African Safaris Consultants Blog » Mozambique Fri, 23 May 2014 09:43:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gorongosa National Park: The Return to Glory Fri, 05 Jul 2013 05:28:45 +0000 The Gorongosa National Park in Central Mozambique is a remarkable success story for African wildlife conservation. Lying at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley – an active continental rift zone – the park covers some 1500 square miles of grasslands, savannahs and dry forests. The Gorongosa National Park once supported one of the densest wildlife populations in Africa, but Mozambique’s long running civil war is thought to have reduced the population by as much as 95%, with disastrous environmental consequences. Now that peace and stability have returned to the Southern African country, a massive project is underway to return the park to it’s former glory…

The Carr Foundation/Gorongosa Restoration Project has been heralded worldwide as one of the most successful examples of a private-state partnership since it’s inception in 2004. The labour of love of American philanthropist and internet entrepreneur Greg Carr, the Gorongosa Restoration Project is a partnership between the Carr Foundation and the Government of Mozambique to restore the ecosystem of the Gorongosa National Park, and the sustainable development of the communities it supports.

Greg Carr

Greg Carr

With the Carr Foundation having pledged $40 million (largely out of Greg’s own pocket) to the project over a period of 30 years, there has already been considerable progress made. In partnership with the Government of Mozambique, the Carr Foundation has:

  • Planted three million trees in the Mount Gorongosa Rainforest
  • Reintroduced wildlife species
  • Built a science research centre
  • Re-established ecotourism as a sustainable income generator
  • Provided health and education programs to the park’s local communities
  • Overseen the correction of the initial oversight to include Mount Gorongosa within the protection of the park’s borders in 2010

Though Greg and his team have achieved great success in just short of a decade, there is still much to be done. The rainforest surrounding Mount Gorongosa is under constant threat of deforestation, which would have catastrophic effects on the rest of the park’s water supply. But, through education and sustainable ecotourism, there is hope.

Mount Gorongosa Rainforest

Mount Gorongosa Rainforest

Our good friends over at Asilia Africa have come aboard as an official tourism partner of the Gorongosa National Park, and are set to open the brand new Kubatana Camp sometime this month (July 2013). Each guest who stays at this magnificent camp will be directly contributing towards the restoration and conservation of one of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries.  We salute both the Gorongosa Restoration Project and Asilia Africa for their terrific work in developing sustainable ecotourism in Mozambique.

If you’d like to witness firsthand one of Africa’s great success stories, Contact Us to book your trip to the Gorongosa National Park – the pride of Mozambique.If you’d like to read National Geographic’s piece on Gorongosa, please click here.


Our Vision from Gorongosa National Park on Vimeo.

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Client Feedback: July, 2011 Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:20:07 +0000 Safari Feedback

We’ve had some travellers recently – clients who underwent intense pressure just to get to African shores due to the disruption from the volcanic ash – so thought we would share some of their feedback with you:

Dear Liesl and Jeff:

Since Saturday we are back in Lima, but, though we are very happy to be back with our family … we are already missing Africa.  The trip was a great and unforgettable experience and incredibly well organized.
We loved each and every place we visited and the differences between them gave it variety and made it very enjoyable.  All the lodges, as well as the boat, had great accommodations, very attentive and welcoming people and good food (we have put on some weight – will be starting a diet next week).

Maria Marta was able to see, touch and even ride all the elephants she could dream of, and we saw 4 of the “big 5″ (the leopard just kept hiding from us). The Zambezi Queen, Marlin Lodge and Camp Jabulani organized celebrations for her “Quinceañero”; she will never forget this trip!

We are still organizing our photographs (have more than 3,000) but as soon as we have selected some especial ones, will mail them to you.
Having the “beach” part in the middle of the “safaris” was a great thing because it served as a time of relaxation before going back to the drives and “animal photography hunting”. We also did a lot of scuba diving and appreciated the beautiful underwater world of Benguerra island – and swimming in the Indian Ocean, for us, used to the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, was something we couldn’t get enough of.

The stops in Johannesburg resulted very useful. We could change luggage and get a taste of city life before getting back on safari – and since we were able to rest before arriving at each lodge, we were quite fit to enjoy the drives we did on the first day (some of the other guests, arriving at the lodges directly from long flights, had difficulties on the first and even second days – not us with the way our program had been arranged).

Well, I could go on and on, but all I wanted to say is that we thank you both for a great and unforgettable trip and the good service you provide – you’ve got two friends in Lima that are planning to go back to Africa (not next year because we had already planned on going to the northern part of Europe) but probably the year after that – and we will send you our friends that are already asking “how we organized such a great trip”.

Thanks again.  All the best to both of you,  Marta – July, 2011
LieslThis is the first moment I’ve had to email.  I just wanted to THANK YOU soooo much for putting together this trip.  It has truly been a once in a lifetime event.  I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful the lodges have been, game viewing, etc.  Please tell Jeff thank you too!  We’re at Lion Sands now and I can’t help to wondering if it was you that got us into these beautiful suites.  The view from our bed is breathtaking.  We saw three leopards this morning.  I’ll be posting many praises on Trip Advisor when we get back.  Thanks again!!! – Caryn Arrowood – July, 2011

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Swimming with Dolphins Wed, 20 Jul 2011 14:23:46 +0000 With the continuing summer weather in the Western Cape I am inspired to keep going with awesome Ocean adventures!  Again, I am taking to the shores of Mozambique and I am adding to it the shores of Zanzibar.  Set deep in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean both these destinations have a fantastic array of activities…..if you are not someone who likes to laze about on the beach.

I thought I would focus on something really special though – swimming with dolphins!  How many out there have had this unique encounter?  Both Mozambique and Zanzibar are such superb destinations for this activity because the water is so lovely and warm, you can spend hours swimming, and you don’t even need wetsuits.  The visibility is good as the water is crystal clear, and all the sunshine from above helps too!

In Southern Mozambique there is a tiny spot called Ponte Mamoli where you can go for some perfect rest and relaxation.  The lodge has recently been revamped and offers an exclusive, barefoot luxury experience on its own long stretch of unpopulated beach.

Mozambique Coastline

Any interactions with wildlife need to be closely monitored and there should be strict rules and guidelines in place whether on land or in water.  When snorkeling with dolphins, we went out early each morning on the boat to find them.  It was not a guaranteed find but more like a chance encounter.  When we did find them, we had to enter the water slowly, no jumping in with big splashes.  And wow – it is another world down there.  I have often seen dolphins from the shore or from a boat, but actually being in the deep blue ocean with them is something completely out of the ordinary!  They are so graceful, majestic, friendly and playful.  They’re swift, curious and beautiful.  And with one quick flick of their tail fin, they are gone and you have absolutely no chance what so ever of catching them again……

Zanzibar has been doing these dolphin excursions for years.  Normally done in the south, you can book it from any of the operators there, or you can organize it through your hotel.  For a more personal approach, you can also contact us and we can help put the dream together!

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Massive Whale Sharks – Mozambique Wed, 13 Jul 2011 13:46:16 +0000 With that feeling of summer in the air – (normally Cape Town winters are wet and grey, so all this sunshine is totally unusual) – I can’t get away from the water!  Mozambique has also been in the news a bit this week with President Armando Guebuza reflecting on the role of tourism in eliminating poverty.  So it seemed appropriate to look at a “new” tourism angle for Mozambique, with it’s almost 1,800 miles (3,000km) of coastline.

I am told that a highlight for any serious diver is getting a glimpse of the elusive Whale Shark.  One place on earth that you find these huge fish is along Mozambique’s coastline.  Whale Sharks inhabit tropical and warm temperate seas, so around Africa’s coastline you find them in South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania’s islands of Mafia, Pemba and Zanzibar.

The size of us in relation to the Whale Shark!

Despite their huge size Whale Sharks are no threat to man.  They can reach almost 40 feet (12m) in length but usually average out around 26 feet (8m).  They are filter feeders eating plankton, algae, krill and other small marine creatures and amazingly have around 3,000 small teeth.  They’re active feeders (can feed while moving) but can also feed when stationary (unlike the Basking Shark which has to swim to force water across its gills for feeding purposes).

The massive Filter Feeder

Fins help these massive creatures steer themselves through the water.  But these fins have also become a sought after commodity in many parts of the world, especially Asia where shark fin soup is in high demand and considered a delicacy.  This is becoming a problem for conservationists, especially in a country like Mozambique, which has only one vessel patrolling its extensive coastline.

The population of Whale Sharks swimming through our oceans is unknown and they’re considered a vulnerable species throughout the world.  Still hunted in some areas of course, there are many countries that have imposed a ban on all fishing, selling, importing and exporting of Whale Sharks.  Only reaching sexual maturity between 25 and 30 years, not reproducing many times in their lives and the threat of human behavior makes them susceptible to dwindling numbers.  Their life span is between 70 and 100 years.  They are ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs remain in the female body and she gives birth to live young.

Although sightings are never guaranteed like any wildlife really, if Mozambique looks after this attraction properly, it could become a massive tourist attraction for them!

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Photo of the Week – an old favorite! Fri, 24 Jun 2011 13:00:39 +0000 I was reminded of this special photo today as it popped into my inbox.  I didn’t actually know the origin of the photo until I read the newsletter (thanks to The Safari Book).  Here is a quick summary of where it came from:

The Hatted Hippo

This fabulous image has been around since 1979 and was taken by Paul Dutton.  Shot with a pre-digital 35mm Pentax camera, the hippo in question, tried on a good 35 “hats” before finding the perfect fit.  With almost the entire film dedicated to this particular hippo, it was a once-off photo shoot with famous results for Paul!

It was taken while carrying out field work in the Urema Floodplain in the Gorgongosa National Park.  The floral hat in question is an invasive aquatic weed called “water hyacinth”, first introduced into Africa’s wetland system from South America.   Although a serious pest for impeding water flow and causing excessive oxygen up-take to the detriment of fauna and fish, it was fantastic fodder for the hippo, who has the capacity to consume 50kgs of herbage a day!

The image has appeared on the cover of the Wildlife Society of South Africa magazine, as well as being printed into large posters and used to advertise conservation areas in Southern Africa.  The original slide came back from the printers damaged, and only the digital era has managed to “repair” the damage and return the image to its original format.

The civil war that plagued Mozambique destroyed the population of hippos in the Gorongosa National Park.  The numbers declined from around 6,000 before the war to a staggering less than 20 in 1994.  The ivory and meat supplied by these huge animals helped sustain the war.  With the Carr Foundation now involved in Gorongosa National Park, massive rehabilitation efforts are returning the animal populations back to their original numbers!

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The New Lake Niassa Reserve – Mozambique Mon, 20 Jun 2011 13:25:15 +0000 Things often take a while to happen in Africa so until they are official one doesn’t like to make too many assumptions.  I’ve heard today that after 6 years in the making, a new lake reserve has been declared – the Lake Niassa Reserve in Mozambique.  More commonly known as Lake Malawi outside of Mozambique, this lake is actually one of the most bio-diverse lakes in the world!

With 1,000 species of fish that are only found in its tropical waters and no-where else in the world, and massive amounts of poverty lining its shores, you can see why this has been an important project for the WWF to get secured.  For a bit more information on the WWF’s activities in the area you can have a look at this clip where there is a bit more detail about the project and its necessity.

The local communities call the lake the “calendar lake” – logically, it is 365km long.   It is the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa, and forms a shoreline for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.  With human populations living on its shores and depending on the fish in the lake for their livelihood, you can imagine the effect this is having on the fish levels, and the illegal fishing and pollution that comes along with it.

A local fishing village on the shores of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi)

Working with the Mozambique government, local communities, USAID and the international Coca Cola Company this project has finally grown roots and will monitor the following areas:

  • Illegal fishing and overfishing
  • Erosion and deforestation
  • Manage fisheries
  • Mitigate the impacts or climate change

The Lake we want to leave for our children

Mozambique is gaining ground as a conservation hub.  With another US Non Profit Organization - the Carr Foundation/Gorongosa Restoration Project – and the Mozambique Government, massive efforts are in place to develop an eco-tourism industry in the newly regenerated Gorongosa National Park located in the heart of Mozambique.  These efforts extend to include the local communities as well as the wildlife.  Gorongosa suffered hugely during the long civil war, losing as much as 95% of its mammals.

Having been reminded over the weekend of global warming, climate change and keeping our earth a safe and beautiful place for our children (An Inconvenient Truth) it’s super to see Africa taking shape and developing its conservation projects!

That perfect Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi) holiday!

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Anyone for the Sardine run? Wed, 01 Jun 2011 13:01:24 +0000 South Africa is one of those amazing destinations when it doesn’t matter what time of the year you are visiting, there is always something to see!  The various climatic zones between all the provinces means you have a wide choice of destinations, whenever you wish to travel.

Although June is winter in the southern hemisphere (hence the 1st of June prompting this article!), it is the start of some fabulous wildlife activities.  The winter months (June, July & August) are actually the best months for Big 5 viewing in the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand – the bush is dry and the animals are far easier to spot.

The other phenomenon that starts around this time is the Ocean activity along the warm Indian Ocean coastline.  June sees the beginning of the annual “Sardine Run” (there have been 4 non-runs since 1980).  This marvel takes place along the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline and is an absolute feeding frenzy!  The sardines are heading North, to Mozambique where they will then leave the coastline and go further East into the Indian Ocean.  There is still little known about this magnificent migration but it is believed in biomass (animal matter), to rival the massive wildebeest migration that occurs in East Africa!

The impressive Sardine Run off the Natal Coastline

The millions of sardines form shoals – their instinctive behavior when threatened is to group together, lone individuals are more likely to be eaten than large groups.  The shoals can be up to 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30 meters deep! They are clearly visible from the air or from the surface, and sometimes they actually come so close to shore they’re beached by the incoming tide.

The feeding frenzy occurs with hundreds of “predators” following these massive shoals.  Up to 3,000 dolphins join in the on the excitement, rounding up the shoals into bait balls.  This entices the sharks, as well as big game fish like kingfish and tuna, seals also turn up for their share and then adding to the chaos from the air, are the sea birds.  Picture tens of thousands of Cape Gannets, Cormorants, Turns and Gulls stalling in mid-air, and then plunging headlong into the Ocean.  It is one of THE  scenes to witness!

Diving among the sardines is not for the fainthearted!  There are options for this activity (if you are feeling brave), as well as snorkeling.  There are boat expeditions allowing for surface viewing or big game fishing trips, or there is the option of pier fishing for those just looking to be a part of the action.  The Natal coastline is a must for any addition to a Kwa-Zulu Natal vacation or add-on to a Safari!  Even if sardines are not high on your priority list, the warm Indian Ocean provides buckets of entertainment!

I should be heading along the Natal coastline in a couple of weeks, so keep tuned in if you are interested to find out if I manage to catch this awesome natural phenomenon!

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Staff Review: Indigo Bay Island Resort & Spa Tue, 24 May 2011 11:18:37 +0000 I have just travelled to Mozambique on the back of a trip to South Africa to check out some lodges and resorts. All in all it was a fab time, learning lots about Rani Resorts as well as looking at current travel logistics in Mozambique and how best to include the country into our itineraries.  The tropical islands in Mozambique are ideal for chilling on the beach, diving and water activities and eating masses of seafood after  the “hard work” of a safari.  I was a guest of Rani Resorts at Indigo Bay Island Resort & Spa.

High Points : 

  • Food was excellent, especially the fresh seafood offerings throughout the day
  • Extensive house wine list (especially the Boschendal Blanc de Blanc)
  • The Sanctuary Spa — both treatment and the facility were excellent. I loved my soul-to-soul massage, and thought the spa facility to be one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen
  • Excursion over to Paradise Island – an awesome trip – the boat ride over, snorkelling, the picnic lunch, and the walking tour of hotel ruins
  • The competent presence of the front-of-house staff & managers.  Their attitude was “can do” and they were always around and visible
  • The Bayview Villa was comfortable and I slept like a baby

There were one or two lowlights… like when housekeeping didn’t notice the “do not disturb” sign was on the door and came in to clean the pool only to find me running around scantily clad!

In a nutshell it’s not an intimate lodge, but a full-scale resort.  It’s a good product and excellent for families. It would work well for incentive groups, honeymooners (in the Beachfront Villas) and multi-generational trips (using the Bayview Villas).

Rani Resorts also own Matemo Island, Medjumbe Private Island and Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa if something smaller is your preference!

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