Maputo Mozambique s restless capital MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Maputo: The Lively and Complex Capital of Mozambique

When I arrived in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, I realized that this city was full of surprises, both positive and negative. Maputo is a place that captures your attention, with its delicious piri-piri chicken, tasty cashew nuts, and stunning coastline. However, it also has its downsides, like the overwhelming presence of money-hungry police officers, persistent salespeople, and occasional sewage spills.

What makes Africa real?

‘Wow, this is way better than I expected! These roads are amazing!’ James was spot on. The road that takes you into Maputo from the Swaziland border is absolutely fantastic. And it’s not just the road itself, but the border posts too – spacious and well-organized offices on both sides, with friendly officials who processed our paperwork smoothly. We decided to take this route through Swazi Kingdom from Durban because it’s the fastest way. Other than a few small potholes, the seven-hour drive was not only beautiful, but also very safe.

As I drove 90 kilometers from the border post to Maputo, I couldn’t help but marvel at the breathtaking scenery. The hills, adorned in vibrant green, were a sight to behold, covered in the iconic African bush. In the distance, the shimmering Indian Ocean seamlessly blended with the flat coastal plains, creating a picturesque blend of land and sea. However, beneath this natural beauty lies a threat that looms over the southern and central provinces of Mozambique.

These seemingly idyllic low-lying plains pose a significant risk of flooding. In 2000, the devastating floods showcased the destructive power of nature as they uprooted entire communities and claimed countless lives. As I pondered the unimaginable reality of having one’s home and livelihood unexpectedly taken away, I realized that the essence of Africa goes beyond the cliches of potholes and corrupt officials.

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Discovering Maputo

As we drove into Maputo, my eyes were drawn to the vibrant stalls lining the roadside. They were filled with an array of colorful fruits like grapes, mangos, bananas, and rosy-cheeked pears. The sight was a refreshing change from the parched maize fields, struggling under the scorching sun. Everywhere I looked, there was action. Goats peacefully grazing on the side of the road, men enjoying a drink, women carrying their wares, and kids zooming by on bicycles, tightly gripping pieces of sugarcane. “It’s like Africa’s version of a Happy Meal,” James remarked with delight, capturing my own joy in the lively atmosphere.

As I strolled through the bustling streets of Maputo’s city center, the energy of the place engulfed me. Children darted around without a care, completely oblivious to the late hour. All around me, street vendors eagerly peddled their wares, seizing any opportunity to make a sale. There was an eclectic range of merchandise on display – watches, paintings, cashew nuts, cameras, phones, multi-plugs, and even toothbrushes. Sitting at a table outside a restaurant, just a safe distance away from the persistent salesmen, I took my time to soak in the city’s unique charm.

Maputo, for the most part, is in a state of disrepair. I couldn’t help but notice the dilapidated buildings that lined the streets, some of them even abandoned. And the roads and sidewalks were ridden with potholes, making navigation a bit of a challenge. Yet amidst this crumbling infrastructure, there were a surprising number of fancy cars – flashy Audis and oversized SUVs that seemed out of place. It was a fascinating contrast that added to the city’s allure.

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Not for Me

Even though I loved the liveliness of Maputo, the delicious piri piri chicken, and the mix of different cultures, I have to admit that I don’t have a strong desire to go back. The high level of theft in the city is a constant worry, always making me feel like I need to watch my back. Police checkpoints are common throughout southern Africa, but they made me feel particularly uneasy in Maputo. They would give out fines for minor offenses like driving barefoot, and constantly having to be mindful of these things is not ideal. Call me a wimp, but after spending three days in the heart of the city, I was completely fed up and longing to hit the open road again.


Hoyo Hoyo Hotel
Phone: +258 21 302 723

Hoyo Hoyo Hotel
Phone: +258 21 302 723

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