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Describing the Experience: 4-Night Safari Experience

The below is a sample of the type of experience you can have with us at Explore Gorongosa.  Of course, every trip is unique and special and as such there is no set schedule or itinerary... we will advise on best times, places and ways to see and experience all the good things of Gorongosa, but the rest is up to you.





DETAILED SAMPLE ITINERARY: 4-NIGHT SAFARI EXPERIENCE

During our main season (mid-April to mid-December), the Explore Gorongosa safari experience is one as varied and intriguing as the surrounding ecosystems of the Gorongosa National Park. The experience is largely flexible, although the following basic guideline gives you a sample of the type of experience you can expect on such a four-night adventure:


1:  The journey begins at Beira International Airport where you will be met by your driver who will show you past the ablutions at the airport before driving you through in a registered SUV to Gorongosa National Park. Although the distance is only 200-odd kilometres, the drive takes between 3 and 3½hours and takes you from the city limits of Beira, through classical Mozambican towns of decreasing size, past roadside villages, and eventually into the National Park itself. The trip is a great introduction to Mozambique and provides opportunities to get a taste for this exotic and exciting country. Arriving at the Park’s headquarters, Chitengo Camp, you will be met by your guide who will accompany you on the short drive out to our exclusive tented camp within an exclusive operating area in the Park. Arriving at camp you will be met by the Explore Gorongosa family who will welcome you with open arms, cold drinks and fresh face towels. Your hosts will get you settled in before inviting you to join them on your first introduction to the wonderful wilds of Gorongosa that afternoon. After a couple of hours of cruising along the edge of the game-rich floodplains with large sweeping herds of waterbuck, reedbuck, impala and hartebeest not to mention countless warthogs, the afternoon game drive halts at a small grove of palms protruding from the surrounding floodplain. Here a refreshing cocktail or cup of tea is served as your first day with us winds down around you. After sunset your guide resumes the drive with a spotlit introduction to the nocturnal critters of Gorongosa. After an hour or so of night drive (wrapped up in woolly blankets to keep out the chill in the open vehicle) you arrive back at camp, set stunningly under some large pod mahoganies in the middle of a riverside fever tree forest. Dinner is served by the light of the moon, before you are enticed to bed by the calls of the nightjars whilst the odd lion roar makes sure you don’t stray too far from camp tonight!


2:  Your second day on safari kicks off with some coffee, tea and treats before your guide invites you to join him on a walking safari from camp: a few of hours of gentle exploring of the fever tree forests and floodplains surrounding our camp. Along the way you will get the full story behind the visionary restoration project on the go within the park, and you will have a chance to pick up many of the birding specials as well as bumping into some of the numerous and diverse animals of the Park. Some bird species you are likely to see include the iconic Fish Eagle (breeding pairs all around camp!), Palmnut Vulture, Paradise Flycatchers by the dozen, Pels Fishing Owl and Narina Trogon.  Animals encountered on this walk include waterbuck, oribi, wildebeest, warthog, bushpig, civet, grey mongoose, honey badger, yellow baboon, samango monkeys, water monitors, impala, lion, elephant, hippo and crocodile. This walking experience ends with a riverside picnic brunch under the shade of a large mahogany tree, after which you will be left to chillax in a shaded hammock or on your enormous comfy bed for the warmer part of the day. After this much-needed siesta and a reviving cup of tea or coffee, your guide will suggest a mellow drive through to Songue - a water wonderland filled with every imaginable water-bird, mammal and reptile. Watch as juvenile fish eagles hone their fishing skills, whilst storks and herons pluck fish from the muddy shallows. Spoonbill, egrets, jacanas, hamerkops, ducks, geese and pelicans, the list goes on… Sunset at Songue is one of those things that you have to experience once on your life. The gin cocktail that accompanies sunset, however, is something you’ll want to experience many more times we’re sure! A night drive back to camp has us on the lookout for Gorongosa’s famed lions. Sightings of lion are frequent enough at Explore Gorongosa that in four nights you should be lucky enough to have at least one good lion experience. After a chance to freshen up back in camp, the day is brought to a somewhat gastronomic end with a four-course dinner served under the stars on the banks of the Msicadzi River.


3:  
After a blissful night’s sleep, you are awoken with the smells of fresh coffee, muffins and a warm basin of water. This morning begins with a guided walk up the Msicadzi River whose year-round pools attract much game and birdlife during the dry season. After a moderate walk of approximately two to three hours, you arrive at a small pan for a much-appreciated brunch followed by a siesta or an hour or two of birding and game-viewing from the nearby hide. After returning to camp for a couple of hours rest (or taking these from the comforts of a cosy blanket laid out under a large tree in the bush), your guide will rouse you with some tea or coffee before inviting you to join him on a visit to the Gorongosa Wildlife Sanctuary to meet some of the Park’s newly re-introduced inhabitants. Or perhaps you’d prefer a gentle stroll to nearby Vinho village for an introduction to the innovative ‘benefits beyond boundaries’ programme being implemented by the Park. This is no ordinary ‘village tour’, but rather serves as an opportunity for you to interact with and enjoy the company of the lively folks from Vinho. On the way back, you can stop at a viewpoint on the banks of the Pungwe River to take in the spectacular sunset with a customary ice-cold sundowner, before you head back to camp on an evening drive where porcupines, civets and genets might be encountered on the road. In camp there will be a chance to freshen up before a dinner around the campfire. Dinner is accompanied by a short presentation on an aspect of the restoration project, and a series of video clips are shown which provide a better insight into why the park was once referred to as Africa’s finest national park. 


4: 
After the routine morning kick-off of coffee and muffins, your guide gets you going with a light stroll down to a nearby reed-bed to check out the early morning birding activity. The walk continues, crossing the vast floodplain where herds of sable are often sighted, towards the lower reaches of the Msicadzi River, home to Gorongosa’s famous Lion House of old. This morning’s walk ends at a lagoon filled with all manner of exotic birdlife; over one hundred different feathered types have been sighted at this water point within one hour! After a bit of time to soak it all in, you are met by the vehicle and taken on to brunch under the shade of a nearby forest grove. After a slow and gentle late-morning feast, this afternoon the legs are given a break as you take an extended drive through some of the spectacular scenery that makes up the rest of Gorongosa – baobab savannahs, giant Albidas and mixed palm forests are all home to a host of wildlife from the large herds of elephants and buffalo through to the secretive suni and nyala. After a welcome sundowner on the banks of Lake Urema, a spot-lit night drive takes you back to the Explore Gorongosa tented camp, hopefully bumping into some more of Gorongosa’s nocturnal critters along the way. Returning for a final night to this relaxing camp, the Explore team have set up a lanterned table for dinner under the captivating canopy of the entire Milky Way spreading out above like a thousandty-million pinprick candles in the black African sky. 


5: 
This final morning is one of lazing in and enjoying the game and birding that makes its way in and out of this semi-permanent eco-camp through the course of the day. A hearty fry-up breakfast rounds off your Explore Gorongosa experience, before your guide accompanies you to Chitengo’s bush airstrip to meet the scheduled charter aircraft waiting to take you safely on to Bazaruto Island for the deserted tropical island leg of your fantastic Mozambique beach and bush safari experience with Explore Gorongosa!



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