If your travels should ever see you arrive in Mozambique, you will start using the local currency there, which is the metical. This is referred to as meticais in plural.
Each metical is divided into 100 pieces called centavos. There is now just one coin remaining that is denominated as a centavo, and this is the 50 centavos coin. Otherwise you have several metical coins, which are the 1, 2, 5 and 10 metical coins. There used to be four other coins in the centavos denomination – the 1, 5, 10 and 20 metical coins, but inflation has rendered these obsolete.
There are also five banknotes in use. These are the 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 meticais notes. There is actually a 1,000 meticais note as well, although this one is not often used.
The metical was first introduced in 1980 to replace the escudo that was in use in Mozambique up until that time. The Mozambican escudo had long been in use – ever since the year the First World War started in fact. However its replacement did not meet with success. In fact inflation was to blame for its failure. By 2005, just 25 years after it had been introduced, you had to find a whopping 24,500 meticais to get yourself just one US dollar! At the time it was the least valued currency in the entire world – and that is not a title any country wants to claim for its currency.
The following year the metical was devalued and essentially replaced with the new metical. This replacement happened on a scale of 1:1,000. This means one of the new metical currency units was worth the same amount as 1,000 of the old ones. If you travel to Mozambique today you will use the new version of the currency, even though it can hardly now be called new. Inflation is still a concern in the country but the ‘new’ metical looks to be holding at the moment.
The one thing to remember when visiting Mozambique is to make sure you have a number of options at your disposal when it comes to getting hold of cash. If you want to exchange cash for the metical this is most easily done if you have one of two foreign currencies. One is the US dollar and the other is the South African rand. The latter is a common sense currency to exchange since the southern part of Mozambique shares a border with South Africa.
You may be able to get hold of some meticais before you get to Mozambique but in all honesty it is probably best to wait until you get there. There is a limit to how much of the currency you can take in. At the time of writing it was set at 500 meticais. This might sound like a lot but using the exchange rate that was in place when writing this article, it amounted to around $16.52! Taking in more than this could get you into trouble – and the same applies when you go home. You cannot leave Mozambique with more than 500 meticais so make sure you manage your cash carefully towards the end of a trip there.
It is becoming easier to use a credit card to pay for things when you are in one of the big cities in the country. However you should not expect to use it anywhere else. In reality cash is the easiest way to make payment for something. If you do take a credit card with you and you want to make sure you can use it without any problems if the chance arises, you should contact your bank or card issuer prior to visiting the country.
Just use your favourite currency conversion tool to get an up to date rate between your chosen currency and the Mozambican metical. It is a good idea to convert your own currency with the metical so you can see how far your cash will go in that country. But do remember the two best currencies to exchange when you are there are the US dollar and the South African rand.
For those who want to travel to Mozambique it can be a good idea to find out more about the country first. While there is an embassy in London you don’t have to go there in person to find out more. You can simply visit their website at http://www.mozambiquehighcommission.org.uk/.
For the most part Mozambique is a pleasant and safe country to visit. However at the time of writing the UK government was advising against all travel to Sofala Province, unless it was absolutely necessary to go there. The capital of that province, Beira, was safe to go to, but the rest of the surrounding province was not. It is best to check this information prior to planning a trip to Mozambique so you can see which areas are still safe to go to.
As for other parts of the country, the same advice applies that is applicable in many other countries and places around the world. The main type of crime that occurs is street crime, but most people who take sensible precautions should not be affected. Indeed most people who go on holiday here don’t have any problems and enjoy a wonderful time there. Just be sure you don’t wander into any areas that are quiet or unknown to you, and try not to travel alone, particularly at night. Sometimes people try to snatch bags so if you have one, sling it around your neck on the other shoulder to make it a harder prospect to get hold of. This usually sends them onto easier targets. Pickpocketing is rife too but again if you take precautions, splitting your cash and other items into different pockets, you will be much safer.
Mozambique can be found in South Africa. The entire length of its eastern coastline meets the Indian Ocean, providing ample opportunities for beach-based holidays. The southern end of the country butts onto Swaziland and South Africa, while to the west you will find Zimbabwe and Zambia. Finally as you progress north the country borders with Malawi and Tanzania.
The capital of the country is Maputo, which is situated way down into the southern reaches of the country. It actually has a port so it makes a charming city to visit if you have the opportunity. There are many regeneration projects taking place in the city so its face is ever-changing at the moment. The waterfront area is being regenerated too but you can see other signs from other times too. Look out for the Fortress of Maputo and the Tundura Gardens too. The gardens date right back to 1885 and provide some respite from the busy nature of the city.
Among the other attractions the country has to offer is the Gorongosa National Park. This is centrally located in the country and offers the chance to see many different species including warthogs and hundreds of different birds. Another natural option is Lake Malawi, which as the name suggests shares more than one country by its position. The part that exists within Mozambique is now a reserve.
We mentioned the idea of going on a beach holiday earlier on, and this is certainly a possibility. Mozambique has some sensational beaches, with the quintessential white sands, gorgeous rich blue waters and glorious skies. Really, what more could you want from a beach-based break? The weather is virtually guaranteed. Benguerra Island offers up some lovely beaches to try out if you are in that part of the country. Elsewhere you could try staying in one of the lodges in Napula, which are lovely to use as a base and conveniently close to the sea too.
Mozambique has a surprising amount to offer to those who want a beach holiday that has a little more to offer as well. Given Mozambique’s location in the world it is perhaps not surprising to find reserves and national parks here that are complete with many wild animals. You can actually go on safari here if you wish – the Gorongosa is ideal for this but others are perhaps not as well-equipped at the moment.
Wherever you decide to go in the country and even if you decide a beach holiday is all you want, you will never fail to go home satisfied. Once you get used to the currency and what it will buy you, you will be able to look forward to every day you spend in the country. So – whereabouts in Mozambique would you go and how long would you stay there for?