Cradled in the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Gorongosa National Park sits in the heart of central Mozambique. Encompassing more than 1,500-square-miles of wilderness, the park supports diverse ecosystems that include forests, savannas, wetlands, canyons, rivers, a sparkling Rift Valley lake and the beautiful Mount Gorongosa. Lack of development is one of Gorongosa’s (and Mozambique’s) attractions. While it is not easy to get to, intrepid travelers can still feel like pioneers when visiting. There are few accommodations in Gorongosa National Park and its feeling of wildness remains strong.
The park has had many challenges over the years including a civil war that led to rampant poaching, which decimated almost all of the park’s wildlife and destroyed its tourism infrastructure. The good news is that great strides have been made in returning it to its former glory. American entrepreneur and philanthropist Greg Carr has been instrumental in funding a remarkable recovery project which is considered by many to be one Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration stories. Reforestation projects along with animal reintroductions and translocations are thriving and a crack anti-poaching unit protects the park’s fauna. The project goes further to invest in communities that border the park, helping to ensure the park’s resilience. These myriad efforts combine to once again make Gorongosa an excellent safari destination, especially for conservation-minded travelers.
Due to its diverse habitat types, the dynamics of its recovering wildlife populations and its complex history, Gorongosa National Park offers unique opportunities for biological, ecological, hydrological, primate and social research projects. Interested travelers visiting the park can visit the local biodiversity lab to learn more about research happening in and around the park.
After decades of restoration work, visitors can now see a variety of wildlife including elephants, lions, wild dog, crocodiles, hippos, plains game and more during a visit (including some rare endemics) and feel like they are the only visitors to a vast wilderness. Visits are seasonal as the park closes for the rainy season. April to November are the drier months, with June to mid-September being the busiest – though that term is relative in Gorongosa!
For those seeking a remote, off-the-beaten-path safari experience, Gorongosa will only stay ‘undiscovered’ for so long. We currently recommend guests stay at Chitengo Camp, which is the only accommodation inside the park. It is simple but comfortable and is the best option. We are excited for a few deluxe options that are in the works – including one new tented camp that we expect to open early in the dry season of 2023. Ask one of our Journey Specialists for more details.
Activities in the park include game drives, mountain safaris that include hiking and a picnic, bushwalks, a community bicycling tour, boating safaris on Lake Urema, scenic flights (both helicopter and small plane), birding safaris and canoe safaris on the Pungue River.
A safari in Gorongosa also pairs well with time on Mozambique’s gorgeous and exclusive beaches. Are you interested in getting off-the-beaten-path in Mozambique? Contact a Journey Specialist to plan your visit to Gorongosa National Park!
Photos courtesy Gorongosa National Park and AAC President Kent Redding