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Hwange National Park reviews

11 reviews

“Waking to the sounds of an elephant munching on the tree right outside my tent was a stark reminder of my proximity to these amazing giants. ” - SharonH

Up close with elephants in Hwange National Park

Views: 258 Visited: Oct 2019 Reviewed: Nov 07, 2019

Around half the size of Belgium, Hwange National Park is the largest National Park in Zimbabwe. Easily accessed from Victoria Falls by light aircraft, or 2-4 hours by road, this relatively unknown safari gem provides a hugely rewarding wildlife viewing experience.

The park is a mix of open grasslands and mopane woodland - though towards the end of the dry season, the landscape becomes grey and stark, as all signs of plant and tree life die back from the lack of rainfall.

Hwange is renowned for huge numbers of elephant, resulting in what some might view as a one-dimensional safari experience. Indeed, waterhole viewing in some parts of the park is an exercise in watching herd after herd of the world's largest mammal plodding to the water's edge. But then starts the fun, as they playfully throw water over their backs to cool off, at each other in play, roll over to bath, and roll in a 'mud bath' to cool down. Watching this behaviour as they shelter their babies from the harsh heat, using the shadow from their own bodies, is a fascinating sight.

Some lodges have built a hide into the side of waterholes - affording superb close up photography of elephant toes and trunks. A mobile phone camera is all that is needed here!

Certainly there are areas of the park that afford a greater variety of wildlife viewing: lion prides, wild dog, buffalo and leopard are regularly sighted. Because the park doesn't have the same concentration of safari camps of some other parks in Southern Africa, the experience is far more exclusive - no queuing to view sightings here ... indeed, other vehicles in parts of the park are a rarity.

Zimbabwe is also renowned for the intensive training programme that guides are required to undertake to quality - the result being a hugely informative and interesting narrative - not here will you hear the usual anecdotes about antelope - rather, quirky information about behaviour perhaps recently discovered or researched.

Game drives are, of course, the norm - day and night, but no safari to this park would be complete without a guided walk. Traditionally an opportunity to learn about the smaller mammals, medicinal properties of plants, bird life, and animal prints, expect a Zimbabwean walking guide to not be afraid to track elephant and lion up close, on foot. A hugely rewarding and memorable experience.

There are, of course, a range of camps and lodges to suit all budgets. Easily combined with Victoria Falls and perhaps as part of a Zimbabwe circuit taking in Lake Kariba, Mana Pools and Matobos National Park, as well as other destinations in Southern Africa, Hwange is a little gem waiting to be discovered by the masses.

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