Hailed as the ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the Bazaruto Archipelago boasts some of the most unspoilt beaches, clearest waters and richest marine populations in the whole of Mozambique. Comprised of five pristine islands—Bazaruto (the biggest of the bunch), Benguerra (a mecca for birdwatchers), Santa Carolina (a rock island), Magaruque, and Banque—the Archipelago offers you everything from action-packed adventure to tranquil beach retreats.
The Bazaruto Archipelago’s natural splendour is topped off by a three-kilometre long coral reef and dive sites that are up to 30-metres deep. Every year from about early October to late January, the coastline is filled with fishing enthusiasts trying to catch the likes of bonefish, marlin, and sailfish. If you’re not keen on getting wet, explore the islands on a horseback safari or hop from one island to the other on dhows or with a helicopter.
Declared a National Park in 1971, Bazaruto is home to a rich and diverse population of creatures—both in the water and on dry land. The waters surrounding the island are teeming with dolphins, turtles, whales, sharks, manta rays, as well as Africa's largest population of the endangered dugong. Moving inland on the islands you’ll find freshwater lakes populated by suni antelope, crocodile, and flamingos.
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Although it's possible to travel to Mozambique during both the wet and dry season, most travellers go to Mozambique for its coastal attractions. That means the best time to visit the beautiful coast is in the dry months of May through to October – the ideal time for soaking up the sun and diving in clear waters!
During the summer months of November to April, weather conditions are very hot and humid, especially along the north coast. Rainfall is at a peak in summer, with the accompanying overcast skies, which is not ideal if you are looking to laze on the beach and soak up some sun.
Advance bookings are highly advised as Mozambique becomes a popular attraction around Easter, Christmas and New Years. Whichever season you choose, our Rhino Africa Travel Experts will ensure you are in the best area to maximise your coastal experience.
There are three international airports in Mozambique, namely Vilanculos, Pemba, and Maputo. The latter is the main airport and offers regular flights from Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg. You can also get direct flights from South Africa to the Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos.
For those feeling adventurous, Archipelago Charters operates island hops in the Bazaruto Archipelago from Vilanculos Airport and Safari Air Africa in the Quirimbas Archipelago.
Our Rhino Africa Travel Experts can organise every element of your Mozambique adventure, so don't stress about planning your journey – leave it to us!
When visiting a country, you should also delve into its history. This makes the experience just so much richer, giving you insight into how the country got to where it is today.
What cultural influences does Mozambique have?
Modern-day Mozambique still shows signs of historical influences, in particular the Portuguese’s influence.
Its diverse culture stems from the Bantu people who moved through the country between the first and fifth centuries AD, as well as the Swahili port towns that developed in the 7th and 11th centuries. Later, traders from Ethiopia, Persia, Arabia, Somalia, and India visited these towns, bringing with it their cultural flair. In 1498, Vasco da Gama made his journey here, starting Portugal’s colonisation of Mozambique. They continued to rule over Mozambique for over four centuries, and today the country still has a strong Portuguese influence when it comes to its culture and cuisine.
When did Mozambique become an independent country?
The country finally achieved independence as a country in 1975, whereafter it was known as the People’s Republic of Mozambique. Music played a key role in their fight for independence, using it as a protest tool.
However, a mere two years later, a civil war broke out, which continued from 1977 to 1992. 1994 marked the first year that Mozambique held its multiparty elections.
Inhambane lies approximately 500 km north of Maputo and is one of the oldest towns in Mozambique, and is a lively part of the country including the neighbouring villages of Tofo and Barra. The Barra Peninsula offers plenty of wide beaches and the Manta Reef, best known for its manta ray sightings. To top it all off, the Barra Peninsula is one of your best bets for swimming with whale sharks, while Tofo is considered one of the best diving destinations in Mozambique.
Situated south-east of the Save River, Bazaruto is the largest of the four islands that make up the breathtaking Bazaruto Archipelago. The island offers an assortment of habitats that are worth exploring – these range from freshwater lakes, towering dunes and grasslands to verdant forests and wetlands. The island is home to an abundance of fauna and flora, where sightings include Suni antelope, freshwater crocodile and numerous bird species. At the same time, the surrounding waters boast pristine coral reefs – a diver’s paradise.
The second-largest island of the Bazaruto Archipelago, Benguerra offers exceptional marine life and an abundance of island adventures. With massive dunes, inland lakes and plenty of beaches to explore, Benguerra has been a National Park since 1971. There are over 140 bird species and the waters surrounding the island shelter the rare dugong and one of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. Guests visiting the island can indulge in dhow cruises, diving, snorkelling and exhilarating catch-and-release deep-sea fishing.
All visitors, except South Africans and Malawians, require a visa to travel to Mozambique. We recommend you obtain the tourist visa before you travel in order to guarantee hassle-free entry.
How long will it take to issue my visa?
Allow 3 working days for visa processing.
What are the visa requirements?
- 2 Passport size photos
- Invitation letter from Mozambique
- Proof of booked accommodation, e.g. hotel reservation/s
- Copy of an airline round-trip ticket
- Valid passport for 6 months
- 1 Visa application form
For how long should my visa be valid?
Consult your relevant embassy for the most up-to-date information.
Please ensure that you verify this information independently with the relevant embassy, high commission or consulate as your consultant cannot be held liable for any errors.
In theory, yes. Traffic in Mozambique drives on the left side. You’ll need either a South African or international driver’s licence to drive in Mozambique, but if you’re planning on staying longer than six months, you’ll have to get a Mozambican driver’s licence instead. Speed limits are usually 100k/h on main roads, whereas you will have to slow down to 80km/h on approaching towns and 60km/h or less when passing through the towns. This is enforced by radar.
Tarred roads connect Maputo with Beira and Beira with Tete. Be wary of pedestrians, children, and animals on the road as they tend to nonchalantly wander across. If you see a tree branch across the road, it means that there’s a stopped vehicle, pothole or similar calamity ahead, and it is their version of flares or hazard lights.
To avoid the unfortunate circumstance of running out of gas, always have a full jerrycan with you, and remember to top it up as soon as you’ve used it as stations sometimes run out of gas. Gasóleo (diesel) supplies are more reliable than gasoline (petrol).
There are rental agencies in Maputo, Vilanculos, Beira, Nampula, Tete and Pemba, most of which take credit cards. Always wear a seatbelt and although it may seem tempting, driving on the beach is illegal. Travel as early in the mornings as possible, and avoid driving at night. It is a requirement to drive with the vehicle’s insurance certificate.
If a traffic cop dressed in the official white shirt and navy trousers stops you for a traffic offence, you might have to pay a spot fine. Always ask for a ticket and an official numbered receipt with the officer’s name. Your regular police officers who are dressed in grey uniforms are not authorised to issue traffic fines. Ensure that you have notarised copies of your official documents with you and never hand them the original. If they ask for a bribe, contact the Anti-Corruption Hotline on +258 82 965 7804.
Mozambique’s traditional cuisine shows strong Portuguese influences when it comes to flavours and recipes, primarily using fresh seafood as a base.
A staple food in the country is a porridge made from maize or cornflour, referred to as xima (xhi-mah). They generally serve it with vegetables and beans or fish. Coconut and cashew nuts also make a frequent appearance in Mozambican dishes, and Piri-Piri is a famous Mozambican sauce commonly used as a condiment.
To keep those cameras clicking, make sure you have the correct travel adaptor with you before you leave home. Mozambique uses electrical plug C, F & M, 220V, and 50Hz. Here’s a quick breakdown of the plugs: Type C plug, you may know as the Europlug, is a two-pin unearthed plug and used throughout Europe, parts of the Middle East and much of Africa. Type F plug and the outlet is much like Type E, except it has two earth clips on the side rather than a female earth contact. And finally, Type M, the South African electrical plug, has three circular pins and is essentially a larger version of Type D.
The internet connection in Mozambique is stable enough, and you’ll find internet cafes in Maputo and other major cities.
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators, and coverage is expanding to all main cities in most provinces. All companies have outlets in major towns where you can buy SIM-card starter packs (Mtc50) – just fill out the necessary registration form and buy top-up cards. The international dialling code is 00, but be sure to not use an initial zero: seven-digit mobile numbers listed with zero at the outset are in South Africa and must be preceded by the South Africa country code (27) when dialling. Mozambique’s code is 258.
Postal services are available in main centres if you have a need to use them. Airmail to Europe usually takes five to seven days but can sometimes take a bit longer.
Before going on a trip, it is important to consult your doctor and take out comprehensive travel and health insurance that will cover all of your intended activities while on holiday in Mozambique. Here are some helpful health hints to bear in mind:
- Malaria is common in Mozambique, so consult your doctor for the necessary prophylactics. If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
- Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever either while travelling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history
- Stick to purified or bottled water
- Remember, you are not far from the equator where the sunshine is most direct. Strong sunscreen, a hat, and a bottle of water will keep sunstroke at bay
- Put your personal medications in your carry-on and bring copies of prescriptions
- Plan your medication carefully: pharmacies are few and far between and often poorly stocked
- You may need a yellow fever certificate if you arrive via a country infected with yellow fever or where yellow fever is classified as endemic
- Don’t pet stray animals as they may have rabies
- Wear beach shoes on the beach and wear shoes in town
Working with a foreign currency can either be a hassle or a breeze. Follow our tips, and you’ll be breezing through Mozambique:
- The local currency is Metical or Meticais (plural). Notes are available in MT1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, and 20, whereas coins are in MT10, 5, 2, and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1 centavo.
- Credit card payments are accepted in Maputo but not generally beyond the capital. You should rather use USD or ZAR (South African Rand) for smaller purchases such as markets and tipping.
- ZAR is only accepted in the south of Mozambique, whereas USD is accepted throughout the country, but please ensure that you carry small denominations for purchases as you will receive change in local Meticais
- Money can be exchanged at banks and airports
- Duty-free items include 200 cigarettes, 250g of tobacco, 750ml of spirits and a reasonable quantity of perfume (opened).
- In Mozambique, the import and export of the local currency are prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited but must be declared. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared upon your arrival.
- Banking hours are from Monday to Friday, 07:30 to 15:30.
Excited to go to Mozambique? Before you set off, we’ve compiled a list of handy tips to make your holiday hassle-free:
- Drink only purified or bottled water unless the hotel or resort advises that they have purified their water system
- We highly recommend that you avoid camouflage clothing since it is illegal for civilians in the majority of African countries
- Leave valuables with hotel reception or in your room safe
- Stick to well-used paths, including on roadsides in rural areas. As tempting as it may be, don’t free camp or go wandering off into the bush without first seeking local advice
- Mozambique’s landscape makes for an adventurous drive, but please keep in mind that the following is illegal: driving on the beach, driving without a seatbelt, exceeding speed limits, driving while using your mobile phone, turning without indicator lights, and driving without two red hazard triangles and a reflective vest in the boot
- As best, try to avoid bases of bridges, old schools or abandoned buildings, and water tanks