Thousands of backpackers pass through Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, each year. It is worthwhile spending at least 3 days in Maputo before travelling inland to the traditional backpacker destinations of Xai-xai and Tofo. Mozambique’s history of colonisation by the Portuguese has left a colourful and eclectic legacy in Maputo, where the fusion of Portuguese and African cultures gives backpackers the opportunity to enjoy unique cultural and culinary experiences.
Maputo has two major backpackers that accommodate travellers, Fatima’s Place and The Base. Both of them offer dorm beds, single rooms and doubles at reasonable rates. Fatima’s Place is generally busier and louder than The Base, sometimes making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The accommodation facilities at The Base are cleaner and more comfortable than at Fatima’s Place, and The Base’s location is more central as it is closer to the bus stop used by the major bus lines that transport passengers to and from Nelspruit and Johannesburg.
The most famous tourist attraction in Maputo is the fish market at Costa do Sol. It is relatively easy to get to the fish market by using one of the chapas, or local minibus taxis. The fish market sells freshly caught fish, and upon walking in, one is greeted with a visual spectacle of seafood. When walking through the fish market, one can see live clams in large buckets, endless heaps of prawns, large lobsters and crayfish and dozens of local fish species. Fish and other seafood are sold by weight, and customers are expected to negotiate regarding the price. Store-owners will often initially quote inflated prices which they are willing to reduce through negotiations.
In a section adjoining the fish market, there are various restaurants where patrons can sit down and eat the seafood purchased in the fish market. These restaurants expertly clean, spice, cook and serve the seafood to their patrons. Purchasing fresh seafood from the market and immediately enjoying it as a delicious meal is a memorable experience.
Mozambique is well-known as a producer of cashew nuts, and visitors to Maputo can purchase freshly roasted cashew nuts, as well as raw cashew nuts that are sold by the kilogram. Cashew nuts are also used in the production of a local alcohol, Cajoe, which should not be indulged in by the faint-hearted as it is known to be very strong.
Maputo also has a lively nightlife, and there are a number of live music venues towards the south and east of the city. There are also a number of popular nightclubs, the most famous being Coconuts and Navau, both of which are frequented by locals and travellers alike.
Catembe Island, a small island located across the stretch of water in front of the Maputo Harbour, is also a worthwhile attraction for backpackers. There is a ferry that transports passengers between the harbour and the island, and the journey takes approximately 20 minutes. Visitors can explore the island, enjoy a meal at a local eatery, and drink a local beer at one of the many bars on the island.
Maputo is a city with a unique cultural heritage. Backpackers using Maputo as their point of entry into Mozambique should spend a few days exploring the sights and enjoying all that the city has to offer.