Hwange National Park

Covering more than 14,600 km2 (5,863 sq mi), Hwange National Park, or “Wankie” as it is affectionately known, is Zimbabwe’s largest national park and Africa’s 10th biggest. Hwange, in the southwest of the country, was declared a game reserve in 1928 and with neighbouring Robins game sanctuary, became a national park in 1949.

Hwange National Park

Hwange’s sheer size means that its scenery, vegetation and game vary hugely, but it does have two distinct geographic zones. The northern area, part of the Zambezi watershed, is dominated by mopane woodland. Elsewhere the Kalahari scrublands drain into Botswana’s Makgadikgadi depression. This habitat is characterised by marshy depressions, vleis and open grasslands.

Hwange has more animals and a greater variety of species (over 100) than any other park in Zimbabwe, as well as more than 420 species of birds. It is the only protected area where Gemsbok and Brown Hyaena occur in reasonable numbers, and the population of African Wild Dog to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the larger surviving groups in Africa. Leopard, Spotted Hyaena and Cheetah also occur in good numbers, and the park has huge numbers of African Buffalo. Hwange supports a population of almost 500 Lion, and in 2015, Hwange’s Lions gained international fame with the controversial death of Cecil, a much-loved Hwange Lion killed by a trophy hunter from the United States.

African Elephants have been enormously successful in Hwange and the population has increased to far above that naturally supported by such an area. It is a controversial subject and it remains to be seen what will be done about it… At the moment, Hwange remains the best place in the world to see these huge and fascinating creatures.

The park has three large rest camps and four smaller camps, along with bush camps (with limited facilities), camping sites and several private luxury lodges. Hwange is very accessible (you can fly into Victoria Falls and either hire a car or get a road transfer to the park, only an hour’s drive away) and all the safari camps offer day and night game drives and most also offer walking and/or horseback safaris. The highest numbers of animals are spotted in the dry season (August to October) when the wildlife congregates around the shrunken man-made water holes, ensuring spectacular sightings, including exciting predator-prey interactions. During the summer months when animals are tougher to see, the park becomes a birder’s paradise. Several special species occur here, and birders come from afar to see Southern Ground Hornbill, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Meyer’s Parrot, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Racket-tailed Roller, Cape Vulture, Kori Bustard, African Hobby and Dickinson’s Kestrel, to name but a few.

Whether you decide to visit Hwange in winter or summer, you are assured of an uncrowded and very special African bush safari.

Join one of our Zimbabwe Safaris and Tours to experience this wonderful safari destination with us.