A little more than a year ago I posted my first enthusiastic blog. It was supposed to have been a blog about my family road trip across the African continent. But a lot has happened since then that has taken precedence over blogging – and yes I admit, the fear of my blog being imperfect took over as well. Isn’t it a human thing though, to let fear rule? Anyway we are back and we hope to regularly update our travel memories. The main aim of this is to share our travel experiences. There is no doubt about it; we are passionate about Africa and we are looking forward to explore as much of it as possible. Not a lot has been said about Africa outside of the usual bad horrific stories and of course, the SAFARI.
The SAFARI not your cup of tea? Me neither. I appreciate the kind of Tourism The SAFARI brings to African countries a livelihood for local communities, but I find it quite sad that almost the only tourism stories that are shared about Africa are about SAFARI and not much else, when there’s so, so much more that Africa has to offer; Culture, Music, Food, Fashion, the night life, not to mention business opportunities. So with this post, let’s start at the beginning. I’d like to share with you some experiences about Mozambique that have kept me going back and back again for more. I am a self-professed lover of Mozambique – I suppose you can call me a goodwill Ambassador of Mozambique – (which has now become my second home away from home) I started booking all travel for friends and family and now pretty much everyone. Soon I will be a full-on Travel Agent in Africa.
Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa bordered by Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. The Capital City Maputo is 600 Km from Johannesburg. There is a lot to see in different parts of Mozambique and each destination has a different offering and different atmosphere.
Anyway, i fell in love with Mozambique at first sight. My first trip was taken with my Late Cousin Thando in 2009 (May her Soul rest in Peace). We had taken my Hubby’s Freelander for the trip. It took us 5 hours to get to the Lebombo Border just after Nelspruit. As virgin travellers in Africa, outside of SA we had no clue what to expect. I was one of those people who were not very well organised, I sucked at pre-planning. So I did not even understand much about travelling across borders. I was just excited that we were taking a trip to Moz, and that my cousin was coming along for the ride. When we got to the Border, we found out that we did not have the required papers to cross the border. (Thank goodness I am now more matured, more researched and more careful).
WHAT WE NEEDED AT THE BORDER
- If the car is bank or car rental owned, you need permission LETTER from them to cross the border
- You will need to arrange with your insurance to cover you while you are across borders
- You will need ownership papers if you own the car
- A valid license disc for your car (ours was expired as hubby had forgotten to attach the renewed one, so we were in a real predicament).
- A third party insurance – usually you can buy it at the Border for R150 ( SA Rands) or USD $9 ( it is always required by the Mozambican law enforcement even if you have your car comprehensive cover) and of course you know the rest of the more obvious ones like valid passports and your drivers licence
- For those travelling with Kids. You need an UNABRIDGED birth certificate and a letter of the other parent if you are not travelling with him/her
But me being me, I was not about to spoil this exciting excursion by turning back at the border, which is what we were told to do. I do not take no for an answer. We had to park aside, make a few phone calls to figure out a way out of this one by hook or by crook. We could smell Mozambique. We were only 1 hour away. Needless to say – we did end up in Mozambique that day and NO! We did not bribe anyone! One of my pet peeves is to bribe, I think Charm is more valuable than money (which we used throughout our travels in Mozambique. I’m one of those who just don’t take NO for an answer. I don’t know how we got it right as bribery seems to be the norm synonymous with law enforcement in Africa. I have heard avid African travellers saying carry some extra cash to bribe the police…. REALLY? I have been in and out of Mozambique more than a dozen times since then and I have not bribed a policeman!
I have now learned the ropes and I now help a lot of people cross the border and enjoy their holidays in Moz and other African countries. Here is some invaluable information on titbits you should know if you intend to have a great holiday in Moz.
Road traffic near the border ( make sure not to go there on Christmast eve)
AT THE BORDER CROSSING
If you are crossing from South African side – it is usually just easy, get in and stamp. Declare electronics like computers, or serious kind of Cameras . (I have never declared my personal laptop or small camera – No big deal) then you are good to go. Get back to the car and drive 200 metres to the Mozambican side. This is where things start to get interesting. Instantly you can almost feel the change in atmosphere. It seems the air gets thicker and even a bit grey. Isn’t it amazing? Even the people begin to look different.
Here the process is almost the same. Go in there, get stamped and walk out. Here you will fill in a form about the car, (written in Portuguese and very small print you may see English ) but before you even get inside the counters, you will be bombarded by a bunch of locals who claim to have ease of access, fill in your documents and clear you through customs without you getting out of your car! My advice, DON’T FALL FOR IT! You will end up paying dearly for this service, when in-fact it costs 0 (ZERO) cent. We have been accused by the guys before that “black people don’t pay, and white people pay up to as much as R3000) shocking. YOU SERIOUSLY DO NOT NEED TO PAY ANYBODY FOR ANYTHING WHATSOEVER.
It should not be difficult, just be nice and you are few metres into Mozambique.
PS: For a more detailed, seemingly scary list / information on border crossings, I have borrowed a copy of the guys at Morungulo bay and shared it here. Go to their link http://www.morrungulo.com/travel-info and read more info. Personally I have found that the border is not that restrictive really, most of those requirements are on paper only, but not strictly adhered to, but it’s better to know and adhere.
WELCOME TO MOZAMBIQUE
Once you cross the border, you will again be bombarded by guys selling cell phone sim cards and Meticals (exchanging money). I really have not understood the order of business here, but I do know that I always exchange money here with these old Mamas. I always find the exchange rate better here, things get more expensive the deeper you go into Moz. Otherwise, just withdraw from the ATM. It is better to pay with local currency, or just swipe your card. Also if you are intending to keep communication lines open, Facebook, calling etc, I always find it better and cheaper to buy a local sim card rather than roaming. However you will find that sim cards are sold everywhere in the street 24/ 7