Mar 072010

Mozambique – Niassa and Cabo Delgado Provinces

Ruvuma River

Formerly also known as the Rovuma River, this is a river in East Africa, forming during the greater part of its course the border between Tanzania and Mozambique (in Mozambique known as Rio Rovuma). It is 800 kilometres (497 mi) long, with a drainage basin 155,500 square kilometres (60,000 sq mi) in size. Its mean annual discharge is 475 m³/s (16,774 cfs) at its mouth.

Moja Mekoro across the Lugenda RiverPanoramio

Moja Mekoro across the Lugenda River

The lower Ruvuma is formed by the junction of two branches of nearly equal importance, the longer of which, the Lujenda, comes from the south-west, the other, which still bears the name Ruvuma, from the west. Its source lies on an undulating plateau, 3,000 ft. high, immediately to the east of Lake Nyasa (also known as Lake Malawi), the head-stream flowing first due west before turning south and east.

In its eastward course the Ruvuma flows near the base of the escarpment of an arid sandstone plateau to the north, from which direction the streams, which have cut themselves deep channels in the plateau edge, have almost all short courses.

On the opposite bank the Ruvuma receives, besides the Lujenda, the Msinje River and Luchulingo River, flowing in broad valleys running from south to north. The Lujenda rises in proximity to Lake Chilwa, in the small Lake Chiuta (1,700 ft.), the swamps to the south of this being separated from Chilwa only by a narrow wooded ridge. The stream which issues from Chiuta passes by a swampy valley into the narrow Lake Amaramba, from which the Lujenda finally issues as a stream 80 yards wide.

Lower down it varies greatly in width, containing in many parts long wooded islands which rise above the flood level, and are often inhabited. The river is fordable in many places in the dry season. At its mouth it is about a mile wide.

The lower Ruvuma, which is often half a mile wide but generally shallow, flows through a swampy valley flanked by plateau escarpments containing several small backwaters of the river. The mouth is near 10° 28′ S, 40° 30′ E, the boundary near the coast being formed by the parallel of 10° 40′. The length of the Ruvuma is about 500 miles.

Niassa Reserve

is a nature reserve in Cabo Delgado Province and Niassa ProvinceMozambique. Covering over 42,000 km² (10,000,000 acres), it is the largest protected area in the country. The reserve is part of the Trans-Frontier Conservation Area and links to the Tanzanian Selous Game Reserve. It will connect to the Lake Niassa Reserve when it is completed.

Elephants at Inselberg

Elephants at Inselberg

The northern border is formed by the Rovuma River, which also forms the border with Tanzania. The Lugenda River forms the border to the southeast, Luatize River to the southeast, and Lussanhando River to the west. Niassa Reserve is twice the size of Kruger National Park and comparable to the total area of Wales, Denmark or Massachusetts.

Niassa is part of the Eastern Miombo woodlands, which also encompasses parts of Tanzania and Malawi. The reserve is one of the largest miombo woodland preserves in the world, with miombo forest covering half of the preserve. The remainder is mostly open savannah, with some wetlands and isolated patches of forest. 95% of the preserve’s biomass is vegetation, which includes 21 types of plant matter and 191 species of trees and shrubs.

Niassa Preserve boasts an African wild dog population of over 200, significant for an endangered mammal with a global population estimated at 3000. The park boasts a sable antelope population of 9000, an elephant population of 12000, over 400 bird species, and large populations of Cape buffalo, impala, wildebeest, zebra and leopards. The area has three endemic species – the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra, and Johnston’s Impala.

The reserve is home to Mecula Mountain, located at the center of the park with a height of 1,441 metres (4,730 ft).

The wildlife remains free and unfettered and the results of an aerial census in 2002 estimated over 12 000 elephant, 9 000 Sable Antelope and several thousand Cape Buffalo. 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 without any management by man.


Location (10° 45′ S, 35° 40′ E to 10° 28′ S, 40° 30′ E)

View Niassa National Reserve in a larger map

service providers

Service Providers
Tent and Elephant at Lugenda

Tent and Elephant at Lugenda

Lugenda Wilderness Camp offers the ultimate pioneering safari amidst an Africa still wild and untrammeled. Nestled along the eastern bank of the Lugenda River, this elegant and intimate camp accommodates just 16 people in luxurious east-African styled tents.

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