On The South of Africa Tour where I visit 13 countries in Africa, I take an overnight road trip to Maputo, Mozambique to explore the main sights!
Maputo is a city with a turbulent past. During its Portuguese rule, it was very stable, had sufficient infrastructure and saw many tourists from around the area visiting for beaches, luxury hotels, and casinos. The Mozambican War of Independence lasted a decade until the mid 70s and Mozambique was granted independence not because the rebelling group won, but rather Portugal’s new government after the Carnation Revolution simply granted them independence.
A quarter of a million ethnic Portuguese left the country almost overnight. This giant hole of knowledge and expertise left the country with a serious challenge, one that they could not cope with and soon in the 80s Mozambique was bankrupt. This mismanagement led to the Mozambican Civil War which lasted until 1992.
Since the peace signing, the country has become quite stable and slowly developing.
With my sister and her boyfriend, we left Kruger National Park from the southern exit which is very close to the border. The border crossing is straightforward from the South African side, but an expensive challenge to get a visa from Mozambique. An officer asked for the equivalent of US$80 for each visa even though I read that it was significantly less. When asking about the price he just pointed to a printed out sign taped to the wall. Right.
At one point the fingerprint scanner wasn’t working, so the officer rubbed his head to gather some oil, then rubbed it all over the scanner. We then had to place our fingers on it. Hygienic!
The whole process almost took an hour, but we were on our way. The drive to Maputo is very direct and the roads are fine.
In town, we checked into the prestigious Serena Polana Hotel located on the coast. The hotel itself is a historic landmark, designed by Herbert Baker.
That evening and the next morning, we explored some of the sights of Maputo.
A block away from the hotel is this tourist market located in a fenced off park. The market has a wide array of carvings, sculptures, paintings, crafts, and even T-shirts. This is the main market to get your souvenirs.
Fort of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao
This Portuguese fortress was built in the mid 19th century where a previous fort was located. Inside on display are original cannons and statues. Entrance fee is a voluntary donation.
This park in the center of the city has a notable Manueline arch, designed a Portuguese late gothic style represented in the Tower of Belem in Lisbon.
Cathedral of Maputo
In the main square is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception next to a statue of President Samora Machel.
The Monument to the Great War
A memorial to the Portuguese that died during World War I still stands outside the square in front of the train station.
Central Train Station
Built in 1913 – 1916, this train station is still being used today and is historic due to its design by the famous architects Alfredo Augusto Lisboa de Lima, Mario Veiga and Ferreira da Costa. There are a couple of antique trains on display in the corner of the platform.
Unfortunately the station was under renovation during our visit.
There are a couple of museums to visit but we didn’t have time. From Maputo, we drove directly to Nelspruit where we parted ways. From there I picked up a car and started my solo drive towards Swaziland!