Lauded as one of the most biodiverse places on earth, the Gorongosa is home to an astonishing population of creatures both big and small. The revival of Gorongosa National Park and its animal population is nothing short of a miracle.
First declared a national park in the early 1900s, later formalised in 1960 and officially reinstated in 1994, this massive 3 770km2 jewel in the heart of central Mozambique has risen from the ashes of a 15-year civil war to become a remarkable beacon for wildlife conservation and a sanctuary for the animals that call it home.
Rugged, remote and beautiful Gorongosa National Park is divided into four unique ecological regions, each with its own microclimate and resident animal population. The differing regional environments – which are the Great Rift; Lake Urema and its rivers; Mount Gorongosa; and the park’s grasslands and forests – mean that visitors to the park are guaranteed distinctive safari experiences and animal sightings during their time spent here.
The diverse wildlife ranges from the frogs and insects that make up the approximately 50 000 species-strong population of insects and other small animals to larger wildlife, including antelope, elephant, lion, crocodile, zebra and hippo. Animal lovers with a passion for seeing all creatures in their natural habitat will be enthralled by Gorongosa. Likewise, birdwatchers will be excited to discover that the park is home to over 500 species, including many birds of prey.
Experienced safari travellers and new Africa hands alike will be enthralled by the ongoing conservation success story that is Gorongosa National Park. During the 1980s, the park saw devastating animal losses, which makes its current period of restoration and thriving animal community all the more captivating. Owing to a violent civil war that began in the late ’70s, by 1983 the park had been abandoned, with hundreds of big game slaughtered or dead from starvation as a result of their prey being eradicated. Since 2004, however, sincere collaborative efforts between the US-based Carr Foundation and the Mozambican government have brought about enormous and heartwarming improvements. The resulting long-term plan – the Gorongosa Restoration Project – looks set to continue to thrive. This is wonderful news for tourism and for the upliftment of the park and its local community.
Currently, the available accommodation in the reserve is at the park-run Montebelo camp, which includes a smart, two-bedroomed villa, more basic (but no less charming) bungalows and even camping in the wild. The luxury of any of these choices lies, of course, in the pristine wilderness on your doorstep.
Aside from its exemplary wildlife regeneration programmes, unspoilt safari experiences and a thriving scientific and research community, Gorongosa is also a hub of cultural conservation thanks to its holistic conservation approach that recognises that a healthy and thriving ecosystem includes the success of the people that live around the park. Ongoing projects and employment that secure the health and security of local communities are integral to Gorongosa’s success. A visit to this extraordinary wild animal reserve success story is one that will warm the heart and ignite a passion for the wilds of Africa.
Things to do
• Guided day & night game drives in open-topped safari vehicles
• Guided walking tours
• Birdwatching – over 500 species in the region
• Cultural tour of Vinho community
Gorongosa National Park