- How do I get there?
- You’ll need to fly into the Beira airport (code BEW), which is only about 15 minutes from our house. When pricing tickets, you may want to look at booking your round-trip to Maputo or Johannesburg, then purchasing a separate ticket to get to Beira, which can be cheaper in the long-run but you’d have to pick up and re-check your luggage. We do not recommend trying to get here by bus.
- How much can I expect the trip to cost?
- That will depend on where you’re coming from, but to get from an international hub like Chicago or New York to Beira is usually around $1,500 round trip. Travel agents can sometimes find slightly better deals, and can book you from your nearest airport. Besides that you would need to budget $50 for your visa at the airport (make sure you bring cash! They will not accept a credit card!) and about $100/week for other incidentals if you are staying with us or $500/week if you are at a hotel or guest house.
- What language is spoken in Mozambique?
- The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese. We will try to provide an interpreter for you as needed; however, if you make an effort to learn even a little Portuguese, most of the people here will go out of their way to help you communicate. Asking for help with your language skills can be a great way to build friendships, and many people will be eager to learn English from you, as well.
- What should I bring?
- Men can wear jeans or long shorts (to the knee) for casual days, but bring nicer pants and collared shirts for church services or when preaching/ministering. For swimming please bring trunks, not speedos.
- Make sure you have some nicer, closed-toe shoes either for church or lots of walking.
- Being modest is extremely important for the Christian culture here. Please only wear pants, capris, dresses, or skirts that cover your knees at all times, whether standing or sitting. For shirts, don’t wear anything super tight, low-cut, or that reveals the midriff. For church services and ministry opportunities, plan to dress up with long skirts or “capulanas” (African wrap skirts), especially if you plan to venture out of the city into “The Bush”. For swimming, please bring one-piece suits with shorts or tank tops and shorts.
- We often do quite a lot of walking, so make sure to bring shoes that are comfortable. Flip-flops and sandals are nice for hot weather, tennis shoes are handy when you need something with a little more protection. It’s good to have some dress shoes for Sunday, and if you’re coming during the rainy season and want to be extra prepared, you can always bring your boots.
- Other Helpful Items
A headlamp or flashlight
Plug adapters for your electronics. Mozambique runs on 220 V/50 Hz and the plugs are usually type C or F (two round holes, the same type that’s used in Eastern Europe). Built-in surge protection on your adapter could also be a good idea.
Notebook and pen
If you’re coming during the rainy season, it would be smart to bring an umbrella or raincoat (see weather question below for seasons).
If you go on a bush outreach, we recommend you bring:
A backpacker’s water filter that removes all dirt, bacteria, and biological material
- What is the weather generally like?
- Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere, our seasons are reversed for many of our Northern visitors. Summer is from about October through April, and winter is May through September. Summer time is often rainy (especially November through February) and VERY HOT. Days are often over 100 F (37 C), and even at night sometimes it does not cool much below 80 F (26 C). In the winter time it is usually dry and you can expect daytime temps between 70-80 and nights from 40-50, so if you are coming especially June-August make sure you bring some warmer clothes, particularly for evenings and bed.
- What can I bring to bless you?
- Our list of needs is always changing, so please let us know directly if you want to bring anything for us and we will send you the most recent and updated list!
- What will my accommodations be like?
- We are already 5 people living in a three-bedroom house, so visiting us means becoming part of the family! We can accommodate individuals or small groups here at the house, but large teams will probably have to stay with friends or at a nearby guesthouse. Unless we tell you otherwise, we will make sure to provide beds, bedding and mosquito nets for your use.
- What sort of transportation is available?
- We have a minivan and a car that we use for most of our transport, but Beira also has buses, chappas (16-seater vans), and chopellas (3-seater covered scooters) that are inexpensive and can get you just about anywhere you need to go. Using the public transportation is a great way to get into the culture and we can show you how to navigate around town.
- What sort of shopping is available?
- Beira is the second-largest city in Mozambique, so you can buy just about anything you’ll need. Since we’re trying to support the local economy, we usually shop at the markets and little stores as much as possible, but you can always go by the supermarket to pick up items that can’t be found elsewhere. There are also nice souvenir markets with jewelry, art, clothes and purses made out of capulana material, and hand-carved items from local craftspeople where you can find some gifts for friends and family members back home.
- What is the food like?
- Mozambicans eat a lot of rice and xima (coarsely ground corn that cooks up to about the consistency of American grits). They usually top these things with beans, meat, fish, or veggies in some sort of sauce. We generally cook for ourselves here at the house. Our food isn’t exactly ‘American’, but you are also welcome to use our kitchen and cook for yourself sometimes. If there are any American “comfort foods” that you cannot do without, feel free to bring them. There are a wide variety of restaurants here, so eating out will also be an option.
- How can I get local money?
- The two main ways to get money are to either bring US dollars, South African rand, or euros (please, no Canadian dollars, British pounds or any other currency) and exchange it here, or bring a bank debit card (Visa only) and withdraw money from an ATM. You get a better exchange rate with the cash, but it means you have to travel very carefully with lots of money on you. We could take care of exchanging your money when you arrive if you decide to go that route, or we can show you where to find the ATMs here in Beira. The conversion rate fluctuates a little, but right now it’s about 60 Meticais per US dollar. We can determine the most recent exchange rates for other types of currency when you arrive.
- What are my internet/cell phone options?
- You can bring an UNLOCKED GSM cell phone and buy a Mozambican SIM card. The cell phone system is ‘prepaid’, so you buy airtime and then make calls or send texts. It’s about 70 cents per minute to make international calls, but once you have your own number your family and friends back home can buy international calling cards and call you for much cheaper. You can also access internet this way.
- Should I carry ID on me at all times?
- Yes, please carry NOTARIZED copies of your passport and visa with you at all times. It’s very important that you have a notary stamp on them or they won’t be accepted as legitimate. It is better not to carry your real passport around to avoid losing it.
- What are the vaccination requirements/health risks for Mozambique?
- There are no travel vaccines required by the Mozambican government unless you are from or traveling through a country that has a risk of yellow fever, in which case you should carry a proof of vaccination on your person. The “routine” shots are some of the most important: measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT), polio, and hepatitis A and B. We also reccommend getting the typhoid shot, which may only be available at a travel clinic.
- Malaria is less of a risk here in the city than it is in other locations; however, it is advisable to take precautions. We can provide you with a mosquito net for protection at night. Other ways of avoiding the possibility of malaria are to apply bug repellent, wear long sleeves/pants when you’re going to be in an area with a lot of mosquitoes and to stay inside at dusk. The incidence of malaria is higher in the rainy season (October-May), so during that time we REQUIRE our visitors to take a malaria prophylaxis. For the dry season (June-September) we simply RECOMMEND taking it, as contracting malaria is less likely, but still a risk. You will need a prescription for the prophylaxis, so you’ll have to see your doctor. The two we recommend are called Malarone and Doxycycline. Malarone is generally more expensive but also more reliable.
- Will I need traveler’s insurance?
- Yes, it is highly recommended. You are free to do your own research on this but we recommend the insurance company Seven Corners.
- How can I get a visa?
- If you plan to come for 30 days or less, you can now get a visa at your point of entry, be that an airport or a land border. If you plan to stay longer than that you would need to send your passport to the nearest Mozambican embassy for a visa. Once your trip is confirmed we can send you a letter of invitation and walk you through the process.
- Are there any travel/luggage restrictions I should know about?
- That will depend on the airline and the route that you take. Most airlines are pretty strict about their weight limits and some charge outrageous overage fees, so pay close attention and weigh your bags before you go to the airport.
- What are the cultural differences/expectations I should be aware of?
- Mozambicans are usually very warm and friendly. One of the commonest greetings, especially among women, is a kiss on each cheek. This is less common in man/woman and man/man greetings, where the more usual practice is just to exchange a handshake.
- Definitely learn how to greet people:
- Good morning: Bom dia!
- Good afternoon: Boa tarde!
- Good evening: Boa noite!
- How are you? Como está?
- I’m well: Estou bem
- Even though Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world and you’ll see lots of unusual sights, please be sensitive about the things you stare at and photograph. You wouldn’t want someone coming to your country and taking photos of homeless people and trash dumps to represent your country to all of their friends back home, so please show the same consideration here.
- We addressed the issue of female modesty in the “what to pack” section, and while it is very important, keep in mind that the definitions of modesty in the West and in Mozambique are very different. Showing the knees is scandalous and should be avoided at all times, but don’t be surprised to see women breastfeeding their babies in public with no covering!