From Malawi to Mozambique via Mwanza – Zóbuè

After a long day and without much information about how to do it, we managed to cross the Mwanza – Zóbuè border between Malawi and Mozambique using public transportation. We found that a lot of people were trying to get this information so we decided to write this post for the benefit of other travelers.

From Blantyre Mibawa bus stand, you can take a mini bus to Mwanza border (MWK 2,000). It takes about 2:30 hours to get the border posts, which is in a different location from the physical border. As usual, the mini bus stops all the time including Mwanza town, so just make sure to stay in the bus until the last stop.

Once in the border post, we were approached by a lot of money changers, but we went directly to the “Bureau du Change”. There are two of them there, at the “Standar Bank” they didn’t have Meticals (Mozambique’s currency – MZN) so we went to the other one which is just in front crossing the street. They didn’t have either, but the teller called a friend and got us the money. You can have a better rate at the street but we were scammed before so we chose to do it this way.

After changing all of our Malawian kwachas (MWK), we went through the emigration process an got our passport stamped after filling a long form. We walked for 5 minutes and found a lot of motorcycles that can be used to get Mozambique’s border, which is 6 km away. They charge MWK 500 or MZN 50 per bike.

On the road, we were stoped by the police. They checked on our passports, visas and migration stamps. At some point one of them told me she was thirsty so I handled her a bottle of water I was carrying, but she refused. A couple of days latter we learned that this is their way to ask for a small bribe.

At the border we had to fill a form (available at the desk for free) and we got our passport stamped easily. We got our visa in advance in Lilongwe so we don’t know if they are issuing visas on arrival.
Once in Mozambique, we took a mini bus to Tete (MZN 125 each + MZN 50 per bag). It was a 2 hours drive in a very crowded and hot mini bus.

We wanted to be dropped after crossing the bridge at Tete but the mini bus driver stoped a couple of km further so we had to get a “tuk-tuk” to go to the hotel. We didn’t find information about hotels online, but in some forums mentioned “Paraiso” and “Sundowners”, which are located one next to the other (after the bridge). Our first choice was Paraiso, where we got a room for MZN 1,500 besides they asked for MZN 3,500. It was a room on the adjacent building and the shower didn’t work.

For eating, we had lunch at Sundowners and dinner at Paraiso. Food was better at the first. In Tete is possible to find a couple of supermarkets, ATMs and a Vodacom office in walking distance from these hotels even though it’s not advisable to walk during the nights.

Buses to Chimoio depart early in the morning. We were advised about traveling with Nayi Investimentos (tickets office close to the Tete Petrol station) but tickets were sold out so we went to Retiro and bought our tickets there the day before (MZN 500 each + MZN 250 per bag). Buses leave very early in the morning so we had to be at the bus station at 4:30 am for the 5:00 am departure.

The drive to Chimoio took us 5:30 hours and the bus was comfortable enough. It stoped at 8 am in the middle of the road for “toilet” (women on one side and men in the other, inside the bushes) so it is better to be prepared with water and some food. It also stoped shortly in small towns where kids have chips and sodas for sale through the window.

Once in Chimoio we where dropped close to the market. From there, we got a taxi to Pink Papaya, a popular guesthouse for tourist (they have a couple of private rooms and a dorm with 10 bunks, it’s possible to use the kitchen and fridge).

Our next destination was Gorongosa National Park, we were lucky enough to meet some people at the guesthouse also going there for a biology course and we got space at their transport for MZN 500 each. The mini bus broke 3 times and we got the park almost at 9 pm, since the gate closes at 6 pm the driver had to ask for an special permit to get us in.

To go back to Chimoio we used the park transfer to Inchope (MZN 1,250 each – 2 hours) and then took a mini bus (MZN 65 each – 1:30 hours).

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