Named for a sub-chief of the Rozvi tribe, who were all slaughtered by the Matabele chief Mzilikazi, Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s oldest, largest and best known game reserve. It is regarded as one of the finest conservation areas in Africa. Only a quarter of the area is accessible to visitors, in the more diverse and interesting northern part of the park.
Covering just over 14,600 square kilometres and bordered by Botswana in the west and the railway line to Bulawayo in the east, this huge park has a relatively low rainfall of between 570 and 650mm per annum. Covered centuries ago by wind-blown Kalahari sands, most of the area consists of scattered woodland scrub and grassland in an endless mosaic.
In the north where the ancient sand cap thins to a clay and basalt layer are large natural pans, with granite outcrops among extensive mopane woodland. During the dry winter months, the game relies on man-made water-holes, dams and boreholes where vast herds of elephants and buffaloes come to drink. Both black and white rhinos have been re-introduced to the area, and large herds of sable and eland can be seen, and the rare roan antelope. Lion and spotted hyena are found throughout the park, and although leopards are common, they are rarely seen.
The park affords a large enough area for African wild dogs, one of the continent’s most endangered predators. Crocodiles are present in some of the larger waterholes and the northern river systems. In the dry winter months, some hours spent watching quietly at a waterhole can be more rewarding than driving around searching for game, as most species will come to drink during the day. There are large hides at several waterholes.
Places to stay in Hwange
Hwange Safari Lodge
On the edge of the Hwange Game Reserve is the renowned Hwange Safari Lodge, gateway to an unspoiled wildlife paradise. This Lodge is a bit pricey.
From the cool verandah, or while sipping cocktails on the viewing platform overlooking the waterhole, you can watch the mighty elephants and their calves amble down to cool off in the midday sun.
Hwange Main Camp
At Hwange main Camp there are Chalets. These Chalets have basic features, such as bedding, external cooking facilities and external toilet facilities. Camping facilities are also available. They have a restaurant, filling station and a small supermarket there. The cost for the chalets and camping is really reasonable, as this is part of the Zimbabwe National Parks.