Maputo Special Reserve Parks & Reserves

Thanks to translocation programmes, we can now see eland in the Maputo Special Reserve

Photo By: Cath Longley
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Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique

Learn more about the Maputo Special Reserve in the Maputo Province of Southern Mozambique


One of the world's most endangered eco-regions, the 24 000 ha Maputo Special Reserve, established in 1960 offers holiday seekers the opportunity to go on an adventurous game drive where elephants, hippos, crocodiles, antelope, zebras, giraffe among others roam in this peaceful reserve of lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests flocking with various different bird species, and a stunning coastline of pristine beaches stretching for miles.

Maputo Special Reserve Accommodation

The reserve and wildlife suffered badly during the civil war between 1975 - 1992 when mines and snares injured and killed a large population of wildlife inhabitants. Restoration of the reserve's wildlife and flora has been an ongoing effort via cross-border translocation programmes between South Africa and Mozambique since the end of the war with a latest count report of over 400 elephants that now flourish in this beautiful, tranquil game reserve where sightings of them grazing on open floodplains is literally guaranteed.

These translocation programme operations taken place over the years has proven to be a major success with over 4600 animals brought into the reserve since 2019 and over 25000 animals from all over Southern Africa since translocation operations began! Today, it thrives with wildlife attracting more and more tourists which helps fund the reserve to maintain its biodiversity and continue the restoration process.

The Cheetahs are back

In October 2021, 4 cheetahs were successfully introduced to the reserve to not only improve the wildlife biodiversity within but to also allow nature to balance the reserve's ecosystem spectrum. The Maputo Special Reserve unfortunately suffered a loss of 1 cheetah only a month after after it broke through the border's fence and got caught in a snare trap. These sad occasions are always a reminder how important it is to help support the reserve whether it be from tourists travelling into Mozambique and partaking in a game drive or by simply donating to help improve, maintain and protect the reserve's precious wildlife from future incidents.

Fun Fact:

The Maputo Special Reserve has recently translocated a group of 26 eland, over and above the introduction of 20 eland in 2019 when they were literally non-existent in reserve for over 30 years. Read more about Maputo Special Reserve

The dangers to wildlife that still pose a threat

The threat of poaching and snare traps being setup is still a high risk even today. So for security measures, the reserve has introduced a dedicated force of well-equipped game rangers all around the reserve to affectively protect, patrol and safeguard wildlife from future poaching and snare traps. A new operations room has been built within the reserve and security rangers are equipped with digital radio cross-communication devices for fast and effecient reactive communication, as well as assisted helicopter support if required.

If you plan to visit the Maputo Special Reserve and happen to see any suspicious activity, then please report to the security rangers as soon as possible. The more eyes on the lookout the better.

Reserve Facilities

There is a small cafe, picnic tables and public restrooms for visitors entering the Maputo Special Reserve at the Western park entrance called Entrada de Futi (Futi Entry) near Bela Vista. Note: You will need a 4x4 to navigate the loose sandy trails of the game reserve to reach your destination within. Before entering the reserve, reduce your tire pressures down to 1.5 or 1.4 bar. There are also tire guage and compressor facilities to check your tire pressures and pump them back up to normal tire pressures upon exiting the reserve back on tar roads. If possible, bring your own compressor incase the reserve's entrance compressor is out of order otherwise you can get your tires pumped up at the Puma Filling Station 24km north in Bela Vista.

Entering the reserve & basic rules

Respect the rules of the reserve and use common sense. Please don't rev your engines, make loud noises, play loud music and hoot within the reserve. Enjoy spotting wildlife, the peace and tranquillity. We strongly advise you keep a safe distance from the elephants. If they approach your vehicle, then kindly back-up slowly keeping that safe distance, and remember, these majestic animals always have right of way.

There is an entrance fee for the vehicle and per visitor but it is well worth it whether you merely want to do an adventurous game drive or a bonus game drive before reaching your holiday destination through the reserve. Timing is crucial because the reserve entrance opening times are from 06h00 - 17h00 in Summer (October to March) and 07h00 - 16h00 in Winter (April to September), so please make sure you arrive there at least 30 minutes before.

More warnings and rules to be aware of

  • Do not approach elephants or to get to close to them. Keep a safe distance at all times and they always have right of way
  • Do not feed the monkeys or any other animal
  • Do not drink and drive in the reserve
  • Do not litter or throw cigerette butts out the window and into the park (this is littering and can potentially cause fires)
  • Dogs are not allowed in the reserve
  • Please keep your vehicle on the beaten track
  • Be cautious - there are dangerous animals in the reserve such as elephants, crocodiles and hippos, therefore keep your distance from them if spotted.
  • Please remain in your vehicle at all times when game driving through the reserve and do not exit your vehicle
  • Drones are not allowed to be flown over the reserve
  • Weapons such as firearms and knives are not allowed in the reserve
  • Fires, braais / barbeques are not allowed in the reserve
  • Camping is only allowed in designated campsite locations within the reserve
  • Riding bicycles in the reserve is prohibited
  • Fines can and will be issued if you do not abide to the rules above

Distances to / from the Futi Entrance:

As you traverse through the reserve, you will come across helpful sign posts providing colour coded directions to various holidays destinations above. The reserve offers 3 dedicated campsite locations including Ponta Membene and Ponta Mucombo.

Maputo Special Reserve Accommodation

Holiday Destinations Near Maputo Special Reserve:

Maputo Special Reserve Reviews thus far:

If you have been to the Maputo Special Reserve before, we'd appreciate you share your experiences, tips and suggestions. Please rate and write your review below ...

The Maputo Special Reserve

One of the world's most endangered eco-regions, the 24 000 ha Maputo Special Reserve, established in 1960 offers holiday seekers the opportunity to go on an adventurous game drive where elephants, hippos, crocodiles, antelope, zebras, giraffe among others roam in this peaceful reserve of lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests flocking with various different bird species, and a stunning coastline of pristine beaches stretching for miles

Read More
Other Places of Interest:

Bazaruto Islands

Southern Mozambique

Santa Carolina (One of the Bazaruto Islands) hosted the popular and well known TV Show 'Survivor South Africa' in 2010.


Southern Mozambique

Visitors will be pleasantly treated with a game drive through the Maputo Special Reserve before reaching the Machangulo Peninsula. Spot various wildlife from elephants to giraffes, zebra, antelope, flamingos, crocodiles, hippos, birdlife among others ...


Southern Mozambique

Zavora is a beautiful beach renowned for its huge protective reef running 2km parallel and close to the shoreline. This reef acts as a natural tidal pool with shallow, calm waters, perfect for activities such as snorkeling, swimming and fishing

Island of Mozambique

Northern Mozambique

The Island of Mozambique has played an important role since the 10th century in intercontinental trade to the East, in the 16th century is was an established and wealthy trading port for ships sailing on monsoon winds and where cargoes of ivory, gold and slaves were traded for fabrics and spices from India and Arabia.


Southern Mozambique

Tofo Bay is ideally situated along the well renowned Manta Coast - a popular dive site region for all levels of diving experience with over 30 dive sites to explore.

Santa Maria

Southern Mozambique

Find beautiful pansy shells off the beaches of Santa Maria during a spring low tide, full or new moon.


Southern Mozambique

Ponta Falsa (the tip of Pomene beach) has some great rocky cliff features including the "whole in the wall" and a huge blowhole. Explore the ruins of the Old Pomene Hotel which was once the holiday home of Samora Machel where one can admire beautiful bay views

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Categories Explained

For better understanding, we have put together a brief summary guide of what each category means and to also give you an idea of what each associated icon refers to when you see them on listings & adverts.

Listed in alphabetical order

Backpackers Lodge:

Those who are on a tight budget should keep a lookout for this category icon. This type of establishment offers dormitory (shared) bedroom accommodation with other "Backpackers" generally using either single beds or bunk beds with a communal kitchen and shared ablutions.

Bar On-Site:

Meaning the venue has its own bar on-site with staff serving alcohol/non-alcohol beverages and perhaps "pub-grub" included. They may offer satellite TV for bar patrons to follow the latest sporting fixtures live and may also host live music on certain days / evenings.

Bed & Breakfast:

If an establishment has this icon, this means they either include breakfast in their rates or offer the opportunity for you to choose to include breakfast during your stay which is usually served to guests in an on-site breakfast room dinette or restaurant. Some B&B's offer basic / light (continental) breakfasts, Full English breakfasts or buffet style breakfast options.

Campsite / Glamping:

Either they offer camping grounds for you to pitch your own tent if on a tight budget and / or they have their own pre-setup tents for you to camp in, some offering private facilities (aka "Glamping") within their tents such as beds, a fridge, sofa and bathroom.

Conference Venue:

This means the establishment has a dedicated hall room specially arranged and equipped with most facilities to host important business meetings, teambuilding events or any other occasion alike.

Disabled Friendly Accommodation:

Goes without saying. Any establishment marked with this icon and listed under this category offers facilities for those who have reduced mobility. They may have basic facilities for these conditions or advanced. Kindly enquire with them directly for more information and/or specific requirements you may need.

Dive Charter:

These are dive centres who are a team of qualified dive instructors (PADI which means Professional Association of Diving Instructors) offering SCUBA diving lessons for clients and excursions to some of the best dive sites in the region for an unforgettable underwater adventure.

Eco Lodges:

Environmentally friendly establishments built by local communities using naturally sourced / non-toxic materials with the objective of protecting the surrounding habitat. These types of lodges range from rustic bush and beach to luxury accommodation. Not only does this movement protect the environment, but it also helps support local families.

Fishing Charter:

This means the associated business offers professional paid-for deep sea fishing charters / outings and excursions for those fishing enthusiasts (and for newbies). They generally have a fully equipped fishing boat and all the fishing gear ready for clients to bait up and cast a line. Their expertize, knowledge and experience will reward you with some of the best fishing spots for an action packed deep sea fishing experience.

For Sale:

If you're looking to invest or buy property in Mozambique, keep an eye out for this category for the latest in the property market.

Full Board Accommodation:

Full Board means breakfast, lunch and dinner (also known as "All Inclusive"). If a venue is listed under this category, then they either offer guests the choice of a full board meal plan during their stay or their rates by default include full board meals. a lot of these establishments will have private personal chefs serving guests top class cuisine.

Group Accommodation:

Because this is a popular search and request amongst many, we have created this specific category for exactly that - group accommodation which is very much the same as our Holiday Homes category. These are establishments that can cater and accommodate for large groups of 8 people and up in the same house / unit offering most self catering facilities as if you are "home away from home".

Guest House:

Similar to a typical B&B, a Guest House is usually a private house offering very few accommodation units all within the main building structure (or some seperately). Some serve home cooked meals within their in-house dining room specially catered to seat all their guests and offer a lounge area where fellow travellers can interact, socialize and share stories.

Holiday Home:

This type of accommodation is usually ideal for large groups of people going on holiday being a "home away from home" with numerous bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen for your self catering needs, lounge, toilets, braai/BBQ area, some with a swimming pool and some offering exclusive privacy.

Honeymoon / Romantic Accommodation:

Very self-explanatory. A venue will be listed under this category if they offer a specific luxury, private honeymoon suite or because our admin has "hand-picked" the establishment to be perfect for such an occasion based on their location and facilities offered. However, you are the best judge when it comes to planning that special getaway with your loved one anyway. Pssst ... and it doesn't have to be expensive either to enjoy, right?!


A hotel is generally a large premises that can accommodate a large amount of guests in many adjacent rooms grading from standard 2 sleeper units to "executive" luxury suites offering more in-room space and facilities. They generally have a restaurant and bar on-site for all day meals and drinks (quite often offered on a buffet dining basis). Other on-site facilities may include a swimming pool, gym, spa, in/outdoor entertainment area for kids, a conference / wedding room for meetings / ceremonies and a small shop.

Restaurant / Personal Chef(s) On-Site:

This indicates that the establishment has a small / large restaurant on-site for their guests (they may also accept walk-ins for non-guests) or they have on-board catering staff serving guests in their own private space or in a designated dining area.

Self Catering:

This type of establishment offers guests facilities required to cater / cook on their own terms whether it be within a holiday home for example or on communal grounds.


This means the establishment has spa facilities and services offered to guests who are looking for personal treatments during their vacation.

Tours & Safaris:

These business services can range from swimming with dolphins, horse riding, city tours, boat tours, island tours, dhow tours to game drives and more. You'll have to click on their advert to find out more and what they have to offer.

Wedding Venue:

This means, the venue has all the on-site facilities and catering services to host large or small weddings and ceremonies. Depending on the size of the wedding, some may have enough units to accommodate all wedding guests.