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Visit Gorongosa Without Bankrupting Yourself

Posted: 22nd January 2016 08:58

Gorongosa National Park is perhaps Mozambique’s most beautiful safari destination.  The park lies at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley and contains several rivers that flood dramatically, set against stunning mountain vistas.  It is the animals, however, that make it so special, and Gorongosa has been declared by scientists as one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Despite suffering huge devastation during the brutal civil war of the 1980s and 1990s the park has bounced back enviably, and animals that were near extinct are growing healthily in number again.  The park’s renaissance is definitely something to be celebrated, because few safaris offer the same variety of wildlife, from roaming elephants and sleeping lions to bathing hippos and grazing antelope.  Crocodiles lie in wait in the riverbanks, and over 150 species of bird fly overhead.

With so much to see Gorongosa is the perfect one stop shop for nature lovers, so here are our tips for making the most of your time, and money, in the park.

Where to stay

If you’re planning to go to Gorongosa on a budget you’d better be up for camping, because your other options are limited to expensive lodges that will be way beyond the budget of the average backpacker.  The park has a couple of large campsites that are run by Explore Gorongosa, offering an authentic African experience.  The sites come complete with a cooking area, laundry facilities, showers and a gazebo to sit in while you savour the sunset.  Just to reassure you, you won’t be eaten alive in your sleep because the campsites are fenced off and patrolled by park rangers.

How to see the wildlife

It’s possible for the brave and well researched to explore the park by themselves from the comfort of their hire car, but hire cars can be expensive, and frankly we would be a little nervous about taking one anywhere with the smallest risk of elephants.  Instead you should seek out guided walking safaris for the best chance to see big game at a small prices (guides can cost as little as just £10 a day).  If you are dead set on getting out and exploring via Land Rover you could get organised with a group of other backpackers and head out for the morning for far less than the average tourist would pay.  We think that if you’re saving money at a campsite and cooking your own food, a tour of the park lasting several hours should be in your budget, and well worth the investment.

What else can you do?

The beautiful Mount Gorongosa is a cool 1,863 metres tall and towers over the park, making it well worth a visit.  You won’t have time to summit the mountain but there is a beautiful waterfall to photograph named the Murombodzi Falls which reaches a height of 100 metres.  A great many rivers flow off the mountain, often in steep sided ravines, while the mountain area hosts a massive expanse of forests home to innumerable species of bird.  You can book your trip to the mountain with Explore Gorongosa and have the option of a multi-day excursion that includes camping overnight on the slopes of the mountain.  This is a great activity that involves a lot of walking but not a great deal of cost.

What to bring

Going on safari is a unique experience and as such you’ll need a variety of equipment and supplies to make sure you have a pleasant time.  You also don’t want to find yourself without something vital and having to pay inflated prices in the park or going without.  Sturdy boots are a must, and you need warm clothing for the night in addition to comfortable clothes for the heat of the daytime.  A hat to keep off the sun will be helpful, as will the usual things like sun lotion and shades.  Binoculars and a camera are ubiquitous, and you also need water purification tablets, anti-malarial medicine and insect repellent in this part of Africa.  Staff also need to see your passport and visa before letting you into the park, so probably a good idea to have those handy too.

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