It is no secret at all that South Africa has a quite bad reputation from a touristic point of view and that’s due to manifold reasons. One of the main ones is the healthcare system and the frequent endemics that are difficult to contain due to the lack of hospitals.
Moreover, the countries in South Africa are third-world ones, which means that they struggle with extreme poverty which, in turn, makes people to resort to stealing. Now, Mozambique is an exotic destination to go to. It has many national parks, endangered species that one might not be able to glance upon elsewhere and a generally amazing geography.
From a political standpoint, Mozambique has had its fair share of armed conflict, including a bloody civil war that took place there for over a decade. Nowadays, things got a lot better, so dying in a random rebellion should be the least of your worries.
In this Mozambique safety guide, we’ll provide you with valuable Mozambique safety travel tips, as well as give you an answer – or help you answer the question yourself – to this most frequently-asked question: how safe is Mozambique to tourists?
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Mozambique
Overall Risks In Mozambique: MEDIUM
The simple fact that Mozambique is in South Africa is sure to make many tourists think twice – and thoroughly – whether they really want to go there or not. However, this fear of South African countries is partially exaggerated.
If you take all the precautions in the book, you will be as safe as an expat can be in such an alien country. As you might expect, theft is an issue here, as it is fundamentally anywhere on this planet. People are poor and tourists are a source of money that they can’t simply skip over.
Theft occurs commonly in the larger cities and the crowds are thieves’ favorite places, because they can get away without too much effort. The roads in Mozambique are not very friendly, so if you rent a car, you should be two times more attentive when driving than usual.
Riots in Mozambique are frequent, so you should stay away from militating groups if crowds are starting to form, regardless of whether you think you’re safe. Is Mozambique safe to visit? – we tend to think that it is safe and worth the visit, as long as you’re not sporting a sign with “I’m a tourist and I have no idea where I’m going” written over it in bold.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Mozambique: MEDIUM
Maputo is an extremely known hub for petty criminals. Carjacking and armed assaults for the purpose of stealing the belongings of the tourists have occurred in the country in recent years and unfortunately, there has also been a spike in kidnappings for ransom, even though nationals seem to be more targeted than the expats.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Mozambique?
Refrain from wearing flashy jewelry such as rings, necklaces and bracelets. If you’re a photo fiend, don’t keep your camera around your neck lest you might get out of the crowd only to realize that you’ve been relieved of it without even feeling it.
If you travel with the car by night, don’t give in to the temptation to stop and take some random hitchhiker. This sounds like common sense, we know, but you’d be amazed of how many people in the world are just a tad too trustworthy. If you feel followed or targeted, call the police and get to a safe place.
Extortion is also common in Mozambique, with traffic officials stopping tourists even if their cars are in tip-top shape and asking them for money.
A Mozambique safety guide is basically useless if you visit this country and behave like a tourist. More often than not, the ones who get in trouble are precisely the ones that feel the need to make it critically obvious that they’re foreigners.
Scam Risk in Mozambique: MEDIUM
How safe is Mozambique for tourists from this point of view? As safe as any other country, we’re inclined to say. If you think that cab drivers will try to rip you off, then you’re right.
All tourists, or almost all of them, tend to make the mistake of not checking the taxi prices before taking their fares. It goes without saying that nothing stops the drivers from taking advantage of them and charging them twice or thrice the normal price.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Mozambique?
If you get a cab by calling a dispatch, make sure that you ask about the rates. This way, if the cab driver attempts to scam you, you can confront him and even report him to the dispatch of the company he works for.
Another thing we ought to mention in our list of Mozambique safety travel tips is that you should always carry change with you. With large bills on yourself, you’re basically begging cab drivers to scam you.
Buying food from street vendors is risky business, as well, as you can easily be overcharged. You should consider eating at restaurants along the way.
Kidnapping Risk in Mozambique: MEDIUM to HIGH
In recent years, the kidnapping rate has been on the rise. It’s a by no means reassuring thought, but it’s the truth. Poor people take desperate measures for financial gain and they stop at nothing.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Mozambique?
You can easily avoid being kidnapped and held for ransom by staying put during the night, even if you’re in a city with amazing nightlife. You can walk on the beach as much as you want during the day, but it’s pretty risky during the night.
If you think that you know the city by now, you’re right: you think, but you don’t. Also, don’t travel by car during the night. Armed groups have been reported on isolated roads at the outskirts of the cities and especially in rural areas where police can’t really do anything.
Look for travel warnings and read the news before you visit Mozambique and think very well before you decide to do anything stupid if you’re already there.
Terrorism Risk in Mozambique: MEDIUM to HIGH
How safe is Mozambique for tourists when it comes to terrorism? Well, we’re in 2018 and clashes between various groups are still happening, it gives you a clue of the situation there.
Terrorism in Mozambique is both domestic and foreign. The Islamist threat has become undoubted and it’s created a lot of turmoil in a country that could’ve done without it. Armed confrontations are likely to occur in Mozambique so you should stay away from the areas that have been signaled by your government or have made it into headlines all across the world.
For many of us, the threat of terrorism in our own countries is nonexistent, therefore we can’t really imagine how running for your life is like. Stay safe by avoiding public manifestations and if there’s any sign that anything is about to go down, leave the area immediately and go back to your hotel.
- How to avoid terrorism in Mozambique?
In order to avoid terrorism while traveling through Mozambique, it is important to know which kind of areas are most likely to be targeted by terrorists. In this respect, we mention places of prayer, governmental and official buildings, as well as areas that tend to get crowded during the day, such as markets and shopping centers.
You might also want to be cautious while using public transportation, as insurgents have recently attacked a bus (on the 6th of January), near Ulumbi, in the Palma District.
You should always keep an eye out on your surroundings and, if you notice anything suspicious, such as an unattended bag or package, leave the area and alert the authorities. Also, be extremely careful in remote areas and villages, as they may be home to either terrorists and insurgents that plan to attack nearby cities or districts.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Mozambique: MEDIUM
Is Mozambique safe for solo women travelers? We’ve already tackled this subject but let’s do it once more. The answer is “No”, Mozambique isn’t a safe place for solo women travelers.
Thieves have a sixth sense that lets them know that the women they’re looking at are tourists, especially when they’re isolated. We don’t mean to say that all people are not to be trusted. We’re just letting you know that you should exert a maximum of precaution when in Mozambique or anywhere else in South Africa, for that matter.
The most valuable advice we can give you in this respect is to travel in a group, regardless of how experienced you think you are as a traveler. Stay at a reputable hotel and keep in mind that BNB-ing in South Africa is the least thing that anyone would recommend you.
Sure, it saves you money and gives you a rich taste of how the locals live and how they differ from you, but it also leaves a lot of room for all sorts of deranged individuals that might want more from you than your life story, if you know what we mean.
We might come off as sexists for saying that women are more vulnerable as lone travelers than men are. We assure you that we have no intentions whatsoever of implying that men are superior to women; we just want you to be safe.
If you don’t trust us, you can do your own research on Google and you’ll reach the very same verdict about Mozambique and traveling there alone.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Mozambique?
If you want to avoid crime and harassment while solo traveling through Mozambique, it is important for you to acknowledge and understand the local laws and customs. After all, you do want to draw as little attention to you as possible - as a matter of fact, while traveling to a foreign country, your goal should be to avoid looking like a tourist/ traveler at all and to try to blend in with the locals.
It is also recommended that you avoid displaying any of your valuables, such as jewelry, gadgets, and large sums of money. Keep in mind that, depending on the foreign country's current economy, even $20 might be a large sum of money for the locals. It is better if you avoid handling money in public at all.
Naturally, you have to do your best to stay away from areas that are not tourist-friendly, so to say, such as shady alleys, bad-reputed neighborhoods, the city slums and the outskirts, and any other place that looks even remotely dangerous. As always, we strongly recommend you to stick to the tourist-recommended areas and postpone the solo exploring sessions for when you are in a safer country.
Rape Risk in Mozambique: MEDIUM
The rate of rape in Mozambique is extremely worrying. Even though female expats are not as targeted as local women, this doesn’t make them any safer. In fact, South Africa is one of the most violent places for a solo woman traveler to be in.
HIV is widespread in the country and the tendency toward rape has been the same for years due to the fact that rapists can have their charges suspended if they marry their victims. This encourages them to marry and keep on raping.
We know that traveling alone can be an enlightening and healing experience, but it might be anything but that in Mozambique. Do not travel alone at night and stay away from men that look too friendly and eager to help you out.
We shouldn’t even mention that you shouldn’t be hitchhiking. Kudos for the courage to do it but there’s a line between courage and stupidity. As of now, the rape rate in Mozambique is steady (which doesn’t mean that it’s low, evidently), but caution is highly advised.
- How to avoid getting raped in Mozambique?
Just as with solo traveling, it is important that you are familiar with the country's local laws and customs . For example, homosexuality is frowned upon in Mozambique, especially in rural and very religious places - therefore, if traveling accompanied by your significant other, you will definitely want to know how to behave when visiting such locations.
However, when it comes to rape, it is recommended that you take with a grain of salt any attempts of the locals trying to approach you and offer to either help or accompany you. Obviously, a decent dress code is recommended, not only to avoid being raped, but also to avoid locals from approaching you.
Traveling during the night is not recommended and, if you have to do so, you should do your best to have someone accompany you. When using taxis, you should only use the ones related to reputable taxi companies and avoid hailing one on the street. If you are cautious and stay within the tourist-designated areas, you should not have to face any kind of problems.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Mozambique: LOW
The highest risks when it comes to this are mainly medical and related to road conditions. The healthcare system in South Africa is deplorable, for lack of a better word. Pretty much all the countries in it struggle with a scarce number of hospitals, trained physicians, etc., therefore you should take all the necessary precautions in order to be sure that you won’t be in need of a hospital in the middle of nowhere.
There are some vaccines that are compulsory for travelers to have prior to visiting Mozambique, but we’ll get to those in a bit. When it comes to road conditions, potholes are a real issue in Mozambique, so you should drive as carefully as you can.
- How to avoid any unwanted scenarios?
Other than the compulsory vaccines and the medicine that you should bring with you, keep in mind that your children have to be kept under surveillance, so to say, at all times. Remember that you are in a foreign country and the surroundings are not as friendly as the park you have back home - if your children go too far away from you, you should start looking for them immediately.
Of course, there are only a few dangerous things that could happen to them, but looking for them in a crowd of both tourists and locals is the last thing you do. Therefore, while you have to make sure that their health is in pristine condition and that they have taken all of the required vaccines, your job is still not done. Whatever their age, it is better if you behave just like if they were five year olds and keep an eye on them at all times.
Natural Disaster Risks in Mozambique: LOW
Drought and massive rains are common in Mozambique, as are flash floods. The highest number of casualties is always claimed by floods. From 1990 to 2014, 45.6% of the entire number of casualties has been taken by floods.
Storms are pretty frequent, as well. Watch the news and keep an eye on the weather predictions.
Transportation Risks in Mozambique: MEDIUM
First of all, Mozambique is clear of minefields - all of them have been cleared in the past couple of years. However, keep in mind that, if you plan on traveling to remote areas or away from the main routes, there might still be mines - mostly in the southern and central provinces, such as Tete, Sofala, Gaza, Manica, Maputo, and Inhambane.
It is recommended that, before engaging in a long-distance trip, you consult the local authorities and ask for advice as to which areas you should avoid.
When it comes to road travel, accidents are quite common, mainly due to the poor vehicle standards, road condition, and driving standards. Pedestrians tend to use the roads, especially in areas with no sidewalk.
When traveling to low-lying areas, you should check the local news and weather reports before leaving your accommodation. These areas are usually flooded during the rainy season, which runs from November to April. Also, make sure to pack enough supplies for such a trip, as you might get stuck if the roads become impassable.
It is recommended that you travel outside of major cities, including Maputo, only during the daylight. Avoid driving during the night, away from major roads, and try to stick yourself, so to say, to a convoy if traveling through rural areas. Moreover, if you plan long-distance trips, make sure to have a consistent supply of fuel with you, as it is usually available only in major/ larger towns.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Mozambique: LOW to MEDIUM
There are no reports of serious or dangerous incidents that have taken place in such locations. However, depending on their location, you might want to avoid certain night-clubs, pubs, and bars. For example, keep in mind that most beaches and offshore islands are usually not policed and, if something happens to you, it is unlikely that you'll get police or medical assistance fast enough.
Given the fact that you should not travel during the night, we recommend you to visit night-clubs, bars, and pubs only during the day. If you really want to have a wild night, so to say, then we recommend that you stick to the bar/ pub located within your accommodation.
Use only taxis from reputable taxi companies when going to or leaving from such a location and never share them with strangers.
Avoid people that approach you while inside night-clubs/ bars and refuse any drinks they may offer you. Even if there are no reports telling of spiked drinks, you cannot fully rule out such risk. As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Health Risks in Mozambique
When it comes to health, you should really do your best to avoid any injuries. Hospital and medical facilities are known to be in a poor quality in Mozambique, especially in the northern parts of the country. If you are subject to any serious injury or illness, you will most likely have to be evacuated to the UK or South Africa.
There are not viruses, diseases, or outbreaks in Mozambique. However, it is recommended that, with at least eight weeks before your trip, you check the country-specific health advice, as well as consult with your doctor as to which vaccines you should take before leaving for your trip.
As always, you should travel with proper travel health insurance and with enough money to cover the costs of any medicine that you might need or any treatment that you may have to take during your stay in Mozambique. Make sure that the medical funds, so to call them, are able to cover the costs of medical evacuation as well, just in case.
List of Vaccines You Need in Mozambique
These are the following vaccines that you and the members of your family should get prior to leaving for Mozambique:
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A and B
Malaria is extremely frequent in Mozambique. If you have any signs of this disease, go straight to a medical facility. It’s pretty easy to treat in its early stages, but it can give rise to a lot of complications, many of them fatal. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent with you.
Most Dangerous Areas in Mozambique
- The Districts of Ibo, Quissanga, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Macomia - these areas were subject to attacks conducted by groups linked to Islamic extremism.
- Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean - significant threat of piracy.
- Maputo - several reports of carjacking, as well as a number of reports linked to criminal kidnaps.
Concluding Remarks: Is Mozambique Safe to Visit?
This is where our Mozambique safety guide comes to an end. Unfortunately, many things leave a great deal to be desired in this county. This doesn’t mean that you’re bound to have a bad experience and that the country is just not worth visiting.
Mozambique is a beautiful place to go if you know what you’re doing, where you’re supposed to go and where you’re not. We don’t advise people not to go there, we’re saying only that they should be very careful if they decided to make this trip there.
Hopefully, you’ve found this guide and the tips in it helpful. Many travelers just throw a dart at the map and go wherever the dart fell without doing any research. Needless to say, they get in trouble. Don’t be one of them: inform yourself and you’ll be safe.