Stay Safe in Mozambique
The risks are similar to those in many other African nations (and significantly less than some, including parts of South Africa). Muggings, robberies, rapes, and murders do occur, therefore standard measures should be taken. Women should never go alone on beaches; assaults on women have increased in tourist locations in recent years. It’s very important to ask local hostels and other visitors about hazardous places.
However, on general, the people of Mozambique are very warm and kind, and you will experience much less trouble than in nearly all of the neighboring countries.
The police in Mozambique are not there to assist you; they are there to extract money from you. Under all circumstances, do not put your faith in them.
With the exception of Maputo, where the police have been known to rob visitors blind and place them in a cell, insisting on being transported to a police station is unlikely to help your position. Instead, suggest calling your embassy or the anti-corruption hotline to confirm a fine, and always get a receipt.
If you need to go to the police station (for example, to file a police report for insurance reasons after a theft), don’t bring any valuables or large amounts of cash with you, and try to always go with someone else.
In Mozambique, the speed limit is 60km/h in town (unless otherwise indicated by road signage) and 100km/h outside. On the EN1, there are mobile speed traps that particularly target international tourists.
When dealing with Mozambican cops, never offer a bribe; instead, just listen to whatever lecture they have to offer and ask, “What can we do about this?” If they do ask for a bribe, the price is completely negotiable and may vary from a bottle of soda (bearing no identification) to several hundred USD (minor drug infractions).
You are required by law to carry some form of identification with you at all times and to show it to the police if they ask for it. As a consequence, you should always have a notarized copy of your passport picture page, visa, and entrance stamp with you. As soon as you arrive in the country, ask your hotel where you can find a notary or call your local embassy. There are two in Maputo: one on Av. Lenine, near Mimmo’s, and another on Av. Armando Tivane (one block west of Av. Nyerere), between Av. Mao Tse-Tung and Av. 24 de Julho. They’re not easy to get by, so ask around.
If you are asked for identification by the police and do not have a notarized copy, do not give them your passport; if you do, it will very certainly cost you a lot of money to get it back; typically, just chatting to them for a bit can persuade them to go.
While the majority of the nation has been cleaned, there is still a danger in rural regions distant from the EN1 in the provinces of Sofala, Tete, Manica, Gaza, Inhambane, and Maputo. It should be emphasized that only two or three instances involving landmines occur each year, and they are all far off the tourist route.
Stay Healthy in Mozambique
- Malaria prophylaxis is required in all areas of Mozambique. Chloroquine/Paludrine is now as useless as it was in other areas of east Africa, and it’s worth seeing your doctor to obtain enough protection. If you are in the nation and think you have Malaria, there are clinics in every town that will give a test for about 50Mts; if you have malaria, treatment will likewise cost 50Mts.
- Get all your vaccine shots before arriving Mozambique’s medical facilities are now usually well-stocked, but it’s always a good idea to obtain a variety of vaccines before you go. Prevention is preferable than cure. If you are traveling to distant regions, it is a good idea to bring some clean needles or a sterile set with you since remote medical institutions may have difficulty obtaining them.
- Mind what you eat. If you are worried about the cleanliness standards at a restaurant, as is typical in most places across the globe, don’t dine there.
- Do not have unprotected sex. There is an extremely high HIV incidence, as in many areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a current rate of 12 percent (preliminary data from National HIV Survey, 2010)
- Do not drink tap water or use any ice. Mozambique is considerably more developed south of the Zambezi River, which divides the nation, particularly around Maputo, tourist regions such as Inhambane, and the industrial metropolis of Beira. Because tap water is safe to consume in this region, particularly in built-up areas, water is promoted as “mineral water” rather than “drinking water,” and is sold at an inflated price as a semi-luxury commodity (sometimes for as much as 50 or 60 Meticais in backpackers lodges and restaurants). The infrastructure in the country’s north is considerably less developed, and as a result, care is advised, particularly in rural regions and the area around Palma and bordering Tanzania. In major towns such as Nampula and Pemba, as well as on Mozambique Island, tap water is generally safe to drink. If you’re ever concerned about the quality of your tap water, water-purifying solutions (often chlorine-based) are readily accessible and inexpensive, costing about 40 cents for a big bottle – the most common brand is “Certeza,” which is widely available. If you intend on venturing off the beaten path, you should carry puri-tabs with you.
- Private clinics. In Maputo, there are a few private health facilities that will also organize repatriation in an emergency. Clinica da Sommerschield (tel: 21 493924) Clinica Suedoise (tel: 21 492922).
- Electric showers. Check the shower fitting in any lodging. Popular is a very hazardous kind made in Brazil, which includes an uncovered 4kW electric heater. DO NOT TOUCH THE FITTING WHILE IT IS IN USE, AS IT HAS BEEN KNOWN TO GIVE SEVERE ELECTRIC SHOCK. Even better, turn off the electricity (there should be a nearby circuit breaker) and take a cold shower. Use the same caution while using any other kind of electrical shower heater.