Travel Guide Zimbabwe: Hwange National Park

Hwange is the oldest National Park in Zimbabwe and impresses with its stunning landscape, diverse wildlife, and rich history. The park is said to be home to the largest population of elephants in all of Africa.

Travel Guide


Name: Hwange is pronounced "Wang-ee" and was named after a tribal chief of the Rozi tribe.

Location: Hwange National Park is located on the western border to Botswana, on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert and approximately an hour south of the famous Victoria Falls.

Size: Zimbabwe's oldest national park covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres.

Animals: Hwange National Park impresses with the largest herds of elephants and buffalos in the country. Lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and cheetahs among others are represented in the predator sector. The park is also home to a variety of herbivores, including zebras, impalas, giraffes, hippos, and elands. In addition to a plethora of insects, reptiles, and amphibians, around 400 species of birds can be observed during the rainy season.

Best time to visit: The park can be visited year-round. The dry season allows you to spot the wildlife easier around the extensive waterhole system of the park. While during the rainy season, the park is greener, wildlife sightings may be more challenging due to the thickness of the bush. However, the rains bring the birthing season, and many newborns take their first steps on this beautiful earth.

Highlights: Explore the vast landscape and encounter the overwhelming wildlife on guided game drives, bush walks, and night drives.

Visiting the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Herd of elephants in Zimbabwe

Covering 15,000 square kilometers, Hwange National Park is not only the largest but also the oldest national park in Zimbabwe. With its impressive elephant population, large buffalo herds, and colorful birdlife, it attracts safari enthusiasts from around the world every year. Formerly known as a royal hunting ground, the area now serves as a refuge for Hwange's impressive wildlife, thanks to various conservation measures. Over the years, the park has established an extensive network of pumped waterholes to provide vital water sources for animals during the dry season.

Learn more about this little gem in Zimbabwe and let yourself be inspired and enchanted.

Location, geography, and climate

Hwange National Park is located on the western border to Botswana, on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert and approximately an hour south of the famous Victoria Falls.

Originally, the San Bushmen inhabited the area of Hwange National Park, where they lived in harmony with nature and relied on the large herds of migrating animals for sustenance. However, they were displaced by the warrior king of the Matabele, "Mzilikazi," who claimed the land as a royal hunting ground. By a stroke of luck, the land was granted state-recognized national park status in 1929. Hwange National Park is therefore the country's oldest national park.

The landscape of Hwange National Park varies from dense teak forests and open grasslands to vast plains and seasonal pans. Several natural water sources, including the famous Ngamo and Shumba pans traverse the park. Additionally, Hwange National Park is known for its extensive network of pumped waterholes, which are vital for wildlife, especially during the dry season when natural water sources become scarce. The park can be visited year-round, with each season offering its unique experiences.

Landscape of Hwange National Park with tree at sunset
Wild dog lays on the ground in the Hwange National Park

The rainy season

From November to March, Hwange National Park is bathed in lush greenery. As the rains reach the desert landscape, vegetation springs to life, giving the landscape a magical appearance. The rainy season is characterized by impressive afternoon thunderstorms with imposing, billowing clouds. These rains can last into the night and cool down the usually hot daytime temperatures. This time of the year is ideal for birdwatchers, as migratory birds appear in splendid breeding plumage to find partners for the season. Despite daytime temperatures often soaring above 30°C, the rains can bring a significant drop in temperature, making it advisable to bring along a light jacket or fleece.

The dry season

Between April and October, Hwange National Park experiences the dry season, providing ideal circumstances for observing wildlife. Daytime temperatures may soar, yet nights bring a notable drop in temperature. With the gradual drying of waterholes, animals gather around the remaining ones, enhancing the chances of sightings. Reduced vegetation thickness improves visibility, making animal spotting more accessible. Consequently, the dry season is the favored period for visitors seeking optimal wildlife viewing opportunities.

Three bee-eaters in Hwange National Park

Flora and fauna

Covering an area of almost 15,000 square kilometres, Hwange National Park consists mainly of Rhodesian teak and mopane woodlands, rising from the sands of the Kalahari Desert along its western border. In addition, it hosts lush seasonal wetlands and tall ilala palms, leading to a diverse and impressive array of animals.

Hwange National Park is best known for its huge herds of elephants and buffalos. The remaining species of the famous "Big 5" (lions, leopards, and rhinos) also call this area home. In addition to the famous five, a considerable number of antelope species such as eland, sable antelope, and roan can be found. Zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and hippos can be spotted in or at the waterholes.

Sable Antilope in Hwange National Park
Emu walks through Hwange National Park

With a bit of luck, you may encounter wild dogs, spotted hyenas, bat-eared foxes, and cheetahs hiding in the shade of bushes or shrubs. On a night safari, you have the chance to spot aardvarks, porcupines, or serval cats.

During the bird migration in the rainy season, Hwange National Park becomes a haven for bird enthusiasts. With a diverse avian population boasting over 400 species, it's a captivating birdwatching destination. Notable sightings include the southern hyliota, miombo rock thrush, racket-tailed roller, southern carmine bee-eater, and the endangered ground hornbill. Additionally, the park hosts a variety of birds of prey, including the bateleur, african hobby, and five species of vultures.


Hwange National Park presents breath-taking scenery, featuring expansive plains, woodlands, and watering holes crucial for wildlife survival in the dry season. Embark on guided game drives, walks, and, in specific areas, exhilarating night drives to explore the park. The park's impressive elephant herds, vibrant bird species, and expansive landscapes beckon you to escape your everyday life and immerse yourself in the present moment.

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