the whole day, even 11 hours, but they are worthy. So car will be always option 1 if you have the time.

Are the planes in Mozambique usually on time?

On time they are, as they are already at the airport, but don’t usually leave on time.
So, schedule everything counting on some possible delays.

Should I self-drive or having a local guide/driver is a better option?

If you decide to drive by yourself, please bring your international driving license as this will avoid you friendly and funny discussions with the police. Be also ready to pay good attention to the road as driving is hectic and confusing sometimes, specially with the local minivans (public transport called “xapas”) that don’t follow the circulations rules.
There are always people walking along the roads (at any time) and goats, chickens, dogs… spontaneously appearing. Ah! Remember we drive on the left side down here.
On the other hand, if you have our guide/driver you can fairly relax and just contemplate and enjoy your surroundings all the time and get good memories and pictures.
So, self-driving is an experience, funny one, but probably just for a while. Driving two weeks in Mozambique may be a litle overwhelming.

Is it safe to taste local food in street markets?

This is something people usually ask us and we do recommend to follow your doctor recommendations or what your epidemiology center advised you. Water here is really good, from natural springs and wells. If it’s not good in some areas (specially big cities) is because of the pipes which are already rusty. And the food you buy in the street has been already boiled/cooked, so it should be fine. Maybe you just can avoid fresh veggies, but honestly, many expats also buy local food (raw and cooked). So just ask around in a diving center, a bar, a hotel…, where you can try local food you can trust.

Can we communicate with people around speaking English?

Not really. In hotels and activity centers of course, but with people around you will have more difficulties. In Maputo, for example, people are used to travel to South Africa and some also have relatives there, so they speak English, but when you deeper within the country and to rural areas, Portuguese is the official language but in some communities, through the two weeks in Mozambique, you will even find people not able to communicate in Portuguese, only in their local languages, like Xangana, Ronga…

We are two girls traveling, is it safe explore Mozambique?

Everything in this life is about attitude. Look at Cathy and Izzy. They came alone. They were two girls (two white girls they said) and their trip ran perfectly!
This is a safe country and you can move around without fears. And it’s very logical what these two lovely girls said: avoid rough places. Ask and find out the places you shouldn’t go alone or even at night. This also happens in renowned cities like New York, Paris, Milano, Madrid, Lisbon, Sidney…

About the author

Caty and Isabelle, that had contributed with an article to Mussiros Blog. Pleased with their experience as costumers, they accepted the challenge to share it.

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