Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park is a magnificent mosaic of ecosystems – sprawling grasslands dotted with acacia, forested plateaus and limestone gorges. The park has a conflicted history that makes its success even more incredible. This beautifully wild, untamed land is home to roughly 500 elephants, while before they were nearly extinct in Mozambique. The wildlife densities have vastly increased in the last decade, due to the fantastic conservation efforts of the Carr Foundation at Gorongosa Restoration Project.
Best Time to Go
July – October
Average Safari Cost
Over 500 elephants, 50-70 lion, huge herds of buffalo and antelope, amazing bird life, beautiful landscape and scenery
Why Visit Gorongosa National Park
Due to the country’s volatile history, Mozambique’s wildlife population had decreased by 95%. Gorongosa National Park was a mess and nearly empty of wildlife for a long time. Then something amazing happened. In 2008, the Carr Foundation signed a 20-year contract with the Mozambique government to co-manage the park. Now, the park is thriving. Animal populations have risen wonderfully, and the park is now home to the largest elephant population in Mozambique.
This wildly untamed park has become a popular destination in recent years, and is it any wonder? Elephants linger around waterholes and several antelope species are incredibly easy to spot. The waterbuck has risen to particularly large numbers, and the sable antelope can be found here as well. Buffalo and zebra are commonly, while lions can sometimes be spotted napping in the shade of a tree. All these animals are easily seen on guided game drives and walking safaris. The local guides are know to be amazing, and you can be certain that they know exactly where to find wildlife.
Birdwatching is equally as great in Gorongosa, with rare species present such as the Green-headed Oriole, which can only be found in Mozambique. With roughly 340 recorded species, many of which are easily seen, the park is a wonderland for birdwatching.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent wildlife viewing, with large population densities
- Fantastic birdwatching
- A stunning rainforest at the base of limestone gorges
- Amazing guides
- Friendly locals and great cuisine
- A perfect add-on to a Mozambique beach holiday
- The park is closed from mid-December to end of March
Best Time to Go
Dry season: April – October
Wet season: November – March
The dry season is the best time for wildlife viewing. From May to June, Gorongosa is at its most beautiful, with the scenery still lush after the rains. By July, vegetation begins to thin out, and soon, animals will converge on more reliable waterholes. During the wet season, roads become impassable due the heavy rains, and the park is therefore closed from mid-December to the end of March.
Start your African Adventure
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Best of South Africa and Mozambique
From summiting Cape Town’s majestic Table Mountain, to staying at an exquisite winery in the heart of the Cape Winelands, whale-watching in the charming coastal town of Hermanus, experiencing incredible wildlife encounters in Makalali Private Conservancy in the Greater Kruger region and relaxing on Mozambique’s pristine beaches, this phenomenal holiday really does offer the Best of South Africa and Mozambique.
Wildlife and Birds
- Wild Dog
Gorongosa offers excellent wildlife viewing, with four of the Big Five present (rhino is absent), and several antelope species, including the sable antelope. There are roughly 500 elephants in the park, and there are between 50 – 70 lions. Chances are, you are more likely to see lions lazing in the sun, than taking down prey, as these apex predators are more active at night. Leopards are in the park as well, but are less commonly seen, as they prefer to hide in the undergrowth or in treetops.
- Caracal, wild cat, serval, wild dog, side-striped jackal, honey badger, Cape clawless otter, spotted-necked otter, civet, genet, aardvark
Infrequently Seen Animals
- Bushpig, warthog, blue wildebeest, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, blue duiker, red duiker, klipspringer, oribi, steenbok, suni, sable antelope, hyena, leopard, lion, mongoose, thick-tailed bushbaby, lesser bushbaby, vervet monkey, samango monkey
Frequently Seen Animals
- Elephant, zebra, hippo, common duiker, impala, greater kudu, buffalo, eland, bushbuck, reedbuck, waterbuck, chacma baboon
Gorongosa offers excellent bird watching, with roughly 340 recorded species. The park is home to the rare Green-headed Oriole, Saddle-billed Stork and Malachite Kingfisher. On a single day in Gorongosa, you could end up ticking over 150 birds off your checklist. Bird watching is best in November, when the migratory birds arrive, and resident birds might already be in their magnificent breeding plumage.
For a complete list of endangered birds see our Mozambique Country Guide.
Endemic and Near Endemic Bird
- Green-headed Oriole, Eurasian Curlew, Grey Crowned Crane, Secretarybird, Temmink’s Courser, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, African Fish Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Tambourine Dove, Livingstone’s Turaco, Narina Trogon, Burchell’s Coucal, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Malachite Kingfisher, Pygmy Kingfisher, Madagascar Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Lilac-breasted Roller, Yellow-rumoed Tinkerbird, Crested Barbet, Red-billed Wood-Hoopoe, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Yellow-billed Greenbul, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Orange Ground-Thrush, Cape Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Violet-backed Starling, African Paradise Flycatcher, Pale Batis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Golden Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Golden-breasted Bunting
Getting There and Safety
You can reach Gorongosa by air or by land.
The most popular route to Gorongosa by air, is from Johannesburg, South Africa to Mozambique. Johannesburg offers direct flights to Beira, which is 3 hours from Gorongosa. You could also take a direct flight from Harare (Zimbabwe) to Beira. The following cities offer direct flights to Maputo (after which you will have to take a connecting flight to Beira or Chumoio, 2 hours from Gorongosa):
- Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Cape Town (South Africa), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Harare (Zimbabwe), Johannesburg (South Africa), Luanda (Angola), Lisbon (Porutgal), Nairobi (Kenya)
If you choose to travel by land, you can drive from South Africa, Zimbabwe or Malawi. You will require certain documentation to cross the border: insurance certificate of the vehicle, a temporary permit for your vehicle (acquired at the border crossing), international driver’s license, passport and visa (if required). Be prepared to pay a border crossing fee.
If you are travelling from South Africa with children, you will be required to provide an unabridged birth certificate and both parents ID’s. If only one parent is accompanying the child, an affidavit from the absent parent is needed to confirm parental consent. This applies to children travelling with guardians as well, and they will need copies of both parents’ ID’s, along with an affidavit.
For the flights to Mozambique, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Mozambique.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Mozambique.
For more information when to visit see our Mozambique Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Check your local travel health authority for more information:
Additionally, it is recommended that you speak to your healthcare provider about appropriate malaria preventative medication for Mozambique. For protection against mosquitoes, an insect repellent with 30% DEET is required, and you should keep your arms and legs covered at night.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Mozambique. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.
Goronogosa itself is very safe. The guides are highly trained and will never do anything to jeopardise your safety. Crime is very rarely an issue in the park, although petty theft is always a problem in busy cities, no matter where you go in the world, so be cautious in Mozambique. When traveling overland to Mozambique, do not travel at night, and do not stop your car for a hitchhiker or ‘broken down vehicle’ as these could be ploys used by hijackers.
You should follow basic travel safety precautions no matter your destination, and avoid placing yourself in precarious situations.
- Passport and visa
- A good insect repellent may be needed for Gorongosa.
- Spare rechargeable batteries
- Battery charger
- Spare memory card for camera
- General clothing
- Trail shoes and hiking boots
- Personal medication
- Small backpack (for game drives)
- Wide-brimmed sunhat
- Warm clothing – nights and early mornings are chilly from May to October (winter).
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.