This little-known 400km2 game reserve, part of the greater Selous-Niassa ecosystem, lies on the Mozambique border roughly 100km south of Masasi where it effectively forms a northern extension to Mozambique’s 23,400km2 Niassa Game Reserve. Bounded by the Rovuma River to the south, and transected by the Lukwika River, it supports impressive numbers of hippo, crocodile and water-associated birds. Terrestrial species are similar to those in the Selous Game Reserve, including lion, leopard, African wild dog, elephant, sable antelope and greater kudu.
Basic bandas and camping facilities are available close to a freshwater stream. The Old Boma in Mikindani arranges safaris to the reserve, and is thinking of setting up a semi-permanent dry season satellite camp there – check their website for current information. There is no network of game-viewing roads within the reserve, but you can drive directly to the Rovuma River from the camp, and explore the reserve on guided walks with an armed ranger.
At present, the reserve is leased as a hunting concession to a Portuguese operator, so casual visits are not permitted. Independent visitors will need written permission from the Officer for Natural Resources in Mtwara or Masasi, and must be self-sufficient in food, water and fuel. The route to the reserve is suitable only for well-maintained 4×4 vehicles and experienced drivers. The roads become very slippery during the rainy season, and may be impassable between February and May, when visits cannot be recommended. The best game viewing is from June to December.
To reach Lukwika-Lumesule, follow the Tunduru road out of Masasi for about two hours to Michiga, where you need to follow a left turn-off to the Lukwika catchment area where the reserve is situated. The camp used by the game reserve project manager and his retinue is about one hour’s drive along this road. In the dry season there is a useful shortcut, taking a left turn at the village of Mangaka, which takes only half an hour to get to the camp. Before entering the reserve, you will pass through Mpombe village, where you will need to fill in the visitors book at the reserve office – a large warehouse behind a row of houses on the left as you leave the village. The first indication that you will have of being in the game reserve is an informal checkpoint just before the camp. Close to the camp, there is a grass airstrip suitable for light aircraft, usable in the dry season only.
(c) Philip Briggs 2009