Top Nine Reasons to Visit Gorongosa

January 13, 2013

1. Experience the diversity of life

Gorongosa boasts some of the most unique and diverse habitats in all of Africa. Tropical rainforest on Mount Gorongosa towers above the lush emerald floodplains, filled to the brim with thousands of game. You will find more waterbuck on our plains than in any other park in Africa – that’s why they call us the “Serengeti of the South”.


Yellow fever tree forests line the outskirts of the floodplain, which run into thick palm forests hiding elephant and buffalo. The epicenter of Gorongosa National Park - Lake Urema – is home to pods of hippos and the largest crocs in Africa. Come visit and experience why Gorongosa is one of the best parks in Africa.


2. Indulge in a truly wild and exploration based safari

Climb aboard a game viewer and start your adventure into Africa’s unknown. An interpretive safari will take you into the beating heart of Gorongosa and expose you to the intricacies of humble termites, soaring falcons and thundering beasts. Marvel at your first glimpse of the hoof-covered floodplain and remember to breathe when you gaze out over Lake Urema with a backdrop of Mount Gorongosa. Take in the moment when your guide announces fresh lion tracks, elephant activity or fresh buffalo droppings – you sense that life is all around you. Immerse yourself in the thrill of finding them as even though we see them often, seeing high profile game in Gorongosa means so much more than in other parks in Africa, it means our conservation efforts are working!


3. Reawaken your soul and senses

A walking safari in Gorongosa National Park will open up a world very few have seen. Gorongosa is a massive expanse and a large portion of the Park is not accessible to vehicles, which is perfect. Come explore areas where no one has set foot for the last 20 years. Become alive with the feeling of true participation in a living ecosystem as your senses reach their peak from the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and even tastes. The experience of tracking big game will bring all of those dormant senses hastily back to life. Find out what so many of us take for granted today like ancient medicinal uses of plants passed down through generations, and experience how the smallest thing often makes the largest impact. A walk in Gorongosa National Park is for those who want to know more and understand what so many have forgotten.


4.  Gorongosa’s provider

Towering 1863 meters above the floodplains lies Mount Gorongosa. This is truly Gorongosa ‘s provider as it opens its granite arms to receive moisture-laden air that rushes above Mozambique’s flat lands. The water is welcomed by Mount Gorongosa and gives rise to pristine rainforest that hugs the slopes of the behemoth. The remaining water flows down ravines carved into the slopes over centuries and creates powerful waterfalls and cascades before refueling the Park.


The Murombodzi waterfall drops over 100m into crystal clear pools. The ultimate experience is a hike to the waterfall, meandering through ferns and moss covered rock that make you feel as if every step is watched by a hobbit or fairy. Calls of the green-headed oriole and a cacophony of other birds reverberate through the forest. The canopy towers above letting striations of light strike the forest floor illuminating delicately rich colored flowers amid a dark green canvas. The beauty that surrounds you renders most to silence as the mind stills in its beauty of old.


5. For the birds

An avian wonderland awaits in Gorongosa for the serious birder looking to grow their life list, and the traveller who knows nothing about birds whatsoever. Gorongosa will provide a kaleidoscope of color and variety with close to 400 species and some rare specials that are easy to find. Pel’s fishing owl, black-and-white flycatcher, racquet-tailed roller, Cabanis’s bunting, Livingstone’s turaco, green-headed oriole, chirinda apalis, mustached grass warbler, silvery-cheeked hornbill to name a few, are all seen on most birding trips.


6. Rarities

Rare and unique creatures lurk in Gorongosa. Lets start with a favorite among safari guides, the scaly anteater (or pangolin). In my 8 years of guiding around Africa I have seen a mere two Pangolins but Gorongosa has revealed ten sightings of this little understood and heavily persecuted animal. The African civet is another animal you might catch a glimpse of on your safaris through Africa, but in Gorongosa you are guaranteed a sighting of this strange striped cat-like creature of the night. Cane rats larger than Jack Russell terriers can be found scurrying across roads. A loud rustling through the bushes at night conjures up thoughts of a huge beast, but turns out to be a friendly porcupine. The serval cat is a great and common sight in Gorongosa. Smaller rarities include bushy-tailed water mongoose and white-tailed mongoose. The strange drumming sound of four-toed elephant shrews can be faintly heard at dusk. There are 18 different kinds of antelope species in the Park including sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, oribi, red duiker and suni antelope. A reptilian rarity is the Nile soft-shelled terrapin, which can have a shell of over a meter long.


7. On the water

Water gives life and vigor to everything in Gorongosa, and what better way to see this than by boat. This wet season we are mapping Gorongosa’s waterways to provide an experience we feel lucky to take part in. Starting on the Pungue River that forms the border to the Park we meander down the wide, slow flowing river passing a wealth of birdlife. Crocs over 4 meters long slumber into the murky depths before us. We watch a herd of elephants drinking and hippos grunting with disdain at our presence before submerging. Imagine setting up a camp on the banks of the river inaccessible by foot or vehicle and knowing that you are truly in the wild. The Pungue meets up with the Urema River, which is our best chance at seeing wildlife. And then our destination is none other than Lake Urema which covers a large portion of the Park but until recently has been unexplored other than from the air.


8. Gorongosa’s people

Gorongosa’s local people are some of the strongest people I know and they are some of the most helpful and happy people I have ever had the privilege to meet.


Gorongosa National Park is teaching and inspiring local Mozambicans through the Community Education Center, local schools, clinics, job creation and so much more. This is a Mozambican national park – for the people, and supported by the people of Mozambique. Come share a laugh with the woman collecting water or listen to an account on Mozambican history from the village elder, come experience the difference just visiting Gorongosa would make.


9. Gorongosa by Night

The African bush comes alive at night. Big cats by day appear to have a life of leisure, but their work begins under the cover of night. Antelopes, baboons, and warthogs are on watch for the night predators. As the heat of the day dissipates, all kinds of small creatures join the night from chirping insects and singing frogs to eerily crying bushbabies. If you're the type of creature that comes alive at night too, join one of Gorongosa's night safaris to discover the secret world after dark. Take a moment to close your eyes and hear the baboons barking in the distance, the cacophony of small creatures, and the crackle of a twig that could be a silent predator. Open your eyes and look up at the night sky alit by the galaxies of stars and the bright night moon.


By Jeff Trollip & Ilze Wagenaar

Bush Diaries