Arriving in Maputo, you could almost feel disappointed and discouraged. I won’t lie, like many African cities, the city is dilapidated and run down. Maputo does not seem to have a formal rubbish collection service, so rubbish dumping is random. Your Grand entrance will be a shanty town, kind of reminds me of Alexandra township back home in South Africa.
This picture of the street was taken through a windshield as the people of Maputo do not particularly like photos of their city taken. It is illegal in most parts to photograph, so be careful.
You will soon forgive and understand when you learn that the buildings look so run down due to the flooding that engulfed Moz some years back and of course Mozambique has suffered some of the worst civil wars ever, and they haven’t really rebuilt since.
It gets you wondering immediately what is the Big deal, why am I here? BUT WAIT, it get better once you get to the coastline. You will find most hotels in this area. Soon you will discover the Vibrant Maputo City with a night life-like no other. The Chinese are currently erecting some of the most sophisticated looking hotels in Maputo, so it gets even better. We have been able to find Gems though through pure chance and trial and error (like the VIP hotel and Indie Village), reasonably priced but very good.
WHAT TO DO WHEN IN MAPUTO
EAT, EAT AND EAT
Maputo has the best seafood I have ever had, although unfortunately I can no longer enjoy it to the fullest. I ordered the biggest platter in the house, as I wanted to taste everything from crab, langoustine, tiger prawns, calamari, mussels …. mm mm mmm. The platter was salivating.
Sadly I only managed to get through I leg of langoustine and 1 prawn, before I found myself in hospital with drips and needles. I should have headed the warning side outside the restaurant that said killer prawns …. “ Jokes, I do have a serious allergy to seashells SO I discovered”
So we went into this restaurant, one bite later, I saw the smile on my cousins face disappear as she looked at me.
Fresh Fisherman market
Be sure to visit the fresh fish market. Here you will find anything from the sea, fresh and mostly still alive. You choose the fish or shellfish you want, then there will be someone there to clean it up and cook / grill it for you while you wait (The best lunch ever), if you want seafood fresher than that, you can go fish for it yourself! Chicken is also made best the Portuguese way. I really appreciate how basic the Moz food is, with no additives and freshly prepared while you wait. You better have patience in Moz.
The fresh Fish and Calamari
Clubbing and dancing
So if you are like me and have an undying sense of youthfulness and rhythm, you will find the clubbing scene quite enchanting. People normally come out around 11pm / midnight/ after dinner, dressed up to impress. In my experience in SA, women do dress up for clubbing and always look dazzling; however, men are really quite plain and hardly dress up. I have not seen anyone anywhere going to a club in a suit, but the Mozambicans do. So be sure to take out your best white shirt, a good shoe, and good pair of pants when you go out. They play all kinds of music from everywhere in the world, but the best music ever has got to be ZOUK, PASSADA and KIZOMBA (each of these has dance moves that will blow your mind) learn a move will you? It will change your life forever. It is the most sensual, heartfelt dance I have seen. Did I forget to tell you that these clubs pump it until like 8am the next day…? “Talk about party till you drop” or do they take a nap first hence the grand arrival at midnight?
Friends I met In Mozambique…. Party people
Other than night clubbing, the people of Maputo have a culture of parking their cars at the beach front, pull out their cooler bags and pump up the volume until the morning. It seems like there are no real rules about drinking or selling alcohol publicly in Maputo. There is not fear of crime or anything like that.
TAKE A BOAT RIDE TO THE ISLANDS
Maputo is not a very friendly city as far as the beach is concerned. The only beach there I did not like as I found that it was not too clean, however, you can take a boat and go across to spend a day at the Portuguese island or to Inhaca Island. I have to say, this was my charm for Mozambique. I particularly don’t like swimming, but I found myself swimming with the starfish in the bluest and warmest water, & white sand beach I have ever encountered. There is no life in Portuguese island though, so take a picnic basket when you go there, or just go across to Inhaca Island next door, best prawns are found in little restaurants there. These boat rides are quite costly though (my opinion) so get a group of people to travel with.
Take a Ferry to Catembe
This ferry is pretty cheap. It was R50 when I last got on it. The Locals use it as a mode of transport to and from the city of Maputo. There you will also spend a day at some lovely establishments. Not much to do there, but do touristy things and meet some villagers. This is the home of the beloved Mrs. Graca Machel ( Our Late Nelson Mandela’s wife and the ex Wife of the late Mozambican President Samora Machel).Talk about a double president whammy
TAKE A DAY BUS TOUR
There is a bus tour that will take you around the city to see this and that. (You know the stuff tourists do). I personally don’t like these because for what they cost, they are quite controlled and they hurry you along.
Shop for some unique items
Warning: Maputo is not a shopping city. I find that everything costs 4 or 5 times the normal price comparatively. The one time I forgot my running shoes and scouted the whole city, and only ended up with an ugly pair of Nikes that cost me 3 times more than in South Africa. So have everything you need when you go there, including food and drinks you may need, unless you are buying souvirneur.
I did however discover a little arty shop in the city, by the Museum which sold the most amazing items, made out of African cloth and recycled material. These people can do anything with any kind of material like sweets wrap, chips, plastic, tin cans, absolutely anything. Go there and buy an item. You will look stylish, have a great gift while saving the environment.
Talk about shopping for unique items, I wasn’t sure however how I felt about buying a little puppy on the street corner. Me thinks this could open a huge opportunity for animal abuse, but over there it is normal.
Also – remember to have loads of mosquito repellents to avoid Malaria. Spray or apply onto your skin even while you are out at the restaurant, and wear long sleeves (albeit light). Some people prefer to take Malaria tablets. I personally don’t. I got them from my doctor my 1st time but when I read the side effects, I figured those pills might just kill me before the mosquitos do so I didn’t drink them. The locals say – eat loads and loads of garlic and drink Gin & Tonic (well just tonic for kids)
I hope this gave you a good idea about travelling to Maputo, we will discuss other areas of Mozambique on the next post.
Please make sure to inbox me with any questions and suggestions. I am always open for a great chat about all things travel.