Our Travel Guide to 3 weeks in Mozambique
As this country is one of our neighbouring countries, we decided to make use of our parents Defender Land Rover to explore this beautiful country. Mozambique is about 1900km from Cape Town so it took three full days to drive from Cape Town to our first destination in Mozambique. The drive up was fun and so worth it in order to have our Landy in Mozambique, but flying to Johannesburg and then hiring a 4X4 is also an option if you have limited leave time.
The country stretch from South to North is around 2500km. Therefore, plan your trip carefully as you don’t want to spend too much time in the car and not on the beach. After some research and taking the driving into account, we were interested in the following places:
a) Ponte De Ora – this spot is very popular amongst South Africans so we researched it first as we had a few “word of mouth” recommendations. From our research, we got the feeling that it is only popular because of a) its close proximity to the border and b) the party vibe.
b) Xai Xai area (by Paia de Chizavane beach) – Mrs Wanderer had been here before with her parents and knew of its secluded beauty and prime fishing spots.
c) Pomene – the Pomene estuary is another secluded spot (due to the intense 4×4 requirements). It is great for swimming, fishing and relaxing!
d) Inhambane (Tofo & Barra) – Great nightlife, beaches and excursions such as diving and visiting Pansy Shell Island.
c) Vilanculos (the gateway to the Bazaruto archipelago) – this town is just a boat ride away from all the incredible “paradise” islands. Great location if you can’t afford to stay on the private island resorts but still want to catch a boat in everyday. This archipelago looked like by far the best in terms of “paradise”.
Date: December 2013 – January 2014. Our original plan was to drive up with our friends (the lovely couple, Erin and James) in one Land Rover to Mozambique and do the following route: Pomene – Vilanculous – Xai Xai. Our plans drastically changed when James had a scary reaction to the Malaria tablets he was on (paranoia, a common symptom), causing the two of them to head back home after 1 day in Mozam. As all of our accommodation and plans had been made together, we decided to change our trip, Pomene – Inhambane – Xai-Xai. This will have to be a story for another day.
We left Cape Town early in the morning and stopped over in Bloemfontein for our first night rest. The next morning we left early for Komatipoort (the town on the Mozambique Border). We arrived late in Komatipoort so we slept over here and crossed the Mozambique Border early the next morning (we highly recommend this). From the Mozambique Border we headed directly to Pomene (our highest point). We then made our way to Tofo in Inhambane and then back down to just North of Xai Xai town. We decided to spend two nights in the Kruger National Park on our way home.
In order to get to Pomene, you do require a 4×4 as there is a 60km sand road off the national road. We misjudged the travelling time from the border and got onto the sand track as it was getting dark. We were warned before hand not to travel at night in Mozambique, especially this road as there is a lot of roads leading off the main road and you can easily get lost. Yes, this did happen to us as the normal 3 hour sand route trip took us 6 hours and we got completely lost in the “jungle”. (This was also part to blame to the owner of the lodge as she left out the last three directions). We eventually arrived at Pomene after driving for 22 hours.
Ambri African Lodge (1 night)
Land Rover: Komatipoort to Pomene (22 Hours)
There is ATM’s across Mozambique (however not in Pomene). The ATM can be welcomed with very long queues and some ATM’s won’t take international cards. It is suggested that if you find a working ATM, withdraw as much money as possible for the trip. Money can also be exchanged at the border through the local people, however some of these people might try and scam you or give you fake money.
Driving in Mozam
As you may go through one or two road blocks, it is very important to have all of the required documentation. Have a look at this link which has the full list of items you require to travel in Mozam Before you go Check List. There are speed traps before entering each town. The speed limit will go from 100km to 60km quite quickly and they will pull you over if you are travelling 61km per hour. If stopped in the road block, never hand over your passport or drivers license to the official as you may not get it back without having to pay a bribe. Always greet the officials with a smile and very importantly, don’t give him any attitude as this will encourage their search for reasons to fine you. If in the wrong, pay the fine and ask for an official receipt. It is advisable to join the DriveMoz Facebook page for advice.
Rainy season – We went to Mozam during it’s rainy season (December – March). The temperature is still around 30 degrees. However it might rain for a few days non stop. By around April or May the rains subside, the sun comes out and the humidity drops – better weather spreads gradually from the south to the north.
Dry season – June to October is the dry season, with often perfect tropical weather: clear skies, plenty of sun and almost no rain. This is the best time for most people to visit Mozambique. Although still tropical, June, July and August are Mozambique’s coolest months; you’ll need a light duvet at night, even though the temperature reaches over 30°C by day. During September and October it remains dry as daytime temperatures climb, though it cools down a lot at night. November is a less predictable month of transition. Sometimes the rains start, although many days remain sunny and hot. The rains generally start earlier in the north of the country.