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Introduction

Maputo Train Station, front

Maputo Train Station, front

© All Rights Reserved Nat and Ev

Maputo is the capital and largest city in Mozambique with well over 1 million people living in the city and about 1.8 million in the metropolitan area. Being about 130 years old, it is located along the coast in the southern tip of the country, at the west side of Maputo bay at the mouth of the Tembe River. It is the cultural, economical and industrial hart of the country and is also of interest for travellers. Its not only a lively mix of several ethnic groups like Arabian, Indian and African people. it also has great Portugese colonial building styles to show. The city often is the starting point for travellers who wish to explore more of the country and is an easy bustrip from South Africa.

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Sights and Activities

There are several museums to visit in the city, but avoiding the beach is advised as the bay area was used as a waste dump in previous years and water quality hasn't quite recovered yet. The Associação Núcleo de Arte houses the oldest collective of artists in town, with over 100 sculptors, painters and ceramists as members. Exhibitions are regularly staged in the Nucleo's grounds.

The Railway Station on Praca dos Trabalhadores is sometimes mistaken to be the work by Gustave Eiffel. However, the building is an imposing structure and well-worth a visit, especially at Friday or Saturday nights where live music often is played.

The Mercado Central in the Baixa district has fresh fish, crabs, calamari, fruits and vegetables, and many household staples. Safe, lively and recommended, especially if cooking for yourself.

Walk up Avenida Julius Nyerere. Start from the Hotel Cardoso or Natural History Museum along R Mutemba to Nyerere then left (north) to the Polana Hotel. Boutiques, restaurants, curio vendors, video stores, etc. to be seen in the relatively-upscale Polana neighbourhood.

Praça dos Trabalhadores is a building built by Gustave Eiffel.

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Weather

Maputo has a hot and humid climate with temperatures usually around 30 °C during most of the year except the somewhat cooler months of June and July when it is still around 25 °C during the day. The hottest months of December to February are also the wettest months with some serious downpours possible. Although hurricanes can hit Mozambique severely, because of its southern location, Maputo faces less problems.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max29.9 °C29.6 °C29.3 °C27.8 °C26.4 °C24.6 °C24.4 °C25.3 °C26.1 °C26.5 °C27.4 °C29.1 °C
Avg Min22.3 °C22.3 °C21.5 °C19.4 °C16.8 °C14.4 °C14.2 °C15.4 °C17.2 °C18.3 °C19.7 °C21.4 °C
Rainfall171.1 mm130.5 mm105.6 mm56.5 mm31.9 mm17.6 mm19.6 mm15 mm44.4 mm54.7 mm81.7 mm85 mm
Rain Days8.17.674.42.82.41.82.23.25.57.97.5

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Getting There

By Plane

Maputo International Airport (MPM) serves as the international gateway to the country and LAM Mozambique Airways is the national airline. International destinations include flights to and from Durban, Johannesburg and Nairobi. Other airlines serving the country are South African Airways (Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town), TAP Portugal (Lisbon, Johannesburg), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
Air Zimbabwe (Harare) and Kenya Airways (Nairobi). Swaziland is served as well.
LAM Mozambique Airways flies between Maputo and Beira, Chimoio, Inhambane, Nampula, Pemba, Quelimane, Tete and Vilanculos. Air Corridor has flights between Maputo and Beira, Nampula, Quelimane and Tete.

By Train

Rail services to Maputo are slowly improving, although the lines currently operating are of limited use to tourists. An exception is the daily service from Ressano Garcia at the border with South Africa, it is a convenient way of traveling here from Johannesburg and Pretoria as daily trains connects with the city of Komatipoort across the border.

By Car

The highway from Johannesburg to Maputo is very good. From Johannesburg, take the N4 towards Nelspruit (about 400 kilometres). From Nelspruit, continue following the N4 to Komatipoort, the last town on the South African side (about 100 kilometres). Just past Komatipoort is the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border post. NB: current car registration papers (or good facsimile thereof) and third party insurance are required to get a car past the border. Insurance can be purchased at the border. On the Mozambican side, just follow the N4 (now called EN4) for a further 80 kilometres or so to reach Maputo.

Also easy access from Manzini in Swaziland, around 186 kilometres. With minivan/taxi the cost from Manzini to Maputo is around US$8 with luggage (price per October 2006). The drive time, including getting visa at the Namaacha border post, is 4 hours. The price for visa is US$66.

From Durban, on the KwaZulu Natal coast (South Africa), Maputo is 600 kilometres away and best approached via the Golele border post into Swaziland. The shortest route from Golele into Mozambique is at the Goba border post.

By Bus

Maputo is easily reached by bus from South Africa, among which are daily buses to and from Johannesburg along good roads.
Minibuses from Inhambane take almost 9 hours.

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Getting Around

You can walk the center of the city by day but steer clear of the central business district at night.

Metered (yellow-roofed) taxi longer distances or at night but agree to a fare beforehand as many don't have meters. Ask hotel desks or locals for guidance on reasonable fares (e.g., Hotel Cardoso to Feira Popular or Mercado Central is around Mt 150 - 200 (US$4–5).

"Tuk-Tuks" are also a great way to see the city. The driver's are typically more fluent in English as they offer their services as tour guides to the passengers of visiting cruise liners.

A very inexpensive way to get around is by mini-bus or "Chapa" (pronounced SHA-PAA). They work like small busses and have routes that criss-cross the city. All major routes begin and end in either the downtown core/market area, called "Baixa" (pronounced BAA-SHAA), or in the middle of the city, on Av. 24 de Julho, called Museu. If you can speak Portuguese, then this is an excellent way to travel, or if you have a local friend to take you. Prices are low, Mt 5 (US$0.20) for most trips and Mt 7.5 (US$0.30) for longer ones (all one way). Even if you don't know which Chapa to take, it's a great way to explore the city. If you get lost, just find a Chapa that is going to one of the two major chapa terminals within the city: "Museu" or "Baixa." Generally the navigators (usually hanging out of the passenger side door) will be yelling the destination. Note that the destination which is written on the windshield may read "A. Voador" - but don't fear, this is just an archaic name for the terminal in the Baixa. Drivers cannot get away with overcharging you because you can easily see what the locals are paying, or the locals themselves will object. To get off, say "paragem" to the assistant.

Chapa routes can be identified by a colored bar on the windshield. Among the routes that tourists are most likely to want to use are:

  • Blue chapas, which go west to Xipamanine
  • Yellow chapas, which run north and south on Av. Lenine, or on one of the parallel avenues to its east
  • Red chapas, which go north and south on Av. Guerra Popular
  • Green chapas, which run east and west along Av. Eduardo Mondlane
  • Black chapas, which run east and west Av. 24 de Julho
  • Pink chapas, which use Av. Eduardo Mondlane, Av. Julius Nyerere, and the Marginal to connect downtown to Costa do Sol.

All of these routes continue far out into Maputo's suburbs, where they split off from one another, but this part of their journey is not likely to be part of your itinerary.

While chapas are an interesting and authentic form of transport, they are not particularly safe. Even locals suffer from frequent pickpocketings on chapas, or while waiting for chapa stops. The minibuses are always packed far beyond their originally intended capacity, seats are frequently broken, and many travelers have to stand up while riding, though there are no handrails or appropriate places to hang on like in a larger bus.

Chapa drivers are notorious for disrespecting traffic rules and taking unnecessary risks with passenger safety to cut a few minutes off the journey.

Beware of the safety issues regarding chapas when you decide whether or not to experience this form of transport as a tourist (or resident).

Maputo has also been expanding its fleet of city-owned buses, which use the same terminals as the chapas. They have more varied routes than the chapas do, which can make them more difficult to use for the visitor, but you can always ask the conductor, or other passengers, if it's going your way. To take a city bus, you board at the rear, pay the conductor, and exit from the front.

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Eat

The local cuisine is a mixture of African, Portuguese, Middle Eastern and Indian/Pakistani cuisine. All these different cuisines are served at various areas in the city.

Any number of small cafes serve simple dishes and juices that are affordable. Unless you are adventurous, stay away from most roadside stalls especially if they are serving meat. Safe roadside fare includes cashews (usually fire roasted without salt served in small paper cones), fried bean cakes called Bhajia, uncut and unwashed fruits (cut and wash yourself with bottled water), and soft-serve ice cream. Expect to pay between Mt 15 and 50 (US$0.60-$1.50).

The fruit from roadside stands is usually fine, especially if it has a hard peel, which most do (banana, mango, pineapple, tangerine, papaya etc.). They expect to sell the fruit by the kilogram, so be prepared for strange looks if you want just a couple of individual fruits. Prices change with what's in season, except for bananas, which are always available - a couple of bananas should set you back 5 or 10 MTn.

The smaller cafes will have egg sandwiches, fries, grilled chicken, small pastries, and simple hamburgers. Expect to pay between Mt 15 and 75 (US$0.60-$3).

Do not lose sight of your credit or debit cards or they may be cloned. Rather always pay cash at any restaurant.

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Drink

Fruit juice is (sadly) usually sweetened nectar and not fresh 100% juice. The usual selections of fizzy sugar water in a bottle (soft drinks) can be found too. Pressed sugar cane juice is available in some markets.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola are widely available, including Sprite, Mirinda, and Fanta fruit-flavored pop (Orange and Pineapple are most common, Grape is also sometimes available). Coca-Cola is more common than Pepsi. "Sparletta" brand fruit-flavoured pop is also widely available. Expect to pay between Mt 15 and 50 (US$0.60-$1.50). Shop owners are usually very strict when it comes to the empty bottles as they are expensive and reused, do not try and keep one without trying to pay the full price for the bottle first.

The wine selection is reasonably good, and depending on your budget you can get a range of South African, Portuguese and Chilean wines. Most common are cheap South African and Portuguese wines, but you can find nice wines (for a price) in upper-end restaurants and certain bottle stores or delis. Wine by the glass generally comes from a box.

Beer is widely available, with 2M ('dois-em'), Laurentina, Manica, and Raiz being the common selection. Laurentina comes in two varieties, 'Clara' a lager, and 'Preta' a very dark Lager with hints of coffee and chocolate. Locals tend to order the Laurentina varieties simply by saying Clara or Preta, and leaving out Laurentina. Preta is the most expensive beer, followed by Manica and then 2M. Raiz is a newer beer intended for the budget market and is considered a 'cheap' beer. The larger beer bottles are also expensive and should always be returned or purchased. The beer itself is very inexpensive and reasonably good ranging from Mts 30 to 50 (US$1–$2).

Drink water from a bottle (25-40 MT/1,5 l), not the tap.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Catembe Gallery HotelRua B 77 Catembe 258 Maputo MozambiqueHostel-
Mandala Guest House Bed & BreakfastRua Tomás Ribeiro, nr 1GUESTHOUSE-

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Work

Work is now available to the locals, but if you are a foreigner and thinking about taking a sabbatical, it is a perfectly safe and comfortable place to do it. However, new regulations on expat workers in Mozambique have imposed quotas on the number of foreigners a business can employ, and it is getting increasingly difficult to obtain work permits as a foreigner in Mozambique, in particular with small companies or organizations.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is widely available in Maputo, with many internet cafes and all major hotels having internet access. Outside Maputo internet coverage is sporadic and mostly available in places frequented by tourists. Local Telecommunication de Mozambique (TDM) offices almost always have internet although speed and availability can be problematic.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Mozambique's international telephone code is 258.

mCel is the state-owned provider, and as of yet the government has only licensed one other company, the South-African owned Vodacom Mozambique. Apparently a third is arriving shortly. GPRS (data and internet) are available on mCel, with 3G in Maputo and other main cities. Vodacom have 3G in many towns and GPRS Edge elsewhere. The APN is internet. Check your phone manual for setting instructions. The mCel service is not entirely reliable, especially outside Maputo. Vodacom is generally very good. While it is OK to buy credit from the hundreds of vendors roaming the streets wearing mCel or Vodacom shirts you should never buy SIM cards / starter packs, in many cases they sell them at hugely inflated prices and often they will be from one of the many recalled batches that no longer work. Any mobile phone store can sell you a working starter pack for around 50Mts.

Post

Correios de Moçambique offers postal services in the country, but they are slow and unreliable at times. For parcels you should definately contact companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS or TNT, as they offer far better services.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -25.9686
  • Longitude: 32.5804

Accommodation in Maputo

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This is version 12. Last edited at 10:39 on Nov 17, 16 by Utrecht. 23 articles link to this page.

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