Hwange National Park- a vast wilderness untamed
From Bulawayo the road north to Victoria Falls is a 5 hour drive along one of the most beautiful tree-lined avenues on earth. The road winds its way through hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of indigenous hardwood forests and woodland found nowhere else in Zimbabwe. But, between the trees, less than 4 hours up the road, you’ll see a turn-off to one of Africa’s great wildlife sanctuaries – Hwange National Park.
This is a wild corner of the continent that seems to go on forever in every direction – no less than 14 600 square kilometres of untamed wilderness.
Declared a game reserve in 1928 and a national park in 1949, Hwange today has more wild animals than any other national park in Zimbabwe. It is one of the last homes in the world for elephant, a wild playground for countless mammals and the nesting, roosting and flight zone for over 400 species of birds.
In certain parts of the park there are thousands and thousands of ‘jumbo’ strolling through the bushveld and the woodlands, grabbing branches as leafy takeaways, or making their way in slow motion across vast grasslands to find water in muddy hollows and pans where they drink, splash and plunge. If you’re passionate about elephants, Hwange is the place for you. But, even if you don’t see an elephant for an hour or two, you’ll quickly realise that the wildlife, the bird life and the vegetation of Hwange can keep you entertained for as long as you wish. There’s a good chance you’ll see a very big cat crouching in the grass, stalking something for dinner or chasing a herd of buffalo, wildebeest or impala across the savannah (Hwange has its fair share of lions, leopards and cheetahs). But you’ll also need to keep an eye open for rhino, kudu, sable, duiker, steenbok, giraffe, zebra, jackals, warthogs and much, much more. To add to this, there’s always the possibility of a pack of wild dogs on the run or a hyena or two skulking around in the shrubs and grass.
Hornbills, shrikes, rollers, bee-eaters, weavers, kites, kestrels, falcons, eagles of all types, hawks and goshawks, vultures, ducks, geese, owls, night jars - they’re all here, single, in pairs or in flocks. And that’s just the beginning - sightings in Hwange will fill many, many pages in your bird journal.
If you’re between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, you won’t want to miss the signpost to one of Africa’s most exciting and extensive treasure-houses of nature - Hwange National Park. It’s within easy reach of Bulawayo and just an hour by road from Victoria Falls.