Don’t cancel your trip to Mozambique just yet

Posted on 13 December 2013

It’s that time of the year again, hemlines are receding and all things fluffy and waterproof are being tucked back into their boxes. The flowers are getting frisky, drinks are getting doused with ice and Boney M is starting to creep into the shopping malls play lists – which is not always a good thing, but hey, it’s the starting gun signal in the race towards Christmas. Summer is on its way, people of the south, it’s stalling and spluttering along some days, but it’s definitely gracing us with more than just a small brief little peek every now and then.

Longer daylight hours means days spent getting out and about, with many people heading to holiday destinations either within the country or overseas. Lots of people are excited for a beach holiday –  which, for some, means the yearly pilgrimage to our neighbor, Mozambique.

I am sure that many of you out there who have got their leave already signed off and scheduled have been watching the news concerning the RENAMO rebels, and the murmurings of a second outbreak of war.  Now straight out of the starting gates I am not going to guarantee you that nothing will happen, nor am I going to guarantee that something will happen. But having recently returned from a short sojourn to Southern Mozambique, in my experience, things are still fine in most tourist areas. The danger is travel between North and South through Sofala, where the problems are emanating from. I have wonderful friends that I care very much about all up and down the Mozambique coastline and, as of yet, I have had no word from them that I must now go into panic mode for their lives and safety.

So, before you go canceling your tickets or whipping yourself up into a frenzy, I can offer you some of the tools I use to make sure that I always keep an ear on the ground to make sure my family and myself always return home safely. My credentials, you ask? Well, I have driven across the Nigerian delta, had guns pointed at my husband and I and on a few occasions looked at him across the drivers seat and thought, “what in the hell are we doing?” (One instance included nearly getting his teeth punched out by a Russian cop because I would not let him pay a bribe of a sandwich…. this is yet to be lived down.) I have had the joy and privilege of making travel through Africa and beyond my living, for work or pleasure, and I would have it no other way.  So thanks to a combination of dumb luck, and – well, I’m just going to say ‘experience’ – here are some numbers and resources you can use to your benefit, and if you are not heading to Mozambique but to other areas, then please just adjust certain aspects of them to suit the country you are heading to. If other readers have extras to add please do so, the more the merrier.

The Embassy

Yes, boy and girls, you might think that the embassy of your origin in the country you are traveling to might not be necessary to know. I have been up and down the African coastline and I can without any sniff of resentment say that every South African Embassy (bar Spain, Spain sucks) I have come across has been filled with lovely, wonderful, helpful and selfless people. They have gone out of their way to house us, feed us (out of their own pockets, mind you, we must have looked terrible at the time) and done everything in their power to look after our well-being. The reason for this? We arrived with a smile and a good attitude. Within the country that they operate embassies can be restricted by a particular mandate, if you break a very serious rule of a particular country they can really only do as much as their mandate allows. Travel warnings that are issued on countries will always be on the extremely conservative side, so combine embassy warnings with warnings from those on the ground.

Admittedly when you tend to arrive at an embassy it normally signals that you have a problem, like a lost passport, a robbery or worse. But don’t discount just having the embassy numbers on hand when you travel into a country. What we would do is email them beforehand, letting them know that we are traveling into their area, email them copies of all our South African passports and how long we plan to be in the country. It doesn’t matter if our times and dates changed, just that the embassy was aware that we were hanging around their neck of the woods.

South African High Commission: Maputo

Avenida Eduardo Mondlane 41

Caixa Postal 1120


Tel: + 258 21 243 000

Email: [email protected]

I hate to sound negative, but really it’s very often that the numbers actually work or get answered, email is the best bet. And email like a madman, don’t just think that because you have sent one email that it has been received. My dad taught me early on that nothing ever gets done without persistent follow up; take heed of the ballie’s advice.  Also email around to tour operators or hotels for up-to-date contact details.

Connect with others online

In this day and age where every man and his goat are travel bloggers, there is a gold mine of information online from people that have either recently travelled to where you are going or, like me, have just come back from there. Use resources like Twitter, Facebook, or even (if you technologically allergic) try and phone or email the resort/hotel/backpacker that you are staying in for regular updates on the situation in the area. In journalism we were taught to always cross reference sources, do the same with gathering travel information. Email neighboring resorts or hotels, email dive operators or travel companies that work with group packaged travel. There will always be negative Nancys or pessimistic Peters that will tell you everything is five steps from going to pot, but don’t let that stop your trip. Try a few backpackers, a few restaurants, guest houses, B&Bs or tour operators in the area. Get a broader picture from different types of people before you reach for the refund button.

Handy travel online resources


#afritravel , #travelchatsa (every Wednesday from 20:00 onwards) #africhat #ttot ( Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 till 12:30)- good places to meet other travelers and ask for current information. Also look along the stream of people who are tweeting and send them messages if you want to ask for specific advice.

People on twitter to connect to:

@antoncrone (he has hitchhiked through a lot of Africa recently)

@mzansigirl (if she does not know she can pass you around her connected network)


@travelstart (they have pretty honest opinions for a travel company)


Follow news reports and radio stations while you are in the different regions.

Mozambique: LM radio ( 87.8 FM) Just be warned their music is ancient old coroner type stuff, but they are in English if you don’t speak Portuguese , or you actually like that kind of music.

Your news channels

At any given time I follow with religious flurry news24 (just don’t read the comments),, Aljazeera Africa branch, E-news Africa (and follow their reporters online as they are pretty clued up.) Also look at some of the environmental groups online or diving companies as they often have people who live in the area on a permanent basis and can give you up-to-date information. These are some of my picks because as far as I know, they have a good command of English and should be able to understand and help you.


Polana Serena Hotel: +254202842000

Mandala Guest House: [email protected]/+258845006834

Jane flood walking tours: [email protected]


Peri Peri Divers:  [email protected] / +25882 5505661

Marine Mega Fauna Foundation:  Same number Casa Barry Lodge, just ask for Jess.

Casa Barry Lodge : +27 31 767 0111/ [email protected]

Pemba (North):

Bush Camp Pemba:  +258 82 661 1530/+258 82 669 7050 (Brenda or Rudi)

Ill Pirata Surf Camp: [email protected]/ Carlo +258 82 3805790.

Pemba Magic Lodge/Russell’s Place: [email protected]/ +258 26862730


Zombi Cucumber: +258 828049410

Baobab beach: + 258 82 731 5420

Mozambique Horse Safari: [email protected]/ [email protected] / +258 29384247

Dive Bazzaruto: +258 848 506507/ [email protected]

A great article to read is one by the guys from Africa Far and Wide who have really go into more detail of the situation in Mozambique, and offer up valuable insights.

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