Hwange National Park

Overview

Introduction

Pronounced h'WAN-gay, this huge game park was established in 1929 and is the largest in Zimbabwe—8,760 sq mi/22,690 sq km. The landscape comprises grasslands, granite outcrops, savanna, scrubland and scattered woodland. The abundance of game guarantees sightings, so you'll see more than enough to be satisfied. The majority of tourists can be found in the most accessible areas—especially near the main camp entrance and the Nyamandhlovu Pan, where most of the safari lodges are located. To experience the wilderness at its best, it is possible to visit one of the more remote camps, which generally have only a tap, toilet and sleeping rondaval (thatched hut).

Anywhere in the park, visitors are likely to encounter huge herds of elephants—an estimated 35,000 live there, and it's one of the few parks on the continent where they sometimes have to be culled to prevent overpopulation and excessive damage to the environment. Other resident animals include white rhinos, lions (more likely seen in the mountainous, western areas), great kudu (a kind of antelope), giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, impala, baboons, sable (another gorgeous antelope), warthogs, more than 400 species of birds, and more than 1,000 species of trees and scrubs. The animals tend to congregate around man-made borehole wells, particularly in the dry season (August-October), and game-viewing platforms have been constructed at many of these water holes. The Hwange Safari Lodge, the most popular property in the park, has its own flood-lit water hole where guests can watch animals all night.

The main activity in the park is a safari, on foot and by vehicle, and weeks could be spent exploring the backcountry. However, most visitors will be happy with two nights, if they're staying near the perimeter, or three or four nights, if they're going into an interior camp. The main gate is less than two hours' drive southeast of Victoria Falls and makes a popular add-on safari to a visit there. Travelers making their way from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls (on the A8 road) will pass the main gate. The park is 107 mi/172 km southeast of Victoria Falls and 165 mi/265 km northwest of Bulawayo.

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