Just a few years ago, I wouldn't have offered up Mozambique as a first safari option, but Africa can change quickly€¦and Mozambique's game has proven marvelously resilient. Her long civil war was extremely hard on wildlife — some areas are still recovering, and some never will — but areas that were opened up in the late '80s and early '90s, as hostilities were winding down, have now been nurtured and protected for more than 20 years, and the game has responded.
Mozambique is not the manicured game ranches you might see in Namibia or South Africa. It's tough country where you'll work for every opportunity — but it's the real Africa and, with the possible exception of Zimbabwe's large conservancies, offers the best opportunity for a buffalo and plains game safari at affordable prices.
The buffalo count in and around the Marromeu Reserve near the Zambezi mouth is now 20,000 and growing, one of the greatest concentrations of buffalo on the continent. Buffalo are also coming back nicely along the Zambezi and in the far north. Hunting concessions are huge, quotas are reasonable, and trophy fees are very acceptable.
I don't recommend a seven-day buffalo hunt anywhere; catch late rains, a dry year, or a bit of bad luck, and you'll be grateful you have 10 days. But on a 10-day hunt in Mozambique, you should take your buffalo along with a reasonable selection of plains game. Sable are more available and less expensive than anywhere else in Africa, waterbuck grow huge, and nyala are plentiful. "Common game" includes reedbuck, bushbuck, warthog, bushpig, and more.
There are probably two drawbacks to a Mozambique safari. First, the combination that first-time hunters often want most is buffalo plus kudu. Mozambique produces huge kudu, but overall numbers are not high, and kudu are not present at all in some of the coastal areas. Second, a charter flight is required to reach most hunting areas. This will add somewhat to the cost.
While a plains game safari is a wonderful experience, adding a buffalo gives you one of the best experiences Africa has to offer. There is good buffalo hunting in numerous countries, but for a first safari that includes buffalo and plains game, yet remains affordable, I believe there to be just two viable options — Mozambique and Zimbabwe.