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Mozambique is best explored by rental car. Carrentals.co.uk has over 3 pick-up locations in Mozambique. This means there is always a pick-up location close to your destination.
Following the end of a destructive civil war in the early 1990s, Mozambique has slowly recovered and is in the process of regaining its position as one of the preferred destinations for tourists in Africa. Pristine beaches, wildlife parks such as Gorongosa and old colonial towns including Inhambane can be accessed by those with their own vehicles. These sights, coupled with a diversity of interesting activities, await visitors to this old Portuguese colony.
The principal EN1 highway through the country is in good condition apart from occasional stretches. Many other roads in the country are either unsurfaced or have lots of potholes. It pays to drive carefully on rural roads. Some regions have very few petrol stations so it is a good idea to fill up wherever possible. Motorists are required to have a high-visibility waistcoat and two reflective warning cones in their vehicles.
Driving licences: drivers from the UK are permitted to use their UK licences for up to 90 days after arrival here.
Which side does Mozambique drive on: the left.
Motorways: 62mph (100kph) or 75mph (120kmh)
Rural areas: 50mph (80kph)
Built-up areas: 37mph (60kph) unless specified
Alcohol limits: at 0.02 per cent, the alcohol limit for drivers here is much lower than the UK’s permitted level of 0.08 per cent. Offenders face losing their licence or possible imprisonment if involved in an accident.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: the driver and all passengers are required to wear seatbelts, if they are fitted. No laws govern the use of child safety seats but hire companies provide them as optional extras.
Mobile phones and GPS: drivers are barred from using hand-held mobile phones when behind the wheel. GPS navigational aids are permitted.
Cost of fuel in Mozambique: considerably cheaper here than in the UK. Prices change on a daily basis and are up to 30 per cent dearer per litre in remote locations.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are not usually accepted at petrol stations, but they are often needed when renting a vehicle. People planning on using their card here should notify their card issuer prior to departure.
Insurance: third-party insurance is mandatory for all vehicles. But it is recommended that drivers also take out cover for excess damage.
Traffic and parking: driving in Maputo or Inhambane where congestion can be a problem is best avoided. Parking spaces are scarce and police are generally vigilant when it comes to illegally parked vehicles.
There are train services from Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa to Komatipoort. From here, it is possible to walk across the border to Ressano Garcia and then catch an onward train to Maputo. There are also international services from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, which involve a change of train at Chicualacuala before continuing to Maputo. There are domestic trains from the cities of Beira and Nacala to local stations.
Once only found in Maputo, taxis are now common in all major towns and cities. City centre fares are typically £4, but can rise to £8 for long trips. Another staple of the country’s transportation network is the chapa. These converted pick-up trucks and mini-buses run on city as well as inter-city routes. Chapas are best only taken as a last resort as they are by and large overcrowded and in bad states of repair.
There are long-distance buses as well as chapa services from the neighbouring countries of Malawi, South Africa and Swaziland, with the fare from the latter around £5. The Intercape Mainliner is one of the more reputable bus companies running services between Johannesburg and Maputo, as well as some domestic cities. Other bus companies operate on routes inside the country but services tend to be slower than chapas. Short chapa rides cost around £0.20.
Ferries cross the Nkomati River to Macanetta Island near Maputo. There are also ferries to offshore Indian Ocean islands such as Inhaca. Boat crossings of the Rovuma River from Tanzania cost around £5.
Maputo is home to the country’s main international airport, which lies less than two miles from the city centre. As there are no direct flights with the UK, UK travellers usually transfer in South Africa. Passengers using this airport must pay an airport tax of around £4 for internal and around £10 for international flights. This tax must be paid in cash. Domestic flights operate between the capital and major cities including Beira (for access to Central Mozambique), Nampula (for access to Northern Mozambique) and the beach resort area of Vilanculos.
The capital of Maputo is the first port of call for 80 per cent of Mozambique visitors. The vibrant atmosphere, boutiques and restaurants on Avenida Julius Nyerere, as well as easy vehicular access to the stunning beaches at Ponta d'Ouro and Catembe entice many visitors into spending a few days here.
Northwards along the coast, the city of Inhambane is the gateway to Guinjata Bay, Bazaruto National Marine Park and stunning beaches including Praia do Tofo. Offshore reefs at Manta and Gallaria offer superb diving.
Nampula, in northern Mozambique, boasts a majestic cathedral and an interesting ethnological museum. Niassa National Reserve, Pemba and Mozambique Island are all within convenient range of Nampula. The reserve is home to Mecula Mountain and a diverse assortment of indigenous wildlife.
Gorongosa National Park is near Beira, a large city on the coast in the central area of the country, and features wonderful vistas, stately waterfalls and eclectic flora and fauna. Hiking paths ascend Mt Gorongosa where panoramic views offer a fitting reward for the climb.
The climate in Mozambique is tropical and hot with two distinct seasons. The rainy season runs from November to March. There are frequent cyclones at this time and the temperature consistently climbs to above 40°C. There is minimal rainfall from April to October, the best time to visit. Temperatures are usually cooler during this period and can drop to around 15°C at night in June and July.