Crossing Zimbabwe to Mozambique
Crossing from Harare, Zimbabwe to Maxixe and Maputo, Mozambique
Apparently, there’s no buses from Zimbabwe to Mozambique. You would have to cross the border yourself and once you’re in Mozambique side, that’s the only time you can take buses to anywhere in the country. Note that EVERYBODY warned me against this trip and even the locals thought I must be out of my mind for crossing this border by myself. Apparently, so many things can go wrong and road dangers frequently occur.
There were times when I’m the only female passenger in a small van cramped with other local male passengers; I got lost in a place where people spoke very little English so it was impossible to explain my situation; and oftentimes vendors would try to rip me off. However, I also met a lot of people who helped me greatly. Without these people I have no idea how I could have gone through some tough times. I won’t recommend this as the best option to cross from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, I just don’t have so many options left and I can’t afford to take a flight. I got through it safe and sound but not everyone can be lucky so just be cautious.
LEG 1: Harare to Mutare
1) From the city center of Harare, take a 10 minute taxi ride to the Mutare bus station, which costs 5 USD. It seems only non-air-conditioned buses are available and they leave every hour beginning 8am so pre-booking will not be necessary. It is best to take the bus before lunch time to make sure you don’t arrive in Mutare very late. The journey takes 4 hours with one toilet stop-over in a very local market.
LEG 2: Mutare to Machapanda border of Mozambique
2) From Mutare, you have to negotiate for a private transfer to the border of Mozambique in Machapanda. These drivers would be waiting as soon as you get off the bus. It costs 8-10 USD and travel time takes only 10 minutes.
3) Upon arrival at the border, get off and walk your way to the gate of the Immigration of Zimbabwe to have your passport stamped out. After which, bid Zimbabwe goodbye and continue walking to the Immigration side of Mozambique for around 200 meters.
Immigration of Mozambique
4) From the border of Mozambique, present your visa at the Immigration (if holding one). Alternatively, you may also apply for the visa upon arrival. For the latter, they will have you fill out 2 application forms then you will be led to a separate room to have your photo and fingerprints taken. Also pay the corresponding visa fee of 76 USD. Shortly, your visa label and official receipt will be issued accordingly.
Options where to get Mozambique tourist visa if coming from Zimbabwe:
- Upon arrival at the border for 76 USD (what I did); or
- At the municipal town of Harare or Mutare for 50 USD which can be applied and acquired on the same day (highly recommended)
LEG 3: From the border of Mozambique to Manica
Cost: I hitch-hiked so I didn’t get to check the price but it should not be more than 100 meticais
On that note, shout-out to this Zimbabwean random stranger I met who helped me cross the border! Long story short, I wasn’t sure if Philippine passport holders can get visa upon arrival at Mozambique. I’m pretty sure I checked BUT my source is not bullet-proof… AND… if I did cross the border and turns out, I can’t get upon arrival, I can’t just go back to Zimbabwe because my single-entry visa has been stamped out and I would need to apply online again and wait 3 days bla bla…And so this man saved the day and basically used his local powers to make sure I don’t get trapped in the “In-Between” 🙂
5) From the border of Mozambique, you have to take a public van (combi) to take you to Manica. This is a 15 minute ride and you will be dropped off in a busy, local market where public vans to Chimoio would be waiting.
Acquire local currency (Meticais) and Mozambique sim card (1 USD)
They only take Meticais in Mozambique so make sure to exchange your dollars in the border before you take the van that goes to Manica. Initially exchange 50 USD and that should be enough to take you wherever you’re headed in the country. I also suggest to acquire a Mozambique sim card (vodacom) so you can get in touch with your host/ hostel if something goes wrong. Purchase an additional 100 Meticais phone credits just in case you need to make calls; this should also allow you to use internet in your smartphone.
To load credits to your phone:
Dial *100*01*PIN NUMBER# then PRESS the CALL BUTTON
To register for internet package after loading credits to your phone:
○ Dial *111# then PRESS the CALL BUTTON
○ Select Internet and Blackberry
○ Select Internet Packages
○ Select Activate
○ Choose accordingly from Day, Weekly, or Monthly packages
Sample cost for Day Internet Packages:
30 Meticais for 150 MB valid for 7 days
LEG 4: From Manica to Chimoio
Cost: 65 Meticais
6) Public vans from Manica to Chimoio are not the best ones, if not one of the worst 1.5 hr. ride I had to endure. The van can sit around 13 but they squeezed 20 people in! I had my bags on my lap and I swear everyone will be alive even if we crash because we are well cushioned in each other’s body. There will be no toilet stop-overs except to drop some people and take in more passengers because you know, there’s still so much space left.
Ask the driver or the ticket guy to drop you off at the bus terminal that leaves for Maxixe (pronounced as Mashishe)or Maputo; research how to say these words in Portuguese as they speak very little English.
Leg 5: From Chimoio to Mozambique (Maxixe/ Maputo)
Cost: 1300 Meticais
7) I arrived at the bus station around 7pm and found the bus that passes by Maxixe (where I have to be) and goes all the way to Maputo. Unfortunately, although the bus is already parked there, it won’t leave until 5am the following morning. I have no money for hostel, and I figured even if I have, it’s not worth shedding it only for a few hours. So I decided to take my backpacking career to the next level and sleep in the bus. To my surprise, a good number of passengers were sleeping there too both males and females. There was a local vendor outside and the ticketing guy was also there so the bus was guarded the whole night. I slept alright in the front seat with my seat reclined all the way. I sat beside my backpacks, which I sometimes use as pillow too. I woke up at 5am, straightened up my seat, ready to embark on another 10 hour bus ride to Maxixe.
Journey from Chimoio to Mozambique (Maxixe/ Maputo)
In the course of our journey, our bus was stopped around 4 times by either armed police or military officers. Twice, the officers came up to the bus and individually looked at the identification cards/ passports of all passengers. For foreigners like myself, we were asked to get off the bus for a further one-on-one interview in a separate room. I felt a little bit uncomfortable as I could feel they’re in to spot the smallest discrepancy and use it against me. The ticket vendor accompanied us the whole time so that’s at the very least, a relief. I also felt like it worked to my advantage that I don’t speak Portuguese because they speak limited English, which limited our overall conversation. The interview was short and they just asked the following so have these details ready. I also suggest not to show any sign of defiance and just flash your close-up smile until they return your passport.
- Where you came from (I presented my Zimbabwe visa label as proof)
- Final destination in Mozambique
- Purpose in Mozambique
- Contact details of your host/ hotel
We stopped twice for toilet breaks and both times are somewhere in the bush in broad daylight. The females took one side, and the men the opposite. You will be seen and you will also see your female co-passengers squatting to pee in one of the spots in the bush, often behind a tall grass, which is your best chance of having a little privacy. No matter how uncomfortable you think that is, the local people are used to it so they don’t really care. The only option is to not pee at all during the whole trip so I suggest to leave your comfort zone behind and take a leak in the same way like everybody else because…. well, this is Africa
Finally arrived in my destination-Zavora, Mozambique in the district of Inharrime, province of Inhambane
Good luck 🙂