The imposing image of the elephant may as well be the official symbol of Hwange National Park. As home to one of the largest elephant herds in the whole of Africa, it should come as no surprise that - spanning an area of 14,600km² - it is also the largest (and oldest) national park in Zimbabwe.
Hwange is arguably one of Africa’s very best game-viewing destinations. This massive park and its creatures can be explored on foot, on horseback, or on a game drive. Hwange’s impressive range of wildlife - lion, leopard, rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, gemsbok, hyena, wild dog, and more - is mirrored by the diversity of the park’s environment: the sandy southern part of the park skirts along the Kalahari Desert and is dotted with semi-arid shrubbery, while the northern grasslands are thick with granite outcrops and groves of teak and mopane trees.
Laying just off the main road that runs between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, Hwange can easily be combined with a visit to ‘the smoke that thunders’. Only about an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls, Hwange is also well-served by an airport for charter flights. Hwange is best visited in the winter months - from June to August - when game-viewing is at its best thanks to wetter waterholes and sparser bush.
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting Hwange National Park
Considered a year-round destination, the best time for your Zimbabwe safari holidays depends on the experience you wish to have. The country is probably most famous for being home to the majestic Victoria Falls, the world's largest sheet of falling water and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Therefore, most visitors will plan their trip around when the Falls are in full flow, between April and May, at the end of the rainy season.
However, the dry winter season from May to October is generally considered best for game viewing. The weather is also more temperate during this time, and there's a lower malaria risk.
On the other hand, if you're visiting Zimbabwe to go white-water rafting on the Zambezi River, the best time to visit is from August to December, when the river water levels are lower. But don't worry, our Travel Experts will recommend the best time to visit Zimbabwe for your specific wants and needs.
Zimbabwe has plenty to see and do, but some activities and attractions deserve a special mention. Here are some of our favourite things to do on your Zimbabwe safari holidays.
See the Victoria Falls: Walk through the lush Victoria Falls National Park to admire the majestic Falls from 16 different lookout points.
Walking safari in Mana Pools National Park: A walking safari in this game-rich national park will give you a unique and immersive perspective of the bush and its wild residents.
Game drives in Hwange National Park: The largest national park in Zimbabwe, Hwange, is a safari lover's dream with large elephant herds, plenty of lions, African wild dogs, and many more.
Sunrise and sunset cruises on the Zambezi: Enjoy a cruise on the Zambezi, the fourth-longest river in Africa, for views of spellbinding sunrises and sunsets, hippos, crocodiles, and birdlife.
Zimbabwe safari on Lake Kariba: As the world's largest artificial reservoir by volume, Lake Kariba offers water-based activities like fishing, bird watching, scenic boat cruises, and game viewing.
Explore the wilderness in Gonarezhou National Park: Dubbed "The Place of Elephants", this national park promises exciting sightings and has a unique conservation success story to how it got to its current glory.
Few airlines fly directly to Zimbabwe. Most people fly to Johannesburg and from there connect to Harare, Victoria Falls or Bulawayo on the same day. Most tourists fly to Victoria Falls Airport (VFA), located 18km/11mi south of the town of Victoria Falls, and continue from there by vehicle or charter planes.
It is recommended to get an eVisa prior to arrival. This means that queues are reduced and that time spent at airports is minimised.
If you are planning a self-driving trip through Zimbabwe, there are some road rules you’ll need to bear in mind. People drive on the left side of the road and speed limits are set at 40 kilometres per hour in national parks, 60 to 80 kilometres per hour in populated areas, and 120 kilometres per hour on open highways. You will have to carry an international driver’s license that is valid for 90 days. A national driver’s license will also be accepted as long as it is in English.
The quality of the roads in Zimbabwe is good and it’s safe to drive here, but fuel shortages are common throughout the country so make sure you have a relatively full tank at all times. Police roadblocks are also quite frequent but shouldn’t be a hassle if you have all the right documentation.
Crossing the border between Zimbabwe and its neighbouring countries is quite easy. Border crossings are open 24 hours a day and visas (if necessary) can be issued upon arrival.
Most hotels and lodges are equipped with Wi-Fi and major cities are usually full of internet cafes. You also have the option of purchasing prepaid USB internet through Econet and Telecel.
Cellphone reception is generally limited to urban areas. While many international service providers offer roaming, it may be more economical to purchase a prepaid SIM card upon arrival in Zimbabwe. Credit or ‘airtime’ is readily available throughout the country.
If you need to post a postcard, your hotel or lodge can do so on your behalf.
If you’re planning a trip to Zimbabwe, there are some things you’ll need to know before you go. Here are some helpful hints to bear in mind:
-It is illegal for civilians to wear camouflage clothing in Zimbabwe
-If you’re travelling to Victoria Falls in the rainy season be sure to pack rain boots and a raincoat – or risk getting soaked
-Zimbabwe still has not fully embraced homosexuality and we ask that homosexual couples be respectful of the country’s regulations by means of withholding and minimising public displays of affection
Before going on a trip, it is important to consult your doctor, and take out comprehensive travel and health insurance that will cover all of your intended activities while on holiday in Zimbabwe. Here are some helpful health hints to bear in mind:
-Vaccination against malaria is recommended – consult your doctor for the necessary prescriptions
-If you’re entering Zimbabwe after visiting a yellow-fever area, you will be required to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate
If you are planning a trip to Zimbabwe, here are the most important money matters you’ll need to know before you go:
-The Zimbabwean Dollar (ZWD) was suspended indefinitely in 2009. The accepted currency is USD and ZAR (South African Rand)
-American Express, Diners Club, and Visa are all widely accepted throughout Zimbabwe, while the use of MasterCard is more limited
-If you need to exchange foreign currencies, you can do so at any bureaux de change, banks, or hotels in Zimbabwe
-Bring small denominations of currency with you since they often do not have change
-People over the age of 18 are allowed to import the following items into Zimbabwe without incurring customs duty: 5L of alcohol (of which 2L can be spirits), and goods up to the value of US$200
-The import and export of foreign currencies are unlimited, as long as declared on entry
-Zimbabwean banks are generally open from 08:00 to 15:00 on weekdays, and from 08:00 to 11:30 on Saturdays
-Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a shortage of US Dollars cash. ATM users may not always be able to withdraw the amount of US dollars they require. We strongly encourage guests to bring small denomination US$ bills with them for payments where a Visa/Master card are not accepted. Some smaller shops and restaurants as well as the craft markets do not have card facilities.
-Please note that Euros, Pounds, Pula and ZAR are also accepted in cash but exchange rates may not be favourable.