Niassa Game Reserve & Lago Niasso (Lake Malawi)
Known as ‘Africa’s last true wilderness’, the Niassa Reserve, at 38,000km2 (14,668 sq miles), is the largest game reserve in Mozambique. Surprisingly it has over 12,000 elephant, 8000 buffalo, and with around 200 animals, is one of the last refuges of the highly threatened wild dog (lycaon pictus). Lago Niassa has wild beaches such as Chuanga near Metangula and Nkwichi which is adjacent to a fledgling reserve near Cobúè called Manda Wilderness. Access (LAM flights) is via Lichinga, which has a the suprisingly large and comfortable Hotel Girassol Lichinga.
The Winds of Niassa
For the marinheiros (sailors) of Lago Niassa (Lake Malawi), a thorough understanding of the language of the lake winds can mean the difference between calm and calamity: the ‘Vuma’ comes from the north at storm strength, ripping off the roofs of houses on its way. ‘Muela’ winds from the south capsize dhows and bring malaria, while ‘Lichinga’ can come from either the north or the south, bringing heavy rains in its wake. And that large undulating cloud? This is the ‘Vumi’, a plague of flying insects, collected and cooked by the lake people.