From the different border crossings to the best methods to get around. Here you can find everything you need to know before crossing the land border between Mozambique and Eswatini.
Even though the distance between Maputo and Manzini (Eswatini’s key city) and Mbabane (Eswatini’s capital and larger city) is just around 180 – 200 km, moving between these countries is not as easy as anyone would think. I traveled overland from Maputo in Mozambique to the Hlane National Park in Eswatini. I found out that crossing in between these two countries overland is not easy at all and requires a bit of extra planning.
Border controls between Mozambique and Eswatini
There are two border crossings between Mozambique and Eswatini. The Naamacha/Lombacha crossing in the north side of the Hlane National Park and the Goba crossing in the southern side of Hlane. Both crossings have more or less the exact distance between Eswatini’s key cities and Maputo. However, the Naamacha/Lombacha is sometimes preferred due to better accessibility and infrastructure.
INSIDER TIP: Do not spend the night in Naamacha. It might look like a small and lovely border town. However, Naamacha is a very small village and completely lacks proper infrastructure.
Crossing using public transport
While a trip from South Africa to Eswatini can be easily pre-arranged and planned, going eastwards to Mozambique – or vice-versa -is completely unorganized and, depending on how you go, a real pain in the ass.
Buses and minibusses depart from Baixa (Maputo’s city center) in the mornings to all different directions. From Baixa, you need to ask around and find a bus that can take you straight to Manzini or to the border town of Naamacha. While this is the less expensive choice to make (a one-way trip can be anything between 500-800 MZN), this is also the most unreliable one.
These public taxis only depart once they are full – a process that can easily take a couple of hours. Quite a problem if you plan to catch a bus as early as possible, but this also means you have to wait for the longest.
Another most reliable – but equally complicated option –
is to take a public taxi (minibus) from Baixa to Boane, then a bus from Boane to Naamacha and cross to Eswatini.
Once in Eswatini, several public taxis can take you to the different parts of the country.
NOTE: Even though several established companies went from Maputo to Eswatini, all these services have been stopped since the pandemic. Furthermore, the train that connected Maputo to Mpaka (Eswatini) is also not been functioning since 2019.
Read more: How to cross overland from Kenya to Tanzania
GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA:
From South Africa to Eswatini, you can easily connect from most eastern cities using public buses to Manzini. Another option is booking public platforms to pre-book your journey, like TransMagnific.
Crossing using private transport
The most reliable way to move around is to travel from Maputo to Eswatini using a private taxi – which is unfortunately also the most expensive. They are pre-arranged by tour operators and hotels and can easily take you from Maputo to the Naamacha border crossing in just a couple of hours, charging anything between 150 to 200 USD. Unfortunately, these taxis won’t take you further into Eswatini due to the current COVID regulations. Therefore, you would also need to arrange your transportation at the other side of the border.
Luckily, there are unofficial alternatives to reduce the costs of this method of transport. While official tour operators can charge you as much as they want (they know how complicated and inefficient public transport is), local taxi drivers can offer the same service for just a fraction of the price.
While being in Maputo, I befriended a taxi driver who was taking me all the time from one place to another. After using his services for a couple of days, I asked him how much he would charge me from Maputo to the Naamacha border. We agreed on 4000 MZN (60 EUR), including a pick-up and support at the border.
Once in Eswatini, we agreed with our Swazi tour operator to pick us up at the border and start our scheduled itinerary. However, if you plan to rent a vehicle in Eswatini (probably the best way to move around), you could agree to pick up the vehicle at the Lombacha side of the border for a minimal extra fee.