At a Glance
Dates: September 2nd - September 10th, 2023
Extension: Three night pre-extension available. This offers three nights in Vilanculos searching for Dugong and Humpback Whales.
Prices: £3,750 pp sharing (£600 single supplement), excluding flights.
In a sentence: An opportunity to combine the exceptional wildlife of the gorgeous Gorongosa National Park with the drama of migrating whales and grazing dugongs of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
Natural beauty is rarely top of the list when weighing up potential safari destinations. Big game? Yes. Luxury accommodation? Yes. But, spectacular scenery? This can often fall by the wayside, particularly in the well-touristed areas of Southern Africa.
Gorongosa is a spectacular counterexample. This national park situated in central Mozambique offers a stunning variety of landscapes, from vast floodplains dotted with thousands of waterbuck to arid open savanna and dense riverine forest. A visit to Gorongosa can feel like an expedition to the Selous, the Mara and the Okavango all in one day!
If that were not enough, Gorongosa has recently been the subject of a stirring conservation effort. Decimated by a brutal civil war, the park's wildlife had been reduced to a terrible state, with many species extirpated. Now, however, commendable engagement with the local community and world-leading translocation programmes are begging to restore the park to a semblance of its former self. The main game-viewing area is home to a healthy population of Lion and Bush Elephant, both of which survived years of guerrilla warfare in the area. Introductions of Savanna Buffalo, the Crawshay's Zebra, Common Wildebeest and more have bolstered the prey population, which now supports a booming population of African Wild Dogs, now numbering over 100. Our trip is timed to maximise the chances of encountering puppies outside of their dens. Leopard and Serval are also occasionally seen and visitors are also likely to encounter Cape Porcupine, Lichtenstein's Hartebeest, Sable Antelope, Bushbuck and more. Perhaps the most impressive sight in all of Gorongosa are the floodplains of the mighty Lake Urema. These plains are filled with thousands of Common Waterbuck, in densities unmatched across the continent - it is this sight at sunset that visitors simply cannot forget.
From your arrival into Vilanculos on the 30th August, we are confident you will be blown away by the beauty, luxury and great wildlife-viewing on offer here. This secluded and sheltered area is, at this time of year, a great bet for spotting breaching humpback whales as they migrate northwards through the Mozambique Channel. Perhaps most impressively though, rarities including dugong and Indian Ocean humpback dolphin are seen here regularly, making this one of the premier marine safari destinations in the world.
Our accommodation here is truly excellent, offering a personalised service, including a private chef for the group, as well as exclusive use of a boat throughout out stay. This is vital, as it allow us to dedicate significant time to seeking out dugong, dolphins and whales as we see fit. But there is always the option of simply relaxing on our exclusive beach, making this a truly complete destination.
Guests who joined the pre-extension will today fly from Vilanculos to Beira, arriving by mid-afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure, with the remainder of the guests arriving tomorrow afternoon.
On arrival into Beira, you will be met by a Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to the Sena Hotel. Beira is still recovering from the devastating Cyclone Idai of 2019, and hotel options are limited. Our hotel for tonight is basic, but comfortable and quiet - perfect for a night's rest before an early start tomorrow. Here, you will meet the rest of the group at dinner for a pre-tour briefing.
Gorongosa National Park
This morning we will be collected from our hotel in a closed 4x4 for our transfer to Gorongosa National Park. The transfer will take three to four hours, depending on the condition of the road from Beira. We will complete entry formalities at the park gate before continuing on to Chitengo, where we will be based during our stay at Gorongosa. We will aim to arrive at Montebelo Gorongosa by midday to enjoy a buffet lunch and settle into our rooms.
Our accommodation is a unique combination of resort and lodge, complete with a spa, swimming pool and restaurant. Our rooms are rustic but very comfortable, and the food provided each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner is very appetising, if not haute cuisine. Crucially, the resort is well located for game-viewing, with Lion, Bush Elephant and Wild Dog often seen only a few minutes from camp. Common Warthog, Vervet Monkey, Chacma Baboon and a vast array of birdlife can be viewed in camp itself.
This afternoon we will set out on our first game drive, in an open-sided game-viewer exclusively for the use of our group. Depending on the interests of our group, we may choose to immediately begin our search for African Wild Dogs or "mabecos" as they are locally known. Otherwise, we might head to the famous "Lion House", an abandoned building once frequented by prides of lion in the park's heyday - it is in this area that we are most likely to locate the park's Lion and Bush Elephant. After enjoying sundowners, we will meander back to camp through the darkness, spotlighting for Gorongosa' noctural residents. Common Genet, African Civet, Cape Porcupine and African Savanna Hare are likely, and we may even strike lucky with Serval, Leopard or Aardvark.
Days Three to Eight
Gorongosa National Park
With exclusive use of a privately-guided park vehicle, the next five days are full of opportunity and flexibility for the group. Game drives are the most effective way of tracking down the park's famous Lions, Bush Elephant and Wild Dog, and we recommend morning and evening game drives on most days. However, we are also able to offer walking safaris for a more intimate view of the park, as well as boat safaris on the impressive Lake Urema, if water conditions allow this. Lake Urema holds Gorongosa's only population of Hippo and is certainly worth at least one visit. During the course of these five days we should expect to locate Lion, Bush Elephant, African Wild Dog, Savanna Buffalo, Selous' Zebra, Common Wildebeest, Sable Antelope, Lichtenstein's Hartebeest, Bushpig, Common Warthog, Common Waterbuck, Impala, Southern Reedbuck, Nyala, Bushbuck and much more.
For those interested, we may also be able to arrange visits to the local community. Gorongosa run several initiatives with local communities, including several focussed on empowering young women and an excellent coffee project which produces some of the finest coffee you will ever taste.
Sadly we must say goodbye to Gorongosa today. We will depart early, with those heading home being transferred directly to Beira Airport. Those continuing on with us to Nampula and Niassa will overnight in Beira tonight
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in September 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season, as well as the emergence of African Wild Dog puppies as they emerge from the den and the migration of Humpback Whales past the Bazaruto Archipelago. The tour will run from September 2nd to September 10th.
The cost of this trip is £3,750 per person excluding international flights. This includes all accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Water, but not soft drinks or alcohol, is included. We regret that we must levy a £600 single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,500 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Beira or Vilanculos at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Mozambique. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Mozambique will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Mozambique entry visa for UK citizens is £60 - this increases to £90 for a multiple-entry visa. Mozambique tourist visas are available from the Mozambique High Commission in London. To acquire a tourist visa for Mozambique you will require a valid passport, two passport photos, a completed application form, a photocopy of the photo page of your passport, proof of your residential status, a bank statement, a copy of your hotel reservations, and a copy of your itinerary.
Please also note that visas on arrival are sometimes available in Mozambique. We strongly recommend you get your visa before travel to avoid complications in Beira.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Mozambique in September is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 17 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
We understand that for some potential visitors, the security situation in the Mozambique is a concern. Pictus Safaris take the safety of clients extremely seriously and we are in constant communication with our ground operators to monitor the security situation in all of our destinations.
The security situation in Mozambique is generally very stable and incidents are extremely rare. There is an Islamist insurgency in the far north-east of the country, but this should not worry you as it is a huge distance from both Gorongosa and Vilanculos. Banditry is sometimes reported on the road between Beira and Gorongosa, but we will travel this road in daylight hours and expect to be able to travese this area safely.
All Pictus Safaris clients must have travel insurance to travel with us. As travel to parts of Mozambique is advised against by national travel advisory bodies, some travel insurance policies will not be valid here. We recommend High Risk Voyager insurance as it covers medical evacuation from remote areas.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.