Wildlife encounters on safari are the highlight of most trips to Africa, and Hwange National Park offers some of the best sightings and guides in Africa. Hwange has an extraordinary abundance of wildlife including over 400 species of birds and over 100 mammal species. It is known for having possibly the largest population of elephants than any other reserve or park in Africa with an estimated 44,000 elephants reported in 2015. This number of elephants in one reserve is unfortunately unsustainable due to the elephants’ destructive nature and requirement for large amounts of water and food, particularly in a park with no natural water source, however, the lodges and communities within Hwange are working their hardest to keep the pumped waterholes full, and it makes for some absolutely spectacular sightings when multiple herds move quickly down to a waterhole for a drink, swim and splash around!
Hwange National Park is the largest park in Zimbabwe at approximately 15,000 square kilometres and is located in the west of the country, bordering Botswana, along the road that leads from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo. Due to human settlement, the wildlife’s natural migration to water has been cut off, and therefore, Hwange is known for its concentration of wildlife around the pans and waterholes due to there being no natural water source in the park, making for amazing sightings of large congregations of different animals. Hides and lookout decks have been built throughout the park to make the most of these waterhole sightings and are often incorporated into safari activities.
Although Hwange is a national park it does have some private lodges on private concessions of land within the park, meaning that they can do off-road driving as well as night drives as they do not have to adhere to the national park rules. Many lodges also specialise in walking safaris as well as game drives, and some offer visits to local schools and communities and other slightly more unusual experiences such as involvement in pump runs to keep the waterholes full.