The Mavuradonha Wilderness and Mountains form the eastern part of the Zambezi Escarpment, rising over 1,000m and peaking at Banirembizi.
The Muzarabani District Council in conjunction with the country’s Wildlife Society conserves an area of 575km², and it’s on this conservancy that a small rustic safari lodge is managed together with an excellent riding stable. (See horse riding safaris for more information on riding in Africa). Revenues accrue to the Council through a Project CAMPFIRE arrangement.
The mountains lie north of the town of Centenary and intercept the north-east winds. For this reason they have a cooler, moister climate than the valley below. The name ‘Mavuradonha’ refers to the misty rains which often hover over the mountain tops.
There are numerous streams and rivers rising in the Mavuradonha mountains, flowing north to the Zambezi. The ground is steep and rocky with elephant trails winding up and down the mountain. The horse riding is challenging and includes sleeping on a mountain top or the sandy floor of a cave. In the east, the Musengezi River has cut a gorge through the mountains creating attractive scenery. Elephant, buffalo, eland, sable, kudu, zebra are among the species which make this scenic area home.
It is possible to arrange an exclusive walking safari from the Mavuradonha Mountains across the escarpment and down into the Mana Pools National Park to the shores of the Zambezi. Again this is for the adventurous, as the going can be tough. There are very few comparable safaris available today which take the participants back to raw Africa in quite the same way as this particular safari, and there’s a perfectly valid claim upon completion to have been one of only a handful to have done so!
The area holds a great deal of well-developed miombo woodland, with most of the representative species of Brachystegia and Julbernardia. There are also gully, ravine or ‘kloof’ woodlands, with higher soil moisture and nutrients, providing a greater range of microhabitats. Large forest trees such as Khaya anthotheca occur, but are scattered and in low numbers.
The Wilderness Area is relatively well protected, and wildlife numbers are increasing. Elsewhere, the rugged terrain prevents access and exploitation, although there is felling of the larger trees and limited poaching. There are bushman paintings to explore and of course excellent birding.
Numerous bird species are seen and include the following: Dickinson’s Kestrel, Racket-tailed Roller, Miombo Tit, Miombo Wren-warbler, Meve’s Glossy Starling, Kurrichane Thrush, White-headed Black Chat, Boulder Chat, Miombo Rock Thrush, White breasted Sunbird, Miombo Double Collared Sunbird, Broad Tailed Paradise Whydah and Black Eared Seedeater.
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