Gorongosa National Park was gazetted in 1960 and was one of southern Africa’s premier wildlife parks. It was renowned for its large prides of lions, as well as for its elephants, hippos, buffaloes and rhinos. However the civil war brought an end to this abundance. Rehabilitation work began in 1995, and in recent years the park has received a major boost thanks to assistance from the US-based Carr Foundation, which has joined with the Government of Mozambique to fund long-term restoration and ecotourism development.
Animal numbers still pale in comparison with those of earlier times, and can’t compare with those in other southern African safari destinations. However, wildlife is making a definite comeback and the park is highly recommended on any Mozambique itinerary. It’s likely that you will see impalas, waterbucks, sable antelopes, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles and perhaps even elephants and lions.
A wildlife sanctuary has been created in the park, where restocking of zebras, buffaloes, wildebeests and other animals has begun. Another major attraction is the birdlife, with over 300 species, including many endemics and near-endemics and an abundance of water birds in the wetland areas to the east around the Urema River.
Just as much of a highlight as the wildlife is Gorongosa’s unique and beautiful mixture of ecological zones, with jade-green floodplains, savannah, woodlands, forests of fever trees, stands of palm and hanging vines. Within its 5370 sq km it encompasses the southernmost part of the Great Rift system, the hulking Gorongosa massif, expanses of coastal plain and the Zambezi valley, and is considered to be the most biologically diverse of all Mozambique’s conservation areas. The park’s rehabilitation also involves a strong community development element, and the chance to see some of this work is another draw.