Save River (Africa)

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A view of the Save in Mozambique

The Save (or Sabi) is a 400 km river of southeastern Africa, flowing through Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The river has its source in Zimbabwe, some 80 km south of Harare, then flows south and then east, from the Zimbabwean highveld to its confluence with the Odzi River. It then turns south, drops over the Chivirira (“Place of Boiling”) Falls, and flows down the western side of Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands forming a dry river valley in the rain shadow of these mountains. It is joined by the Runde River or Lundi at the Mozambique border, forming a dramatic confluence at Mahenya. It then crosses Mozambique to flow into the Indian Ocean at about 21°S.

It divides Mozambique administratively, politically, ethnically and ecologically:

  • During the colonial era, the whole area south of the Save was considered a province of Mozambique; presently, the Save separates the provinces of Gaza and Inhambane to the south, from those of Manica and Sofala to the north:
  • Politically, the “south-of-the-Save” can be considered the stronghold of Frelimo, while the region immediately to the north is, in general, more supportive of Renamo;
  • From the point of view of the population, the Save separates the ethnic groups that are native speakers of Shangaan (or Xi-Tsonga), to the south, from those that speak languages of the Shona group;
  • Ecologically, as the Save flows into the Indian Ocean, its mouth corresponds to the separation of tropical marine ecosystems, to the north, from the subtropical; the terrestrial ecosystems show less variation along the coastal plain north and south of the river, but inland where the Chimanimani mountain range starts, a montane forest develops, which is completely different from the forests found in the south.

Historically it was a transport route for gold and trade goods between the coast and the hinterland occupied by the civilisation of Great Zimbabwe in the 13th and 14th centuries AD.


Coordinates: 20°54′15″S 35°03′46″E / 20.904169°S 35.062752°E / -20.904169; 35.062752