Where to Stay
Accommodation standards in Mozambique are generally low in comparison with the prices that you are expected to pay and the good places are often fully booked. Ablution facilities at cheaper establishments range from good to appalling, while running water is a luxury. A tent may be a godsend, as you can usually negotiate for permission to camp in the grounds of a dirty hotel or pitch it inside a room if you wish to avoid lumpy mattresses, bedbugs and mosquitoes.
If you balk at the idea of lugging around a tent, unless you will be staying only in hotels that are air-conditioned, always at least carry your own mosquito nets. That way you’ll avoid making malaria the main entry in your Mozambique diary.
HOTELS, PENSÕES AND POUSADAS.
Some hotels (such as the Polana, Cardoso, Avenida and Holiday Inn) have maintained the standards as denoted by their star grading, but standards have generally declined due to a lack of funds for maintenance.
Pensão (boarding house) grading follows a numerical rating from one to four and, while most pensões may claim to have a rating of four, this has long ceased to be an informative system for the visitor. The difference between a hotel and a pensão in Mozambique normally relates to the number of beds that are on offer, with pensões being smaller than hotels - Pousadas (inns) then fill the grey area between hotels and pensões but are less common.
Generally pensões are cheapest, pousadas reasonably priced, and hotels the most expensive form of accommodation.
Camping away from the larger cities in remote areas provides an opportunity to experience the culture of the rural people who are usually hugely friendly and accommodating. Stay within the villages (next to a church or the school is ideal as it is flat and has latrines) otherwise you may be exposing yourself to landmines and criminals. Be sure to consult with the locals (ask for the chefe, regulo and secretário) who will provide food, water and firewood (pay whoever brings these). If you try to avoid the crowds of inquisitive children by trying to set up camp where it seems no-one is living, the people will assume this is because you are up to no good and they could treat you as a potential threat.
Developed tourist camping sites are more expensive in the southern parts of Mozambique — upwards of Mt8O 000 per tent (the exchange rate in February 2001 was approximately Mt2300 to the SA rand, Mt17 500 to the U.S.$). As you may not be offered a per person rate, it is sometimes worthwhile getting a group together to share a site.
Localities (usually on beaches) favoured by visitors in the past but not yet re-developed may have an official assigned to patrol the area and to charge a (highly negotiable) camping fee. If he is a legitimate government official, he will have a receipt book and will also often be a source of useful information and advice.