New Vision and New Beginnings in Maputo National Park

Maputo Elephant Reserve was always a wild and remote destination in the days before it became Maputo Special Reserve, then Maputo National Park (MNP). Camping under the stars was the best way to stay in the original elephant park before infrastructure eased its way in as park management improved. Ponta Membene is the new kid on the block in MNP, a superb new lodge with varied campsites and chalets for tourists who want to experience wildlife on land and in the ocean. Discover this great value eco-lodge with us when you choose an authentic safari in a park famed for its elephants and whales. 

Mozambique Travel enthusiastically introduces the new Membene camp, situated in Maputo National Park, highlighting its diverse offerings: campsites, self-catering chalets, a restaurant, and chalets with full-service options. The camp is now open for business, marking a promising future under a new manager, and the 72-bed lodge is the first accommodation to be exclusively owned by the park, aligning with a long-term development plan. It was certainly challenging constructing a lodge in such a remote location, but the timely opening of the camp has created job opportunities for locals, and a portion of the revenue generated will contribute to conservation efforts and a community development fund.

Ponta Membene Maputo National Park Mozambique

Ponta Membene lodge and camp offers a much-needed affordable destination besides the existing 5-star lodges in private concessions within the park. What’s more, it’s situated in one of the most biologically diverse and endangered ecoregions on Earth, Maputo National Park. The lodge at Ponta Membene therefore serves as an affordable gateway for nature lovers to experience incredible biodiversity including fresh inland water systems, swamp forests, grasslands with mangrove forests, healthy seagrass beds, and a variety of coral reefs. Designed to harmonize with nature, the camp is nestled under the tree line of the lush coastal dune forest, providing an eco-friendly destination to immerse oneself in extraordinarily biodiverse habitats.

Activities abound in this natural paradise, from observing wildlife in their natural habitat to snorkeling alongside whale sharks and diving amidst colorful reefs. Witness the spectacle of turtle nesting between October and February or embark on ocean safaris to encounter marine mammals up close.

Maputo National Park is the latest place for a Mozambique safari

In the days of Maputo Elephant Reserve, when a 4×4 journey from Maputo took explorers across the Bay for about 100 km before entering the soft sandy tracks of the reserve, things were very different. This 1,040 square km conservation area was proclaimed in 1960 to protect a small population of coastal elephants resident in the area. It had been a hunting concession since 1932 and nine years later, Maputo Special Reserve evolved to conserve the specialized habitats in the region – the unique lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands, and mangrove forests adjacent to a wild coastline lying within the Maputaland Centre of Endemism. Sadly, the Mozambican Civil War played havoc with environmental values and the entire white rhino population disappeared along with herds of other wildlife endemic to this southern Mozambique area.

an aerial view of Maputo National Park

In 2018 the transfrontier conservation group, Peace Parks Foundation, signed a partnership agreement with the Mozambique government to support the management and development of the Maputo Special Reserve and adjacent Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve. Anvil Bay Resort opened in 2015 during the early days of the Maputo National Park and in 2020, Ponta Membene had its moment of glory.

Ponta Membene offers a sanctuary where untamed wilderness meets tranquil beaches, creating an unforgettable experience for those who prefer a remote holiday in Mozambique. Getting to Ponta Membene is a journey of note, with scenic routes winding through Maputo National Park where wild elephants stroll around every corner. Time seems to stand still on arrival at a surreal wilderness campsite with enchanting sea views and overwhelming silence.

Great Value Safari Accommodation at Ponta Membene

From self-catering Dune and Forest Chalets to cozy campsites nestled along the beachfront, Ponta Membene provides a range of accommodations designed to suit every traveler’s needs. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, stepping outside to greet the sunrise from your private chalet, or spending evenings gathered around a crackling fire under the starlit sky. With modern amenities and breathtaking views, Ponta Membene ensures that your stay is nothing short of magical.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Ponta Membene is a dream come true with safari adventures through the Maputo National Park to find elephants, giraffes, zebras, and a myriad of bird species. In the early days of elephants and 4×4 trails, there was only a rough and ready campsite in the park, but today intrepid travelers can choose to splash out in campsites or chalets with tasteful restaurant facilities.

Maputo National Park Ponta Membene in Mozambique

During the past 3 years, Ponta Membene has added something environmentally friendly to the region, the new kid on the block.  There’s a fantastic choice of campsites and chalets hiding deep within the coastal forest, behind the dunes, and a few meters away from the long fine white sand beach and the turquoise sea. 

Membene offers the ideal base for both adventurous safari and pure relaxation as guests choose between the pristine marine and land environments day by day. Elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, exquisite bird sightings and many more are awaiting you! In the ocean, whales, dolphins, turtles, huge game fish, sharks, and exquisite coral reefs add treasures to every diver’s experience.

Stay for 5 nights at Ponta Membene!

Why Go and Visit Maputo National Park

The number of good reasons why you should go and visit Maputo National Park starts with the opportunity to see herds of gracious elephants in their diverse coastal bushveld habitat. Go and see the ambitious conservation goal that has come to fruition, benefiting all wild creatures, and sustaining the communities living in the region. Yes, go and find some 400 African elephants, a myriad of bird species, zebra, antelope, crocodiles, hippos, and small red duiker, suni, reedbuck, and steenbok! 

Three Zebras in the tall grass in Mozambique

Now recognized as one of the earth’s richest biodiversity destinations, it’s also home to some of the most endangered ecoregions in Africa. This is also why we think you should go to Maputo Special Reserve, part of the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Your safari holiday would mean exploring the links to the Ponto do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa! 

A magnificent green lung benefiting sustainable tourism goals, MNP is only 80 km from Maputo city, making it easily accessible and the best place to see untouched sandy forests, mangroves, swamps, and lush dunes. Don’t forget the warm Indian Ocean where divers are in their element while splashing out in new luxury accommodations now available in the park. 

Once called Maputo Elephant Reserve when it was initially proclaimed in the 1960s to safeguard southern Africa’s last herds of coastal elephants, today MNP has merged with the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve to form a large Peace Park. The thrilling relocation of 5000 wild animals including cheetahs boosted the park and is a good reason why you should go and visit Maputo National Park.

Maputo National Park is a biodiversity hotspot

What You Can See on Safari in Maputo National Park

Hiking, turtle walks, whale watching, rock pool adventures, ocean safaris, and game drives are the things you can do on safari in Maputo National Park. It’s one of the best places to explore the glorious Mozambique marine and land environments, appreciating our place within the global natural environment.  The wild animals are shy of tourists due to the remoteness of the park, and the lack of any infrastructure since 2015. 

Herds of regal elephants, elegant kudus showing off their ornate horns, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and diverse birds are what you can see on safari in Maputo National Park. Such a biodiverse wealth of creatures inhabits this stunning reserve and its splendid ecosystems – sandy forests, mangroves, swamps, and dunes covered in indigenous vegetation. 

An African elephant in the middle of the wild bush

The main attraction at MNP, since the original Maputo Elephant Reserve, is the elephants, their numbers up to nearly 500. Peace Parks Foundation manages the Park now and has been rewilding the terrain since 2010. Carnivores are doing well – leopard, spotted hyena, cheetah, and side-striped jackals hunt reedbuck, eland, nyala, red duiker, common duiker, greater kudu, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala. 

On the other side of the conservation coin, ocean safaris add glamour and meaning to a few days at Membene, to introduce visitors to the migrating humpback whales, dolphins, loggerheads, and leatherback turtles. 

How to Get to Ponta Membene

The best way to get to Ponta Membene is a self-drive tour in a 4×4 vehicle or book an organized luxury tour in a 4×4 to get to your luxury villa or campsite in the Maputo National Park.

Self-drive from Johannesburg to Ponta Membene, an estimated 660kms from the Komatipoort Border Post to reach the Maputo Special Reserve’s Futi Entrance 24 km South of Bela Vista. 

Self-drive from Durban to Ponta Membene, an estimated 514 km from the Kosi Bay / Ponta do Ouro Border Post to reach the Maputo Special Reserve’s Futi Entrance. 

Remember, access to the park is only by 4×4 vehicle – travelers can leave their cars at the Ponta do Ouro / Kosi Bay border and rent a car.  Due to sandy routes inside the Reserve, the use of 4×4 vehicles is compulsory and it’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they are trained in the use of 4×4, their tire pressure set at 180 kPa or lower. 

Ponta Membene signifies new beginnings as part of a new vision for Mozambique wildlife and conservation in an eco-tourism model that wins every prize. Ponta Membene is the new kid on the block offering affordable rustic accommodation in nature, with ocean views. Get the best of marine and land wildlife when you choose this great value eco-lodge with Mozambique Travel!

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