Before you go: What you need to know before your travel
Nestled on the southern coast of Africa, Mozambique beckons with the allure of a hidden treasure. Bordered by Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and the vast Indian Ocean, this nation captivates the senses with its diversity and splendour.
The extraordinary nation boasts an estimated population of approximately 31 million people, with Maputo as its capital. Mozambique offers a wealth of treasures to explore; the Quirimbas Archipelago, with its idyllic tropical islands adorned with pristine beaches and coral reefs, the Machilla Magic and Niassa reserve are a must visit. The currency used in the country is the Mozambican metical.
Portuguese is the official language spoken in the country. Visa requirements for travelling to Mozambique depends on the country you are travelling from. The average travel budget for a single person ranges from $488USD to $1,000USD.
Nicolas Nhalungo is a freelancer and contributing writer for Vogue India, Amaka Studio and Grazia India. Nicolas writes about fashion, and underrepresented narratives. Born in Maputo and having lived in Egypt and India, Nicolas has a unique perspective on what is called home. Now visiting his hometown again to reconnect with his roots, he shares with us his favourite things about
Mozambique and tit-bits on how to enjoy a weekend in Maputo. If you are visiting the motherland for any reason at all, including steeping deep into the nightlife of Mozambicans, consider these tips and insights to improve your trip to Maputo, Mozambique.
Tell us a little about yourself :
My name is Nicolas Nhalungo, I was born in Maputo, Mozambique. At age four, I moved to Cairo, Egypt, which became my home for 8 years. In this way, the concept of home has always been very different for me because these days, I don’t necessarily attach meaning to one physical space but rather multiple tiny spots across the map.
When I moved back to Maputo for the rest of my schooling, it was a huge culture shock for me moving from the Middle East to East Africa, even though it is where I was from. It took some time for me to adjust and fall in love with the city but it took me leaving a second time to truly value my first home.
I moved to India for college but unlike the Bollywood imagery that is widely propagated across global media, the city where I resided was not a densely populated metro city but rather a small city located in Kerala, the greenest state in the country near the mountains.
I earned a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology but somehow found myself working as a writer. It was during the craziness of the lockdown period that I realised I had a voice, and surprisingly, many people wanted to hear it.
Mozambique travel advice: When to travel, what to pack to wear and tips
If you plan to visit Mozambique, the best time would be during the summer. It’s the perfect weather to be outside, lie by the beach and bask in the sun. You can’t pack your bag without a few pairs of swimwear because once you see that clear blue water, there’s nothing else you’ll really want to do if you don't dive right in. A good pair of slippers or sandals is also a must. Give your feet a rest, and let your toes breathe! I hated the idea of sandals as a child, but since moving to India, I’ve learned to love them.
I’m a big fan of hats (something I inherited from my dad), so I always pack a few different styles that I can incorporate into various outfits. A pair of sunglasses is another must-keep. It makes you look stylish and protects you from the strong sun's rays.
It would also be remiss not to mention sunscreen, there’s an erroneous narrative that Black people are immune to the sun,, but unfortunately, we are not. So please make sure to apply sunscreen, especially if you’re stepping outside the house.
Browse our trendy fashion of things to pack when visiting Mozambique here.
Where to stay: A feel of African luxury
Maputo offers an array of exquisitely designed hotels, the most of which are situated at the heart of the city. If you’re looking for an ocean view, the Southern Sun might be the perfect place for you. Sitting at the edge of the ocean, you are greeted with one of the country's greatest beauties. Meeting at the intersection of luxury and heritage, the hostel offers several amenities, including fine dining.
On the high-end side, you have the Radisson Blu, which from an architectural point of view is my favourite. It has a more contemporary feel and is located on the beach near famous clubs like Coconuts Live.
Photo: We Eat Maputo
Where to eat: delight your taste buds with local and fusion gourmet African cuisine
Maputo’s food scene has grown over the past years, and I would attribute part of that growth to We Eat Maputo, Mozambique’s first food blog. The page has done a wonderful job spotlighting our local cuisine and getting people excited about food.
As a self-diagnosed foodie, I think it’s a really interesting time for the culinary industry in Mozambique as we’re seeing more gourmet restaurants across the city being led by Mozambican natives instead of expats. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a few food creators pop up, and I really hope this is just the beginning.
Mozambique is home to some of the most delicious sea creatures on this earth. You get amazing giant tiger prawns, crab, squid, and fish. The list goes on and on. The best place to have all of these delicacies is at the Mercado de Peixe, but it’s not your average local fish market.
It hosts several stalls with seated areas for customers to order and savour. In my experience, the perfect day to visit would be early Sunday afternoon. There's something about the quietness, warm sunlight and breeze that can’t fully explain.
If you’re looking for some fine dining with an ocean-side view, look no further than Zambia, located downtown on Avenida 10 de November, the street which is named after Maputo’s Independence Day. It offers an array of local food as well as continental food.
We’re very big on bread. That is the standard breakfast across all social classes, we offer a wide variety of different breads in our local bakeries. I’d suggest buying some bhajiyas from some local street vendors and eating that with bread.
Places to visit in Maputo: discover and learn about local African artists
I thoroughly enjoy visiting art spaces, but funnily enough, the first time I had gone to an art museum was the day before one of my closest friends was leaving for college, and from then onwards, I decided to be more intentional. That museum was the Museu Nacional de Arte.
It was such an enthralling experience to see pieces of work created by local talent. There are a few art galleries like Arte de Gema and Kulungwana Art Gallery. In addition to that, there are a few museums you can visit, like Museu De História Natural de Maputo, downtown that are next to each other such as the Museu das Pescas.
Where to shop for local Mozambican artisanal designer products and gifts
If you’re looking for souvenirs Parque dos Continuadores and Baixa (downtown) are the ideal places to go. Parque dos Continuadores will have a lot of capulana-based designs and artisanal pieces on display, all within the same area whilst if you go downtown there are designated little shops. If you want a more commercial experience, you can visit Baia Mall or Maputo Shopping Centre.
Maputo’s Nightlife: Where to party
Maputo nightlife is something you need to experience at least once in your lifetime. If there’s one thing about Mozambicans, we love to party. Give us a set of speakers, some alcohol and some room to move and we’re ready to light it up. Similar to the food space, I think over the last few years, there’s been more clubs coming up.
A resident place that will probably stand the test of time is Coconuts, it was there when my parents were my age, and it will probably be there when my kids and their kids are my age. Funny enough, although I love to party, I haven’t gone out much in Maputo, and it's something I would like to do more of. You have newer places like Opium and South Beach now, and during the summers, you have events like Sabor do Verão, which is an unmissable night for the younger generation.
Where to unwind
A great place to unwind is Hotel Polana Serena, they have a great pool, and you can spend the day there with your friends, have lunch and go home feeling relaxed. From a more cultural side, there are few spaces that offer dance classes, like female-focused groups and couple pairings for passada and kizomba.
Mozambique Lifestyle - Music, art, fashion, cultural-politico
I think Mozambique is home to a lot of rare gems, and I think that creatives are not given enough support. One of my favourite artists is Jimmy Dludlu, who I recently found out follows me on Instagram. I grew up listening to him in the car as my dad would drive me around or at home on the weekends when we would have guests over.
My favourite painter of all time is Malangatana, who is one of the best African contemporary painters of all time. His aesthetic has been the blueprint for many younger artists in Mozambique, and the influence is very evident. A newer artist that I have been adamantly following is Cassi Namoda, who is a Mozambican American painter. I find her point of view of Mozambique so fresh and interesting, and I definitely would love to own some of her pieces.
My favourite authors are Paulina Chiziane and Mia Couto.
I’m excited about the homegrown talent we have; like Taibo Bacar, the brand is really leading the pack and continuously pushes the standard.
A budding young African Creative: Connect with Nick
Working as a freelance writer has been a very humbling experience. I have been fortunate enough to work with great publications that support and amplify African voices. I've underserved some communities, and so I feel a sense of responsibility in accurately presenting these stories. Right now, I’m on the path of working towards producing bigger stories and am eager to share them with the world.
Follow Nicolas Nhalungo on Instagram.
Discover more about other young and trailblazing African creatives here.