As capital cities go, I wasn't the biggest fan of Maputo, although this will be the entry point into the country for many. One full day is sufficient to cover the main sights, so I really wouldn't allocate too much time here in such a large vast country. Be sure to check out Maputo Central Train Station for the stunning architecture, Casa de Ferro (The Iron House), Independence Square, and The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. If you're looking for souvenirs and crafts, visit FEIMA, which is located in the same neighbourhood as Saint Anthony Catholic Church.
Vilanculos If you follow the coast 700 kilometres north of the capital, you'll reach Vilanculos, which is a laid back chilled beach town. Long pristine beaches with crystal clear water creates the perfect setting to unwind. A few kilometres inland and you'll come to the centre of the town where there's bars and restaurants to socialise in the evening. Kilimanjaro Cafe is a nice spot for lunch! At the back end of the day, head inland to the lakes for sunset and you'll see the locals fishing, washing their clothes, and cooking along the river bank.
Vilanculos Canoe Safari Whilst you're in Vilanculos, a worthwhile activity late afternoon is the canoe safari in the Govuro Wetlands. Located 30k west of Vilanculos. This is a freshwater river, that's not connected to the sea. As well as navigating your way through the waterways, you'll see plenty of great birdlife, huge catfish, and a beautiful sunset setting. En route back, there are also hundreds of fireflies so keep a look out. The company is operated by Jay, who's very helpful with scheduling and answering questions. You can contact him via Whatsapp on +258 84 686 6341.
Mozambique Horse Safari
Around 20k south of Vilanculos Airport is a local horse riding company offering a range of different tours depending on your riding experience. There's standard rides, an ocean walk, a cultural fishing village ride, Benguerra Island riding, and even riding schools. I chose the ocean walk as it gave freedom to gallop at speed, along with some beautiful viewpoints of the beaches, and the option of entering the ocean itself. Majority of these are rescue horses from Zimbabwe, so ask your guide about the "104 horses" story. Here's the company website to arrange a booking Mozambique Horse Safari.
Bazaruto National Marine Park
One of the most iconic spots in the country is located a 25 meters off the coast of Vilanculos, which is the stunning Bazaruto National Marine Park. An archipelago consisting of 5 islands and has a total of 5,000 inhabited people. The seascape here is beautiful with fine white sand and crystal clear water, combined with an abundance of birds and marine life. There is a very small airport on the main island, but a day trip by boat is the most viable option. There's a high probability that you'll also see dolphins en route to the islands. If there's one place you visit in Mozambique, make sure its this.
Scuba Diving I'm relatively new to scuba diving, but had heard from many that Mozambique was a great location to dive, and it didn't disappointed. My two dives were both at Two Mile Reef, which is in Bazaruto, with specific spots referred to as Locker Room and Labyrinth. The marine life was very impressive with multiple turtle sightings, along with grouper fish, honeycomb eel, and my first shark encounter. There's approx 180 dugongs in these waters, but I wasn't fortunate enough to see one. The dive school I used and would recommend is Odyssea Dive based in Vilanculos.
The Ruins of Hotel Santa Carolina Wedged between the Mozambican mainland and Bazaruto Island is a small island by the name of Santa Carolina. This is a rocky island and very small in size, but still has a beautiful coastline. The purpose of my visit was to explore the ruins of Santa Carolina Hotel, which sits abandoned after years of neglect. Originally opened as a luxury resort in the 1950's, but was later used as a prison. In the present, the island is a popular lunch spot for many boat trips. If abandoned sights isn't your thing, then there's also some great snorkelling spots surrounding the island.
Villas do Indicio Ocean Eco-Resort & Spa in Vilanculos is my accommodation recommendation in a somewhat expensive town. Its beachfront location was a winner, as well as very friendly staff who are happy to help with itinerary planning, transport, and general questions. The restaurant isn't the cheapest, but you'll find this with most places in Vilanculos. My advice is to book direct, as their price was significantly lower than all comparison sites, so click here.
Nom Restaurant in Maputo was recommended to me by numerous fellow travellers and it didn't disappoint. This is a small local restaurant in the Polana Cimento district that is definitely worth a visit. There's outdoor seating in a "green setting" and a great selection of dishes, that are also suitable for vegetarians. The tuna ceviche is the best I've ever had and was the reason I visited more than once during my stay.
A guide definitely isn't required for a trip to Mozambique. The country is easy to navigate and there's many local tourism companies on hand to assist with multiple day trips and activities. There's no Uber available, but plenty of taxis available in the major cities. If you're looking for an English speaking driver/guide in Maputo and surrounding areas, I can recommend Luis, who can be reached via Whatsapp on +258 84 579 3902.