Mongwe is a community of 21 privately-run fishing camps and public campsites, situated on the Zambezi River between Chirundu (the border post town linking Zimbabwe with Zambia) and Mana Pools National Park, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The camps lie within the Hurungwe Safari Area, Nyakasanga section, where hunting concessions are active, but the land is privately-leased from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority under a non-hunting agreement.
In 2012, the association of fishing clubs which run Mongwe, negotiated an "exclusion from hunting zone" around the camps. Known as the Mongwe Conservation Area, this 12 sq km area has been set aside to help conserve wildlife and fish populations in the immediate surrounds of the camps "to improve the social responsibility and awareness of stakeholders in the Zambezi Valley with a view to sustainability and improvement of the flora and fauna, for current and future generations" .
It has been heralded as a breakthrough conservation initiative.
A number of the private camps at Mongwe are open to visitors either on a fully-catered or self-catering basis. There are nine public campsites attractively situated along the banks of the Zambezi River with views out over the river itself. This section of the river has long been a popular fishing spot, an added bonus being that motorboats are permitted on the water (unlike in Mana Pools National Park where conservation rules prohibit their use). Thanks to the efforts of the Mongwe conservation initiative, game viewing in the Mongwe area has also improved dramatically in recent years.
Mongwe can be accessed by air charter (to Chirundu), by boat along the river from Chirundu, or via a 19km-long dirt road which turns east off the main Harare-Chirundu highway some 6km before Chirundu and follows the course of the Zambezi River on its Zimbabwean bank. During the dry winter season this road can be accessed by most sturdy vehicles, but a 4x4 is necessary in the rainy months (November - April).
Self-drivers should note that because this road passes through a hunting area, visitors are not allowed to enter it without first obtaining a permit from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Office at Marongora (at the top of the Zambezi escarpment), or at Chirundu. Permits for entry, fishing and boating are all issued from these offices. Failure to obtain one in advance could result in a heavy fine.
LINKED NEWS STORIES & BLOGS
Chirundu Area - River Lodges & Camps along the Zambezi - September 2015