Gorongosa: The lion sleeps tonight

Rule number one for a trip to Gorongosa: Crack open an ice cold beer as you hit the dirt road, slow right down, open the windows, breathe in the fresh air and of course crank up our Gorongosa camping anthem song – ‘The lion sleeps tonight!’
It does not matter how often we visit Gorongosa National Park, but every time we take a turn down the dusty park road, we’re buzzing with excitement.

And yet in the 6 years that we’ve visited the park, we have not a seen a lion once! But they are there for sure. In fact most of our friends and family who have been to the park have seen them! (Said with not an ounce of envy, I swear) We hear their guttural roars at night, we see their heavy-set foot prints in the sand and we often smell or see the crushed bones of a rotting antelope or a warthog carcass – lion kill without a doubt! Last season we were told that there are over 40 adult lions. And that surely means that this season, there will be cubs, plenty of them!

Many people judge a park by how many of the ‘big five’ species they have spotted. I’ll admit that it is only since frequenting Gorongosa that I have come to appreciate the less famous creatures and to fall in love with her spectacular bio diversity and breath-taking landscapes. That’s not to say that my obsession to spot a Gorongosa lion is any less, I just see more now – all of her beauty, in all shapes and sizes!

It’s the first time we have been to Gorongosa in early June. And yet again, she takes me by surprise. The park is full up of sludgy, muddy waterholes, teeming with bird life. Pelicans, herons, spoonbills, marabou storks, spur wing geese and fish eagles can be seen scouring the waterholes for fish as the mighty African sun sucks up the last of the water. It’s an exciting time of year. The animals are all feeding furiously in preparation for the very dry and dusty winter months. And species such as turtles and crocodiles are leaving the muddy waterholes in search of deeper water, sometimes seen traveling along park roads.

To add to all the June excitement in Gorongosa, we also got a rare sighting of a celebrity! Okay, I have to admit, I have never heard of her before– probably because she is a Portuguese celebrity and I am a bit out of touch with the red carpet folk since living here in central Mozambique! Her name is Catarina Furtado! She arrived in style, on a private jet and was welcomed with traditional singing, dancing and the beating of drums that went on late into the night. She came to do a documentary that will promote Gorongosa to the Europeans. And I can’t help but be swept up and ridiculously excited for Gorongosa’s big future after such a tragic past.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Albert Einstein