Transportation - Get In
Most international flights to/from Mozambique use Maputo's airport .
- LAM operate a high number of domestic flights within Mozambique.
- TAP flies non-stop from Lisbon.
- SAA operates two flights a day from Johannesburg to Maputo and SA Airlink has five flights a week from both Durban and Cape Town.
Taxis from the airport to town should be around 500 Metecais (approx US$18). Hotels generally send their buses to meet flights, but only if they have passengers on the flight with bookings at their hotel. Local SIM cards can be bought at the shop near the exit from the terminal where there is also a bank.
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.
- Maputo Railway station(Estação de Maputo), Praca dos Trabalhadores.
The highway from Johannesburg to Maputo is very good. From Johannesburg, take the N4 towards Nelspruit (about 400 km). From Nelspruit, continue following the N4 to Komatipoort, the last town on the South African side (about 100 km). 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 (only?) be purchased at the border. On the Mozambican side, just follow the N4 (now called EN4) for a further 80 km or so to reach Maputo.
Also easy access from Manzini in Swaziland, around 186 km. 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 hrs. The price for visa is US$66.
From Durban, on the KwaZulu Natal coast (South Africa), Maputo is 600 km away and best approached via the Golele border post into Swaziland. The shortest route from Golele into Mozambique is at the Goba border post.
Lebombo/Ressano Garcia Border Control The border control can be very intimidating to new (and even returning) visitors to Mozambique. As you drive into the Mozambican side of the border, you will have many people rushing to your vehicle (some even looking quite official) and then directing you to perform this or that activity. The goal is probably to intimidate you so that you use their services (expertise) to expedite the border crossing, which they do. They will then suggest that you pay them a fee that you believe is fair for all this. In essence, the role of these helpers is to "fast track" your queue through the border control, meaning that they kinda bump the ordinary traveller out of the queue. This is done with the tacit approval of the border officials—implying that they are part of the tactic, and they quite possibly also receive some gain from it.
Depending on your standpoint, it may be viewed as encouraging an activity that is not entirely legal but expedites your passage, or something you are vehemently opposed to.
If you are a little adventurous, it is possible to cycle by means of a mountain bike from Maputo to Ponta do Ouro. But be warned that you will have to push your bicycle for about 30 km through thick sand. The trip is well worth it, and the look on the locals faces when they find out where you are going is not to be missed. Be warned though that it can be dangerous at times so try to travel in a group.
Transportation - Get 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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