WHY NOT LET THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN?
There are 2 ways to get to/from Maputo by train from South Africa/Johannesburg. The Shongololo Express originates in South Africa and Mozambique has the rail company CFM
So if you do not want to drive you can avoid all the dangers of the roads in Moz. The Mozambique side is slower, so you can change trains just over the border in RSA.
Maputo Intl. airport (MPM) is the main airport in Mozambique. It's an old airport with a small terminal. But the runway is long enough to handle big aircrafts. I came with an Airbus 340 operated by TAP. The airport is located 3 km northwest of the city boundary.
Arriving at Maputo airport
The airport has no gates, so all passengers have to disembark from the staircase and walk to the terminal.
It was a long and chaotic queue when I arrived the first checkpoint inside the terminal. The first stop is a counter (see photo) where you have to show your yellow fever certificate. Both TAP and South-African airlines landet at the same time, so I guess there were 400 passengers in the queue. They pushed and forced their way towards the counter. Strange to see, but many people without a yellow fever certificate were allowed to enter the country. Maybe the queue was too big to handle...?
The immigration counters are located just behind. If you don't have a visa in advance, you have to fill out a visa application form (pedido de entrada em Mocambique). One of the immigration counters is also for "visa on arrival". But you can't see it before you are standing right in front of it. Just walk to the counter in the middle to get it. Fill it out together with the arrival note, and line up in queue. Make sure to have your passport, 1 photo and 25 USD ready. Then wait untill your name is announced by an officer. It takes from 20 minutes to 1 hour to get the visa ready.
Your baggage will arrive some meters behind the immigration. Pick a trolley and go further 10 meters to the customs.
The exchange bureau (Cambio) is located outside the hall. Just walk 10 meters to the right and go in the next door. It is found behind the post office (Correio). The exchange rate here is about the same as it is in the city. Change only USD/Euro/SA Rand. Other currencies gives a bad rate. The local currency is Metacais.
The taxi's are located just outside. The price is 350 metacais (14 USD) to the downtown, but it is possible to bargain that price. An advice: Since there are no hotel information at the airport, it is a good idea to ask the taxi driver to find a hotel for you. Pay him 350 matacais, but let him drive to the different hotels in the city so you can decide where to stay.
The public transport of Maputo is in its infancy. There are hardly any taxis and considering a newcomer to the city this limits pretty much the mobility he might hope for since chances are he would not know the routes of the minibuses that ply the town. Here is the place to mention that the prices for the motorized rickshaws and taxi cabs are way higher than the perceived standard of living might suggest. While any trip downtown rather affluent Windhoek will cost you the equivalent of 2USD, in Maputo it is going to be 4USD. This bizarre state of affairs is a matter for the distinguished IMF guests to Hotel Polana, let's say, but they are always driven in some prepaid out-of-this-world limousines so they can never get their numbers straight.
It's easy to travel from Maputo to Swasiland or South-Africa.
I took a chapa from Maputo to Manzini in Swaziland. The road from Maputo to Swasiland is very good (see photos). The distance is aprox 180 km, and it takes 3 hours. The price in October 2008 was 300 Metacais (12 USD). It takes less than 30 minutes to get the passport stamp and pass through the Mhlumeni border post to Swasiland. And the entry doesn't cost anything. Walk 100 meters to the Swasi border, and the same Chapa will wait for you.
Note that the border closes at night. Make sure to arrive the border in good time.
Maputo's transportation are mainly served by minibus taxis called chapas. The minibuses are mostly Toyota Hiace or other similar cars. And they carry most of the public transport activity in Maputo, just like most of the other African cities.
The price for a trip is 7 Metacais (aprox 1/4 USD). And the trip can last for almost half an hour. F.ex Chapas from T3 to Maputo centre (ave 24 de Julho) took 25 minutes. It's so cheap!
The chapas are often packed beyond their capacity, and many passengers have to stand up. 20+ passengers in a Toyota Hiace is not rare.
The chapas are frequently implicated in traffic accidents because of the "kamikaze-drivers". And the Comprador (the man who collect money) are often half outside the car window with their body, shouting loud to get new passengers into the car.
There are two major bus terminals in the city: one at Baixa ("The lower part of the downtown"), and another one at Museu.
Though Maputo's transportation are served mostly by minibus taxis called chapas, there are some buses too. If you think it's safer to be a passenger in a big bus instead of the smaller chapas, just go ahead and take the big bus.
There are two major bus terminals in the city: one at Baixa ("The lower part of the downtown"), and another one at Museu ("the Museum").
The ferries to Catembe, on the other side of Maputo bay, goes from the harbour on the baixa area. Just where Ave 10 de Novembro starts. The ferries leave when they are full. And the price is 30 metacais (aprox. 1 USD) one way, and you pay before you enter the boat. The trip takes 10 minutes.
SAA (South African Airways) have several flights per day from ORTIA (Johannesburg). The flights is less than an hour.
Don't expect too much at the airport.
On deparure, things are quite chaotic. You also need to pay a US$20 departure tax.
If any visitor is planning to rent a car in Maputo, this following information might be helpful.
On January 23, 2007, gasoline & diesel prices in Maputo were:
~ Gasoline ~
24.30 meticais per litre.
~ Diesel ~
24.50 meticais per litre.
Prices for both gasoline and diesel are approximately €0.74 euro cents or $0.95 US dollars per LITRE.
Or approximatelly $3.5 USdollar cents per GALLON.
Taxis are generally available in the city of Maputo and easy to find in front of any major hotel.
Local Taxis ride without meter (!!) but this should not be a concern for any visitor since, as far as I know, there are only two prices for the rides :)
> 100 Meticais (=about 3 euros) for any regular ride.
> 200 Meticais (=about 6 euros) for longer rides.
I've done myself several Taxi rides in Maputo and recall that only once I've paid 150 Meticais and one other 250 Meticais.
Nevertheless, my suggestion is to confirm Price for each ride before you'll get inside the car. Failing to do so, a customer might get a bigger check by the end of the trip and that would be an ugly surprise !!
Note that Taxis are generally quite old cars and on all my rides I've found generally trusty drivers regarding the concern of safety and robbery.