Mozambique marked my first foray in Sub-Saharan Africa and I couldn’t have chosen a better country to start with.
I had such a wonderful trip that I’m actually excited to be back in Lisbon with my laptop in front of me, so I can start sharing the fantastic experiences I had.
After just two weeks in the country, I’m fully obsessed with Mozambique and can’t stop talking about how hard I’ve fallen for the beaches, the people, the snorkelling, the food, and the laid-back way of life. I spent my first trip to the country exploring the more popular south, and now I’m already putting together plans to explore the north.
But let’s talk about expenses.
Finances-wise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mozambique. I haven’t travelled much in Africa, and I knew from friends who have that much of the continent is pricey for budget travellers. I landed in Maputo, then, expecting prices to be similar to Western Europe, and ended up pleasantly surprised.
As someone who was travelling solo and on a mid-range budget, I didn’t find the prices to be too bad and even managed to squeeze some luxury into my trip.
Let’s start looking at my budget breakdown for Mozambique!
All prices are listed in this post are in U.S. dollars, as always, as that’s where most of you guys are from.
The Cost of Accommodation in Mozambique
The value of accommodation in Mozambique varied quite a bit, depending on which part of the country you were in. Outside of dorm rooms, it was tough to find a well-reviewed guesthouse in Maputo for under $40 a night, but in Tofo and Vilanculos, budget options were everywhere (although didn’t always have amazing reviews).
For those of you who want to visit Mozambique on a shoestring, camping is common and can be done in most tourist spots, and especially in the south of the country. There isn’t a Couchsurfing scene at all in Mozambique, so don’t rely on that if you’re used to bouncing your way from sofa to sofa as you travel. There are hostels and dorm rooms are cheap. Fatima’s (around $8.50 per night for a dorm) is your best option in Maputo and Tofo, although both places gets pretty mixed reviews.
What I did: I opted for a real mix of accommodation options. I stayed in the best-sounding budget-hotel in Maputo, splashed out on a luxury eco resort in Tofo, and stayed in a popular hostel in Vilanculos. While quality did vary, the one constant was the bugs and the lack of air conditioning.
Taka-Taka Hotel, Maputo: $37.94/night
This is most likely the best value guesthouse you’ll find in Maputo, which was pretty expensive for accommodation. The guesthouse was basic but clean, the staff were friendly, the breakfasts were free and decent, and it was in a central location. There was one major downside to this hotel, though. One of the guests who was staying there went to reception and asked what room I was in, and they told him! I had never even seen this guy before, let alone spoke to him. He turned up outside my room at 10 p.m., tried to get inside, and once I got rid of him, continued to knock on my door to invite me to drink with him or introduce his friend to me. I slept with the room furniture up against the door that night and was relieved to be checking out the following day. Ugh.
Baia Sonambula, Tofo: $63.00/night
One of the best places I’ve ever stayed in and such great value for money! If you want a bit of luxury travel in Mozambique, stay at Baia Sonambula. The staff are incredible, it’s located just up from the beach, the rooms are gorgeous, the views are the best, the breakfasts are divine, and you even get free cake and coconut water every afternoon. I spent five nights and considered cancelling the rest of my trip in order to spend even longer there. I’m currently trying to convince Dave to take a trip to Mozambique with me and it’s mostly so that I have an excuse to return to Baia Sonambula.
Baobab Backpackers, Vilanculos: $31.23/night
Baobab Backpackers is a standard backpackers hangout on the beach. It’s rustic, there are cockroaches, and the rooms are hot and humid. If, however, you’re looking for a chilled out spot on the beach to make friends and be well-looked after, this is the place for you! Despite the relative discomforts (especially after my stay at Baia Sonambula), I really liked it and would stay here again. Lots of activities and excursions for you to take, there’s a restaurant on-site, which is useful if you’re feeling lazy, and the staff are so, so lovely.
Total cost for accommodation in Mozambique: $522.51 over 11 days = $47.50 per day.
The Cost of Transportation in Mozambique
Transportation is unbelievably inexpensive if you’re willing to suck it up and ride the chapas. To quote from my post about what it’s like to travel in Mozambique: Imagine a humid minivan with terrible suspension, swerving its way over pot-holed roads on a thirty degree day. Now imagine filling it with 10 times more people than the recommended capacity until you’re all packed in the back like sweaty sardines. Maybe throw a child on your lap, a broken seat below your legs, and some smelly food in there, too. Now, get the driver to rip you off on the price and have the local men start calling you baby and asking if you can take them back home with you.
Before arriving in the country, I planned to travel overland from place to place to save money, but it only took two days for me hand in my backpacker card and swear off using them. Unfortunately, though, if you’re not willing to use the chapas, don’t want to hitchhike, and don’t want to rent a car, there aren’t many other inexpensive overland transport options you can take.
So, yeah. I definitely splurged on transportation on this trip. I flew from Maputo to Inhambane for $100, then took a free hotel shuttle to Tofo (this would have been around $12 on the chapa), then to get from Tofo to Vilanculos, I splurged on hiring a private car after finding out the overland journey would involve a ferry, multiple chapas, and many hours stood alone on the side of the road attempting to flag a ride down.
Cities and towns in Mozambique are small, so you can walk basically everywhere you need to. I explored Maputo and Tofo on foot, and took tuk-tuks (yes, there are tuk-tuks!) in Vilanculos in the evenings for safety reasons. It was around $1-2 each way to most places in the town.
Flight from Maputo to Tofo: $100
Private car transfer from Tofo to Vilanculos: $100
Three tuk-tuk rides: $5
My total cost for transportation in Mozambique: $205
The Cost of Food in Mozambique
Food is cheap, cheap, cheap and delicious in Mozambique, and you definitely won’t go hungry. Portions were huge!
It was super-common for breakfasts to be included in the price of your room, and they were all pretty standard breakfast fare of toast, butter, scrambled eggs, some fruit, and coffee. Baobab Backpackers didn’t include breakfast but had a restaurant on site where you could grab an enormous omelette before hitting the sandbanks.
In Mozambique, you’ll find peri-peri-smothered everything and the enormous seafood platters will fill your stomach. Yep, if you’re not a fan of heat or seafood, you may find yourself having to hang out in tourist restaurants every now and then. The seafood is delicious, though, with some of the best prawns and crayfish I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating and some seriously great deals. A seafood platter split with two friends came to $6 each in Vilanculos, and was washed down with a $2 beer.
Overall, expect to spend $2-7 per meal.
For something local without Portuguese influence, there’s a dish called matapa, which is stewed cassava leaves, cooked with seafood and covered with peanuts, garlic, and coconut milk. I didn’t try it because I hate peanuts, but friends who did liked it more than they expected.
Drinkingwise, I used my Grayl water purifier bottle that kills 99.999% of all viruses, bacteria, and cysts in water, making it completely safe to drink. I drank the tap water everywhere in Mozambique, didn’t get sick, saved money on water bottles, and didn’t pollute the country with my plastic waste. I highly recommend grabbing one of these for your trip.
Fruit is insanely cheap in Mozambique, and especially if you eat 50 portions of it a day — you’ll find deals like 30 mangoes for $0.20 while you’re wandering around the markets, and the locals will be bemused if you want to buy just one.
I spent just $62 on food during my 11 days in the country. That’s $5.63 per day!
The Cost of Activities in Mozambique
To save money on activities in Mozambique, you should plan to wait until after you’ve arrived in the country to start booking experiences. Like many places around the world, the prices listed online for tours and activities are drastically higher than what you’ll pay by turning up and asking around.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that if you’re a solo traveller, you’ll find it beneficial to stay in hostels and take advantage of the group tours that are run for travellers. When looking at tours outside of my accommodation, group tours were rare and private ones charged at least twice as much if you were alone.
So what trips did I take?
In Tofo, I jumped on an ocean safari with Diversity SCUBA for a morning with the whale sharks. The ocean safari is aimed at the rare non-divers who opt to travel to Tofo, and involves spending two hours motoring across the ocean and jumping in whenever you spot whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and whales. It’s $40 for the tour, and I received a 10% discount because I was staying at Baia Sonambula. If you are a diver, you’ll pay $40 for a single tank.
In Vilanculos, I opted for an island excursion that was arranged through Baobab Backpackers. It cost $50 to spend a full day on Ilha de Magaruque and included snorkelling equipment and a fish barbecue lunch. This was my favourite experience in Mozambique and well worth the money I spent!
In Mozambique, it is possible to rock up and negotiate with the local fishermen to hire a dhow for the day at a cheaper price, but you are taking a risk by doing so. Hotel staff warned me of the dangers of doing this (potentially to convince me to take their tours) and said that the fishermen could take you out to an island, then ask for more money to bring you back.
The Cost of Miscellaneous Stuff in Mozambique
Visas: The Mozambique visa is reasonably pricey at $62 for a single entry visa for U.K. citizens, and you’ll want to make sure you leave plenty of time to get yours as it can take weeks for them to be approved. The only exception is if you’ll be travelling overland, as you can grab one at the border, and the Mozambican embassies in South Africa usually issue them on the same day.
Anti-malarial tablets: Mozambique was the first country where I took anti-malarials! The country has one of the highest risks of malaria in the world, so you’ll really want to make sure you take anti-malarials and take them properly. I opted for generic malarone tablets from Nomad Travel Clinic on Bond Street, which are $2.42 per tablet. Doxycycline is a much cheaper alternative at $0.19 per tablet, but requires you to also take the tablets daily for a month after you leave the country and is an antibiotic, which I definitely didn’t want in my system.
Travel insurance: I was paranoid about crime and safety in Mozambique after reading so many horror stories online, so I made sure to get the absolute best coverage I could from World Nomads. I opted for an explorer plan, which covered me against the highest amount of eventualities and had me paying the lowest amount of excess. I also added personal items cover for my laptop or camera after reading that theft was the most likely thing travellers were to come up against. I travelled through the country incident-free and felt far safer than I expected, so would probably opt for the standard lowest-cost policy when returning to Mozambique in the future.
Things to Know About Money in Mozambique
- You’ll pay for most things in Mozambican Meticals (pronounced meti-caish), but the South African rand and U.S. dollars are widely accepted, too.
- ATMs often run out of cash, and some of them just wouldn’t work with my card, so if you can’t get money out of the first one you try, don’t panic! Try a few others before concluding that your card has been blocked.
- Expect to pay with cash in restaurants, but all accommodation I stayed at had card readers, and so did the tour companies.
- Tipping isn’t expected.
- You can’t change meticals outside of the country! I completely forgot about this and took a whopping $150 worth of meticals out of Mozambique with me, turned up in South Africa, and discovered nobody would change them. Fortunately-ish, Portuguese currency exchange places do change meticals, but at an appallingly bad rate. I got just $70 for mine once I landed back in Lisbon. If you don’t live in Portugal, though, don’t expect you’ll be able to change your meticals once you’ve left.
And that’s how much it costs to travel in Mozambique! I spent around $950 for my 11 days in the country, which works out at $86 per day.
It’s not the cheapest country in the world, but it’s far from the most expensive, either.
I wasn’t making much of an effort to keep my expenses down, so if you’re happy to stay in hostels, eat cheaply, travel overland, and minimise the number of activities you do, you could most likely travel around for as little as $20 or 30 a day.
Have you been to Mozambique? How did my travel expenses stack up against yours?
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