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Hwange National Park

Hwange, one of the world's last great Elephant sanctuaries, is the largest national park in Zimbabwe

Elephants at Ngweshla pan

Elephants at Ngweshla Pan during the dry season. During a 24hr period, we saw more than 1000 Elephant coming to drink and wallow

Covering more than 14,600 square kilometers(5,863 square miles) or 1,460,000 hectares it has more animals and a greater variety of species -107- than any other park in the country, and more than 400 species of birds.

Hwange Climate

Winter Months - Mid May, June, July, early August, although the days are warm with beautiful blue skies, the evenings can get extremely cold and temperatures below freezing are not uncommon, so definitely bring warm clothing. It's cold I promise you!

Summer months - September through to May. Hot to extremely hot days and warm evenings.

Rainy season - Generally between late November and April although the occasional rain can occur out of these dates.

Best Game Viewing Months

August, September, October and early November are by far the best months for game viewing in this park. Water becomes extremely scarce and the animals congregate around the few pumped waterholes. Sitting patiently and quietly at one of these water holes will reward you with very good game viewing.

During the rainy season from late November through to April, a completely different park emerges to that of the dry season. Parched savannahs turn into lush fields with an abundance of grazing. The animals disperse and game viewing becomes limited. It's called the green season and has it's own magic as this is when the park and all the animals rejuvenate themselves, feeding like crazy on the abundance of food. Newly born animals can be seen everywhere and the birdlife is absolutely prolific.

It is situated in the south west of Zimbabwe between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

There are two distinct geographic zones, neither are able to support viable agriculture. The flora of the well drained northern area, part of the Zambezi watershed, is dominated by mopane and mixed terminalia, which is distinctly different from the rest.

Elsewhere the Kalahari scrublands, covered with stunted, scattered woodlands of teak and umtshibi trees, drain into Botswana's Magadkadi Depression. This habitat is characterised by marshy depressions, vleis and fragile open grasslands on shallow soils.

In the nineteen century this land was the royal hunting reserve of Mzilikazi and his successor Lobengula. But the arrival of the first white hunters and settlers signalled the slaughter of its wildlife by the thousands. As their blood soaked deep into the sparse soils, it left empty, useless wasteland, denuded of wildlife, unfit for farming.

It was declared a game reserve in 1928 and with neighbouring Robins Game sanctuary, become a national park under he National Park Act of 1949. Originally Robins Game sanctuary belonged to H G Robins, a cattle rancher.
 

Cecil the Lion of Hwange

Male Lions Cecil and his brother Jericho photographed near to Ngweshla Camp ( Hwange national park )

Because his herds were constantly under attack by lion and leopard, Robins turned the ranch into a wildlife preserve. Later in exchange for a new house and a water supply he gave the sanctuary to the government.

When founding member Ted Davidson walked across virtually every square kilometre in 1928-29 he discovered the wildlife was almost non existent. The once teeming herds of elephant numbered fewer than 1000 and the rhinoceros, both black and white had been exterminated.

Anyway, the poorly drained Kalahari sands, with their relatively low rainfall, were unable to support permanent large wildlife populations. The seasonal pans and fossil river lines held water all too briefly after the rains, and only occasionally did any large numbers migrate into the region.

Davidson perceived that the water was the critical key and in the years that followed he drilled boreholes to create sixty new pans, linked to the seasonal pans that already existed. slowly the animals particularly the elephant and buffalo, began to move back.

Close to half a century later, Hwange national park faced another, different crisis - too many elephant. Their numbers had risen to more than 20 000 and in their wake the massive beasts left fallen trees and fragile, over grazed grasslands. Hwange's existence was threatened.

Wildlife authorities intervened, culling at least 5000 elephant to bring the population down to between 12 000 and 15 000. The maximum that Hwange national park can support without damage.

Today, in 2010, the numbers have again grown considerably and it is now estimated that the elephant population is somewhere between 30 000 to 40 000 animals.

This is critical and damage to the environment is certain, it remains to be seen what the Zimbabwe National Parks does to alleviate this inevitable problem.

Water remains the single most important management factor in Hwange's continued existence - absolutely vital to the survival of what is perhaps Africa's single largest concentration of elephant.

The constant maintenance of the artificial but natural looking water pans, complete with resident hippo's and crocodile, has been a major factor sustaining this ecological treasury. Without them Hwange national park would return to the empty wasteland it once was, animals would die in their thousands.

Government funding has long since run out for this maintenance and the onus has now fallen upon a few individual organisations, like "Friends of Hwange" and "Save Hwange" who's efforts are to be highly commended.

Accommodation in Hwange National Park

National parks have several good self catering camps and facilities. The 3 major National Parks camps are Main Camp, Sinamatella and Robins camp - here you will find lodges, chalets and camping. Visit the National Parks website for full details.

There are also Commercial Safari Lodges. These companies offer high quality accommodation and hospitality. Please refer to our in-depth page on Hwange accommodation.

You will also find lots of discussions on Hwange on this forum SA 4x4 Forum which can be useful when planning your trip.


Map of Hwange


This map is available for download by simply clicking on the map. All we ask is that you Please Help to Raise Funds for Hwange National Park by making a donation through the PayPal button below. All funds go directly to the park.



Thanks to those for your kind donations. See where the money has gone.
Hi Tony and Boo,
As you can see I spent the money that your website kindly donated in part payment of two pumps for Hwange. I had an urgent request for a pump for Jambile and will be sending them to the Park on Saturday. Once again I thank you very much for your kind donation and hope that you agree with the way I spent it.
Kind regards
John.

Add Your Story about Hwange National Park.

Have you been there? What did you see? Are you involved in a conservation project there? Have you been on a game count? Anything about this magnificent park... Please Share it!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click on the links below to see contributions from other visitors to this page. You can also comment and rate them...

Friends Of Hwange Update Nov 2016 - Death of Jericho the Lion 
We have just had an update from Gary. As usual at this time of year, the heat is indescribable, reaching temperatures of 42 Celsius, and all the pans …

Friends of Hwange August 2016 Update 
August 2016 Dear Friends of Hwange , Apologies for the lack of recent news from Friends Of Hwange Trust. With the dry season well underway, an …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK – MARCH 2014 
A TRIP TO HWANGE NATIONAL PARK – MARCH 2014 In the middle of February, Dave and Paula Dell visited overnight on their way back to Harare after a trip …

AFRICAN WATERBIRD COUNT - SINAMATELLA AND ROBINS - HWANGE NATIONAL PARK 
Is this the same place? Are we in HWANGE? We couldn’t wait to get back into Hwange National Park after all the good reports we’d been getting about …

HWANGE ANNUAL GAME COUNT – 2012 
The sun, the colour of a crimson breasted shrike’s crimson breast, was struggling up through the smoke and dust induced haze, as a tiny Cessna six seater …

SOMALISA ACACIA  
Things like this don’t usually happen to people like us but…… Having unexpectedly won a night for two at Somalisa, we decided to take up our prize …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK - JANUARY 2016 
We have just had a phenomenal birding trip up to Hwange for a week, mainly to conduct the African Waterfowl Census which is carried out each January and …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT – 2015 Part 1 
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT – 2015 Part 1 It has been, once again, a great privilege to be part of a team taking part in the annual …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT – 2015 - Part 2 
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT – 2015 Part 2 Moving back to Ngweshla on Saturday for the actual count we set up camp with several other …

Urgent Apeal for Hwange National park 
WE ARE URGENTLY APPEALING FOR DONATIONS OF CASH OR DIESEL, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, TO KEEP THE WATER PUMPS IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK RUNNING SO AS TO AVERT …

African Waterfowl Count Hwange National Park July 2015 
Having committed ourselves to attending the national AGM of Birdlife Zimbabwe up at the Falls at the end of June, we decided to take the opportunity …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK - NEW YEAR 2015 
What better way to see the old year out and the new one in with a few days in Hwange National Park? Since our previous visit which was during the game …

PUMPING LEGS FOR WATER - HWANGE NATIONAL PARK 
There was the faintest of pink tinges on the eastern horizon, the temperature was 5.6 degrees, a small herd of impala were just vacating the area near …

HWANGE MAIN CAMP  
How wonderful that we had the opportunity for another visit to Hwange National Park at the end of April. Autumn is settling in and although there is …

A very exciting game drive 
Having visited Hwange in November 2012 and having such an amazing time - and seeing so many animals - including 3 cheetahs and 2 Wild Dogs + Cecil the …

Hwange Green Season, February 2014 
Hwange Green Season, February 2014 Dear Friends of Hwange We have at last managed a trip to Hwange. The last time we were there it was August 2012 …

Hwange National park report November 2013 
HWANGE – 17th and 18th NOVEMBER 2013 Having had an absolutely fabulous two-night stay on a tiny teardrop of an island in the middle of the Zambesi, …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT 2013 part 2 
Hwange Game Count Part 2 The following day, we went on down to Ngweshla, stopping off there for a late brunch before going right through to the Mangas …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT 2013 part 1 
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK ANNUAL GAME COUNT 2013 – 18 and 19 September On our way to Masuma, we stopped off for lunch at Mandavu and were delighted to …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK PUMPING LEGS FOR WATER 2013 
PUMPING LEGS FOR WATER 2013 - HWANGE NATIONAL PARK - 26 to 28 July Pumping Legs for Water 2013 started off with several riders undertaking to …

Hwange has best park's guides in Southern Africa 
I assure we had the best game driver and guide from all our 16 days in the region. We had the privilege to see the presidential elephant herd. It was an …

Easter in Hwange National park 
This time of the year is an almost perfect time to be in the Park. Although the bush is still very thick and the grass is high making game viewing a bit …

Friends of Hwange Newsletter October 2012 
Dear Friends of Hwange Due to heartfelt concern expressed by many of you about reports of the dire circumstances in Hwange, a response to try to keep …

High School experience 
A week ago the Nagle House ladies were at the Hwange National Park. It was a wonderful, exciting and it was supposed to be a memorable experience unfortunately …

Click here to write your own.

HWANGE – JUNE 2012 
We were invited to join several other couples at Ganda Lodge for the weekend (June 15th to 17th) which gave us the opportunity to have a good look at the …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK REPORT MAY, 2012 
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK REPORT MAY, 2012 Who says that we don’t enjoy four seasons in Zimbabwe? The colours along the road up to the park, especially …

Friends of Hwange  
Dear Friends of Hwange, apologies for the silence over the past few months. Time has got away from us, but pertinent is that there is little to report …

HWANGE – JANUARY 2012 
We have just been up to the Park to participate in part of the African Waterfowl Count which is conducted Africa-wide during January and again in July. …

Hwange Crisis 
Reports coming out of Hwange National Park are fairly dismal right now. Teams who took part in the recent annual game count mostly reported pans in a …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK REPORT – OCTOBER 2011 (Part 2) 
We then moved on to Sinamatella and stayed two nights. Warden Gomwe is doing a sterling job there and is keeping his camp ship shape. Most of the lodges …

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK REPORT – OCTOBER 2011 (Part1) 
The annual 24 hour static game count took place over the night of Tuesday 11 October, into Wednesday 12 October. A great deal of time and effort goes …

Hwange National Park Update August 2011 
As drilling of the second borehole at Kennedy Two was about to begin over the weekend of 19th to 21st August, I took the opportunity of going back up to …

Zimbabwe National Parks have a contact with poachers in Hwange 
Zimbabwe’s Department for National Parks and Wildlife Anti poaching team have once again come up trumps. They tracked and located a team of poachers near …

HWANGE: News and Advice 
Just returned from 9 days in Hwange. Here are a few pointers that may be of assistance to anyone heading there soon. Our plan was to enter at the Robbins …

Sikumi Tree Lodge - under new managers 
Sikumi Tree Lodge is a well known name in Zimbabwean tourism circles. Part of the Touch the Wild group, the lodge has been operating on its private estate …

Hwange National Park Report.  
While we apologise for not being in touch since the game count in September last year, it is not from lack of interest that no reports have been made – …

Hwange Misses Out on World Cup Tourism 
It’s a long and arduous car journey from Pietermaritzburg in South Africa to Hwange National Park in south West Zimbabwe, probably 21 hours total driving …

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