Many years ago in a far off land when I was invincible and still knew everything, I took a trip into a country that had just declared peace after 16 years of pointless civil strife and war - a country with a long colonial past, one which recounted great hunting adventures of heavy tuskers and fearsome black manes. The country was Mozambique, the old Portuguese colony and after 16 years of internal struggle between Frelimo and Ronamo a truce had been declared in Rome - it was an exciting time for the sub region - South Africa had transformed with Nelson Mandela's release, Zambia had switched to a democratic form of government and all around old political regimes were crumbling and change was evident.
At first, the road from the border post was smooth and clear with the typical African settlements clustered along it yet as I got further into the hinterland the evidence of war started to show. Every couple of miles waist deep trenches had been dug through the hardtop and around this lay the skeletons of armored trucks and tanks, cargo trailers and civilian sedans - it was a point where they had ambushed each other - now silent and eerie as you drove past. Of course it was also a convenient place for traffic officials to lay their ambush as you'd have to almost come to a halt to get by the trenches and inevitably you'd always leave them in your rearview mirror with great smiles as they counted the cash you had to part with for some inane vehicle fault.
As you ventured further it became deserted, not a living soul for hundreds of miles, no animals, no birds, even the insects - the usual butterflies you see when the rains have come - were gone. Throughout this war the lasting image the world saw from Mozambique was the devastation caused by anti-personnel mines, laid in their thousands upon thousands across the country with no apparent plan or record as to where they existed. The effect on the people was visible through every aspect of this country and in their eyes I saw a resigned exhaustion, the ones who did survive were also emotionally scarred.
What wildlife I did see was the occasional bicycle - those great solid steel framed black load bearing ones you see throughout Africa - the ones made in China or India with fancy names like Flying Pigeon or Silver Dove. Hanging from wide handlebars were what seemed to me, bunches of the tiny Suni's and red Duikers this country has in abundance. I even saw one bike with both sides full and more strapped onto the back holder - caught in snares and now being sold as bushmeat.
Other than that, I saw nothing and realized the war had taken more than just its toll on the people, both sides had needed money to fund their war and in a country not endowed with readily available diamonds, the next best thing was ivory and fur.
A couple of years later, now a fully fledged PH working for my dad, we flew into Mozambique again, this time by private charter in search of the very two species I had seen years earlier hanging from handlebars - we were here with two clients to hunt Suni and Red Duiker. The camp we stayed in was terrible, it seemed, it too had been built in the war and left for safari operators to use, the water was dirty at all times and the food basic. We were sharing the camp with a buffalo hunter from the US and he and his PH would set out each day with great hope and promise, returning with tales of wading waist deep in a croc infested swamp the whole day after a small herd of Buffalo - they seemed most excited that they had seen a warthog that day but didn't get a shot and were elated when they eventually shot a Baboon!
Coming from Zambia where our buffalo tend to stick to dry ground in great numbers, I looked at this set up and formed a negative opinion of this country - we too didn't see a thing except for hundreds of Suni and Red Duikers which was good for us, but other than that, the bush which was pristine, seemed as though a spaceship had landed and sucked up all the life within it except for the tiny ones!
Since then, whenever I hear of Mozambique I draw back to my trip and feel grateful that I am hunting buffalo in Zambia where I have my driver Eddie to shout at and thousands of bovines before me. Hence when I got an email out of the blue from a PH in Mozambique talking about a very large piece of hunting land that he had just secured, I thought to myself OK, I do have a few clients that want Suni and Red Duiker - lets talk!
Graham Cawood and his partner have recently been given the exclusive hunting rights to over 4000 square miles of untouched wilderness which they will develop over the next 50 years. Their plan is to plough more than $5 Million into area development, anti poaching, camps and the restocking of certain species. The areas are known as Chifunde and Chiputo and lie in the central west part of Tete province along the Zambian border. Part of the concession sees the great Zambezi river as one boundary with major Crocodile and Hippo populations while the other sector holds big Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Roan, Sable and many other plainsgame species.
However what I find the most interesting about this new area is their prices are very reasonable - almost like we had in Zambia back in the early 90's - and the area produces good trophies. To date some great black mane Lion have been taken, Leopard are abundant, Elephant in the 80 pound class as well as some magnificent Roan and Sable. This kind of reminds me of the very early days here in Zambia, when a classical safari meant exactly that - prices were affordable enough to stay for 3 weeks or more and you went out into the bush and simply hunted whatever you found - no restrictions, just plain hunting.
Recently I have found that the prices for Lion hunts in Zambia and Tanzania are way up and regardless of if you get a Lion or not the high day fees are still due up front with no refunds. With Graham it is totally the opposite - their day fees for Lion in particular are in the very reasonable range so there is no risk on you losing out if you don't shoot a Lion. Consider this, when last did you see a Lion safari in a classical country sell around the $27,000 mark.
Of late I've been looking for new hunting grounds - something different to the typical government concessions and copycat safari operators - this year I hunted on a new private reserve in Zambia with excellent results - and now it seems I have found a piece of Africa large enough to hunt like they did way back when!
Graham offers various hunts at different daily rates however the top safari here has got to be the 21-28 day classic BIG 4 safari - Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo plus all other species available on the land you hunt. The only problem for US residents if that you cannot import ivory from Mozambique into the US - but this is an opportunity to hunt Africa like they did way back and at a price you'll not see again - remember once this area makes a name for itself the day fees will climb to 'normal' prices.
Second on the list must be the 21 day Lion & Leopard safari - with day fees at $1750 this is a great deal
Others to consider - possibly the best Lion price in Africa at the moment - 18 day Lion hunt at $27,000 day fees with very few 'additional' costs
The area has excellent Roan and Sable and Leopard are everywhere as is typical for this region of the continent.
Unfortunately the buffalo numbers are not that high - over 18 or 21 days you'll get a buff but stand alone buffalo hunts are touch and go - at these prices you may as well hunt a cat and stand a better chance at buffalo.
Take a look at the Mozambique page which has prices and trophy pictures for your further information - then contact me if you'd like some more detailed information.
MOZAMBIQUE 2010 SAFARIS AND FEES