JOHANNESBURG - There's no denying the appeal of Mozambique as a holiday destination, but there are many ins and outs and although many South Africans are well-versed in negotiating these borders, it is always a good idea to seek some extra advice. And for that, Kingsley Holgate is your man, having border-hopped into Mozambique in various Land Rover models over 50 times in the last three decades. Here's what he has to say to those planning a trip to Mozambique: 

We’ve experienced the Zen of travel for more than 30 years and there’s no reason why crossing African borders needs to be a stressful experience. In fact, safe passage can be easier accomplished if approached with a relaxed attitude.

 Chill out

Many travelers reach a level of anxiety ahead of a border crossing and wrongly begin preparing for confrontation. Instead, prepare to make friends. A positive approach can go a long way toward a pleasant relationship with border officials.

Be cordial. A friendly smile, peaceful hand on a shoulder or sociable pat on the back can mean the difference between proceeding to your destination quickly or being stuck in a lengthy standoff. This advice will ring true for any border in Africa.

The long road may be the most enjoyable

The Kosi Bay and Komatiport (Lebombo) posts might be the most common and direct routes for South African travelers, but be prepared to wait in queues up to kilometres long, especially in the holiday season. Why spend hours parked and waiting when you could spend far more enjoyable time on the road?

The Giriyondo gate in the Kruger National Park is bound to be a quieter crossing into Mozambique and offers another element to the journey with animal sightings in one of the greatest reserves on Earth.

My personal favourite route for getting to Mozambique is through Swaziland. It’s only around R50 to enter the Kingdom of Eswatini, and fuel is also cheaper there. The more stamps in your passport the better, so earn a few more by crossing through the Goba or Namaacha posts.

Keep comms open

By law officials in Mozambique are required to speak basic English, but negotiations can be eased with some reciprocal language learnings. Get familiar with some friendly greetings in Portuguese. 

Good morning (bom dia), good afternoon (boa tarde) and good evening (boa noite) could be just the icebreakers needed to solve tricky situations. Even just a friendly hello (hola) or how are you (como esta?) could come in handy.

Keep lines of communication open with friends and family at home as well. Make sure someone is aware of your rough travel timetable and expected whereabouts on certain days.

Paperwork, paperwork

There’s no need for me to express the obvious importance of passports, ID documents and driving licences, but there’s other paperwork to consider when driving into foreign countries from South Africa.

If the vehicle you’re travelling in belongs to someone outside of your party you’ll need a letter of permission from the owner to take it across the border. The same is true if the vehicle is financed from a bank. Obtain a letter from the financial institution giving permission to take it into Mozambique. Make copies of all these documents, including the aforementioned obvious ones, and keep them safe.

Pay special attention at passport control to make sure your books are actually stamped before proceeding. Incorrect entry stamps or lack thereof could mean hassles when leaving the country.

Be prepared

While payload space is often occupied by loads of holiday gear, it’s advisable to keep some room for necessary tools, spares and a first aid kit.

Make sure your spare wheel is properly inflated and jack is in place and functional. If your vehicle makes use of locking wheel nuts, double check that the key socket is safely stored in case you need to change a wheel.

A medical kit can be useful to treat minor injuries, but it can also help save a life in worst case scenarios so make sure yours is packed and full of necessary items. Mozambique is also a high-risk malaria area, so take precautions to prevent infection. If you or anyone in your group begin feeling symptoms such as headaches, chills, nausea or fever, don’t hesitate to get treatment. This could save yours or someone else’s life.