Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park

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About Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park is the largest and one of the most famous national parks in Zimbabwe. Hwange's rich flora and fauna include sprawling savannas, woodlands, and various wildlife and birdlife species.

With the majestic Big Five and 100 other species of mammals – the park has the biggest diversity of mammals across Africa. Also, It has been renowned as Zimbabwe’s top safari draw for its large herds of elephant population of around 50,000.

The park sits close to the Kalahari Desert, a region with scarce vegetation and water. With beautiful landscapes and fewer crowds, the Hwange offers several breathtaking activities to visitors.

By visiting Hwange National park, during your Zimbabwe Safari, you can also make a difference in wildlife conservation. Your tourist dollars will contribute to conservation programs and also provide valuable income to local people.

Best time to visit

The Best Time To Visit Hwange National Park is from March to May and from September to November. These shoulder seasons boast enviable weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.


Hwange Wildlife - Over 450 species of wildlife call Cape Cod home, many of which remain in winter, including rabbit, deer, red fox, coyote, wild turkey, bat, skunk, any number of bird species, and many others.

What To Experience

Travel Guide For Hwange National Park

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Geographical area & Map of Hwange

Hwange National Park is spread over 14,650 square kilometres and lies in the northwest of the country, on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. The nearest town to the national park is Dete.

The park is part of the greater Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area that centres on the junction of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. It includes protected areas of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Angola.

Most of the area is covered by the Kalahari sands. It does have two distinct geographic zones. The northern area, part of the Zambezi watershed, is dominated by mopane woodland. Another is Kalahari scrublands drain into Botswana’s Makgadikgadi depression.

Why visit Hwange National park

As one of the best-kept gems of the continent, Hwange offers excellent wildlife and colourful bird species. Coming to the top safari activities, from walking safaris to fascinating game drives, it has a lot to offer to its guests.

So, whether you take a Day Trip To Hwange or spend more than one week, you will be ensure an unforgettable Zimbabwe Wildlife experience!

So many elephants:

Hwange national park hosts a large number of elephants famous for their massive breeding herds. There are around 50,000 elephants and some herds are made up of around 300 elephants.

Diverse wildlife:

Hwange National park boasts diverse wildlife and significant birdlife over 100 mammals and 500 bird species. With the impressive elephant herds, the park is also home to other four members of the African Big5. In addition, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, antelopes (gemsbok, greater kudu, sable and roan antelope) and many others can be found in Hwange.

There are many man-made waterholes you can find in the park and you will see animals around them, especially in the dry months. You can spot pods of hippos and crocodiles around these water holes.

World-class accommodation facilities:

Hwange National Park has many beautiful accommodations which have largely improved in recent years. Thanks to the welcoming efforts of the wildlife safaris to revive the safari lodges and camps in this African region.

There are several safari lodges in Hwange that are run by private operators and located in private concessions. You will get served by world-class facilities from them never less than Serengeti and Okavango Delta.

Best Time To Visit

Hwange National Park is a year-round Safari destination. Yet, the Best Time To Visit Hwange is from March to May and from September to November. These shoulder seasons boast desired weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.

  • If you want to visit Hwange for the best wildlife viewing, you should opt for the dry winter months between May and October.
  • The peak game viewing time is June and July months when the bushes thin out and the animals congregate in large numbers around the water sources.
  • If you are a bird lover, you should choose between November and February to visit Hwange while on your Safari In Zimbabwe. February is the best time for birding as hundreds of migrant birds are present in large numbers.

How to get to Hwange National Park

It’s easy to access Hwange National Park in various ways. The close distance Victoria Falls Airport is the most accessible way to enter Zimbabwe by air.

By Air-

Regular flights connect from the city of Johannesburg to Victoria Falls Airport (VFA). Victoria Falls connects Hwange with the rest of Africa through connecting flights.

Domestic Flights-

Domestic flights between parks are usually incorporated into your Zimbabwe Safari Packages and are most often booked by your tour operator. Hwange is not connected by any scheduled flight.

By Road-

Land transfers from the airport are the only way to reach the Hwange National Park via car rental drive. The weekly buses also travel to Botswana with a stop at the border of Hwange.

Travellers can reach the main camp side on a tar road which is located 200 km south of Victoria Falls. It takes hardly 3 hours to get into the park.

To visit some other camps deeper in the park, especially in the rainy season, a 4WD vehicle might be needed.

The Distance from Harare to Hwange

The Distance from Harare to Hwange

The Distance from Bulawayo to Hwange

4 hours (340 kilometres)

Distance from Johannesburg to Hwange

Distance from Johannesburg to Hwange

Main Attractions of Hwange National Park

Hwange national park is a place of many breathtaking attractions. Visitors come here to enjoy the safari and see the rich diversity of wildlife and birdlife that calls the park home. Apart from that the park is also well-known for its archaeological and historical sites.

Excellent Wildlife game:

Hwange National Park is an excellent wildlife area that boasts over a hundred great and small animal species. In the park, you can see a variety of wildlife games, predators, and some unique animals that can’t find anywhere else.

Hwange is home to one of the largest elephant populations in the whole of Africa. The Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe and is well known for its abundance of wildlife and birdlife.

Abundant of Bird species:

Hwange National Park is home to around 400 bird species including some unique and endangered species. In the warmer season, Hwange hosts many migratory birds including Southern Ground Hornbill, the Martial eagle, Cape Griffon, Dickinson’s kestrel, and many others.

Archaeological and Historical sites:

Apart from wildlife and birdlife, Hwange has also some famous archaeological, cultural, and historical sites like the Bumbusi National monument. There are also many amazing landscapes that are worth visiting such as Chivasa Pan, Tshakabika Hot Springs, Nehimba Pan, and Masuma Dam as well.

Excellent photographic opportunities:

Hwange also offers a great opportunity for excellent photography because of its diverse landscapes. It’s like heaven for wildlife and nature photographers. It offers picturesque views of nature and stunning wildlife games as well.

Animal conservation:

Like many other national parks in Zimbabwe, Hwange is always alert on the conservation process. It works on both wildlife and nature conservation. Here you can see the painted dog conservation centre and like some others.

Hwange was on the hot conservation discussion in the last few years after the death of Cecil, the Lion. This news raised awareness of the issues of wildlife conservation in Africa. Read more about Zimbabwe wildlife conservation.

Entrance fees & rates of Hwange National Park

The Hwange National Park is located in the southwest of Zimbabwe. Its main entrance is located 2-3 hours of drive or 30 minutes of air journey south of Victoria Falls.

Entrance fees of Hwange are quite reasonable:

Citizen: Adult

USD 5.00 per day

SADC: Adult

USD 15.00 per day

Non-resident: Adult

USD 20 per day

Private Vehicle Fees:

Locally Registered Vehicles

Locally Registered Vehicles

Foreign Registered Vehicles

USD 10.00 per day

Travel Tips for Hwange National Park

You need to ware about some essential travel information to visit Hwange while on your Safari To Zimbabwe. These help you to travel in this iconic park, at its fullest.

  • Most of the park’s roads are fit for driving with 2×4 vehicles.
  • There are many options available to stay that suit a range of budgets-everything from safari camps to luxury safari lodges.
  • Apart from the guided drive and self-drive, you can also prefer horseback safaris for game viewing.
  • Hwange is a year-round safari destination and is also accessible in the wet season between November to April. Although it’s hard to spot big games during this time, it’s the best time for birding safari.
  • Though October comes under the best time to visit Hwange, it’s also the hottest month of the year. So, it can be quite difficult for those sensitive to hot weather.

Things to do in Hwange National Park

When Traveling To Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park is a must-visited safari destination on any Zimbabwe Safari Packages. Here, you can explore many amazing safari experiences while visiting Hwange. Here are some must-do activities-

Game drives in Hwange National Park:

Like other national parks in Africa, Hwange also offers the traditional game drive for the best safari experience. No visit to Hwange can be completed without a game drive.

The morning game drive is most attractive because of more wildlife sightings. It starts early in the morning between 6 am and gives the chance to witness many wildlife games.

There is a full-day game drive one can do between 6 am to 6 pm and can encounter the Big Five who roam freely in the park.

Bird Watching in Hwange:

Hwange National Park hosts a good concentration of birdlife that attracts thousands of bird enthusiasts. Around 400 bird species including some migratory birds can be seen in Hwange making it a twitcher’s paradise.

Just keep your eyes open and look up to the sky and you never miss out on the incredible sightings of many eye-catching bird species.

Visiting the Painted Dog Conservation Center:

Wild dogs are called painted dogs having roamed through many countries. Their numbers are dropping down slowly from around 50, 000 to only 3,000. This huge drop in numbers resulting the loss of natural habitat.

The Painted Dog Conservation Center in Dete, Zimbabwe is like heaven for them. It works intending to address the real issues through the protection of orphaned wild dogs. It also provides education and development projects for the growth of the local communities.

Village tour experiences:

To develop tourism in the Hwange District, steps have been taken to visit local villages around tourist destinations. So, while you are on your Zimbabwe Safari to Hwange National Park, you should go on a cultural visit. Through this, you can learn more about the local people and their epic cultures.

Their hand-made craft and arts will teach you more about their skill and intelligence. Purchasing these things, empower them to support their families.

Wildlife sightings

Hwange has a good wildlife concentration with over 100 mammals, around 400 bird species, and 100 tree species.

  • It is famous for its large elephant herds which travellers can encounter in the park.
  • There is also a significant population of African Painted Dogs (Wild Dogs) and the population of Hyena and Gemsbok as well.
  • When lions are common to encounter, leopards and rhinos are luckily seen.
  • Apart from these, many other animals can be seen including giraffes, sable, eland, waterbuck, zebra, warthog, baboon, and cheetahs.
  • Hwange is also an ideal, place for birds including around 400 species. You can spot the iconic ground-dwelling kori bustard and crowned cranes dancing during the mating season as well.

Safari Game Drive in Hwange National Park

Game Drives through the park focuses on all of the plant and animal species found in the area. You will be led by our experienced guide who knows everything about the Hwange and is passionate about every living creature around. He will educate you on details ranging from the smallest insects to the tallest trees. His efforts ensure the experience you get would be a lifelong memory.

  • Hwange is one of the few renowned elephant sanctuaries left in Africa. So, going for a game drive to spot the elephant herds around the muddy waterholes is best among all game drives.
  • The park is home to myriad four-legged residents that you will encounter while on a game drive. It includes all the members of the Big Five, elegant giraffe, swift cheetah, and striped zebra.
  • At the time of the dry season in Hwange, lions are cached hunting the majestic elephants. This rare phenomenon is simply surprising at that time.
  • The cold months of the game drive take the tourists to spot the calving of wild dogs. It’s astonishing to see their increasing number with the arrival of the puppies.
  • After the full-day game drive, begin the evening tour by indulging in decadent African delicacies under the dazzling sky. Witness the nocturnal species and enjoy the wilderness at night.

What types of travellers would enjoy the Hwange NP

Travellers who want to experience Victoria Falls along with a wildlife-rich park will love the proximity of Hwange. It is one of the most visited landmarks in the world.

Family Safari To Hwange offers many game viewing facilities suitable for every age. For those looking for a self-drive, Hwange is the best option to roam in the wild with their own company.

Accommodation Options in Hwange

There are many options for private lodges both inside and outside of the park which provide fully-inclusive rates. There are wildlife Management Authority Camps inside the park and they have self-catering cottages and wildlife campsites.

Amalinda Collections

The Amalinda Safari Collection is set in the remote wilderness area of Hwange National Park. It offers luxury intimate safari experiences to tourists. Their Driving You Wild touring service offers reliable, safe, and responsible transfers throughout Zimbabwe. The passionate and experienced guide will get you to know more about the flora and fauna of Hwange.

Bomani Tented Camp

To experience great year-round game viewing in Hwange, you need to look no further than Bomani. It always prefers to plan your safari time around you and offers luxury services to the guests.

Let us arrange a travel package to meet your budget if you are heading on a Zimbabwe Safari.

Visit Hwange with less crowd, and magnificent sightings!

What makes Hwange so special is its fewer crowds, giving the chance for an intimate Zimbabwe Safari Experience. All of its biodiversity, enormous elephant herds, and ease of game viewing make the park an authentic safari destination in Zimbabwe.

best month to Visit Hwange National Park

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Hwange in January

January in Hwange is a very green affair. As the rains hit the desert sands, the vegetation comes to life turning the landscape into a photographers dream. Generally, the rainy season consists of dramatic afternoon thunderstorms with large billowing clouds. The rains can continue into the night, cooling things down from the usual hot temperatures during the day.

January is a great time of the year for birders as the migrants are in full breeding plumage to attract mates for the season. There are lots of baby impala and other animals around that are a month or two old. Larger family herds of elephant and the younger bulls have moved off into the deeper Mopane woodlands. Older bulls and some family herds remain and will still frequent the waterhole. With less competition at the waterholes, now that the larger herds of elephants have moved off, it gives the smaller animals a chance to come out and be seen.

Hwange in February

The rains continue into February keeping everything green and alive. The rains still fall mainly in the afternoons in the way of dramatic thunderstorms which can make for some exciting afternoon and night-time viewing. With the rains come more surface water in areas deeper in the Mopane woodlands, this tends to draw the larger herds of elephant away from the waterholes in the vleis. Smaller family herds and older bulls still remain and will still frequent the waterholes.

With the larger herds out of the way, it opens up opportunities to see some of the smaller, shyer animals like African wild cats, bat eared foxes, steenbok and if you are very lucky, aardvarks. The predators are territorial and so remain in the area patrolling their boundaries. Lion remain the most commonly seen big cats, but the leopard and cheetah are still around. However, with the thicker bush, it makes it slightly harder to see them. Wild dogs move huge distances each day and so there is a chance to see them in February if they are in the area.

Hwange in March

March sees less and less rain as the dry season approaches. When it does rain, it is usually in the form of an afternoon thunderstorm which can be quite dramatic with an impressive lightning show! The rains cool the temperatures down, and so a light fleece or jacket is recommended. The larger herds of elephants remain in the thicker Mopane woodlands where there is enough surface water to ensure less competition at the main waterholes. Older bulls and smaller family herds remain in the area and still frequent the waterholes.

With the larger herds out of the way, smaller, shyer animals make an appearance including bat eared foxes, steenbok, African wild cats and if you are very lucky, aardvarks. Lion & leopard and cheetah are territorial and so remain in the area patrolling their boundaries and so can still be seen. Lion, leopard and cheetah are sometimes hard to see with the thick bush.

Hwange in April

April is a transitional month as the rains slow and we move into the dry season. The vegetation remains lush and green and there are still the occasional afternoon thunderstorm to cool things down. The larger herds of elephants remain in the thicker Mopane woodlands, although smaller family herds and older bulls remain in the area and still frequent the waterhole.

With the larger herds out of the way, it opens up opportunities to see the smaller, shyer animals like bat eared foxes, steenbok, African wild cats and if you are very lucky aardvarks. The large predators remain in the area patrolling their territories, although leopard and cheetah are harder to see as they are shyer than the lions.

Hwange in May

May is traditionally the start of the dry winter season and so the chance of rain is minimal. Temperatures can drop to below freezing on rare occasions and so you need to be prepared for that, especially towards the end of the month. As the surface waters in the Mopane woodlands start to dry up, so we start to see more and more elephants frequent the waterholes in the vleis and in front of both camps.

Towards the end of the month the vegetation starts to dry up which can make it easier to see the animals. Lion remain the most commonly seen large predator, although leopard are in the area as they patrol their territory boundary. Cheetah are sometimes spotted too. Wild dogs will start to look for a den site closer to the end of the month.

Hwange in June

June is traditionally the dry season which can make it some of the best for wildlife sighting as the bush thins out and the surface water dries up. It is also the start of winter, which means temperatures can drop especially at night. Very warm clothes are recommended, especially for the morning and evening game drives in open vehicles.

Being a desert environment the temperature range can be extreme as the sands of the Kalahari do not retain the warmth from the day. When it is very cold the animals tend to stay in the thicker bushes until things start to warm up. The larger herds of animals start to make their way to the permanent waters of the waterholes along the vleis as the surface waters in the thicker Mopane woodlands start to dry up.

Hwange in July

As we move deeper into the dry season, we start to see more and more herds of elephants as they make their way from the drier areas of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Hwange has permanent waterholes that are pumped which attracts and also keeps the herds in the area through the dry season. The waterholes attract more and more elephants as the surface water dries up in other areas.

This can make for some spectacular elephant interactions and close up viewing from the camps in the area. It is not just the ellies that come to the waterholes in camp as things dry up. The waterholes attract lion, kudu, zebra, buffalo and if you are very lucky wild dog and even leopard. Wild dogs have denned, but are still reliant on the site as they need to return to feed the pups as they are too young to leave.

Hwange in August

August is probably one of the busiest months in the park as it is peak dry season and great for game viewing. The elephant herds continue to grow in size at the waterholes, making for some up-clode viewings from the camps in the area. As the surface water in the bush dries up, so we see more and more animals frequent the waterhole. Zebra, impala, kudu, buffalo and sometimes lion, leopard and wild dog can all be seen drinking from the waterholes.

The bush is really thinning out now making it easier to spot the animals and also making August one of the best months for a walking safari. The wild dogs traditionally start to leave the den site and move greater distances in search of prey, which can make sightings less frequent. Lion remain the most commonly seen predator.

Hwange in September

September is the peak of the dry season. The bush has completely thinned out and there is very little to no surface water for the animals which makes them more reliant on the waterholes that are pumped on a daily basis. Huge herds of elephant can be seen at pretty much every waterhole in the park.

This makes for some very exciting elephant interaction as herd after herd move down to have their turn. Buffalo, zebra, impala, kudu and sometimes lion and wild dog can also be seen drinking from the waterhole, making this the place to be for the action. Lion remain the most commonly seen predator, although leopard and cheetah are in the area, they are shyer and so tend to hide away.

Hwange in October

October is the very end of the dry season which makes this one of the best for wildlife viewing as there is no surface water around meaning the animals rely heavily on the pumped waterholes. Huge herds of elephants are seen at every waterhole, including those in front of the camp in the park. There seems to be a constant flow of elephants and other animals from the woodlands and sand dunes around camp, down to the waterhole.

This can be a very interesting time to see the interaction of different elephant herds as well as different animals species as they fight for their space at the water. Lion, buffalo, zebra, impala, kudu and occasionally wild dog can be seen at the waterholes throughout the month. Lion remain the most commonly seen predator, although leopard and cheetah are in the area, they are shyer and so tend to hide away.

Hwange in November

November is a transitional month as we move from the dry, hot season into the rainy season. The rains are sporadic and generally start around the middle of the month. Afternoon thunderstorms cool things down, clear the air and cause the desert to transform into a green oasis. When the rains do start the surface water that collects in pans around the park means the animals tend to move deeper into the Mopane woodland where there is less pressure from other animals.

Smaller family herds and older bull elephants remain and still frequent the waterholes in front of the camps. This is a great time to see lots of baby elephants which are born around the start of the rains. It is fascinating to watch them as they try and keep up with the adults, but also learn how to use their trunk to drink. Towards the end of the month the impala will start to drop their young which can be an exciting time to travel as hundreds of babies can be seen waddling around in the nurseries.

Hwange in December

December is the true start of the rainy season, this usually means afternoon thunderstorms that cool things down, clear the air of dust and turn the vegetation green. The larger herds of elephants have moved deeper into the Mopane woodlands, although some of the smaller family herds and older bulls remain and still frequent the waterholes.

As the elephant numbers drop, so you will start to see some of the smaller, shyer animals like African wild cats, bat eared foxes, steenbok and if you are lucky aardvarks. Lion and leopard are territorial and so remain in the area to patrol their boundaries. Lion remain the most commonly seen predator, although leopard and cheetah are still seen occasionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Hwange National Park enjoys a warm temperature for the maximum time of the year. Zimbabwe experiences summer and winter seasons at the opposite time to Europe.

During the summer, the average temperature remains 28°C and goes up to 35-40°C in the hottest months between December and January. The park experiences dry rainfall during the wettest month between November to March.

During the dry winter season between May and August, the night and early morning temperature drop around 5°C. However, the days are generally pleasant and feel the normal temperature.

Hwange National park stretches an area of over 14,651 square kilometres. It is considered the largest national park in Zimbabwe.

Yes, you can spot the Big Five in Hwange, though black and white rhinos are extremely rare to spot. The park is well known for its large breeding elephant herds, with around 50,000 estimated population.

You will also witness other members of the Big Five including lion, buffalo, leopard, and cheetah in Hwange National Park.

Hwange National park is best known for its significant elephant population. You can spot them in large numbers around the waterholes during the dry season.

Yes, Hwange National Park is a safe safari destination in Zimbabwe. If you are travelling on an organized safari tour, you will feel free of any obstacles.

Though self-drive safari is allowed in Hwange, it’s better to consider the road conditions and safety before going.

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