South Africans are spoilt when it comes to travel.
Apart from living in one of the most diverse, incredible countries on the African continent and world-wide, we are also surrounded by countries that are world-renowned for their unique travel offerings.
Botswana, for example, was recently named Lonely Planet’s best destination for 2016. Namibia, right next to it, is a treasure trove of adventure, diamonds and dunes. Zimbabwe and Zambia host the iconic Victoria Falls and Mozambique is the perfect blue-water, white-sand beach and island escape.
A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Mozam. She says she cannot remember a time when she felt more relaxed, and that only from a six-day escape to the tropical retreat.
That’s the beauty of Mozambique – there’s no need to travel half-way around the globe, there’s no need to take your entire year’s leave, and there’s no reason to spend your child’s education fund to recharge and regain your senses.
In October last year, a long-weekend checked into Anantara Bazaruto on the island 40km off the east coast of Vilankulo, was all it took for me to fall in love with Mozambique.
CHECK OUT: - Mozambique - A paradise on our doorstep
On the islands around Mozam, especially, here is little cell reception, which means no emails or Facebook or Instagram. The only thing to do is relax and let go of the modern stressed that so often empty us out.
And getting back, two shades darker from lounging away days in the warm Indian Ocean under the mild Mozambican sun, you’ll be ready as ever to conquer the world.
Quick guide if you're planning a budget break:
Average cost of high-end resort accommodation per person per night: At Anantara Bazaruto, it will cost you around R4 600 per person per night, including all board, meals as well as selected drinks.
Compared to the average cost of a budget guest house per person per night: You can get lovely, 4-star self-catering accommodation right on the coast for under R1 500 per person per night.
Average cost of dinner for two and basic activities: A 3-course dinner in an average restaurant will cost you around R350. In most hotels and resorts, however, food is included in the price.
Currency: Mozambique’s official currency is Metical, but they are also very willing to use South African rands. The Metical is worth about 23 South African cents*. It sounds little, but expenses work out about the same as a budget South African holiday.
Climate: Mozambique has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons - a wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September.
In the south, towards the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe, conditions can get very hot and even desert-like. Along the coastal area, however, tropical conditions are prevalent right through the year - making Mozambique the perfect winter escape for South African travellers.
When to go: Mozambique has a lovely, tropical climate right throughout the year. In summer, however, conditions can get very hot. The best is the go in the odd-season months from March to May, and from August to October. Plus, there'll be fewer other travellers and you'll have the beaches all to yourself.
Time zone: Mozambique has the exact same time zone as SA.
Getting there: If you’re going to Vilankulo in the centre of Mozambique, right next to the popular island Bazaruto, your best bet would be to fly from SA. Airlink offers direct scheduled flights between Johannesburg and Vilankulo as well as from Nelspruit to Vilankulo.
If you’re heading to the southernmost regions of Mozambique, driving over the border is a great option. Head over at one of these four border posts:
Visa: South African travellers don’t need a visa to enter Mozambique.
Useful phrases: Mozambique was previously a Portuguese colony, and the local language spoken throughout the country is still Portuguese. Saying hello is an easy ‘Hola’. More commonly used, however, are ‘Bom dia’, meaning Good morning, ‘Boa tarde’, meaning Good afternoon and ‘Boa noite’, meaning Good evening. Thank you is ‘obrigado’ in Portuguese.
Handy Tip: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings and to drive on the beach in Mozam. Don’t do it.
Food to try: From all the bordering countries to South Africa, Mozambique has the best food. Since the country stretches along the coast, the seafood is absolutely spectacular. And with the Portuguese influence, you can expect spicy, flavourful dishes like their lip-licking Peri-Peri chicken.
A must is lobster. These crustaceans are as big as your forearm, and have the sweetest, most flavourful meat ever. The best way to enjoy them is grilled right on the beach, served only with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.
The prawns are also mini-lobster-size, and delicious!
Apart from the meats, you can also try paõ (pronounced pow). These Portuguese white bread rolls are baked in wood-fired ovens in all local villages, and sold at all food markets in the country.
Being one of the world’s largest cashew producers, you’ll find these delicious nuts in abundance in Mozam.
To quench your thirst, 2M (pronounced doish-em) is a great local Mozambican beer that will wash all that spicy food down well.
Mozam must-dos: Going to Mozambique is a beach holiday, and everything you do will be centred around the shores. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tanning all day – there are some adrenaline-filled activities to take on.
Sandboarding on the dunes
On Bazaruto Island, the dunes are massive and completely untouched. Hiking to the top - sandboard in hand - is exhausting, but the thrill of skiing down makes it all worthwhile.
Horse-riding on the beach
A sunrise or sunset beach ride offers some of the most spectacular scenes of Mozambique. Be warned, however… go early else the sun will scorch you.
The Indian Ocean is filled with colourful and delicious seafood, and fishing can be done right from the beach or from boats that go out over the deep ocean. Nothing compares to a dinner cooked from your own catch-of-the-day.
Snorkeling or Scuba diving
This is a Mozam-must. There are many incredible coral reefs and dive sites in Mozambique, and especially around the smaller Mozambican islands like Inhaca and Paradise Island. If you’re snorkeling, remember to lather your back with sunblock – the sun burns through the top layer of the ocean and after a day’s snorkeling with your back exposed, you can suffer serious sun damage.
Another Mozam-must. Dhows are those age-old, iconic fisherman’s boats with the massive triangle sails that used the trade winds to cross continent. Nowadays, still, the dhows are operated by experts, who swing on the ropes over the ocean like trapeze artists.
Yup, you guessed it: Mozambique is a surfer's paradise. Imagine the warm waves of Umhlanga on SA's East Coast... only, in Mozambique, you'll have them all to yourself, save for the dolphins that might join you every so often.
If you’re after a real relaxing time, you can also always just scratch all of the above and just spend your entire holiday relaxing and tanning on the kilometres of deserted white beaches hugging turquoise seas. Topless tanning, why not? How about but-naked swimming? Yes please. Pack a hat, a sarong and bottle of white wine and ice in a cooler box and you’re set for success!
*Currency conversion rate at the time of publishing
Disclaimer: Louzel Lombard for Traveller24 was hosted as media by Anantara Bazaruto in Mozambique, including flights and accommodation.
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