During Mozambique's civil upheaval, large-scale organized poaching systematically removed nearly all big game through the bush.
Birdlife has recovered to some degree but only one of the most remote areas provide the chance to look at the 'Big Five' (on foot is actually experienced guides, as wildlife continues to be persecuted by poachers from as far afield as Somalia).
Officially, the Mozambican government recognises wildlife's tourist potential, but legislation hasn't kept pace with developments and several colourful characters are actually associated with failed projects that frequently seemed too detached from reality to have success.
At Gorongosa, concessionaires are developing a lodge at Bue Maria, but it is not yet finished. A fairly extensive network of roads has become re-opened even so the Reserve becomes inaccessible over the December to May wet season. There's a fair volume of game (a number of lion and a lot of small elephant herds) however the variety and wonder of the habitat and birds would be the real attractions.
Maputo Elephant Reserve
Maputo Elephant Reserve harbours around 400 elephants, which migrate between South Africa and Mozambique through rolling dune country. The birdlife is varied and abundant, but infrastructure is minimal and roads have become poor - 4x4 is important. Camping is allowed at Ponta Milibangalala and Ponta Dobela, high are wells, nevertheless the water needs purifying before drinking.
Reserva do Niassa
Remote enough to own provided refuge to a number exceeding 12,000 elephant and also the last of Mozambique's buffalo, sable and roan herds is Reserva do Niassa. Compania do Niassa has acquired the rights to formulate this vast area. Although independent guests are not encouraged, you'll be able to take your 4x4 around the five-day boost to the government game-guard office at Mecula. You will be assigned a 'ranger' who must accompany you. The Jurege River, dry from June to December, provides excellent game viewing, but park and proceed on foot or animals will be gone well before you arrive.
South African parks into Mozambique
Adjacent to Mozambique, South Africa's border areas are typically game reserves and NPs. Border fences bisect ancient animal migratory routes (specifically those of elephant and buffalo) as well as the extension of South African parks into Mozambique may be known as an ideal way to lose the need for elephant culling in Kruger, cement ties between neighbours and attract tourists. These parks have already been dubbed 'Peace Parks'.
Kruger Gonarezhou Coutada
The recently proclaimed Kruger-Gonarezhou-Coutada 16 Transfrontier Park (embracing South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) reflects the gulf between intention and reality. Optimists see some fences being removedthis year but obstacles include incompatible land uses between Kruger (conservation) and Coutada 16 (hunting and subsistence farming), disparities in skills and funding relating to the three countries plus the absence of tries to counter poaching and tree felling in Mozambique.
There is usually the excitement and anticipation of seeing the endangered dugong, or even the emotional connection with swimming with those gentle giants in the ocean, the whale sharks, in summer. The archipelago offers excellent diving (especially off Bazaruto Island) and outstanding angling opportunities for black marlin, sailfish and game fish, along with saltwater fly-fishing. And, if you need peace and tranquillity, you will discover miles and miles of deserted beaches where you are able to lose yourself in your head. My favourite accommodation is Benguerra Lodge on Benguerra Island due to its personalised service, excellent cuisine and romantic ambience.
The Bazaruto Archipelago
Seventeen a lot of civil war in Mozambique have drastically reduced the once prolific herds of wildlife to use national parks and reserves. However one region that was little affected would be the Bazaruto Archipelago. For me, the Bazaruto Archipelago evokes images of idyllic tropical beaches along with a translucent blue-green sea, memories from the melancholy song of any fisherman punting his dhow within the shallows and desires for enjoying another picnic at Benguerra Island's South Point. But there are various other reasons why the Bazaruto Archipelago is indeed special. For snorkellers, the Aquarium at Two Mile Reef, off Benguerra Island, can be an underwaterfantasy world where brilliant yellow, powder blue and orange tropical fish and exquisite coral reefs become reality.
Although the Bazaruto Archipelago is made of five islands (in space order: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue), only Bazaruto and surrounding reefs are officially in the National Park. These waters are you will find over 80% of most marine fish families from the Indo-Pacific. Resident Minke and Southern right whales ply surrounding seas alongside common, spinner and bottlenose dolphins plus the highly-threatened dugong. The Reserve was formed in 1971 but Mozambique's independence from Portugal in 1974 interrupted development until 1989, when South Africa's Endangered Wildlife Trust, in complete agreement with Mozambique's government, employed ecologist Paul Dutton as warden. He initiated the Mungonzices community game-guard programme, which mediated relating to the conservation authorities plus the island's residents to enhance the sustainable by using resources.
South African Parks
It's uncertain whether South African Parks authorities are able to work with a Mozambican administration with little proven resolve for protecting wildlife. The warden from the Maputo Elephant Reserve was recently caught poaching in conjunction with several government officials; the one who arrested him may be banned from entering the Reserve.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust plus the South African Nature Foundation offer the Bazaruto Archipelago NP, 25km off Mozambique's mainland. Bazaruto Island is all about 40km x 5km (at its widest), edged with sandy, white, palm-lined beaches. Behind are massive sand dunes, light forest, scrubland, marshy grassland and a number of freshwater lakes. A unique and complicated ecosystem. Contains about 80% (1200 species) with the Indo-Pacific marine fish families. Whales, three varieties of dolphin, five sorts of turtle, endangered dugongs and also a host of reef fish. Big game fish include marlin, barracuda and sailfish. On land, small antelope, samango monkeys, freshwater crocodile and other rodents, lizards and snakes. Several endemic butterflies. Nearly 150 different birds, including Madagascar squacco heron, Nyasa seedcracker and Green coucal. Lesser flamingoes visit. Most beach activities catered for, below additionally, on water. Walking and hiking trails, dhow day trips and boat cruises around the islands. The main lodge deals with the fly-in package tourist but you will discover other lodges (some mid-range) and camping sites on nearby islands.
The Great Rift Valley
Established 1921, proclaimed 1960. Once possibly by far the most diverse NP in Africa, its wildlife population was devastated by 1980s' hostilities. The 5300km2 park currently is being rehabilitated. Dry plains dropping through the Gorongosa mountain range with the southern end on the Great Rift Valley. Bisected from the Midsikadzi River. Grasslands, tall miombo woodlands, Afro-montane forests, valley thickets and seasonally inundated flood plains.
Mammal populations small. All rhino gone; antelope and zebra widely dispersed and under threat from poaching. Large flocks of flamingoes and waterfowl one of the 500 bird species. Many endemics and rarities to wear. Birding enthusiasts have become benefiting in the improving road network. Currently one operator offers trips beyond Beira. Those using Chitengo camp have to be self-sufficient.