Hwange National Park
Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying a vast 14,650 square kilometres. The park lies in the northwest corner of the country, about an hour’s drive south from the mighty Victoria Falls. Still relatively untouched, Hwange is a great destination for those that value exclusivity – it is rare to see other vehicles roaming the park.
Hwange became a royal hunting ground to the Ndebele warrior king, Mzililazi, in the early 19th century and in 1929 it was set aside and declared as a national park. Hwange is famed for its tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and as many as 400 bird species recorded. For elephant lovers, Hwange is nirvana. The elephants of Hwange are epic with the park boasting one of the largest populations in the world, somewhere between 30,000 to 40,000 animals. This however wasn’t always the case, in the 19th century Hwange was a useless wasteland due to over hunting and limited water sources meaning wildlife was almost non-existent. After the drilling of boreholes and creating new pans, the animals slowly began returning. The constant repairing and maintenance of these natural looking pans are a major stronghold in sustaining this ecological reserve, and the survival of the largest concentration of elephant.
Hwange is a magnet for the big game safari lover, due to its enviable reputation for the Big 5 and predator sightings. Lion, leopard and cheetah are regularly seen, and night drives reveal nocturnal predators such as the enchanting bat eared fox. Hwange is also an important breeding ground for the endangered African wild dog, black rhino and the majestic roan and sable antelope. Hwange is not overcrowded with minibuses like areas such as the Kruger National Park or even Chobe National Park, so offers an authentic safari experience. The camps and lodges, although of high quality, also indicate this with limited electricity and Wi-Fi, this is the ideal destination for those wishing to escape the outside world and be totally encompassed by the wilderness and magic of Africa. The genuine warmth of the locals and extremely well-trained guides adds to the incredible charm of this region.
Due to its proximity to the Kalahari Desert, Hwange has a semi-arid climate with marked seasonal changes, which dictate the range and diversity of wildlife activities. During the dry winter months (May to October) animals congregate around the shallow pans and waterholes making for superb game viewing. Once the much-anticipated rains arrive, the vegetation bursts into life, the pans fill up and consequently, the wildlife disperses making game viewing less reliable. However, this is a time for some stunning bird viewing and the bush is alive with butterflies, flowers and young antelope.
Easy access and good air and road links to Victoria Falls, make Hwange an excellent choice for a combination safari with either Mana Pools or with the world-renowned Okavango Delta in Botswana as well as bustling cities such as Cape Town with direct flights from Victoria Falls.
Easy access and good air and road links to Victoria Falls, make Hwange an excellent choice for a combination safari with either Mana Pools or with the world-renowned Chobe National Park in Botswana as well as bustling cities such as Cape Town with direct flights from Victoria Falls.
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