Get Mozambique-wise on Facebook

Carlos Carvalho of Moz Info showing off the Inhassoro sunrise.

MBOMBELA – How busy is the border? Should I be taking malaria pills? How do I make a call? Where should I exchange rands? What do I do if I get pulled over by police?
These are just some of the questions South Africans ask when visiting neighbouring country Mozambique – and the number-one go-to place for holidaymakers to get quick and reliable answers, seems to be social media.
Once one of Africa’s most beautiful and fashionable cities, Portuguese East Africa’s capital Lourenco Marques lost its appeal and thriving tourism industry after the civil war in the 1970s and ’80s. Signs of the struggle still show, but by now the city, now known as Maputo is being rebuilt and although it might never regain quite the continental and cosmopolitan attraction it once had, Mozambique is once again thriving as a tourist destination and a favourite among Lowvelders.

This picture of Carlos Carvalho taken in 1972 at Clube Naval in the colonial Lourenço Marques.

This picture of Carlos Carvalho taken in 1972 at Clube Naval in the colonial Lourenço Marques.

But with its beautiful coastline and swaying palms come a lot of uncertainty about local customs, laws and formalities. And to this extent, there’s no need to look further than Facebook. Lowvelder recommends joining three groups: Moz Info, DriveMoz and Moz Forum. It will also be worth your while to like and visit the Mozambique is Lekker Facebook page before travelling to the country.

moz is lekker screenshot
Although created by different people, with different approaches and not affiliated with one another, being part of these networks will prove invaluable for first-time travellers to the country.

MOZ INFO

moz info screenshot

• Group members: 15 000+
• Founder/admin: Carlos Carvalho – A Mozambican citizen, and a well-known name here in the Lowveld. This businessman spent most his life in Mozambique except for his schooling in Barberton. For him the things he has seen and friends and family left behind during the war have been heartbreaking. He currently resides in Costa Do Sol in Maputo and enjoys fishing and photography.

Carlos Carvalho of Moz Info.

Carlos Carvalho of Moz Info.

• How was the group started: Carvalho used to advertise his details in Skiboat magazine as fishing is his passion and found there were a lot of tourists who had problems with corrupt traffic officers. If the fine was legitimate he could buffer the situation and bridge communication between Portuguese and English/Afrikaans. He started MOZ INFO to provide an easy way of contact and support.

Carlos Carvalho fishing at Inhaca Island.

Carlos Carvalho fishing at Inhaca Island.

• Mission: To inform members of daily news updates – from weather, exchange rates to breaking news that could affect Mozambicans in their day-to-day life. It also serves as a discussion platform and voices many opinions, as a free advertising platform and sharing members’ experiences. Carvalho’s objective was never to be involved in a money-generating group.
• How does it work?
Members and admin provide useful travel tips and answer a broad range of questions (from contact details for a physiotherapist to where the best steak in town is). For more serious issues Carvalho provides his full personal assistance all free of charge. Members such as Lisa Alberts and Zunaid Ahmed Lambat have really taken it upon themselves to try and help others out of their own accord but for the most part it is a combined effort from all. MOZ INFO is made up of about 65 per cent Mozambicans and foreigners while South Africans make up the remaining 35 per cent.
• Download these files: Labour law, threatened fish species lists, news clippings, road regulations, investment advice, local events and former names of cities.
• Favourite spots: BD Point north of Inhassoro for fishing and holiday, and Santa Maria Island across the bay of Maputo where Carvalho used to spend weeks alone camping and fishing as a teen.

Myself in Inhassoro with Crayfish - l love our Mozambican seafood (Medium)

Carlos Carvalho with crayfish in Inhassoro.

• Common mistakes tourists make: Foreigners who attempt to purchase land. “I’ve helped thousands of people – many have paid enormous fortunes to locals only to lose the land and all they’ve built on it. There is a strict process that a person needs to follow in order to obtain land legally,” says Carvalho.
• Top tip: Make sure that your passports are in order. They will not allow you to enter if it is going to expire within six months of entry. The passport should also have at least two blank pages available for stamping.

DriveMoz

drive moz screenshot
• Group members: 12 000+
• Founder/admin: Dirk Fourie – An engineer by profession who travelled to Mozambique for the first time in 1997. He loved the people, vibe and adventure in Morrungulo and since then has travelled from north to south, Ponta to Pemba, using most access routes from South Africa and Zimbabwe and returns every December.

Dirk Fourie of DriveMoz.

Dirk Fourie of DriveMoz.

• How was the group started: Fourie loves to assist people and wants to help develop Mozambique’s tourism industry. The group was created when the rumours of Frelimo/Renamo war were rife in November 2013. He saw the need to have a tool to communicate and advise.
• Mission: To establish a Mozambique travel community providing support, advice, and to make new friends along the way. It also attempts to get government officials to be more lenient and understanding towards tourists.
Group members can make use of a sticker on the vehicle to be identifiable to fellow group members and also to show Mozambicans that they do have support in the country.
• How does it work?
Apart from the Facebook group and stickers, members can also join the DriveMoz Zello (smartphone app) groups for real-time communication, similar to a walkie-talkie. “It is very handy when you get lost, a road is washed away, border conditions and queues, accidents, breakdowns and other required warnings about road hazzards or want to organise a convoy,” says Fourie. Like Moz Info, there is a network of members who assist and advise on the Facebook group.
• Download these files: Moon/tide tables, import/export regulations, sticker sales, routes, distance guides, traffic law, SIM setup and border procedures.
• Favourite spots: Morrungulo and Pomene in the Massinga area for its island-like coconut trees, blue waters and white sands. Pemba and the islands. You will not believe the beauty you get in places close to Maputo like Macaneta peninsula. Actually the whole of Mozambique is very beautiful… worthwhile to visit a different place every year.
• Common mistakes tourists make: Aggression and falling for bribery scams. DriveMoz advises that members must abide by the rules and laws of Mozambique.
• Top tip: Start your holiday when you are through the border, not at the destination, and see all the beauty along the route.

 

Moz Forum

moz forum screenshot
• Group members: 9 000
• Founder/admin: Russell Edmunds – Founded the group just over a year ago. He has been involved with a Mozambique beachside resort for the past 10 years and has a great love of the country.

Russell Edmunds of Moz Forum.

Russell Edmunds of Moz Forum.

 

• How was the group started: Though not very tech savvy, Edmunds likes to add a positive spin to life, and part of the reason why he started this group is to overcome negativity about Mozambique in other groups, especially among South Africans. As business owner, he has a vested interest in the future prosperity of the country.
• Mission: To promote good relations and friendships between people on both sides of the border. The group aims to be informative, positive and light-hearted and profides an advertising platform as long as those businesses also contribute in a newsworhty way. It refrains from spreading doom and gloom. Personal attacks and hate speech are not allowed.
• How does it work?
It offers support and advice where possible with members on both sides of the border who share their experiences and advice. Moz Forum is also currently assisting Gavin Sinclair, who is cycling through Mozambique as part of his Cape to Cairo adventure to raise awareness about Africa’s missing children, with logistical support and accommodation northwards.
• Download these files here: Towing contacts, snake bites, employment and immigration, property for sale and fact sheets.
• Favourite spots: Beaches in Inhambane province and further up north, but sadly too far for the average traveller.
• Common mistakes tourists make: Assuming that there are no laws applicable to tourists. The national road is very long, and you might get stopped by police often – this is how it goes, don’t feel victimised, just be polite.
• Top tip: Check that your passports have been stamped by immigration when you enter the country as sometimes this doesn’t happen and then tourists often face fines when leaving!

 

Also see: Be prepared before crossing the border

  AUTHOR
Aliche Bezuidenhout
Digital Manager - Lowveld Media

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