It once contained one of the densest wildlife concentrations in Africa. But once the Mozambican Civil War broke out in 1977, the wildlife in Gorongosa National Park was one of the casualties; at one point, a count of zebras in the park was reduced from 3,500 to nine. Starting in 2004, though, American philanthropist Greg Carr working with the Mozambique government began the process of returning the wildlife population to this territory in what is regarded as the greatest restoration project on the continent. In a week long tour scheduled for September, 2024 and conducted by Natural World Safaris as part of the company’s Expeditions for Change program, those efforts will be on view in experiences that will resonate even to those on frequent safaris.
“Since Natural World Safaris launched in 2005, we have looked for ways in which we can better support frontline conservation,” explains the company’s founder and CEO Will Bolsover who 20 years ago assisted in establishing gorilla safaris in Gabon, has guided in Rwanda, Uganda, The Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic and who designed and tested the Mozambique trip. “This safari is a prime example: it has a strong conservation focus and blends aspects of wildlife, conservation, sustainability and community.”
Led by guide Rob Janisch who has 25 years of experience guiding in Africa, the itinerary will showcase three different locations showing the region’s diversity of floodplains, rainforests and savannah grasslands in game drives and bush walks. The guests-limited to eight- will go behind the scenes of the Gorongosa Restoration Project to watch the work in several projects including The Wildlife vets, The Carnivore and Wild Dog Project, the Gorongosa Pangolin Project, The Gorongosa Wildlife Rangers, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory and the Gorongosa Park Girls’ Club. And as anyone who’s been on a safari knows, wildlife viewing is never guaranteed but with increased populations of elephants, buffalo, zebra and waterbuck now here, the chances are greatly enhanced.
The arrival date is September 2, 2024 with guests first landing in Beira and then being transferred by charter flight to Chitengo and the first game drive near the floodplain. Over the next two days, the accommodation is Montebelo Lodge, composed of 33 thatched cottages and vast gardens sometimes frequented by the local warthog population. On safari, sightings of lion, elephant, hippo and antelope occur. Many of the conservation projects are also based close to the lodge for guests to observe.
After a game drive on the fourth day, guests walk to Wild Camp, an authentic bush camp of six canvas tents in a remote stretch of the park. The chef prepares meals under the stars surrounded by animal sounds; during the morning, guests experience a walking safari and another game drive. On day five, guests walk again, this time to Muzimu Lodge on the banks of the Mussicadzi River composed of six Bedouin style tented rooms, a bar/lounge and pool. The next three days are taken up with game drives, explorations on foot along the river and a visit to Vinho village accompanied by a community team member.
On the last day, there’s one more chance for a game drive before taking the charter back to Beira and the flight home. But there’s always the choice of staying on and engaging in the time honored tradition of post-safari travel. In this case that could be an extension to the Quirimbas archipelago on another safari: exploring the turquoise waters and the sea life underneath on a 12 foot dhow and then a cottage on the beach.