Mozambique is a third world country. We are based in a rural area which means most of the people we deal with live below the poverty line. Although we have running water and electricity at our base, most people in the area do not. Mozambique is an ex-Portuguese colony and so the widely spoken language is Portuguese although the local dialect of our region is Bitonga. This east African country has a 50% illiteracy rate which is why our work in the schools is so important.
The rural location of our base means we’re part of a close knit community so you can expect to learn the names and recognise many of the people in our area. We’re in an incredibly friendly bay and it is actually impolite not to wave and greet every person you pass by. The atmosphere where we are is very positive due to the great work we do in our community and our reputation proceeds us.
The climate is tropical, with two major seasons: the wet season, October – March and the dry season April – September. We’re based in the south of Mozambique and temperatures reach as high as 45°C in the wet season, although in the dry season it can be much cooler.
How safe is it?
Mozambique has struggled with civil conflict in the past, but now it is restricted to the north. LTO is based in the south in a more remote location which has been virtually untouched by political conflict.
Our accommodation has a 24 hour guard and is in a place where the crime rate is very low due to a close knit village community. There is a local police station and main hospital is approximately a 30minute drive from our base. All our staff are first aid trained. The closest decompression chamber is Durban, South Africa.
Your included transport is secure as you will be escorted to and from the airport/bus station by LTO or an LTO partner. Those doing the optional safari trip will be escorted to the accommodation, and afterwards dropped at Johannesburg airport by Ku Sungula.
Are there any prerequisites to joining the programs?
- For all programs applicants must be 18 or over at the time of arrival.
- For the 2 and 5 week programs applicants must be at least Open Water PADI qualified and be studying or have studied a relevant subject (e.g marine biology, environmental science, geography) to university level or equivalent.
- For the 4 week Conservation Adventure Program there are no prerequisites and a dive qualification is included in the price
Will I get to meet anyone before I go?
We will have a few meet and greets before the trips so you can meet the staff and other volunteers. Unfortunately if you are not based within relatively close proximity to any other volunteers, meeting before the trip may not be possible but we can put you in contact with previous volunteers from your area as our past volunteers have come from UK, Australia, America, Norway, Canada, India, South Africa, and France.
How long can I stay?
Volunteer programs run for 2 – 6 weeks (depending on your program choice). How long you can stay in Mozambique depends on your program choice. As a Research Volunteer you stay longer to continue research or consolidate data and samples. Maximum stay is 3 months due to visa restrictions. Some volunteers in the past have chosen to stay longer in order to do more dives. Please email us for details.
Where do I fly to?
Love The Oceans will pick you up from Inhambane airport, Mozambique. There are direct flights from Johannesburg (South Africa) or Maputo (Mozambique) to Inhambane. If you are doing safari you will be dropped at Johannesburg at 6.30pm on the last day of your tour. Therefore you need to book your return flight out of Johannesburg no earlier than 8.30pm on the last day of the program, or the next day.
When should I arrive?
Try and arrive on the start date of your course that we’ve provided. This is a weekend so you’ll have a day to settle in before we start training. If you can only arrive the day before or after, don’t fret, we’ll still pick you up since it’s covered in your volunteer fee.
When should I depart?
You need a return flight booked for your visa so even if you think you’ll end up staying longer than originally planned we suggest you book a preliminary return flight. If you are departing from Inhambane (i.e not doing safari) then you can book a flight any time of the day (there is usually only one departing flight). If you are participating in safari, you do not need to book a LAM return flight, only a return flight from Johannesburg. You’ll need to book your flight from Johannesburg airport no earlier than 8.30pm local time, since you’ll arrive back at O. R. Tambo at 6pm.
What airline should I fly with to Johannesburg/Maputo?
It’s up to you. The cost of flights varies with airline so going on a flight comparison sight would be advised if you want the cheapest flight.
What airline should I fly with from Johannesburg/Maputo to Inhambane?
LAM airline is the only airline that flies to Inhambane. You have to book this flight separate to your other flight so make sure you have enough time to get to this flight. You can book this online very easily on LAM’s website. They’ll charge you in Metical (Mozambique’s currency) so you can do a quick conversion to see how much you’re paying. You can fly direct or via Maputo or Vilanculos.
What if I don’t want to fly with LAM?
That’s not a problem. We have a trusted overland travel partner we use to transfer students from the airport. Henri, our driver, will pick you up from Johannesburg airport. He will drive you straight through so there is no need for a stop over and will bring you to our site in Guinjata. We can book this transfer for you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and pricing.
What about my bags?
We suggest you transfer any valuables (mainly electronics e.g laptops, phones, cameras) to your hand luggage for your LAM flight to be safe. Please bring a backpack as hand luggage as this will come in useful for field work.
What do I do about getting a visa?
Talk to the Mozambique embassy in your country for the latest news regarding visas. Be sure to leave enough time to send your passport off to the embassy to get the relevant visa for the amount of time you are planning to spend in Mozambique.
You will need to get a TOURIST VISA at your local Mozambique embassy. Our volunteers must apply for a ONE MONTH SINGLE ENTRY tourist visa. You need a visa to get into Mozambique no matter how long your stay. After one month you can get the visa extended at the local immigration office and we will assist with this. Do NOT get a 30 day multiple entry visa as this will cause problems (requiring you to travel by local bus on a 12hr trip to the border). Your entry border is Inhambane and your exit border is Ressano Garcia if you are doing safari.
Dive insurance is required for diving. Medical insurance is also mandatory. Travel insurance is strongly recommended.
Please visit your doctor about this but here are few typical guidelines.
Do I need malaria tablets?
It is highly recommended that you take malaria medication. The area of Mozambique we are in has a very low malaria rate and it is the least damaging strains since we’re coastal but it is still recommended.
What malaria tablets should I buy?
Since one of your weeks will be spent diving you need to make sure your malaria tablets are compatible with diving, this is ESSENTIAL. The most common anti-malaria tablets used that are compatible with diving are Malarone (more expensive but less side effects) and Doxycycline (more side effects but significantly cheaper).
What jabs do I need?
Since Mozambique is not a yellow fever district you will not need this jab. Go to your doctor or a travel doctor and ask which jabs you need. You’ll need to know what jabs you’re up to date with and which ones you’ll need boosters on for them to make a decision. We’ve found the most common ones that people have are hep A and hep B and that is usually just an update.
Do I need to bring medication with me?
Bring enough prescription medication you take for the entire duration of your stay. There is a medical unit close by and we have access to the pharmacy and hospital but it is advised you bring some medication with you. The language barrier can make it hard to communicate what you want, especially when it’s something simple. We recommend bringing headache tablets, a basic first aid kit, blister plasters and some anti-block ear clearing liquid for between dives (easily available in your nearest boots).
Can I dive recreationally?
Recreational diving is allowed on weekends (at your own expense).
Can I bring my own diving gear?
All your dive equipment is provided by the dive centre and is included in the price of your volunteer fee minus the dive computer. Since we’ll be diving in small groups and all the instructors have dive computers it’s not compulsory to have one but you can bring your own if you feel more comfortable. There is an area for you to store your own diving gear if you’d prefer to bring and use your own.
Can I get my PADI before the program starts?
If you’re applying for the 2 or 5 week programs:
If you are not Open Water qualified, it is possible to come and do your Open Water the week before your volunteer program starts for £600 extra including food, diving, accommodation and the qualification itself.
If you’re applying for the 4 week Conservation Adventure Program:
PADI Open Water OR PADI Advanced Open Water is included in the program fee. You do not need to gain the qualification before the program.
How much should I bring?
Since you’re already on a catered package as part of your volunteer fee extra spends are minimal. There’s a local shop close by that has a few western luxuries where you can buy jam for your bread in the mornings etc. Other spends may include the optional extras including diving qualifications (these can be paid on card), the yacht trip (cash only) and the cultural tour (minimal). Therefore, not that much extra money is required.
Is there anywhere I can get cash out?
Every couple of weeks we’ll make a trip into town and there is a cash point there. This will give you money in the local currency (Metical).
What currency should I bring?
Metical is the local currency which is taken everywhere. South African Rand is also commonly used and accepted most places.
THINGS TO MAKE SURE YOU’VE DONE BEFORE YOU DEPART:
- Pack all things in a soft luggage bag
- Make sure your jabs are up to date
- You have your malaria tablets
- Unlock your phone (needs at least a week) – there is no wifi on sight so you need to be able use a local sim in your phone
- Make sure you’ve done your visa – although DON’T PANIC if you haven’t, you can buy one on arrival at the airport, it just costs a little more.
- Insurance – diving, travel, health
N.B. THERE IS NO POST IN MOZAMBIQUE – bring anything you need with you
ESSENTIALS TO BRING:
We live on a beach so light clothing is recommended although you need to bring a waterproof as you will be on site no matter the weather. Bring warm clothes for the evenings as the wind can pick up.
There is a washing machine available (at a cost) but we recommend bringing powder so you can do your own washing by hand free of charge. Please remember to bring clothes to paint in too.
Dive computer (highly recommended)
Waterproof – we complete our research no matter the weather
Laptop + charger (optional but advised) – bring a zip close laptop case as the humidity can damage technology
Camera + charger + memory card (optional but advised)
Phone + charger – sand proof/waterproof case advised
A4 Notepad & Clipboard
Towels x2 (one freshwater, one saltwater)
Any dive gear you want to bring with you – bear in mind the luggage restrictions
Jeans/full length trousers for when we go into town
Warm clothes for the evening
Flipflops/shoes – including one pair of closed top shoes for going into town and one pair of trainers if you’re doing safari
Suncream (remember the sea will increase the intensity)
Sunglasses – UV protection
A sunhat if you’re prone to sunstroke
An adaptor- The plugs are the same as South Africa – 3 thick circular prongs
Pens, paper, clipboard
Medication – read the common side effects of your malaria medication
A basic first aid kit – plasters, antiseptic wipes etc
Soft rucksack for daytime activities
Drinking canister – large
We request that all our volunteers bring out at least 5kg of donations – this can include stationary for the local school (books, pens, paper, rulers etc), useful items for the local fishermen (old clothes, sunglasses), old unlocked phones and old cameras (with chargers) or any useful scientific equipment (measuring tapes, clipboards etc).