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

36 replies »

  1. Great photo! We used to live in Tanzania for 5 years before we moved. We just recently went back for vacation which you can see what we saw on our blog. It would mean a lot for us to be able to have more photos of Africa from you! We would love to add you as an author on our blog wildlife hub. The link is . Please email for more information. Also visit the contribute page on our blog.

  2. When I worked right next door to Gorongosa, out of Inhaminga in 1972/3, there were a lot of hunting consessions, so bang bang, the game was very shy. Then the war closed in and wiped a lot of it out.

    • As I said Peter, you have to write a book with all these awesome African stories of yours! You’re a real fundi! As for the game, it’s truly tragic what happened to Gorongosa. On one of our planned camping trips to Gorongosa this year, I want to do a post focusing on the old Gorongosa with the famous lion hut, the gin bar etc. There is so much history there – I guess it’s also what adds to the magic of the place!

    • Thank you Brooke, what a wonderful comment to start my day off 🙂 We’ve lived in Mozambique for 6 years but I’m originally from South Africa! But Mozam is certainly feeling like home now!

  3. Hello my friend !! Once again … GOOD reading and the photos are superb !!! So glad u enjoyed it and appreciate to beautiful Mozambique that we live it !!!!!

  4. Nice place, like to check it out. Haha if all I wanted was the big 5 during my trip to that region I would have camped out in Kruger for the entire 3 months! I admit checking off that last one (leopard) nagged at me until I finally did it (in Kruger!). But early on during my trip the overall landscape, amount of bird life, wetlands, even the management and people working there became much more important criteria to judge a park by.

    • Glad to hear it! Crazy to think that I have visited many African parks but never Kruger! And I’m South African, so it could be thought of as criminal! Must get down there and spot me self a leopard or two, maybe some lion – that will be nice. But back to Gorongosa, I think you will love it! If ever you are up this way, it’s well worth the visit!

    • Thank you Alessandro for the wonderful comments! And for always reading, it’s much appreciated! I’m very much looking forward to that coffee table book of yours on black and white scenes in Rome. Your wit and images depicting every day life in Rome have me chuckling most often!

    • Thank you 🙂 Gorongosa is famous for its spectacular sunsets over the plains. Especially in Winter when the sun is fiery red because of all the dust! I’m sure you know all about fiery red sunsets!