A bumpy introduction to Mozambique

Updated: Oct 22


Mozambique Machipanda border seen through a dusty windshield!
Mozambique border seen through a dusty windshield!

It was a traumatic experience to get a visa at the Mozambique border post. Citizens of other Southern African countries don’t need them, but the rest of us do. It’s not easy to obtain a visa in the United States; you need to go to the Embassy in DC.

We decided to ask for our visa at the Machipanga border post coming in from Zimbabwe. We were already rather upset, as the Zimbabwean exit post official informed us that we should have obtained a multiple entry visa (which was not told to us in Beitbridge, where we obtained our Zimbabwe entry visa). We had heard rumors that Mozambican bureaucracy was difficult. However, we did not expect to spend 7 hours at the Migraçao office!


We were not alone in our plight (and boredom, and hunger). A young couple where the husband was Angolan (thus did not need a visa) but the wife was Portuguese, also waited for about 6 hours. They arrived after us but left a bit before us; they may have had the language advantage. On the bright side, we made new friends! They are traveling around Africa in a Land cruiser with a tent on top, and here is their Instagram account: https://instagram.com/viajar_viver_voltar


We were finally able to leave at 3:30 pm, which did not leave enough time to reach Gorongoza before nightfall, and we had no idea how the road would be. The first part was fine, a quite nice highway: the N6 leading to Beira. We had to pay a toll; only $5 bills were accepted if you didn’t have the local currency, whereas the toll cost $3 and we had 1-dollar bills.  Change was in local currency, at a not great exchange rate.


We thought we might find a campsite on the way, but no such luck. When we turned off the N6 to get on the N1 - in theory the main national road! - we found a road so potholed that there were giant craters. Night had fallen and there wasn’t a lick of light other than our headlights. People walked along the side of the road, rode bicycles without lights, whereas we often had to drive on the side ourselves, especially when there was a truck coming in the opposite direction. Fortunately there were some very experienced drivers in our group ( I wasn’t one of them, to my great shame).


After about 45 km that seemed like an eternity, we turned off into 15 km of dirt road leading to the park. It was bumpy and ridged but a lot less stressful than the main road. We knew that the gate would be closed by then and were planning to sleep in our cars if necessary until the next morning.


Astonishingly there was a vehicle with a group of passengers at the gate. A tree had fallen on the road. A team came from the park to remove it, and lo and behold! We entered the park, drove another 15 km or so, and were shown to our campsite in Gorongoza National Park at 9:30 pm.



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