Gorongosa National Park is at the most southern tip of the African Great Rift Valley in the heart of central Mozambique. The 4,000 square km park includes the valley floor and parts of the surrounding plateaus. Rivers originating on nearby 1860m high Mount Gorongosa gush down into the parks plains. Seasonal flooding and water logging of the valley, which is composed of a mosaic of different soil types, creates a variety of distinct ecosystems. Grasslands are dotted with patches of Acacia and savannah, dry forest on sands and seasonally rain-filled pans and termite hill thickets. The park contains Palm, Fever, Miombo, Lowland and Rain Forest. This combination of unique features at one time supported some of the densest wildlife populations in all of Africa, including charismatic carnivores, herbivores and over 500 bird species. But large mammal numbers were reduced by as much as 95% and ecosystems stressed during Mozambique's long civil conflict. The Gorongosa Restoration Project has teamed with the Government of Mozambique to protect and restore the ecosystem of Gorongosa National Park and to develop an ecotourism industry to benefit local communities. The park is regenerating and is getting better every year.
Tanzania's most remote and one of its most alluring, is first and foremost a chimpanzee sanctuary. About 1700 chimpanzees live within its 1613sqkm area, but the focal point for visitors is the 60-strong Mimikere, or 'M' group, which has been the subject of research for more than four decades. While the M group chimps are well habituated, spotting human's closest relatives is almost always a challenge. Don long trousers, sturdy boots, a hat and a surgical mask (these are distributed to all visitors by park guides at the beginning of a tracking expedition) and prepare yourself for some sweaty, steep climbing through often-dense vegetation.
You may not spot any chimps on your first try, but it is rare to spend two or three days in the park without seeing one. The experience itself is captivating: almost without warning, a chimp brushes past you on the trail, several individuals become visible in a clearing just ahead or high above in the tree tops. Time stops, and the one-hour viewing period permitted by park authorities is over in a flash.
During the wet season, from November until May, the chimpanzees spend much of their time in the trees and can be difficult to find. In the height of the rains from March through May, the trails become unpleasantly muddy. In the dry season months of June to October the undergrowth is less dense and the chimps frequently come down near the main lodge area to feed.
In between chimp tracking expeditions, Lake Tanganyika beckons for snorkelling, kayaking and hippo- and crocodile-spotting forays. The forest around the main lodge area is full of birds, with guinea fowl, hornbills, kingfishers and many more all readily seen on short walks. In the evening, the setting is magical as the sun sets over the Congo Mountains in the distance, and tiny lights from fishing boats flicker across the lake.
The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The hills were formed over 2 billion years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth "whaleback dwalas" and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning 'Bald Heads'.
The Hills cover an area of about 3100 km, of which 424 km is National Park, the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. The park extends along the Thuli, Mtshelele, Maleme and Mpopoma river valleys. Part of the national park is set aside as a 100 km game park, which has been stocked with game including the white rhinoceros. The highest point in the hills is the promontory named Gulati (1549 m) just outside the north-eastern corner of the park.
Lake Tanganyika is one of the Great Rift Valley Lakes found on the western border of Tanzania, in East Africa. This massive expanse of water is the longest Lake in Africa (720 km long) and is the second deepest Lake in the world (1,470m) second only to Lake Baikal in Russia. It is said to hold roughly 18% of the world�s available fresh water and is also the world's second largest fresh water Lake by volume. There are 26 rivers that flow into Lake Tanganyika and only one (the Lukuga River) that flows out. Only the upper 100m of the Lake is oxygenated. The Lake�s temperature is typically 24 to 26 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) all year round. It has an average ph of 8.4. The Lake boasts visibilities of up to 20m with massive boulders, spectacular drop offs and a shell covered bottom. It is thought to date back 9 to 20 million years and is one of the richest aqueous environments in the world, supporting at least 280 varieties of fish. Most of the 200 and more types of cichlid fish found here are endemic to the Lake. These small, colourful fish are exported for aquariums and fish tanks around the world. Because of their unique feeding techniques, Tanganyika cichlids prefer different habitats. This means that by going only a few hundred meters, you are able to view totally different species, making your diving and snorkelling trips very exciting. Apart from cichlids you can also catch a glimpse of otters, speckled eels, catfish, burrowing clams and freshwater crabs. In the deeper water you may well spot some of the larger fish "Kuhe" (Boulengerochromis microlepis) and "Sangala Pamba" (Lates Angustifrons), or even the Lake Tanganyika jellyfish, a nearly transparent, pulsating disc about 2 cm in diameter. Freshwater jellyfish are unusual as most species are found in the ocean. This species is completely harmless to swimmers and does not sting like those found in the sea.
Lake Kariba is Africa's undiscovered Riveira ! It offers spectacular views, stunning sunsets, great fishing, boating opportunities, water sports and wonderful relaxing holidays. A houseboat trip is an Incredible experience second to none and one of Africa's must do's
Chitake Spring is a hidden gem nestled deep in Mana Pools National Park. This campsite provides a base whereby guests can watch serious Interaction between Lions and Buffalo. The Buffalo and other animals are forced to drink here in the dry season resulting in many battles and kills. Chitake is famous for its Lion prides..
The Bvumba Mountains lie on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, approximately 25 km south east ofMutare. The Bvumba rise to Castle Beacon at 1911 metres, and are, together with the Chimanimani and Nyanga part of theEastern Highlands in Zimbabwe bordering Mozambique. Referred to as the "Mountains of the Mist", (Bvumba is the Shonaname for "mist".), as so often the early morning starts with a mist but clears by mid morning. Although lying mostly within Zimbabwe, the mountains extend north-east into Mozambique. These cool green hills shelter country hotels and Botanical Gardens with one of the best views in Africa. The mountains are also known for their Coffee.
Kilimanjaro National Park covering an area of some 75,575 ha protects the largest free standing volcanic mass in the world and the highest mountain in Africa, rising 4877m above surrounding plains to 5895m at its peak. With its snow-capped peak, the Kilimanjaro is a superlative natural phenomenon, standing in isolation above the surrounding plains overlooking the savannah.
Criterion vii: Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the largest volcanoes in the world. It has three main volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. With its snow-capped peak and glaciers, it is the highest mountain in Africa. The mountain has five main vegetation zones from the lowest to the highest point: Lower slopes, montane forest, heath and moorland, alpine desert and summit. The whole mountain including the montane forest belt is very rich in species, in particular mammals, many of them endangered species. For this combination of features but mostly its height, its physical form and snow cap and its isolation above the surrounding plains, Mount Kilimanjaro is considered an outstanding example of a superlative natural phenomenon.
Ruaha National Park is Tanzania's largest, a vast wilderness in the south-west of the country visited by only a handful of travellers each year. At the park's heart is the aptly-named Great Ruaha River, a massive watercourse that dwindles to only a few pools in the dry season, but bursts its banks and roars over boulders at the height of the rains. Converging with the Great Ruaha are hundreds of sand rivers, natural game corridors when dry and sparklingly clear streams when wet. Waterbuck, impala and the world's most southerly Grant's gazelle risk their lives for a sip of water - the shores of the Ruaha are a permanent hunting ground for lion, leopard, cheetah, jackal, hyena and the rare and endangered African wild dog. Ruaha's elephants are recovering strongly from ivory poaching in the 1980's and remain the largest population in East Africa. Ruaha represents a transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap - lesser and greater kudu co-exist with northern species such as Grant's gazelle.
Isolated, untrammelled and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago.
Tanzania's third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
The bulk of Katavi supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled brachystegia woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of the localised eland, sable and roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad waterbirds, and they also support Tanzania�s densest concentrations of hippo and crocodile.
It is during the dry season, when the floodwaters retreat, that Katavi truly comes into its own. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forms the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalo, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reedbuck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Katavi's most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any riverine pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge.
Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometers. It is located in the northwest corner of the country about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls.
It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19 th Century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park's elephant population is one of the largest in the world. The Park has three distinctive Camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella and the largest one at Main Camp.
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins:
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins (sometimes just called Great Zimbabwe) are sub-Saharan Africa's most important and largest stone ruins. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1986, the large towers and structures were built out of millions of stones balanced perfectly on top of one another without the aid of mortar. Great Zimbabwe gave modern Zimbabwe its name as well as its national emblem -- an eagle carved stylishly out of soapstone which was found at the ruins.
A visit to Africa would not be complete if you did not see Victoria Falls. Known to the locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya (which means "the smoke that thunders"), Victoria Falls is classified as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Located between Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, the Falls are a breathtaking and spectacular sight that have been known to leave viewers with a bit of moisture in their eyes - whether from the mist of the Falls or tears welling up is yet to be determined. When David Livingstone first discovered the Falls he stated "Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." The number of possible activities here are endless, ranging from short safaris on elephant back to lazy evening sundowners aboard a boat on the Zambezi to bungee jumping in the gorge to helicopter flights over the falls. Victoria Falls is surely one of Africa's must-see wonders.
Mana Pools is a world heritage site in northern Zimbabwe. It's in the region of the lower Zambezi River in Zimbabwe where the flood plain turns into a broad expanse of lakes after each rainy season. As the lakes gradually dry up and recede, the region attracts many large animals in search of water, making it one of Africa's most renowned game-viewing regions. Mana means "four" in Shona, in reference to the four large permanent pools formed by the meanderings of the middle Zambezi. These 2,500 square kilometers of river frontage, islands, sandbanks and pools, flanked by forests of mahogany, wild figs, ebonies and baobabs, is one of the least developed National Parks in Southern Africa. It has large populations of Hippo, Crocodiles, Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and Wild dogs.
Tofo is a small town situated in Inhambane district in Mozambique. The town lies on the Indian Ocean coast, on the Ponto do Barra peninsula 22 km drive from Inhambane city. A major Mozambican tourist destination. Tofo is home to beach villas and diving retreats, with tourists drawn in by the long Indian Ocean beach front and nearby reefs which attract marine mega fauna including the Giant Manta Rays, Humpback Whales and Sea Turtles. Tofo has one of the highest populations of juvenile Whale Sharks in the world and is one of the best destinations to free dive with them. It�s a beautiful small town with a great Vibe.
The Bazaruto National Park was inaugurated in 1971, an archipelago of five islands Bazaruto, Bengueera, Margaruque, Bangue and Santa Carolina. The park was created to protect Dugong and Marine mega fauna. The islands flora and fauna, coral reefs and marine birds were also included in the park. The islands have a lush tropical climate and include huge dunes, dense coastal forest and fresh water lakes and wetlands. They host several endemic terrestrial gastropods and lizards. They also host important aggregations of migrant water birds. The rich variety of marine mega fauna includes Humpback whales, Whale Sharks, Giant Manta Rays, Dugongs, Moray Eels, Turtles, Spinner, Humpback and Common Dolphins. BANP gives protection to the largest and only remaining viable population of Dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean. The coral reefs are varied and said to be the least disturbed in this part of the Indian Ocean.
Gonarezhou lies in the southeastern corner of Zimbabwe bordering Mozambique. Around 5000km2, it is possibly one of the wildest and least visited parks in Southern Africa. Criss-crossed by three major rivers, the Save, Mwenezi and Runde, the park is dotted with pools and shallow falls around which vegetation thrives. These areas attract a rich diversity of bird and animal life. Auspiciously named "place of elephants" in Shona, the park is true to the word in this respect. Furthermore it offers a pretty impressive outlook of craggy cliffs, broad sandy river beds and baobab trees. The Park forms part of the Trans-frontier "peace park" system that links multiple parks across southern Africa aimed at preserving biodiversity, keeping migratory routes open, and promoting economic stability amongst adjacent communities. Flora and Fauna include the big 5, Crocodiles, Sabi Stars and huge Baobab trees.
Located in the northeast region of South Africa, Kruger National Park has some of the most spectacular game viewing in the world. With safari lodges scattered in and around the park, one thing is for sure, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Finding yourself face to face with a pride of lions (from a safe vantage point, of course) or seeing a herd of elephants cooling down at the local watering hole is something everyone should experience. In Kruger the animals are in their natural habitats and are free to roam the nearly five million acres that makes up the park. Kruger has one of the greatest varieties of wildlife species on the continent and is a world leader in environmental management techniques and policies. It is a well-managed park with incredible animal viewing and wonderful accommodations.
The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), a massive Pan-African Park that includes South Africa's famed Kruger National Park, Mozambique's Limpopo, Zinave and Banhine National Parks and Zimbabwe�s Gonarezhou National Park. This huge park covers a wilderness area of about 35000 square km and is set to become one of the finest "peace parks" in the world and is dedicated to conservation, biodiversity and the economic development of the surrounding local communities. The vast and diverse nature of the mega-park will provide world-class eco-tourism to the visitor and strive to re-establish historical animal migration routes and fragile regional ecosystems.
The combined Park will include more than 500 species of birds, 147 species of mammals, at least 116 species of reptiles, 34 species of frogs and 49 species of fish.
Flora and Fauna Include the BIG FIVE, Cheetah (including the rare King Cheetah), Giraffe, Sable, Zebra and many species of large antelope are also present within the Park. The rare Nyala and smaller Suni are two highlights of the Park's smaller antelopes. In addition, hundreds of species of birds may be spotted in the Park. Unique species of aquatic wildlife such as the Zambezi Shark, Freshwater Goby, Black Bream and the unique turquoise killifish can be seen within the Park's rivers and pools.