Last year December marked the start of a magical love affair between me and Mozambique, particularly Ponta Malongane. The sun, the scenery, the seafood (alliteration unintentional), everything about this place had me awe-struck and begging for more. As first-timers, my family and I had no idea what to expect and so were quite taken aback when we were told to simply “keep right” and follow the direction of the sea by border control to reach our destination. However, what was initially a terrifying way of giving directions, quickly turned into one of the greatest holidays of my life.
Having only visited Mozambique once before about five years ago, everything I came to experience was totally new to me. Our group were in no way totally prepared, and so, had to often come up with solutions as we went along. Lucky for you, I am about to impart the many lessons we learned along the way, lessons that will surely save you time (and heart palpitations) and ensure that you get to sip on that first R&R a lot sooner.
Have an envelope or bag where you keep all your travel documents so that they are safe and easily accessible
These documents include:
- A valid passport with more than 6 months remaining until the expiry date. South African citizens as well as citizens of Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe do not require holiday visas. Visitors of other nationalities do require holiday visas; however, these are easily obtained from the border and should take approximately 30 minutes.
- A valid driver’s license of the driver (South African driver’s licenses are accepted).
- Any vehicle and boat registration documents.
- If you have children under the age of 18, they require an unabridged birth certificate as well as their valid passport to cross the border. Furthermore, should you be divorced or travelling without your spouse, a signed and certified letter of permission is required by the other parent and this certification cannot be older than 3 months. In the unfortunate event that your spouse is deceased, you will need to bring their death certificate as proof for your child to cross the border. Finally, if you have a child who is travelling with you as a guest, you will need to produce all the usual documents in addition to a signed and certified letter of permission from both parents.
I understand that this information may seem like a lot, but we had three minors in our group who needed these documents and it took us an extra 3 hours from when we first reached the border to get through as we had to arrange for the documents to be faxed to the nearest petrol station. Learn from us.
A 4×4 vehicle is a necessity when traveling through Mozambique
We foolishly chose to ignore this advice and proceeded to get stuck at least 10 times on our way to our accommodation. This soon became a rather expensive decision as we tipped just about every group of locals who helped us to free our car. To save yourself time, frustration, and a substantial amount of money rather drive your 4×4 or organize transport if you don’t have one. You will also need to deflate your tyres to 1 barre to make it easier to drive on the extremely soft sand that constitutes Mozambique’s roads. You may want to consider purchasing an automatic tyre deflator for this – it will be worth every cent. Vehicles traveling through Mozambique require the following:
- 2 red reflective triangles and 2 reflective vests. We placed the vests over the back of our front seats.
- A blue and yellow triangle sticker is required on the back of your vehicle. Should you be towing a trailer or caravan, two stickers are required, one on the front of the vehicle and one on the back of the towed vehicle.
Payments at the border
It is common knowledge to regular visitors of Mozambique that quite a few payments need to be made at the border. These payments include third party insurance, a temporary import permit, and what I can only describe as ‘import tax’ (i.e. a totally unmonitored system whereby one is required to pay a certain amount of money in relation to certain consumables they are bringing into the country). For example, our car had to pay R100.00 per whiskey bottle of which there were 3. A bit random, but necessary if you wish to continue your holiday. Don’t let these fees get to you though, I promise the experience is worth it.
If it is possible to buy an every-species-of-insect repellent get it. The mosquitos are one thing, but I fell victim to some strange biting fly with a fetish for collarbones. You’ve been warned.
Make sure you bring enough drinking water, toilet paper, and a torch!
Listen to your grandma’s advice and wear sunscreen! Seriously, apply it every day before you head out.
Personally, I wouldn’t have bought as much alcohol with me because the drinks in Mozam are super affordable. I also found myself drinking mostly at bars which defeated the point of bringing my own.
There are a few locals that sell astonishingly tasty seafood caught fresh every morning opposite the ATM in Ponta do Ouro. You shouldn’t really miss them, I think it’s the only ATM for quite a distance.
On that note, draw enough money to last you for your stay. You’d be amazed at the plethora of different cocktails one can consume during their visit, and the beautiful market stalls are a must-browse.
Don’t pack ‘proper’ clothes. I lived in slops, a bikini and a sarong for a week.
Turtles love coming up onto the shores of Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Molangane to lay their eggs. Please be kind to these sweet creatures and don’t overcrowd or touch them when they do emerge from the shore break – this can be very disorientating for them and may cause the turtle to return to the ocean before she lays her eggs. Keep a respectful distance and try to imagine how you’d feel if a crowd of people where using flash photography around you whilst you were trying to find a comfortable, safe spot to give birth.
I hope you have found these tips helpful and seriously implore you to visit this beautiful place as soon as possible if you have not yet had the opportunity. You’ll return home renewed.