Having now been in this crazy continent for a few months I can say that Mozambique is Africa with a safety net. It’s awesome of course but there’s certainly a distinct tourist trail as you move north from one beach town to the next. Having said that, the food is amazing, the Indian ocean is warm, the beaches are long and the people are very friendly so perhaps that safety net is no bad thing 😛
From Maputo I’d say the main route (if you’re not heading into the sparse north-east) is to head to Xie-Xie then off to Tofo (cool beach town – loads of tourists), then to Vilanculos (even cooler beach town and much fewer tourists). From there then on to Chimoio (horrible transit town), onto Tete (even more horrible transit town) and then onwards towards the Malawian border.
Mozambique is a great bridge to Africa as you discard your western wants. Maybe you have come from South Africa by land, like me, or flown straight from Europe or North America – Mozambique is the perfect place to land =) Enough other tourists around so you don’t get hit too hard with culture shock but a few minutes wandering down another former Portuguese street and it’s like the Africa you imagined 3 months ago when you were planning your trip.
Geographically alone, it’s a wondrous place. The whole country stretches up the east coast of Africa, allowing itself endless beaches littered with scubadiving centres, water skiing opportunities and a whole host of other water sports. The food naturally focuses around what can be garnered from the sea, and what a feast it promises to be:
Generally the deal is – go to the local market and buy what you want to eat later (normally for a full-on seafood FEAST it’s about $3 per person). Bring it to a local eatery, by local I tend to mean disgusting cheap and probably horrible unhygienic yet what it lacks in basic sanitation and cutlery it makes up in personality and atmosphere! Here is the place we found, note the cardboard box menu:
I wish I was back there eating that! At the risk of sounding uncouth, Africa’s food isn’t exactly michelin starred so when u get an opportunity to gorge on this delicious grub in Mozambique, do it, savour it and do it again!
So Vilanculos was probably the highlight of my time in Mozambique, partly because I stayed at a place called Complexo Muha, run by a guy called Muhammed. To cut a long story short my friend and I were the only people staying at this local-ran place, we stayed for a fair few days and ended up becoming quite good friends with Muhammed. He seemed to take on our advice about renaming his place, remarketing his place, repricing his place, redoing his menu so when we returned from an afternoon on our last day there he had made some wholesale changes to his entire complex! Massive new signs, new pricing structure , new food options all off the back of our advice =) I can only hope it has proved successful for the man. Naturally should any of you guys end up in Vilanculos please pay him a visit, you won’t regret it.
The safety net I described earlier doesn’t extend itself to the transport however! You will be crammed into buses (only big enough for an average family) alongside 26 other Mozambicans who seem surprisingly unperturbed by the whole lack of personal space thing! A tru backpacking adventure in Africa isn’t complete until you’ve had a few sweaty bodies perilously close to your face – and you’ll have this on regular occasions!
Just before I sign off mozambique and have a chat about Malawi I think it’s only appropriate to whack in a few of the beautiful beach shots that you can’t avoid if you spend anytime here – awesome country, awesome people, awesome food, awesome flag (have u seen the AK47 on the flag?!), awesome beaches: