Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Mozambique is the first Portuguese country I visited in Africa, and I had a wonderful time there.
However, if you follow the news, you would be terrified of visiting and expect nothing but danger, especially for a female solo traveller.
The truth is that in the past not many people have been to Mozambique, though it’s slowly coming up now as a new travel destination. Unfortunately, you will still read frequently that under no circumstances, any woman should travel alone to that country. Yet, when I arrived from Eswatini to Maputo and walked along the coastline, I felt most people were very friendly and travels in Mozambique are extremely rewarding.
The food, which is influenced by the Portuguese, is finger-licking delicious and the country has the best cashew nuts to eat in all of Africa.
I do think this country is a perfect example of making your own judgment by travelling there yourself rather than just reading about it or watching it on TV.
The Capital Maputo
Getting into the country through the land border with Eswatini was more or less easy for me, despite waiting 1-2 hours at immigration. I was rewarded for the wait – I found myself in a beautiful country full of kind people and one of the best diving spots in Africa! Mozambique is bigger than it seems to be on the map. Actually, it has one of the longest coastlines in the entire world.
On this trip, I decided to only explore Maputo, the capital, and to dive as much as I could in Ponta do Ouro. If you guys don’t know it, I love diving and I also learned freediving in Bali. I skipped Tofo and Bazaruto Archipelago this time, but you should definitely visit it if you have time. And I would love to come back one day and explore the northern part of Mozambique.
I bet many travellers avoid Maputo, as there is really not much to do. My exploration of the city was done by walking as usual. However, I heard unpleasant stories of solo female travellers being harassed by the macho men in Maputo. To be very honest with you, the capital is also stinky and very much littered, more than any other of the African capitals I visited in the past. Another experience I had in Maputo was that I was not able to trust the police (similar to living in Kenya now). They are corrupt as hell and always looking for a way to extort money. Whenever I saw police, I tried to avoid them by changing the side of the street. But still, I recommend you stay at least one day in Maputo to see the other side of the medal, too.
Ponta do Ouro
When taking the public chapas, the minivan buses, from Maputo to Ponta do Ouro, I found myself surrounded by extremely friendly locals on a very bumpy ride. Keep in mind that Mozambique has tropical weather, it is humid, and you will sweat a lot. Like, really a lot. By the way, don’t forget to take your anti-malaria medicine.
I spent a lot of time diving in Ponta do Ouro. In Tofo, you can even swim with humpback whales, which I did in the past in Tonga. In general, I consider Mozambique as one of the best and (still) undiscovered diving destinations! Ponta’s scuba diving is surprisingly world-class and the conditions for underwater photography are ideal. I had about 8 dives in the week I spent there and got to take many pictures of the sharks.
The water is warm and clear, and the offshore reefs are famous for reef sharks. Dolphins, turtles, and rays can also be seen throughout the year. If you get there between July and January, it is quite common to see whales and whale sharks. I was there in April 2021.
The best thing was that while I was in Ponta do Ouro, there were barely any tourists, not even from South Africa. Most of the beachside I got all for myself and you can cross to South Africa by walking on the beach without going through immigration – I just love it! In my opinion, borders are only man-made anyway.
One of the Top 10 Countries in Africa
Mozambique definitely belongs to my Top 10 countries to visit in Africa and if you are willing to travel off the beaten track, the country will reward you with pristine white-sand beaches and stunning diving sites, friendly locals and some of the most flavourful food on the continent.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore Mozambique, so you don’t end up like me, only diving in the south. It’s worth it to also see the less-visited northern part of the country.
Zimbabwe – The country I think everyone should visit
Despite my very short journey to Zimbabwe, I found it has one of the funniest people of my entire African travels. It is a country where one can spot all the Big Five (leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo) in the national parks, visit the lush mountains, and be awed at the wondrous sight of one of the greatest natural wonders: the famous Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe, as I mentioned above, has some of the funniest and friendliest people on the continent, despite governmental mismanagement, political violence, and one of the worst hyperinflation economic disasters in human history. The people of Zimbabwe were welcoming me with the same wittiness and politeness that they’re famed for in the southern part of Africa. As a result, I found it to be one of the safest and friendliest countries on the continent. I had no problems walking home at midnight or walking 25 km in a day throughout the capital!
This country is definitely an iconic destination.
The people of Zimbabwe
I was touched by the level of high hospitality and the warm welcome I received in all my interactions with the Zimbabwean people. Despite the hardship they experienced in the past because of a disastrous economy, everyone I met was still very optimistic and hopeful.
Talking to Zimbabweans, I could experience firsthand how much they value their wildlife and how desperate they are to conserve the natural areas. I feel that tourism would not only boost the economy again but also have a strong positive impact on the conservation efforts in Zimbabwe.
As you know, I was denied crossing the land border when I tried to travel from Botswana into Zimbabwe. Instead, I ended up in Zambia.
This time, I finally made it from Mozambique to Zim! The country with the most languages spoken, 16 official languages in total! The three main spoken ones are English, Shona and Ndebele. I visited Zim in April. Usually, this is not the season for wildlife and camping, so doing this would have been difficult. But the Victoria Falls, or better known amongst locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya, were at their highest levels.
I am glad that I have the opportunity to be supported by Perfect Corp. and Cyberlink to share with my readers the beauty of this world. Including visiting Natural Wonders of the world like Mosi-oa-Tunya.
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls on the planet. They’re even more beautiful to see in real life than you could ever imagine from just watching them on TV. They are a tourist hot spot with many activities on offer, like white-water rafting or just hiking. Because Zimbabwe and Zambia have a healthy rivalry when it comes to which “side” is better to visit. I just leave that decision to you. Just to throw one fact into the debate: Three-quarters of the falls lie within Zimbabwe.
Hence, I made sure I had plenty of time to visit all the places from where to experience the Victoria Falls in Zim. Pack some waterproof gear and you can even visit Devils Pool to swim in and lounge on the edge of the world.
After the rainy season, Mosi-oa-Tunya has been in full flood during my visit and provided a spectacle that I can’t fully describe with my own words.
Spending time in and around Harare
Today, the economy in Zim is slowly recovering, and more and more travellers are enjoying the country. If you are nuts about seeing elephants, there are incredible herds in Hwange National Park, which are famous in the southern part of Africa. Or you can consider canoeing safaris in Mana Pools National Parks, a World Heritage Site.
Indeed, the country is a top-notch destination for predator sightings.
After my safari adventure in Botswana, however, I just wanted to soak in the vibes of Harare and its people. Harare was the best place to relax after my diving trip in Mozambique.
I met a wonderful family in Harare (Thank you Charles if you read this!) who welcomed me. And I could spend most of my days walking around Harare and visiting a few sanctuaries, as well as quite a few galleries. Hence I was very surprised that this capital is quite artistic. For sure I would recommend walking around the city centre. And the best – talking to the locals to get a feeling for the country and its people.
Dishes in Zimbabwe
Food is quite similar to the other countries in southern Africa. Here are some very traditional dishes to try:
The number one food is called Sadza and made from Maize Meal.
The main food staple of Zimbabwe and so many other African countries. It is comparable to Ugali in Kenya or Nshima in Malawi. Mostly, it’s eaten with stews and/ or collard greens. The porridge is called Bota and made from a diluted form of maize meal, millet, or sorghum. There are lots of dishes with peanuts, maize, and beans like Nzungu (peanuts) or Bambara nuts (nyimo). Another dish called Mangai is a mixture of peanuts and maize, like the Githeri in Kenya or South Africa’s Umngqusho. Boiled yams are commonly eaten for breakfast.
Next Adventure After Mozambique & Zimbawe
In the end, I could relax well enough in Harare before heading to my next adventure: In the Democratic Republic of Congo. The visit of the famous lava lake in the crater of the Nyiragongo volcano in Goma.
To sum it up: I had a wonderful time in Zimbabwe with the locals. So, hurry up before the rest of the world catches on!