Accessible by 4x4 only, this 400-sq-mi/1,040-sq-km reserve lies 49 mi/79km south of Maputo and protects an estimated population of around 650 elephant and an incredible variety of birds. Much of its other wildlife, including a population of 65 white rhinos translocated from Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in South Africa, fell victim to the civil war. Efforts to restock the reserve with game are a work in progress but have shown astounding results, with healthy herds of zebra and antelope, a growing population of giraffe and hippo, plus long-term plans to introduce buffalo and, eventually, lion.
It now forms part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, together with the Lubombo Conservancy in Swaziland and Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa, and has a rapidly growing population of migratory elephant.
The first lodge there recently opened on the coast, and the new trans-border highway (almost complete) passes by the entrance, making it a superb day-visit option from Maputo, despite which it still offers a frontier Africa experience. For now it receives very few visitors. It is not recommended to explore it alone, as the sand tracks are difficult to negotiate.
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