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Hwange National Park

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Travel Guide Africa Zimbabwe Hwange National Park

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Introduction

Hwange NP 1

Hwange NP 1

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Hwange National Park is located in the northwest of Zimbabwe, between Victoria Falls and the border with Botswana, just west of the road between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. It is the largest national park in Zimbabwe with an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers. It is a semi arid region with large plains of grass and savannah land where many species of mammal roam freely. Almost all of Zimbabwe's wildlife can be seen here and some species like the African wild dog are quite special, as it is one of the larger herds anywhere in Africa, along with the herds in Selous and Ruaha National Parks in Tanzania. Access to the park is easy and the Main Camp is close to the Main gate and can be reached partly by tarred road. There are two other camps as well, one of which is very remote and requires you to be fully equipped with fuel and water in case something happens along the way.

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Geography

The land on which the park was constructed is arid; pans and waterholes have been artificially constructed with intensive water pumping during the dry season to aid the survival of large herbivores and major predators such as the lions.

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Sights and Activities

Among the more than a hundred mammal and four hundred bird species in the park are nineteen large herbivores and eight large carnivores. Protected animals include gemsbok and brown hyena; one may also spot elephants, lions, leopards, African wild dogs, spotted hyena and cheetahs. All of Zimbabwe's specially-protected animal species may be found in Hwange in reasonable number.

Various research projects actively observe park wildlife, including Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit (WildCRU), the National Leopard Project and Painted Dog Project.

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Opening Hours

The park is open year-round. The rainy season (late November to April) brings lush green fields, an abundance of food and the arrival of newly-born animals. The Southern Hemisphere spring and summer (September-May) can be extremely hot, while winter (June-August) brings warm days and extremely cold nights (with occasional night time frost). The dry season (August-October) offers opportunities for game viewing, as one can quietly wait at one of the few pumped waterholes in an otherwise-parched savannah.

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Cost

For non-residents, $20/person plus $10/vehicle for day visitors, children (6-12 years) half price. Additional fees apply for camping and picnic sites.

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Getting There

The closest scheduled passenger airport is at Victoria Falls (with flights to Johannesburg); travel from there to the park is by road.

There is an airstrip in the park for chartered aircraft.

Pathfinder runs three buses weekly from Victoria Falls cross-country to Bulawayo which stop at the park en route; cost is $25-50/person and it's best to book ahead.

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Getting Around

There is more than 400 kilometres of road of variable quality within the park, much of it concentrated in the northern or northeastern portion. The main camps are reachable by 2WD vehicles, but four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles may be needed to access much of the park. Some roads may be muddy or impassible during the rainy season.

Imvelo's tourist train, the Elephant Express, makes a two hour, 70 kilometres run between Impofu Siding (8 kilometres from the Hwange main camp) and Ngamo Siding (where game-viewing vehicles make the transfer to the Bomani or Camelthorn Lodges). As the tram (a single-car sightseeing train which seats 22) uses the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls rail mainline along the northern boundary of Hwange National Park, the schedule is very much at the mercy of other through traffic which has priority.

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Eat/Drink

There are various picnic sites scattered through the touristed areas of the park. There is a restaurant/bar at Main Camp, Robins Camp and Sinamatella Camp; conference facilities are available at Main Camp by prior reservation.

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Sleep

Main Camp has self-catering lodges, cottages and chalets with cooking facilities and electricity. Sinamatella has lodges and chalets. Isilwane Lodge overlooks an artificial waterhole near Nantwich Camp. The exclusive camps (Bumbusi, Nantwich, Deka and Lukosi Camp) are designed to each accommodate a single group of ten (or twelve) people in a small group of cottage-like shelters; there are toilets and a kitchen with freezer and stove but no electricity. Access roads are primitive, so high-clearance vehicles may be needed to reach some sites during the rainy season.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 7:36 on May 1, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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