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We usually think of turquoise beaches and snorkeling when Mozambique comes to mind. Who knew that this sunkissed country is home to one of the richest and historically valuable African national parks, Gorongosa National Park?
Once a violent hunting reserve, Gorongosa’s value was first recognized in the 20th century. The abundance of nyalas (spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa) and black rhinos made Gorongosa quite appealing for hunters.
Although this area became known as Gorongosa National Park in the 1960s, that wasn’t the end of threats for the park. Sadly, civil war broke out in the following decades, destroying a significant portion of life here.
Thankfully, the government of Mozambique collaborated with a US-based foundation by Greg Carr to restore the wildlife in the park.
Under the Gorongosa Restoration Project, millions of dollars were invested by Carr Foundation to build a sanctuary to bring back African buffalo and wildebeest. The territory was then expanded to include Mount Gorongosa in Central Mozambique, which triggered an immense increase in the wildlife populations.
Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise
Gorongosa has probably the most fertile and feasible living conditions for animals in Southern Africa.
The pre-historic tectonic activities created vast plateaus where seasonal flooding occurred. Because of the alternating wet and dry seasons, the soil moisture varies with elevation.
So, the park is in perfect condition for the introduction and adjustment of many animals, as well as diverse vegetation from rain forests to savanna woodlands.
Highlights of Gorongosa National Park
- The Rift Valley, where the park is situated, is full of stunning landscape, but the highlight is definitely the Cheringoma Plateau with limestone formations, caves, canyons and waterfalls.
- Lake Urema is the main source of water for the entire park. The lake and the surrounding rivers breathe life into fresh-water animals, water birds, hippos and even crocodiles.
- Mount Gorongosa overlooks the Great Rift Valley and provides breath-taking views. Easy-to-moderate difficulty hiking trails will help you explore the mountain. Be sure to visit the largest waterfall called Murombodzi, over 100 m high.
This photo of Gorongosa National Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Gorongosa Interactive Map
HHMI BioInteractive has a great interactive map to learn about the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
Use the Gorongosa interactive map to explore many of the park’s natural features – its diverse environments, ecosystems, biomes, and vegetation types – from the comfort of your home.
Gorongosa National Park Fact
There is a documentary called Our Gorongosa, made by the researchers working in the area. The documentary was shown many times during international film festivals in May and June 2019.
Best Things to Do in Gorongosa National Park
#1 Guided Safari Tours: This is the most efficient way to explore the park. The guides are qualified people chosen among the local communities who know every inch of the area.
You will get to see an incredible amount of large mammals like antelope species, as well as some Big 5 members.
#2 Boat Safari Tours: Take an adventurous boat tour on Lake Urema to spot giant hippos and crocodiles. You will also enjoy the magnificent birdlife around the lake.
#3 Canoe Safaris: Canoe Safari is an even more adventurous version of the boat safari, testing your strength and endurance, yet calming as you paddle through the misty riverside.
Gorongosa National Park Animals and Things to See
The Gorongosa ecosystem – as mentioned earlier – is a rare one for its inviting and accepting habitat.
The park was once home to hundreds of lions that were nearly wiped out throughout years of hunting, urbanization and civil war.
The local communities and international organizations are working together to resurrect the lion population by conducting research. There are nearly 70 lions in the park today.
Elephants were much easier to introduce to the park, so there are 500 of them today!
This lesser-known national park is one of the most abundant in sable antelope, wild dogs (duiker), impala, reedbuck, bushbuck, kudu, eland, and waterbuck. They don’t call it the “Serengeti of the South” for nothing.
According to ongoing research conducted by Marc Stalmans and Piotr Nasrecki, there are many species unique to the park yet to be discovered. These include Crawshay’s Zebra, Mount Gorongosa Pygmy Chameleon, as well as many insect and bird species.
Best Things to Bring to Gorongosa Park
Make sure to include these in your packing list.
- Clothing to protect you from mosquitoes
- Hats and sunglasses
- Raincoat and hiking boots
- Binoculars, cameras, headlight, water bottles
- Passport and visa if needed
- Vaccination records
- Anti-malarial medication
- Insect Repellent (we recommend DEET-containing product)
- Travel Insurance
For an in-depth packing list for your trip to Mozambique, read our Mozambique Packing List. You will not want to miss out on any trip essentials.
Accommodation/Best Places to Stay
The national park has luxurious villas, bungalows, and campsites suitable for every type of budget.
#1 Chitengo Camp Premium Villa: $310 for two rooms that sleep 4 people.
#2 Chitengo Camp Standard Villa: $275 for two rooms that sleep 4 people.
#3 Chitengo Camp Bungalows Premium: $170 for two people.
#4 Chitengo Camp Bungalows Standard: $127 for two people.
#5 Chitengo Campsite: $10 per person per day.
For a close but off-site retreat, check out Montebelo Gorongosa Lodge & Safari.
Keep in Mind
- There is a laundry service at these facilities, so don’t worry about getting your clothes dirty.
- Electricity is available with two-pronged European plugs. There is wireless internet.
- The park is closed between December and April due to the rainy season.
Best Place to Eat at Gorongosa
#1 Chikalango Restaurant: There is nothing better than trying authentic Mozambican cuisine after an exhausting and safari-packed day. With their locally grown and organic vegetables, and fresh seafood, the restaurant is the cherry on top of your safari experience.
The restaurant provides free breakfast for people staying at either the villas or the bungalows.
Typical Cost to Expect When Visiting Gorongosa Park
- Canoe Safaris: $50 per person for 3-4 hours
- Boat Safaris: $100 per person for 4-5 hours
- Morning and Midday Safari Drives. $35 per person for 3-4 hours
- Afternoon Safari Drives: $40 per person for 3-4 hours.
- Conservation Fees: $10 for SADC citizens (from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and $20 for other internationals.
How to Get to Gorongosa
You can find information about getting to Gorongosa from surrounding countries and major cities on this website.
Tips and Tricks on Visiting Gorongosa Park
- Remember to stop by the gift shop to buy local hand-made crafts.
- The best time for game viewing is between July and August due to the dry season and the mild temperatures.
- Visit the Montobelo Spa for a rewarding spa day.
Traveling with Children
- Keeping the children entertained during a trip can be demanding. Luckily, there is a playground at the park for kids to entertain themselves as long as they need it.
- Keep in mind that children under 10 years are not allowed on safari drives.
Safety Tips & Health
- Due to the Cyclone Idai, not all areas are safe to drive on. That’s why; the self-guided drives have been suspended until further notice. So, you have to join guided tours.
- Mozambique is not a yellow fever zone, but you should still consult your practitioner to find out what you need.
- Leave any dangerous weapon at the gate.
- Do not try to feed wild animals, as it will make them more demanding and aggressive. Also, the park might be dangerous for pets, so leave them at home.
- Do not leave the vehicles during the safari drives.
Gorongosa Park is Best for?
- Spotting wetland animals like hippos and crocodiles
If you are a park lover, you will enjoy reading our post on African National Parks. It is the most comprehensive list of African Parks on the internet.
Accessibility & Audience
Gorongosa National Park is a decent safari destination for families with teenage children, couples, solo travelers and friends.
Taking Everything into Account
Gorongosa National Park has witnessed so many traumatizing events, yet it has been reborn from its ashes thanks to the rescue attempts of locals and many organizations.
Although Gorongosa National Park has yet to reach its full potential, the park will be a pleasant plot twist for you if you thought Mozambique lacked the wildlife of Southern Africa.
For a comprehensive guide on Mozambique, what to expect, do, see, and eat, check out our Mozambique Travel Guide. I has all the information you need to know about traveling to Mozambique.
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