Hwange National Park
A GUIDE TO HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park is the largest national park in Zimbabwe, spanning an area of 14 650 square kilometres. It’s a Big 5 safari destination and world renowned for its incredible wildlife diversity. In particular, Hwange National Park is famous for its large populations of elephant as well as strong numbers of wild dogs that are protected under a successful conservation initiative.
The national park lies in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe on the main route between Bulawayo and the famous Victoria Falls, and close to the small town of Dete. It’s a scenic 1&half-hour drive southwards from Victoria Falls and most travellers combine a Big 5 safari tour of Hwange National Park with an exciting tour of Victoria Falls and boat cruises or fishing expeditions on the mighty Zambezi River.
Hwange National Park offers a range of accommodation suitable for different travel budgets; from affordable Zimparks accommodation in three main camps to more luxurious safari lodges run by private operators. You also have the option of camping and caravan sites in Hwange National Park.
WHERE IS HWANGE NATIONAL PARK?
Hwange National Park is located in the southwest region of Zimbabwe in southern Africa. It’s about 100 kilometres from the town of Victoria Falls which lies on the mighty Zambezi River, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and is the closest major city to Hwange National Park.
HISTORY OF HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
In the early 19th century, the vast wilderness area was the royal hunting grounds of the Matabele warrior king, Mzilikazi. The region was proclaimed a wildlife conservation area in 1930 to protect the natural fauna and flora of the area. Three nature reserves were combined to create Wankie National Park. These included Wankie Game Reserve, Robins Game Sanctuary and Guzuma Pan Game Reserve.
There was limited funding for the national park in its formative years and only about one-third of the Park was open to the public and tourist numbers were generally quite limited. Wankie National Park was renamed Hwange National Park in honour of the local chief when Zimbabwe gained its independence.
During the turbulent period of political and economic struggle of Zimbabwe under the tyrannical rule of President Robert Mugabe, Hwange National Park fell on hard times and conservation and operational funding virtually dried up as tourist numbers plummeted. Hunting and poaching was rife and only the most resilient lodge and concession owners continued to operate.
In recent years, there has been a turnaround in the fate of Hwange National Park. It’s garnered the attention of world safari travellers as a highly affordable and wonderfully diverse Big 5 safari destination in southern Africa, and tourism numbers have been climbing steadily.
5 REASONS TO VISIT HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Low tourist numbers
The biggest drawcard to Hwange National Park is the vast wilderness area is rich in wildlife and low in tourist numbers. This means you aren’t frustrated by heavy tourist congestion at wildlife sightings and in the camps because Hwange is still relatively “empty” compared to popular national parks in Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa.
So many elephants
Hwange National Park is most famous for its massive breeding herds of elephants. The Park is home to an estimated 50 000 elephants; some of the herds are made up of as many as 300 elephants. There are very few rhinos left in Hwange because they have almost been wiped out through rampant poaching but you’ll find strong numbers of the rest of the Big 5.
Hwange is known for its diverse wildlife and prolific birdlife. There are over 100 mammals in the Park and an estimated 500 bird species. The wildlife and birds rely heavily on the man-made waterholes that were created in the very early days when the Park was established and you’ll experience outstanding sightings in and around these gathering points.
The rumour that Hwange has “no wildlife” because of rampant poaching is completely false. Yes, numbers have been reduced by unchecked hunting and poaching but conservation groups have worked tirelessly in recent years to protect the Park’s wildlife. A major success in Hwange is its wild dog breeding programme that has seen numbers of the remarkable painted dogs increasing steadily.
Accommodation in Hwange National Park has vastly improved in recent years, thanks to the efforts of Wildlife Safaris to rejuvenate the safari lodges and bush camps in the wilderness region.
There are a number of safari lodges in Hwange that are located in private concessions and run by private operators. They offer world-class facilities that compete with the best accommodation found in the Serengeti, Okavango Delta and Greater Kruger.
15 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park was founded in 1928. At the time, animal numbers were critically low because of indiscriminate hunting. There were fewer than 1 000 elephants in the region at the time, and today there are close to 50 000 elephants in Hwange National Park.
In the early 1800s, the wilderness region was the designated royal hunting grounds for the Mzilikazi who was an Ndebele warrior King. It was developed as a game reserve because the land was unsuitable for agricultural purposes due to poor soil and water scarcity.
The protected wilderness area was gazetted in 1928 and called Wankie Game Reserve. Robins Game Sanctuary and Guzuma Pan Game Reserve were included and the combined wilderness area was proclaimed a national park in 1930.
Ted Davison was the first warden of the national park. He was only 22-years of age at the time and came across to what was then Rhodesia as a tsetse fly control officer. He spent 33 years in charge of the national park and took it from a state of wild desolation to its full grandeur as a renowned national park.
Robins Area where you find Robins Camp was named after a reclusive character called HG Robins. He made his home in an isolated and remote area and spent time stargazing with a massive telescope mounted on a tower. On his death, he bequeathed his block of farms to Hwange National Park. His original home and observation tower is part of Robins Camp.
A striking feature of Hwange National Park is a series of shallow pans and natural salt licks (comprising lime and sodium) which attract an array of animals from the dry, arid Kalahari Desert. Many of the natural pans are 20-30 metres in diameter and reach a depth of up to 1 metre in the rainy season. The pans are largely created by ants who bring salts up to the surface when they are building their ant heaps.
Elephants have a particular craving for the salty deposits in the natural pans found in Hwange National Park. They eat away at the ant heaps and take in valuable mineral salts. This in turn creates hollows in the ground that fill up with valuable rainwater.
Hwange National Park has one of the largest populations of elephants in the world. Their numbers are estimated to be as high as 40 000 to 50 000. Combined with the elephant populations of northern Botswana, the region has the world’s largest contiguous elephant population and is a flagship for the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
The Park is a Big 5 safari destination and renowned for its incredible wildlife diversity. Hwange has strong populations of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, lions, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog, giraffe, zebra, hippo and an array of antelope such as gemsbok, sable, roan antelope and eland. Sadly, the number of black and white rhino in Hwange National Park is so low that these endangered animals are rarely seen. Rhino have been ruthlessly poached in Hwange.
There are over 400 recorded bird species in Hwange National Park. You’ll find a mix of birds that are drawn from both the dry, arid Kalahari Desert and the lush rocky highlands of Zimbabwe.
There are five distinct wilderness areas in Hwange National Park: Sinamatella, Linkwasha, Dzivanini, Shakwanki and Tsamhole wilderness areas.
Two thirds of Hwange that lie in the southern section are defined by Kalahari Desert sands which support impressive forests of Zambezi teak and other hardwoods. Dotted throughout these valuable woodlands are ancient fossil lakebeds and drainage lines which support vast savanna grasslands fringed with acacia and leadwood trees.
Hwange National Park falls within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). This is a valuable conservation area that lies where the international borders of 5 countries The centre of the area is at the confluence of the Zambezi Chobe Rivers where the borders of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. KAZA will eventually incorporate Chobe National Park, Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls.
Hwange National Park is just over an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls (approx 100 kilometres) and a short 25-minute flight in a private air charter. Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the largest waterfall in the world based on the combined width and height of the famous landmark. International visitors tend to combine a safari tour of Hwange National Park with a holiday in Victoria Falls.
There is not direct access to Hwange by international or domestic airline carriers. International visitors typically fly to Victoria Falls Airport and take a connecting road or air transfer to their safari lodge in Hwange.
Hwange National Park is home to strong numbers of the endangered wild dog, otherwise known as the ‘painted dog’. Hwange runs a successful rehabilitation center that cares for sick and injured wild dog pups which are released into the wild when healed, and other conservation initiatives aimed at protecting this quirky species.
HOW BIG IS HWANGE NATIONAL PARK?
Hwange National Park covers an area of 14 651 square kilometres. It’s the largest national park in Zimbabwe.
WHO OWNS HWANGE NATIONAL PARK?
Hwange National Park is a state-owned entity that is managed by Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks). Hwange is one of 11 national parks in Zimbabwe that falls under Zimparks.
IS HWANGE A BIG 5 SAFARI DESTINATION?
Hwange National Park is a Big 5 safari destination. However, sightings of black and white rhino are extremely rare because the species has almost been wiped out in the region by rampant poaching.
The Park is best known for its large breeding herds of elephants, with the total elephant population estimated to be between 40 000 and 50 000. This is larger than the total elephant population in South Africa and Kenya.
You’ll also find strong numbers of lions and buffalo in Hwange as well as leopard, cheetah, wild dog, serval and spotted hyena. There are a few brown hyena in Hwange but they are rare and not spotted that often. Hwange National Park is also famous for having one of the largest populations of wild dog in southern Africa. Last count of wild dog in Hwange was 150 and a successful breeding programme is seeing that number increasing steadily.
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT HWANGE NATIONAL PARK?
Hwange National Park is safe to visit but it’s recommended that you book through and travel with a reputable safari operator. This is largely because difficulties experienced outside of the Park rather than within, most notably caused by poor road infrastructure and corrupt elements at border posts and roadblocks.
There have been no reported incidences of crime in the Park where tourists are affected but of course, criminal activity by poachers remains a massive problem.
It’s also highly recommended that you travel to and from Zimbabwe by air to avoid long road trips. The recommended option is to fly to Victoria Falls International Airport and either drive to Hwange with a reputable safari tour operator or fly there on a private air charter.
The road infrastructure in Zimbabwe is poor and road accidents are a concern. Police corruption remains a problem, mainly traffic officials extorting bribes. If you choose to drive to Hwange National Park in your own vehicle; follow the rules of the road and avoid being pulled over for whatever reason.
Tropical diseases common to national parks in Africa such as malaria, bilharzia and cholera are a concern. Seek medical advice for vaccinations needed for Zimbabwe and precautions to take to prevent falling ill from any of the more common tropical diseases.
Be wary of petty criminal activity in the major towns and cities, in particular Harare. This includes bag snatching, credit card skimming and petty theft out of hotel rooms or cars. Take the usual precautions that you would travelling in any developing country around the world. Be vigilant, don’t flash cash or wear expensive jewelry and take care of your valuable items such as cameras, mobile phones and laptops.
Despite the dire circumstances many local Zimbabweans endure, the people of Zimbabwe are warm, friendly and welcoming. Tourism is essential for people’s livelihoods and the safety and security of travellers is a priority. The majority of Zimbabwean speak English extremely well.
IS THERE MALARIA IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK?
Hwange National Park is located in a medium-high malaria area. It’s highly recommended that you take anti-malaria tablets when visiting Hwange and for the recommended period after you return. Consult your GP or a reputable travel clinic for information on malaria in Hwange and precautions you can take to prevent falling ill from this life-threatening disease.
HWANGE’S FAMOUS WATERHOLES
Hwange National Park lies in a transitional zone between the dry, arid Kalahari Desert to the south and the lush plains of the northwest region of Zimbabwe. The bushveld is characterised by vast savanna grasslands, rocky terrain, mopane woodlands and scrublands dotted with acacia trees.
A striking feature of Hwange is the region has no permanent surface water. The wildlife is almost entirely reliant on man-made waterholes, many of which dry up completely in times of drought. Water is pumped into the water holes during the dry season.
The original series of water pans in Hwange were established by Ted Davidson who was the first warden of Wankie National Park. Davidson and subsequent wardens were responsible for sinking boreholes and erecting windmills to ensure the waterholes would provide permanent water sources throughout the year. Today, they are maintained by the Friends of Hwange.
FRIENDS OF HWANGE
A serious drought in the region in 2005 saw all but a couple of the Hwange waterholes dry up. Without this life-sustaining source of water, the animals of Hwange suffered terribly. As many as 1 000 elephants died from thirst and many thousands of other species also perished.
Friends of Hwange was established to mitigate something like that ever happening again in the region. The trust ensures that the boreholes at the water pans are well-maintained and permanent water is available throughout the year for the animals.
PAINTED DOG VISITOR CENTRE IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
In the unlikely event you don’t see African wild dog on game drives in Hwange, you’ll definitely be able to see them on a visit to the Painted Dog Visitor Centre. This is a NGO initiative set up to care for and protect wild dog in the Park which are a critically endangered species.
The wild dog care centre has been successful in increased the population of this species in the Park from 400 to 700 individuals since it was established in 1992. The organisation works closely with the local community to educate them on the value of this species and involves them in community-based conservation.
Sick and injured wild dog pups are care for at the Painted Dog Visitor Centre until they are well enough to be released back into the wild and reunited with their pack. You can find out more about the care and conservation of wild dog in Hwange through detailed presentations by members of the wild dog care centre when you visit.
The Painted Dog Visitor Centre is located a short 16-kilometre drive from Hwange’s Main Camp.
WHAT ARE THE BUMBUSI RUINS AND ROCK ENGRAVINGS?
The Bumbusi Ruins are located about 70 kilometres from the town of Hwange on the border of the national park. The site is found in a remote and isolated area and is rarely visited but it’s worth a visit if you are interested in the archaeological history of the area. The Bumbusi Ruins are a fascinating landmark that dates back to the 18th century.
The neglected large stone-wall ruins are thought to be a former chief’s residence and remain sacred to the Nambya tribe. The national monument comprises two distinct parts: a dry-stone building and a series of rock engravings. It’s built in the same style of the famous Great Zimbabwe and is distributed over a vast area.
You’ll find Bumbusi Ruins deep in the bushveld in the Sinamatella area. It’s signposted from both Sinamatella Resort and Robins Camp.
Bumbusi rock engravings
Located close to the Bumbusi Ruins you’ll find petroglyphs engraved into the sandstone by San hunter-gathers. These engravings have been made on the face of great blocks of sandstone and showcase spoor of game and other wild animals.
The rock shelters were the engravings are found were formed in Upper Karoo Sandstone which eroded along the least resistant bedding plains to produce rock overhands and corridors between enormous boulders.
Unusual engravings found at the site depict lion with 5 toes (usually have 4 toes) which is a rarity, as well as the spoor of the extinct quagga.
ZIMPARKS ACCOMMODATION IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Travellers have a wide choice of places to stay in Hwange National Park. There are budget-friendly chalets and family lodges in the three main camps that are managed by Zimparks as well as camping and caravan sites in the camps. For a more exclusive experience, travellers have the option of a variety of luxury safari lodges managed by private operators.
Arrive fully-equipped for a self-catering holiday if you are staying at one of the older Zimparks camps or camping sites. The shop at Main Camp stock very few items and there is rarely fuel available. Water supply is often problematic and hot water for showers is provided by a ‘donkey’ water heater. The fire must be lit late afternoon to heat up the donkey so you have hot water in the evenings.
There were 3 main camps in Hwange that were managed by Zimparks. Only the Main Camp remains the responsibility of the national park authority. Sinamatella Camp and Robin’s Camp have been sold to private investors and are currently being refurbished to bring them up to standard for international travellers.
HWANGE MAIN CAMP
Main Camp at Hwange National Park is managed by Zimparks and serves as the Park’s headquarters. It’s located at the main entrance to the national park in an area that is rich in game, with a selection of water pans close by that provide excellent animal viewing points.
Hwange Main Camp child policy
Children of all ages are welcome at Hwange Main Camp.
- restaurant and bar
- convenience store
- curio shop
Note: There is a fuel station at Hwange Main Camp but no fuel is available because of the fuel shortage in the country. Self-drive holidaymakers need to travel with their own fuel supplies.
Guest lodges at Hwange Main Camp
- 1 or 2-bedrooms
- ensuite bathroom
- open-plan lounge and outside patio
- fully-equipped kitchen with refrigerator and stove
- cutlery, crockery and linen provided
Cottages at Hwange Main Camp
- 1 or 2-bedrooms
- ensuite bathroom
- outside patio
- basic kitchenette with electric hot plates
- refrigerator available in communal area
- no cutlery or crockery provided
- linen provided
Chalets at Hwange Main Camp
- 1 or 2-bedrooms
- outside patio
- braai (barbeque) facilities for outdoor cooking
- electric refrigerator
- washing sink
- communal ablution and toilet facilities
Camping and caravan sites at Hwange Main Camp
- electrical points (sporadic due to power problems)
- hot water for showers provided by a donkey geyser
- communal ablutions and washing up facilities
- braai (barbeque) facilities (bring your own charcoal)
Game viewing spots close to Hwange Main Camp
- Ngweshla Pan
- Nyamandhlovu Pan
- Dom waterhole
PRIVATE CAMPS & SAFARI LODGES IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
There is a wide selection of places to stay for a holiday to Hwange National Park that are located within the Park on private concessions or on the outskirts of the national park with easy access to the main gate. They are privately-operated safari camps and lodges offering travellers a combination of budget, semi-luxury and luxury accommodation in Hwange in gorgeous wilderness surrounds.
Sinamatella Camp has been operating under new management since 2018. The old Zimparks safari camp been extensively refurbished, new units have been built and camp facilities have been greatly improved. Sinamatella Camp is now known as Sinamatella Resort.
Sinamatella Camp is situated high up on a rocky outcrop overlooking a distant riverbed and the vast savanna grasslands. It’s located close to the northern boundary of Hwange National Park, approximately 120 kilometres from Hwange Main Camp.
It’s highly advisable to travel in a 4×4 vehicle with a high clearance if you are doing a self-drive trip to Hwange National Park and staying at Sinamatella Resort.
Sinamatella Resort is located in an area which is classified as an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) and vehicles are not allowed to travel between the two camps after 14h00.
Sinamatella Resort child policy
Children of all ages are welcome at Sinamatella Resort.
Accommodation at Sinamatella Resort
Sinamatella Camp/Resort has 14 chalets, sleeping up to 96 guests
- 4 x 2-bedroom chalets (4 sleeper units)
- 10 x 3-bedroom chalets (6 sleeper units)
Sinamatella Camp facilities
- hot water provided by solar geysers
- restaurant and bar
- swimming pool
- convenience store
- curio shop
Note: There is a fuel station at Sinamatella Resort but fuel is rarely available because of the fuel shortages in the country. Self-drive holidaymakers need to travel with their own fuel supplies. Likewise, the shop at Sinamatella Resort has very little stock and cannot be relied on to replenish grocery items.
Robins Camp has been operating under new management since 2018. The old Zimparks safari camp has been extensively refurbished and new rooms and facilities have been added. Robin Camp is owned and managed by the Bayete/Machaba Group and is now a modern, luxury safari camp suitable for discerning travellers.
Robins Camp is located in the northern section of Hwange about 24 kilometres from Sinamatella Resort. It lies on the border of Botswana in the most remote section of Hwange National Park. Robins Camp is inaccessible in an ordinary car during the rainy season (November to March) and only accessible in a high-powered 4×4 vehicles with a high clearance.
The area is renowned for its strong population of lion, large herds of buffalo and elephant and large herds of reedbuck, roan, sable, eland and tsessebe. Its characterised by vast savanna plains, rolling hills and dense mopane forests. Robins Camp lies on the fringe of the Kalahari Desert and water is scarce. The animals rely on waterholes dotted around the area which creates excellent game viewing points.
Robins Camp can be reached by a 25-minute flight from Victoria Falls to an airstrip which is located 200 metres from the camp. Otherwise, it’s a 2-hour road trip from Victoria Falls with a reputable safari tour operator.
Robins Camp child policy
Children 16 years and older are welcome at Robins Camp in Hwange National Park.
Accommodation at Robins Camp
- 40 ensuite rooms, sleeping up to 84 people
- 25 camping sites
Robins Camp has been totally refurbished and offers modern accommodation in chalets and guest lodges as well as a well-maintained campsite with quality ablution facilities.
Camping facilities at Robins Camp
The camping site at Robins Camp has been upgraded. The ablution and washing up facilities are modern, clean and serviced daily.
The camping sites are shaded, have solar power points, hot and cold water showers and wood is provided for braais (barbeques).
Facilities at Robins Camp
- hot water provided by solar geysers
- restaurant and bar
- convenience store
- fuel station
- electric fencing around the camp
Note: There is a fuel station at Robins Camp but fuel is often not available because of the fuel shortages in the country. Self-drive holidaymakers need to travel with their own fuel supplies.
BOMANI SAFARI CAMP
6 classic safari tents, sleeping up to 14 guests
Located in a private game reserve on the southern border of Hwange, overlooking the Bomani Vlei. Bomani Safari Camp specialises in photographic safaris.
Each luxury safari tent is ensuite and elegantly decorated, and overlook a large waterhole.
Bumbusi Camp is an exclusive safari camp in Hwange that caters for one group at a time. Located 12 kilometres north-west of Sinamatella Resort, close to the Deka River and the Bumbusi National Monument.
Comprises four ‘A’ frame chalets, a family cottage and a central lounge area: accommodates up to 12 people (one group per booking).
Self-catering facilities with a fully-equipped kitchen with a freezer and stove.
Central ablution facility with 2 bathrooms and separate toilets.
Rustic facilities with no electricity.
Access road only suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. High clearance needed in rainy season.
8 luxury chalets, sleeping up to 18 guests
Located in a private concession in Hwange National Park.
Camp Hwange is an eco-friendly lodge and one of the newest establishments in Hwange. Each luxury chalet is ensuite and tastefully decorated. Facilities include a large lounge, dining room, bar and outdoor terrace with panoramic view of a busy waterhole.
8 luxury villas, sleeping up to 16 guests
Located in a remote section of Hwange National Park, overlooking a busy waterhole. Camelthorn Lodge specialises in photographic safaris.
Each elegant villa is ensuite and stylishly decorated, with a large wooden deck. The lodge lies nestled in a grove of camelthorn trees with a massive camelthorn tree standing in the centre quad as a striking feature. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, outdoor boma and swimming pool as well as an underground hide that allows guests to get close to game sightings.
Located 25 kilometres west of Robins Camp in the headwaters of Deka River. Requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance.
Self-catering camp sleeping up to 12 people. Restricted to one group booking at a time.
8 luxury tented suites, sleeping up to 16 guests
Located on a private game reserve on the border of Hwange National Park.
Each classic safari tent is ensuite and stylishly decorated. Elephant’s Eye overlooks a busy waterhole which attracts large herds of elephants to the area.
FOREVER AFRICAN SAFARIS
6 classic safari tents, sleeping up to 12 guests
Luxury mobile tented camp that operates in private concessions in Hwange National Park, and specialises in walking safaris.
Guests have the choice of two mobile camps: Executive Safari and Explorer Safari. Both offer an intimate safari experience with professional guides, authentic bushveld cuisine and friendly staff.
Activities at Forever African Safaris include bush walks, animal tracking, game drives, hikes and tours of the Mtoa Ruins and the wild dog breeding centre.
Sleeps up to 40 guests
Located in the lush Sikumi Forest which borders Hwange National Park, overlooking the floodlit Ganda Pan. Established in 1992, Ganda Lodge has been extensively refurbished and attracts visitors from around the world.
Facilities include a restaurant, bar, outdoor barbeque area with a traditional bonfire and a swimming pool.
Located south of Shapi Pan in the central section of Hwange National Park.
Ten luxury tents, each with a viewing deck overlooking Giraffe Pan.
Gwango Heritage Resort
26 family units, sleeping up to 74 guests
Located on a safari estate that borders Hwange National Park.
Fully furnished domed tents in an unfenced estate (wild animals can roam through the resort). Facilities include the Gobelo Bar & Grill. Gwango Heritage Resort is accessible by road and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is not required.
Gwango Elephant Lodge
6 luxury villas, sleeping up to 12 guests
Located in a private safari estate that borders Hwange National Park. The luxury villas are nestled in a lush teak forest and overlook a large waterhole. Guests also have a choice of staying at the Forest Chalets situated close by.
Hwange Bush Camp
Located in a remote section in northern Hwange National Park in the Robins Area.
Six safari tents situated overlooking Deteema Dam.
Located close to Nantwich Camp in Robins Area.
9 luxury suites, sleeping up to 18 guests
Located on a private concession in Hwange Game Park. The luxury lodge lies nestled in a lush teak forest, overlooking a large waterhole.
5 domed tents, sleeping up to 10 guests
Located in a remote corner in south-west Hwange National Park.
Jozibanini Camp is a small and exclusive tented camp, suitable for a single group booking. Each luxury domed tent is ensuite with toilets and bucket showers, and overlooks a large waterhole. A popular activity at Jozibanini Camp is mountain bike safari tours.
4 luxury safari tents, sleeping up to 10 guests.
Located on the Kapula Vlei close to Masuma Dam. Kapula Lodge is a self-catering facility in Hwange National Park.
Little Makalolo Camp
5 classic safari tents, sleeping up to 10 guests
Located in the heart of Hwange National Park, overlooking a busy waterhole.
Each luxury tent is spacious and ensuite, with indoor and outdoor showers. The eco-friendly lodge uses solar power for the camp. Facilities include a lounge, dining room, outdoor dining area and a swimming pool. There is a family tent with two adjoining tents that share a bathroom.
8 luxury canvas tents, sleeping up to 16 guests
Located on a private concession in a remote corner in south-eastern Hwange National Park close to the famous Ngamo Plains (on the same site as the old Linkwasha Camp).
The newly-built Linkwasha Camp offers guests modern safari accommodation with contemporary flair. Each suite is ensuite and tastefully decorated. Features include a main lounge, dining room, bar, multi-level decks and swimming pool.
Located 10 kilometres east of Sinamatella Resort, near the Lukosi River. Only open in the rainy season.
Self-catering accommodation for up to 10 people. Restricted to one group booking at a time.
Makololo Plains Camp
Located east of Ngweshla Pan in Hwange National Park.
Comprises two camps: one with 9 rooms and one with 5 rooms. The camp is built on raised platforms with elevated boardwalks and situated overlooking a large waterhole.
Malindi Station Safari Lodge
Located in the Kennedy Concession, situated alongside the historic railway line.
Six rooms in a converted rail carriage thatched lodge built to mimic a heritage railway station, situated overlooking two large waterholes.
Located close to Robins Camp, situated overlooking a water pan.
Accommodation at Nantwich Camp is in a serious state of decay and the lodge is not recommended for international visitors.
Nehimba Safari Lodge
7 luxury chalets, sleeping up to 21 guests
Located in a private game reserve on the border of Hwange National Park, specialising in photographic safaris.
The luxury units are ensuite and stylishly decorated, and overlook a large waterhole. Facilities include an elegant dining room, bar, outdoor terrace and swimming pool.
11 luxury thatched rondavels, sleeping up to 22 guests
Located in the Sikumi Forest on the edge of Hwange National Park. Facilities include a luxury dining room and bar, cosy lounge, library, outdoor terrace and swimming pool. Sable Sands overlooks a large waterhole on a dry riverbed known as the Dete Vlei.
Sikumi Tree Lodge
13 tree houses, sleeping up to 26 guests
Located on a 250 square kilometre private game reserve that borders the Hwange National Park, a short drive from Gwayi River.
Facilities include restaurant, bar, conference facilities, children’s playground and swimming pools for adults and children. The unique tree houses are tucked into a forest of Mangwe and acacia trees, overlooking a large waterhole.
10 safari tents, sleeping up to 16 guests
Located west of Ngweshla in the Kennedy Vlei.
Consists of two camps: one with 6 tents and one with 4 tents, and situated overlooking a large waterhole.
10 luxury safari tents, sleeping up to 20 guests
Located between Kennedy 1 Pan and the railway line in a private concession in Hwange National Park. Opened in 1992, it’s one of the oldest lodges in Hwange and has been extensively refurbished. The luxury tents are tucked away in lush acacia woodlands and overlook a large waterhole.
Wilderness Safaris Davison’s Camp
9 classic safari tents, sleeping up to 18 guests.
Located in the far south-eastern section of Hwange National Park in the Linkwasha Concession. The tented camp looks over a large waterhole and is located in one of the best game viewing areas in Hwange. It’s named after the first warden of what was then Wankie Game Reserve.
RUSTIC BUSH CAMPS IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
There are a few remote bush camps in Hwange National Park suitable for visitors who prefer a completely authentic bushveld experience. The bush camps are extremely rustic with no facilities. You need to arrive fully-equipped for a self-catering stay, including bringing your own water and fuel.
Most bush camps in Hwange are located in remote areas and a 4-wheel drive with high clearance is required, particularly in the rainy season.
- Lukosi bush camp: located on Lukosi River, east of Sinamatella Resort
- Vhikani bush camp:
- Rhino Bar bush camp: located east of Sinamatella Resort and north of Shumba picnic site
- Salt Springs bush camp: located south-east of Robins Camp
- Tshakabika bush camp: located east of Sinamatella Resort
PICNIC SITES WITH CAMPING IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park allows overnight camping at its picnic sites. Raised platforms are set up for tents, situated overlooking the nearby waterholes.
Camping at the Hwange picnic sites is restricted to one party at a time (maximum 10 people per group). During the day, the picnic sites are open to all visitors. Bookings are made through Zimparks.
The camping sites are demarcated areas in shady spots. There’s a small ablution block at each site with running water. Overnight campers need to arrive fully-equipped for a self-catering stay.
Picnic sites with camping facilities in Hwange National Park:
- Detema Dam
- Guvalala Platform
- Jambile Picnic Site
- Kapula Picnic Site
- Kennedy 1 Picnic Site
- Masuma Camp
- Mandavu Dam
- Ngweshla Camp
- Nyamandhlovu Platform
- Shumba Camp
THINGS TO DO IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park is a Big 5 safari destination in Zimbabwe (although numbers of rhino are extremely low). The main things to do in Hwange are game drives and guided bush walks in gorgeous wilderness areas as well as bird watching and photographic safaris.
Due to severe water scarcity in the region, a series of artificial waterholes were established when the region was first declared a protected wilderness region. The waterholes are kept full with water pumped from boreholes which are maintained by Friends of Hwange. These busy waterholes create incredible viewing points with large herds of elephant, buffalo and general game frequently visiting them, particularly in the dry winter months.
Attractions close to Hwange Main Camp
- Chivasa Pan
- Dom Pan
- Dopi Vlei: a fossil river that contains Dopi Pan
- Guvalala Pan and game viewing pl
- Kennedy Vlei; a fossil river that contains the Kennedy 1, Kennedy 2 and Massumamalisa Pans
- Longone Pan
- Manga Vlei; a fossil river containing the Manga Pans
- Mtoa Ruins and water pan
- Ngweshia Pan
- Nyamandhlovu Pan and one of the most popular viewing platforms
- Shapi Pan
- Sibaya Pan
Attractions in Sinamatella Area
- Chawato Springs
- Dabashuro Spring
- Dandari Vlei
- Kapula Vlei
- Lukosi River
- Mandavu Dam and picnic site
- Masuma Dam and picnic site
- Nehima Pan
- New Inyantue Dam
- Salt Springs
- Shuma Pans
- Tiriga Vlei
- Tshakabika Hot Springs
- Tshompani Pan
Attractions in Robins Area
- Chingahobe River and Dam
- Deka River with Crocodile Pools hide
- Deteema Dam; hide and picnic site
- Deteema fossil forest
- Mahohoma River
- Mbejane Pan
- Toms River and Vlei
Attractions in Linkwasha Concession
- Inkwazi Vlei
- Makolo Pans
- Somavundhla Pan
Attractions in Dzivanini Wilderness Area
- Dzivanini Pan
- Gwabazabuya River
- Kordoziba Gate
- Limpandi Dam
- Liputi Camp
- Nata River
Attractions in Shakwanki Wilderness Area
- Shakwanki Pan
- Tamasanka Pan
- Xixi Amabandi Pan
Attractions in Tsamhole Wilderness Area
- Bumbumutsa Pan
- Reedbuck Vlei
- Tsamhole Pan
HOW TO GET TO HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
There are no direct international or domestic scheduled flights to Hwange National Park. International visitors typically fly to Victoria Falls Airport and either hire a car, book a road transfer with a Victoria Falls-Hwange shuttle service or travel with a reputable tour operator to Hwange. The national park is approximately 100 kilometres from Victoria Falls.
The other option is to fly to Victoria Falls and take a connecting flight to Hwange National Park on a private air charter. It’s a short 25-minute flight from Victoria Falls to various private airstrips in Hwange.
Local visitors usually opt to drive to Hwange National Park. Although not common, self-drive tours of Hwange are allowed.
Distance from Harare to Hwange: 8 hours (610 kilometres)
Distance from Bulawayo to Hwange: 4 hours (340 kilometres)
Distance from Johannesburg to Hwange: 14 hours (1 200 kilometres)
BEST TIME TO VISIT HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park is a year-round destination, although in the rainy season certain areas in the Park can only be accessed in a 4-wheel drive vehicle with a high clearance.
The best time for wildlife viewing is in the drier winter months between May and October. Peak game viewing time in Hwange is in June and July at the height of winter when the bushveld is thinned out and the animals congregate in large numbers at the waterholes.
The best time for birdwatching in Hwange National Park is between November and February when the migrant bird species are present in large numbers.
TRAVEL INFORMATION FOR HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Weather in Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park enjoys a warm, temperate climate for the majority of the year. Zimbabwe experiences summer and winter at opposite times to Europe.
Summer temperatures average 28°C going up to 35-40°C in the hottest months between December and January. The region experiences summer rainfall, with the wettest months being from November to March.
The dry winter season in Hwange National Park is between May to August. Night and early morning temperatures can drop to 5°C but the days are generally mild and pleasant.
Passport and visa requirements for Zimbabwe
All foreign visitors are required to produce a valid passport to enter Zimbabwe with the usual requirement that it must be valid for at least six months after entry into the country and have at least 3 empty pages.
Citizens of certain countries require a visa which can be obtained on arrival in Zimbabwe or organised before departing from your country of origin.
For more information of entry requirements for Zimbabwe, please consult the Zimbabwe e-visa website.
Vaccinations requirements for Zimbabwe
Visitors coming from or travelling to Zimbabwe through a yellow fever-infected country are required to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Ensure your general vaccinations are up-to-date. Consult a GP or reputable travel clinic for advice on the following recommended vaccinations for Zimbabwe:
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)
MALARIA RISK IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park is located in a medium-to-high risk malaria area. The highest risk period is in the wet rainy season from October to May. It’s highly recommended visitors take anti-malaria tablets for a holiday to Zimbabwe and take the usual precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.