The largest conservation area in Mozambique, the Niassa National Reserve covers parts of the Cabo Delgado Province and nearly one third of Mozambique's Niassa Province and is twice the size of the world-famous Kruger National Park!
This huge wilderness reserve, covering 42 000 square kilometers, is only just being discovered and contains by far the greatest concentration of wildlife in Mozambique. Like a beautiful butterly, as it wings open up (and as main stream tourists begin to visit the reserve) so it will grow in stature and popularity… and infrastructure as private enterprise invest in the reserve. Niassa is for the safari enthusiast who is a second or third (repeat) traveller to Africa and is possibly not for most safari first timers who want to see Africa's Big Five in all their glory. Niassa does have lion and leopard and elephant, but the area is literally so vast that sightings are not as frequent as in other more established wildlife parks in Africa. However wildlife abounds in the reserve, so if you love birds, and reptiles and culture and plants and then the mammals as well, you will be enthralled.
Niassa provides visitors with an experience of pure wilderness that is almost impossible to find in the world today. Untouched and virtually unexplored, it is one of the last vestiges of the wildness that characterised the African interior centuries ago. Little has changed over hundreds of years here and, while it has never been a particularly densely populated area as far as humans are concerned, the region has been inhabited for thousands of years, and many of the communities living in the reserve rely on traditional skills such as iron smelting, fishing and honey gathering. There are sacred sites on the mountain, and Batwa (Pigmy) paintings, possibly dating back 4000 years, which have recently been found in the Reserve.
From a tourism point of view, Niassa's two most notable features of the reserve are the Lugenda River and Mecula Mountain. The Lugenda meanders 360 km through the reserve, unconstrained by dams or agriculture and its many personalities make this wild river an extremely attractive feature of the reserve. Mecula Mountain rises 1440 metres above sea level and is the most important botanical area within niassa with innumerable plant species.
The wildlife remains free and unfettered and the results of an aerial census in 2002 estimated over 12000 elephant, 9000 Sable Antelope and several thousand Cape Buffalo thrive in the Niassa Reserve. Lichtenstein's hartebeest, eland and zebra roam the plains and river valleys against a backdrop of towering inselbergs (or island mountains) that dominate the topography here.
Niassa National Reserve is truly a Mozambique wildlife paradise, providing refuge for over 200 endangered Cape Hunting Dog (African Wild Dog), as well as other predators such as lion, leopard and spotted hyena, and general game such as kudu, bushbuck, impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, reedbuck and hippo. Three sub-species, the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm's zebra and Johnston's impala are endemic to the Niassa area.
This is one of the last areas in the world where such a wide array of wildlife thrives with minimal management by man.
Lugenda Wilderness Camp operates on a private concession within the Niassa Reserve, and on your game drive/safari you have the opportunity to view an incredible diversity of species, with over 370 recorded species of bird, including the rare Angola Pitta and the Pel’s Fishing Owl and raptors are abundant. The reserve is also home to at least three endemic species: the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra and Johnston’s impala, and this all amounts to jaw-dropping wildlife action.
Safari guides will accompany guests on foot to get closer to the wilderness and find out about the intricacies of the eco-systems that support this abundance of wildlife.
Lugenda Wilderness Camp closes annually during the rainy season: 1 Jun – 15 Dec.
There is a tar road access from Pemba, on the northern coast of Mozambique and main port/city of the north, however your best option is to fly in via light aircraft to the camps (Lugenda Wilderness Camp) air strip from Pemba Airport (duration approx. 90mins). Regular flights operate from Johannesburg in South Africa to Pemba. For clients arriving in Pemba after 14h00 guests will need to overnight in Pemba and transfer the following morning.
* Luggage restrictions on the light air craft transfer to Lugenda is 20kgs in soft bags.
Pemba is the gateway to the tropical islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago which is a string of utterly gorgeous islands off of mainland Mozambique. These islands have luxurious lodges (per island) so the concept of remote and pristine is wonderfully attractive here. Clear azure waters, white sands, intimacy, and luxury amongst a marine wonderland are the makings of a holiday in paradise. For a bush/safari and beach holiday package, Lugenda Wilderness Camp combined with any of the tropical island lodges is an easy 'hook up'.