Hwange National Park

the best of africa

This is the New York of the animal kingdom.  It is a melting pot of wildlife diversity.  The sunsets here are accompanied by a symphony of trumpeting elephants.  Now you have arrived at one of the wildest places on Earth 

Zimbabwe’s largest national park, the elephant stronghold of Hwange is a game-rich area roughly the size of the Bahamas that was once the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior king Mzilikazi. It was proclaimed a national park in 1929. 

Hwange is arguably one of Africa’s very best game-viewing destinations. This massive park and its creatures can be explored on foot, on horseback, or a game drive. Hwange’s impressive range of wildlife – lion, leopard, rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, gemsbok, hyena, wild dog, and more – is mirrored by the diversity of the park’s environment: the sandy southern part of the park skirts along the Kalahari Desert and is dotted with semi-arid shrubbery, while the northern grasslands are thick with granite outcrops and groves of teak and mopane trees. 

Once the royal hunting ground of Mzilikazi Khumalo, a 19th-century Matabele King, Hwange National Park is one of the largest parks in Africa. Sprawling over 14,600km² of forest, plains and desert scrub, it has a diverse wildlife cast to rival the Serengeti in Tanzania and South Africa’s Kruger National Park in South Africa, but with far, far fewer visitors.

More than 100 types of mammals make their home here, including lions, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs, but it’s the elephants that define Hwange. There are some 45,000 in the park, and 100-strong herds walking their migratory path across the savannah to Botswana or Namibia are a frequent sight.

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannas of long ago?”

* Brian Jackman

“It’s a massive park and a lot of it is inaccessible,” says Simon Mills, from our Africa adventure specialists Native Escapes. “You just don’t get many people there and so you get brilliant game viewing. It’s the place to go if you love elephants, as there are thousands upon thousands of them; but there are a huge amount of other species too… Last time I was there I saw a really strong pride of lions, huge packs of wild dogs and other plains game such as antelopes and giraffes.”
Visiting Hwange National Park not only delivers on the wildlife-watching front, but it also brings in valuable funds to support conservation and fight internationally funded poaching. Zimbabwe’s national parks, Hwange included, have struggled in recent years due to both a lack of investment and a lack of tourists, with many deterred by the persistent flow of bad news emerging from the country. Hopefully, increased investment under Robert Mugabe’s successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has stated his commitment to both conservation and the tourism industry, will see Zimbabwe’s wild spaces thriving again.
For the moment, many safari operators in Hwange National Park are heavily involved in protecting wildlife and working to improve the lives of local people, putting tourist revenue into jobs, education, providing clean water and protecting farmers’ crops from roaming wildlife – and in so doing, reducing both human-animal conflict and the need to resort to poaching and other wildlife crimes.

Hwange national park is rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor