Walking and Canoeing Safari in the Niassa Reserve of Mozambique

I have made it a focus to identify the truly Wild Places that offer a quality safari, locations that feature vintage safari experiences that emphasize authentic wilderness. The Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique is one of the extraordinary new safari frontiers that have captivated my attention. Niassa is enormous at 42,000 square kilometers, more than twice the size of the legendary Kruger National Park. Further, efforts are being made to connect this reserve with Africa’s largest, the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania creating an enormous protected area unrivaled on the African continent. My interest was first drawn to the area following correspondence with the wildlife biologists Colleen and Keith Begg, well known for their definitive research on honey badgers in the Kalahari but since moved onto study the predators of Niassa. I learned of the surprisingly strong populations of animals and the enchanting landscape.
It is difficult pioneering new safari areas. Tourists are reluctant to try a new location, in the beginning the infrastructure is difficult but without delivering sufficient economic benefits to the local people there can be no lasting conservation. Rani Resorts was the first to step up and take a risk by opening Lugenda Wilderness Camp, which has been the only tourism offering in the area delivering an outstanding wilderness product featuring game drives and wild walks.
Artist Rendition of the Main Tent/Lounge Area of a Moja Explore Camp. Note actual product may vary. ©Moja Safari Wilderness
Now there is an exciting new offering being developed by Moja Safari Wilderness. Moja Explore will be the ultimate vintage safari experience as you travel on foot and by canoe to a different tented camp each night on a three-night circuit heading down the Lugenda River. This is an opportunity to connect deeply with the wild place surrounding you and fully indulge in a vast African landscape. As such, the Moja Explore experience is not your standard two game-drives a day, tick off the Big 5, anyone-for-Belgian truffles-type safari. Instead it is an unpredictable wilderness adventure with style and flair in camp and an exploratory journey by foot and on the river in between. Animals are plentiful in the area but are not yet fully habituated as they are in more established safari areas so sightings are less predictable but this is a place where you may discover your wilderness soul and reconnect with your ancient African origins. This is a true landscape level safari.
Small, funky tented camps are limited to just 6 guests. Artist Rendition, actual product may vary. ©Moja Safari Wilderness
The adventure and the accommodation are ideal for Africaphiles seeking out new safari pursuits. Moja Explore will open sometime in 2009 but I have been fortunate that the owners have shared the details and allowed me to display artist renditions of the camps. Three camps of three guest tents each are to be set in stunning locations along the Lugenda River. Each camp is completely unique in style encompassing special local themes and vibrant décor within classic safari tents. While embracing the classic safari of old there are some incredible innovative touches that are meant to be a surprise for their explorer guests and thus I cannot reveal all details, but I can assure this set up is very special, even for the safari goer who thinks they have seen it all.
Artist Rendition of open-air hot water bucket shower adjoined to guest tent. Note, actual product may vary. ©Moja Safari Wilderness
Bathrooms are en-suite including a flush loo but the highlight is the large open air shower areas attached to the tents and featuring canvas hot water bucket showers. This is a classic safari element presented in an unbeatable fashion.

Important Considerations of a Moja Experience

• 3 night/4 day walking and canoeing safari, vehicle used only for occasional night drives and airstrip transfers
• Trips run with as few as 2 people and a maximum of 6 making for a very intimate experience
• Best time to visit varies by interest.  July to September are coolest and driest.  October is hot but has best game viewing around the river.  Best birding is November and December.
• Trips are lead by a top Zimbabwean guide, assisted by a local tracker and guide trainee.
• Community Involvement is a cornerstone and interaction with the local community is a vital part of the experience.  This benefits the local people, the Yao, and helps build a lasting conservation project.
• A Moja Experience easily combines with a Lugenda Wilderness Camp stay to add a game drive component to the Niassa Reserve Safari.  It also combines conveniently with the Quirimbas Archipelago, a pristine marine area with phenomenal diving, snorkeling, and beaches.
• This area is now logistically accessible from Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg so its easy to combine a more traditional safari with exploration of this new safari frontier.

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