In Mozambique, the Gorongosa National Park is a fantastic area of wilderness popular for lion encounters and unique safari adventures. Game drives, canoeing, birding and beautiful mountain walks are just a few of the fabulous activities available.
Mozambique has become one of the most sought-after Southern African safari destinations. Its gorgeous scenery and abundance of wildlife is a tremendous experience for all its visitors, and there is no better place in the country than the Gorongosa National Park for nature-based activities, spectacular landscapes, lion encounters and wildlife viewing in general.
View our website page for the Montebelo Gorongosa Lodge for more information or contact us for personalised assistance. East Cape Tours specialises in Southern African safaris and can provide you with all the advice you need. We look forward to ensuring that you have a tremendous and unforgettable vacation, honeymoon or family experience in the Gorongosa National Park.
Today the Gorongosa National Park is well established with a growing number of visitors each year and a thriving animal population, but this has not always been the case. Before Gorongosa was considered as an official national park in 1960, the park was a very popular hunting ground, in particular for Nyala and Black rhino. Fortunately, warden of the park, Alfredo Rodriques, initiated the ban of hunting in the region and focussed on expanding the tourism industry. Then, just as the park’s wildlife numbers were on the increase, with thousands of African buffalo, zebra, waterbuck, hippos, impala and many other large mammals, as well as over 200 lions, civil war broke out in the early 1980’s.
The park’s wildlife suffered greatly during the war, and their populations were considerably reduced. Post war surveys discovered only about six lions, 200 elephants, five zebra, 15 buffalo and a very few wildebeest. Cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, rhinos and wild dog were practically extinct in the area. A huge and commendable effort was then made to restore the park to its former abundance of wildlife and an extensive rehabilitation plan was put into action. It is often mentioned that Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park is perhaps Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration story.
The wildlife numbers of the park are still on the increase and Gorongosa offers its visitors some amazing opportunities to get close to wildlife within its large 4000 square km area. In particular with lions and other large mammals, as well as with over 500 species of beautiful birds.
The park is situated at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley, in central Mozambique, and consists of a magnificent variety of distinct ecosystems. Its diversity of plant species adds to the uniqueness of the park. On the slopes of Mount Gorongosa, a 1,863-metre rise, is a spectacular and lush rainforest and along the rivers that flow from the heights of the mountain are tall, evergreen forests. Massive expanses of grassland cover 20% of Gorongosa, and these regions are considered the most important for plant and animal life. Interestingly, they depend on naturally occurring fires and the grazing of the herbivores to remain ahead of the shrubby and woody vegetation growth.
Gorongosa’s grasslands are not only important for the large herbivores, but for grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and many other smaller creatures too, which are in turn feed for small predators. Many millions of pounds of grass are consumed each year by all these animals, and grass is used by birds for nests and by rodents for their burrows.
Gorongosa’s major source of water is Lake Urema, and the most important river flowing into the lake is the Vunduzi River that originates on the eastern side of Mount Gorongosa. The lake, especially during the wet season, is a haven for fish, hippos, crocodiles and water birds. When overflowed it can extend to as much as 200 km in size. The Sungue River is a particularly notable destination for bird watching in the dry season. Fishing birds arrive in the hundreds of thousands to snatch prey from the low water levels. Young birds are also seen perfecting the art of fishing. Storks, hammerkops and fish eagles are commonly sighted.
There is nothing quite as chillingly beautiful as the deep roar of a lion in the night! At Gorongosa, this is par for the course, as it is well known for its large predators. Lions are usually more active during the night, but it is not uncommon to see lion hunting during the day as well, especially if a good opportunity arises. Lions sleep for most of the day and therefore you may well come across a pride in dreamland.
The ‘Lion House’ is Gorongosa’s most famous landmark, offering a great opportunity for spotting lions. The now abandoned (except for the lions) house was a camp built in the 1940’s. Today the lions use it as their private hideout, and spend hours here watching for prey or taking shelter from the rain.
Gorongosa keeps as close an eye as possible on their growing number of lions and is now able to identify several of them. A couple of their featured lions include Mkombozi, Tripod and ‘The Brando Brothers’. Each of these lions have a unique story to tell and help to make a visit to the park just that much more interesting. Gorongosa’s research team hope, in time, to be able to recognise and name all their lions.
The beautiful Montebelo Gorongosa Lodge is the ideal place to stay when you want an exciting wildlife experience at the Gorongosa National Park. Villas and bungalows are superbly tucked away in the very heart of the national park, and provide comfortable accommodation with all the facilities that could be desired during short and longer stays. The lodge includes swimming pools, restaurants, shops, a spa and access to a variety of tours. The lodge also provides facilities for meetings and events.
From the Montebelo Gorongosa Lodge you can enjoy a full-day birding trip on the foothills of Mount Gorongosa or a day trip to the waterfall. Lovely birds such as the green-headed oriole, Livingstone’s turaco, black-fronted bushshrike and Eastern bronze-naped pigeons are commonly seen. Be sure to have your camera ready! Walking safaris are also the ideal way to enjoy the wilderness of the park and to get close to nature. The walks are about 3 to 4 hours in duration and show off the park’s amazing habitats and wildlife. Guests enjoy the thrill of discovering hidden pathways that lead to unexplored regions, the art of tracking and being nearby to some of the park’s large mammals.
Canoeing and boating safaris are fantastic for amazing photography and take you past the crocodiles and hippos of Lake Urema, deserted sandy beaches and riverside forests. No experience is required for the canoeing trips. Game drives are, of course, the ultimate way to view wildlife. Qualified guides that are experienced in tracking large mammals and predators take guests through the park to see the spectacular flood plains, palm forests and other habitats, as well as large elephant herds, lions, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, primates, antelope, birdlife and much more.
In addition to exploring the wilderness, from the lodge you can also visit the Vinho Village to meet some of the local people and to experience African village life. In the village, you will visit the school, clinic and local market. It is also a lovely one-kilometre walk to the Pungue River passing through farmlands. A knowledgeable guide ensures that you have a wonderful experience that will surely be remembered as one of the best things about your stay at the Montebelo Gorongosa Lodge.