Although the road network in Mozambique has improved markedly over the last decade or so, only about 30% of the total length of the network of 30 000 kms is tarred, and can be considered to be in good to reasonable condition. The establishment of Mozambique 4×4 trails are still a new or non existing event in South Africa’s North Eastern neighbor. 4×4 Africa will be on the lookout for newly established trails and will explore and list them once the news is out
This leaves about 20 000 kms of dirt, gravel, and mud roads for the off-road tourist to explore, and while there are dozens of routes available, the best ones are those that start outside of Mozambique. These routes have been identified and refined by tour operators to offer the best off-road driving conditions to drivers of all skill levels, but having said that, Mozambique is no place for soft roaders, and their use is strongly discouraged.
Moreover, to take full advantage of the off-road driving opportunities on offer in Mozambique, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations. Some areas, such as beaches, are protected and ALL off-road driving on them is prohibited, so when you are in Mozambique, always check with local authorities to prevent yourself ending up in prohibited areas- or in jail.
The routes below are some of the most popular (and challenging) in Mozambique, and they are worth doing for the variety of driving conditions they offer. Bring plenty of recovery gear though.
Gold and Elephant Route:
Although this route, that starts just inside South Africa, from Ponta do Ouro to Macaneta is only 400 kms long, it requires five full days of skilful, if not technical driving and navigation with reduced tire pressures. The route passes through the scenic Maputo Elephant Reserve, and although the entire route is clearly marked, you need to be prepared to take detours, especially in the wet season.
The route offers a wide choice of accommodations for overnight stops, but advance arrangements and booking are strongly advised since some establishments may not always be available.
Zimbabwe Round Trip:
Starting in Mutare in Zimbabwe, and ending at the coast, on the way passing through the Gorongosa National Park, this epic 1 800 km-long route through the central parts of Mozambique will test the skill and reliability of any driver and vehicle to the utmost. However, you need to carry additional fuel, water, and supplies, since resupply can be problematic during the minimum of 12 days the route requires.
The 12-day minimum should be seen as a guide only, since the time required depends as much on the weather as it does on the skill of the driver, which is why it is recommended that a minimum of three vehicles be used for this marathon trip. This route is not recommended for novice, or inexperienced drivers, and certainly not for softroaders.
Blantyre, Malawi and back again:
This route, that starts and ends in Blantyre, passes through some of the most scenic parts of Northern Mozambique. The route is mostly over sand and gravel roads, and while some sections are tarred, you can expect to spend hours driving at no more than 30 km/h due to the poor condition of these sections. However, the spectacular scenery on the route makes the sometimes-slow progress a small hardship to bear, so enjoy the ride.
How much time you spend on this route is up to you, since there are many attractions and side trips on the way, such as a diversion to Mozambique Island via the long causeway that links it to the mainland. More on Mozambique Tourism for the Off-road Traveler >>