Hwange National Park

Want to experience true 'big game country' where elephants roam free and lions rule - but without the crowds? Hwange National Park, one of Africa's prime safari locations, is a lesser known gem that offers all of this and more.

About Hwange National Park

Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometers. It is located in the northwest corner of the country about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls.

An area long favoured by the big game hunters – including Selous and van Rooyen – and protected by Matabele royal decree – Hwange hosts a vast panoply of wildlife. Over 100 species of mammals and more than 400 birds (with a supporting cast of innumerable insects, spiders amphibians and reptiles) can be seen here – including the world famous Presidential elephants. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park's elephant population is one of the largest in the world. The park is a curious mixture of semi-desert, forest and open savannah, each area undergoing fantastic changes as the seasons march on. The game viewing is superb and the teeming herds of sable, elephant, giraffe, impala, zebra and wildebeest give a hint of the richness of southern Africa’s wildlife in bygone days.

The Park has three distinctive Camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella and the largest one at Main Camp.

Accommodation

Main Camp
Main Camp is situated at the main entrance to the Park. There are numerous pans and pumped waterholes around Main Camp and the area is rich in game.

Facilities
Main Camp has facilities including self-catering lodges, cottages and chalets, a camping and caravan site, bar and restaurant, grocery store, curio shop and petrol station.

Lodges
Lodges in Hwange National Park are units with one or two bedrooms, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen with refrigerator and stove, lounge and verandah. Cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery are provided.

Cottages
Cottages are units with 1 or 2 bedrooms, bathroom and verandah. Cooking facilities are communal, with electric hot plates provided. The cottages have a centrally located thatched, open dining area with refrigerators available for communal use. Normally no cutlery or crockery is provided.

Chalets
These are units with 1 or 2 bedrooms, and a verandah. Cooking facilities are available on wood or charcoal braais. Electric refrigerator and sink are provided in each unit. Ablution and toilet facilites are provided in a communal block.

Camping and Caravan sites
Camping and caravan sites have piped water to each stand. Cooking facilities are available on wood or charcoal braais. Ablution and toilet facilities are provided in communal blocks. Visitors should note that tent and camping equipment are not available for hire.

Conference Facilities
Conference facilities can be made available at Main Camp. Visitors who intend to hold a conference or an organized gathering requiring such facilities will need to contact the Central Reservation Office for details.

Picnic Sites
Camping is permissible in Hwange National Park at Shumba, Kapula, Mandavu Dam, Masuma, Ngweshla, Jambile, Kennedy 1, Guvalala,and Detema Picnic Sites. Each site consists of an enclosed picnic area (usually with shady trees or thatch cover) and a small ablution block with running water. Groups of up to 10 people may camp overnight at these areas but the sites are also open to all visitors during daytime.

Sinamatella
Established in 1966, this part of the Park was a former cattle ranch. The camp is located near the northern boundary of the Park on an outcrop, 55 metres high, overlooking a distant riverbed and grassy plain. The name Sinamatella is a distortion of the name of a local shrub called "chinamatira" which characteristically will stick to clothing when brushed against.

The Camp is approximately 120 kilometres from Main Camp. Vehicles are not allowed to travel between the two camps after 1400 hours. Sinamatella is an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ)

The Camp has lodges, chalets and camping sites as described in Main Camp. In addition, a restaurant, bar, shop and fuel are available. Apart from these facilities at the Rest Camp there are also several exclusive camps in the area:

Exclusive Camps

Bumbusi Camp
Bumbusi is situated 24 kilometres northwest of Sinamatella and consists of 4 "A" frame accommodation units, a cottage and a central lounge area. The kitchen is fully equipped with freezer and stove. A central ablution block comprises 2 toilets and 2 bathrooms. The maximum number of persons that may be accommodated at Bumbusi is 12. There are no electricity facilities available. The access road is rough, but can be negotiated by low clearance vehicles in the dry season.

Lukosi Camp
Located 11 kilometres from Sinamatella. With facilities similar to Bumbusi, the maximum number of occupants is 10. Lukosi Camp is only available for bookings from November through April.

Bush Camps
These are undeveloped sites found at Lukosi, Vhikani, Rhino Bar, Salt Springs and Tshakabika. Four wheel drive or high clearance vehicles are necessary for visitors to Tshakabika.

Nantwich Camp
The Camp consists of 3 lodges and is located 11 kilometres northwest of Robins Camp. Each lodge is fully equipped and self-contained. This remote camp is built on a small bluff which overlooks a natural pan and grassy plain.

Isilwane Lodge
This luxurious lodge is a top of the range accommodation facility overlooking an artificial waterhole. The lodge is only a few metres away from Nantwich Camp.

Deka Camp
Deka Camp consists of 2 family units, each with 2 bedrooms, bathroom and toilet. An additional facility contains a dining room, lounge, scenic verandah and kitchen with refrigerator and stove. The camp is serviced and fully equipped and takes a maximum of 12 persons. Deka Camp is situated 25 kilometres west of Robins Camp. Access is by four-wheel drive vehicles only. The camp is normally closed during the rainy season.

Robins
Robins Camp is close to the western boundary of Hwange approximately 60 kilometress from Sinamatella and 140 from the Main Camp. Through traffic from Main Camp is required to leave by 1200 hours. This camp was bequeathed to the government in 1939 by a local farmer, Harold Robins.

Attractions & Activities

  • Ngweshla Pan - the loop road is a pleasant day-drive
  • Nyamandhlovu Platform - prime game viewing area at a pumped water hole
  • Dom waterhole - an exceptional view of the African Sunset
  • Mandavu Dam - provides a beautiful viewing hide to watch animals coming to drink, 27 kilometres from Sinamatellaz
  • Masuma Dam - excellent hide for game viewing about 15 kilometres from Sinamatella
  • Detema Dam - exceptional game viewing hide
  • Wilderness trails
  • Walks
  • Fishing
  • Big Toms & Little Toms - these are viewing hides which provide excellent game viewing opportunities and are named for the farms of Harold Robins who bequeathed his land to the Park in 1939.
  • Escorted daytime walks - available from all camps for a charge to groups of up to 6 persons
  • Moonlight game viewing - available from Main Camp around the full-moon period subject to weather conditions
  • Wilderness trails - available in the Sinamatella and Robins Camp areas

The Climate in Hwange

Desert conditions are found in Hwange. Therefore in summer, which is our rainy season, temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius and more. Temperatures then drop overnight making the evenings very comfortable. The rains come during the months of November through March. The bush is much thicker and water is scattered around various watering points so game viewing is not at its best.

Winter – the drier months, temperatures can go below freezing over night but days are sunny and warm approx 20 – 26 degrees C. This is considered our peak game viewing months as animals are concentrated around water holes and the bush is less thick.  Vegetation is brown and dry but it’s now that you will see amazing sunsets as the dust in the atmosphere creates a reddish glow by night fall. We recommend heavier jackets and long trousers for winter morning and evening drives.

Information and images kindly contributed by www.ivorysafarilodge.com and www.zimparks.org