“If you could go on any 4×4 bush adventure, which would you choose? For many, there’s only one answer: Mozambique’s mythical Gorangoza.”
If you can go anywhere…where would that be? “Gorongoza National park”, I replied.
Our 4×4 bush adventures are always sudden and unplanned, but this is who we are. Mother Africa does not plan for us, so the best way to experience her, is on her terms.
Within three weeks, Anton and I, Gerhard and Marlize, were on our way, to a place that has been a dream of mine for a long time. To me, “Gorangoza” was only a name, a park in Mozambique that was used to be rated as one of the world’s most pristine National parks. Like everything else in Mozambique, the park’s eco system suffered severely during the twenty years of political war which ended in the early nineties. We did not expect to see a lot of wildlife. We went to Gorangoza for the adventure, and the mountain. Nevertheless: no risk, is a risk not worth taking. We were astonishingly surprised.
We decided to travel through Zimbabwe, and make a round trip down the coast of Mozambique. We went without a definite road plan, and no reservations. We only went for a week, during September, which is said to be the best time to experience the park. In hindsight, I could stay there forever, and every day can be the best day of the year to be there.
We stayed at Chitengo camp, the only camp open to visitors for now. There is a very expensive private lodge in the park, mainly visited by overseas travellers, who prefer fly-in safaris. Chitengo camp is beautiful and well managed, and the restaurant and bar look like something you would find in the Kruger National Park.
Much to my surprise the park exceeded all my expectations. There is a lot of wildlife. We woke early the next morning for a game drive. The air was still thick from the blanket of fog that was hanging over the plains. We arrived at a well-known spot that made the park famous during its glory days. It was the remains of the sun downer deck overlooking the vast plain. This place was known for its lions.
As the sun baked away the early morning mist we saw life on the plane. And more, and more, and everywhere we looked, even more. There were Waterbuck in vast numbers, Rooibuck, Blue wildebeest, Zebra’s Reedbuck and even Roan’s. The plain was scattered with wildlife, almost like a piece of the Serengeti.
The next morning we were on our way to Mount Gorangoza. All the trees were dressed in their typical multicoloured coat of yellow, brown, orange and red leaves. We travelled for about an hour, where we turned right onto a small 4×4 trail through a local village. In the distance we could see the mountain, its top still covered in clouds.
At the base camp we decided not to do the hiking trail to the top of the mountain, but rather drive up to the assembly point to save some time. Wise, wise decision.
What a wonderful moment. Here I was, standing on the edge of a dream that I have nurtured for years… and then we started the descent. It was about around the second bend of the very narrow walking trail that the thought crossed my mind that this is an unusual steep decent. Five minutes later we were hanging on tree branches and plant roots to secure us from tumbling down the hill like Jack and Jill. The narrow sandy footpath is right on the edge of this mountain, going 950 m straight down. At this stage Gerhard was basically hanging on Marlize to prevent her from slipping down the hill.
We were in the rainforest, and we could hear the thunderous roar of the waterfall to our right. The pathway got progressively worse with every step. I thought about the way up again, and it was at about this exact moment that I realised this could have been a bad dream.
After another 20 minutes we were at the bottom of the waterfall. I looked up to the top of the waterfall, exhausted, and still a bit flabbergasted with my latest outdoor adventure. I have to admit, this was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. The sun was shining from above, onto the millions of litres of water plunging down onto the rocks in front of us. It looked like someone had just overturned a bucket of shiny crystals, falling down on us. We were strangely quiet, all drinking in the awesomeness of the beauty of this place.
I am not even going to discuss the way up again. I have learned that it is necessary to visit places like this, when you are still in good health, because it could be quite possible to suffer a heart attack on your way up.
All said and done, this is a place that is still hidden from many. Those of us who made the effort to go down to the foot of the waterfall will always have the pleasure of returning to it through the memories captured in our minds.
We headed back to Chitengo, and the sun was already setting. There aren’t a lot of things in life which can ease your mind like an African sunset. No medicine is as good as a campfire, and true boere “boskos”. If you love photography and bird watching you will fall in love with Gorangoza.
Once again I have realised, that a dream, will take you towards it.