The internship program is designed for science students or passionate conservationists aiming to get experience in marine conservation fieldwork and practices. Please submit your CV along with the application (found the bottom of this page). Due to the nature of the research and limited space on-site, not all applicants can be selected to participate. While applicants don’t need to be an enrolled in a university or science program to be eligible, dedication, interest in marine research, and responsibility for yourself and the environment are essential.
Do I need any specific qualifications?
Interns must have their Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification to take part in the internship program. If you wish to get certified in Zavora, our local dive instructors can offer courses during your stay at additional cost to you.
To benefit fully from the internship program, a minimum one month (four week) internship is recommended. Interns typically stay for one to two months during school or university summer holiday. For those interested in staying longer, we can put together longer-term packages.
Where is the lab located?
Zavora Marine Lab is located in Zavora, southern Mozambique, approximately one and a half hours south of Inhambane and seven hours north of the South Africa-Mozambique border.
With the exception of mid-December to mid-January, which is peak tourist season, Zavora is very quiet and peaceful without the glitz of a typical tourist spot. It’s an excellent place for people who enjoy being close to nature and who enjoy the thrill of exploring wild landscapes and untouched reefs.
How to get here?
Getting to Zavora can be a bit tricky, but we promise it will be 100% worth it once you arrive in our little piece of paradise! The best option is to find a flight from your home country to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then from Johannesburg to the Inhambane Airport where we will pick you up and bring you to Zavora (1.5 hours). Some airlines may fly directly from your home country into Maputo, but this is usually a more costly option. It is also a 6-7 hour drive from Maputo to Zavora which you would be responsible for organizing at your own cost. At the moment, LAM is the only company that flies to Inhambane. You can buy your ticket online at lam.co.mz. It’s a good idea to factor in a few extra hours in Maputo and Johannesburg for your returning flight as LAM is often delayed.
Another option is to fly into Johannesburg and then get a direct flight from there to Vilanculos through Airlink (www.flyairlink.com). From there, we can help to organize you a transfer to Zavora (4.5 hour drive).
A cheaper, but more tiring and uncomfortable alternative is to get a chapa (passenger van; frequently overcrowded) from Maputo to Inharrime.
Arrival dates and arrangements
Airport pick-ups and drop-offs on the 1st of each month are included in the cost of the internship. Interns arriving or leaving outside this time will be required to arrange transport from the Inhambane airport to the research station (about 100km/1.5hours away) at their own cost.
Interns wishing to be picked up in Inharrime town can do so on any day (included in the internship fee).
How much money should I bring?
There’s not much to spend money on in Zavora apart from some local souvenirs and a couple of bars and restaurants. However, interns often take a weekend trip to Tofo or Barra to do Ocean Safaris or party. Depending on the applicants habits and lifestyle, we suggest adding $200-300 USD to monthly budgets for souvenirs, excursions, entertainment and other personal or daily needs.
Locally, the restaurants and bars accept VISA and there are ATMs in Inharrime and Inhambane.
Can I cancel or change the dates of the internship?
Due to the number of applications we receive during high season and the limited spaces available, we cannot accept all applicants. Therefore, we do not welcome cancellations or date changes after the final confirmation.
- A $500 non-refundable deposit is required within 2 weeks upon acceptance to confirm your space on the program. The remaining fee must be paid in full by the date stated on your acceptance form (foreign and local bank fees are at the applicant’s cost).
- Cancellations prior to six months before the internship begins are accepted without cancellation fee (i.e., the total fee excluding the non-refundable deposit will be refunded in full). Cancellations between six and three months before the start of the internship will be charged a cancellation fee of 50% (50% refund).
- Cancellations less than three months before the start of the internship will only be refunded to 25%.
Please make sure that the dates you indicate in your application suit your schedule and budget before applying.
Please let us know of any changes or cancellations as soon as possible so that we are able to welcome another applicant.
Do I need a VISA?
Yes! While in theory you can obtain a visa at any border upon arrival, this has become inconsistent over the years. Therefore, we recommended obtaining one through the Mozambican Embassy in your home country in advance of your departure. We recommend obtaining a single-entry tourist visa which will be valid for 30 days. If you wish to stay longer than one month, you will need to extend your visa in Maxixe (100km north of Zavora) for a maximum of 90 days. There is also the option of a multiple-entry tourist visa for 90 days, however this requires a trip to the border every 30 days at your own cost.
For whichever visa you decide to go for, you will need a letter of invitation from us. For this we will need your full name, passport number, and the dates you will enter and leave the country.
**Please contact us to discuss your visa options prior to your trip to Zavora as different countries have different requirements **
Do I need insurance?
Yes. You will be required to sign liability and copyright releases, as well as an agreement that you are knowingly partaking in potentially dangerous activities upon acceptance to the internship program. You are not covered for accidents or illnesses through the lab, so organize your own medical and health insurance in the unlikely event of an emergency. Please make sure you have insurance for your entire stay in Mozambique, and also make certain that your insurance also covers diving accidents, as many normal travel insurance policies will not cover this. There is no recompression chamber in Mozambique and in case of a diving accident you will need to be transported to South Africa. We highly recommend Divers Alert Network (DAN) membership. DAN is a non-profit organization focused on diving accidents, and they also offer plans that cover travelling accidents. To apply or to find more information, visit diversalertnetwork.org
Do I need any specific vaccination or medication before coming to Mozambique?
Zavora is located in a malaria zone. Some interns prefer to use prophylactic medication, while others prefer to protect themselves using repellents and a mosquito net. It is up to you. Recommended medicines are Malarone or Doxycycline. Malaria tests and treatment are also available on site and at a the local clinic. Consult your doctor or a travel clinic for more information.
*Note that SCUBA diving while using some prophylactic medications (such as Larium or Mefloquine) is not recommended – your choice of medication should be made accordingly. In any case it is recommended to bring mosquito repellents to be used mostly during dusk and dawn periods. Please consult your doctor for any other recommended vaccinations.
What do I need to bring?
Your laptop and an underwater camera (such as a GoPro) are highly recommended! A waterproof windbreaker, hat, a fleece or other warm clothes (Zavora can get cold, especially during the winter months), insect repellent, and 30+ SPF reef safe sunblock. Bed sheets and mosquito nets are provided.
Don’t forget your diving certification card(s)!
A waterproof watch (to min. 30 meters) or a dive computer is compulsory. You can use the dive centre’s equipment, but we recommend that you bring your own wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins. In the summer, a 3mm-5mm wetsuit is recommended and 5-7mm in winter.
Do we have days off?
Interns have one designated day off per week as well as whenever the weather and sea conditions do not allow for fieldwork. Double-tank dives are finished by the afternoon, so interns have plenty of time to complete data entry before exploring nearby lakes, grabbing a late lunch, or reading a book in the hammock. One weekend a month is usually reserved for excursions or activities not included in the internship (e.g. weekend trip to Tofo or Barra). This must be requested some days ahead so we can work our schedule around it.
Useful information about Zavora and your stay
The remoteness of Zavora is what makes this place quiet, special, and unexplored. The lab is about 30km from the closest town – Inharrime. Mozambique is classified as a Least Developed Country, being one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Zavora is far enough from the capital that products you may be used to seeing in grocery or hardware stores are limited or nonexistent. Inharrime town, where we do much of our shopping, is very small and a typical ‘African village’. Here you will find basic foods such as seasonal vegetables and fruits, chicken, eggs, rice, beans, pasta and milk. Products such as batteries (apart from very poor quality in the most common sizes), insect repellents and sunscreen are NOT available. You are therefore advised to bring anything you might need apart from basic food.
- Food We provide transport to Inharrime town once every two weeks to buy supplies. There is a communal kitchen at the lab where interns can cook each of their meals (often group meals are organized and made together). There are also a couple other small restaurants in the area where you can purchase food at your own cost.
- Accommodation Interns will be based out of the Zavora Marine Lab research station. The research station was built to provide facilities as a field laboratory and housing for interns. The main building houses a conference room, main office, and student office (downstairs), as well as three shared bedrooms and a common room (upstairs), a communal kitchen, female and male toilets/showers, a storeroom and the directors’ house. The large communal kitchen has plenty of fridge/freezer space, a hob, oven, hot water and there are braai (barbeque) facilities outside. For your security and convenience, the lab directors’ chalet is located on-site in case you need any assistance outside of working hours.
Electricity in Zavora is limited to a few houses and enterprises, including the lab. Most of the local community lives under the light of the moon. Mozambique occasionally experiences power outages, usually for short periods of time. Plugs are 220V. Interns are advised to bring at least one adaptor–Mozambican (round two pin) and South African (round three pin) sockets–though the office is equipped with universal adaptors for laptops, cellphone, and camera chargers.
- Money exchange You are advised to change your currency to the Mozambique Meticais (Met) when arriving in Mozambique. You can also withdraw cash from the ATM whenever we go to town. Please take care if changing money with people on the streets or at the border crossings, preferably wait until you are collected for your transfer and our staff will help you with this.
- Diving All dives included in the internship are scientific or training dives. Interns collect data used to manage dive sites, check the health of the reefs, and monitor megafauna populations. Diving is a fun and social sport, and the diversity of marine life in Mozambique is astounding, but you must first and foremost be aware of your role as a researcher. If the science is not accurate, the results may be wrong and its use will result in poor management and potential damage to the marine environment. Being responsible with the data is essential.
- Visibility The waters of southern Mozambique have visibility ranging from 5-30 metres, with an average of 12-15 metres. Offshore reefs usually have better visibility than inshore reefs as waves are less frequent. Poor visibility can be the result of bad weather and big waves stirring up the bottom, or can be caused by the upwelling of cold nutrient rich water from the Mozambique Channel. This upwelling water usually causes a chain of events, starting with a bloom in Phytoplankton, tiny plants trapping solar energy by photosynthesis. This tends to turn the water greener. This plant life then supports a bloom in zooplankton, small animals and jellyfish, which then turns the water a slightly milky blue colour as they grow and eat the phytoplankton. Mantas and whale sharks complete the cycle by eating the zooplankton. So, without some days of poorer visibility, Mozambique would not have the charismatic megafauna that makes it such a fantastic place to dive.
- Best time of year to come It’s difficult to recommend a ‘best time’ in Zavora as all times of year have positive attributes. Mid-December to mid-January and Easter are the peak tourist times due to South African school holidays. All other months are quieter. November to March have warmer water and usually better visibility, but with December to March being cyclone season, some dives are aborted due to rough conditions or bad visibility, although this is seldom the case. The temperature on land can get up to 40 degrees C in January and February, while it can get as low as 15-20 degrees C in June-August. June to October is colder and the visibility is lower but the mantas love the green, plankton filled water.
June to October is also humpback whale season and we can see these magnificent animals daily from the shore, from the boat, and even on SCUBA. August and September are peak months for humpback whales.
- Water temperature In the summer temperatures average 26-29 degrees and in the winter 19-23 degrees. Cold minimum temperatures during the summer months are usually a result of upwelling which forms a thermocline, though this phenomenon normally only lasts for a couple of days.
- Current The Agulhas current runs through the Mozambique Channel from north to south creating a mild current on offshore reefs. There are over seven kilometres of inshore reef lying parallel to the Zavora Bay shore; on the days when the current is strong, drift diving is the order of the day.
- Equipment MAR works in partnership with our local dive centre (Zavora Scuba). All the boats are equipped with a GPS chart plotter and sonar sounder to provide accurate navigation and exploration. A full range of safety equipment is always on board including life jackets, first aid kits, flares, and oxygen. Though we recommend that you bring your own wetsuit, there are 5mm full length/one piece wetsuits available at the dive centres. The cylinders vary in sizes 10L, 12L and 15L accepting both DIN and International regulators.
Can I study marine biology and improve my dive skills? For those wanting to combine the internship with some quality diving education, a variety of options are available: novices can spend the first two weeks of an internship going through the Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses, as well as getting in some practice dives. Weeks three and four will focus on scientific diving.
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