Hwange National Park
Safari in Hwange National Park Zimbabwe has it’s own unique place in African safari. The park is situated in a relatively warm savanna region in the Matebeland North province of Zimbabwe.
The kalahari sands so rich in minerals blown from the Kalahari desert lands in the region giving the soil the richness to sustain a diverse ecology that is impressive. Two climate systems co-exist here; (a) The sub-humid climate mostly in the North and East of the Park. Salt lakes and dry forests prevail. Whilst (b) the south and west the vegetation is predominantly xeric savannah due to the semi-desert. The dry season runs over 8 months while the rainy season brings annually 110 mm to 500 mm.
The north and the west is under the influence of the Inter-Tropical-Convergence-Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ lies in the equatorial trophy a permanent low pressure feature where surface trade winds, laden with heat and moisture, converge to form a zone of increased convection, cloudiness and precipitation. The continental trade winds cause the dry season whereas the ITCZ causes rains in the wet season.
Subsequently, the region is semi-arid due to the low unreliable annual precipitation and the long dry months. However it supports a variety of flora. Native flora ranges from the dominate Zambezi Teak and Sand camwood forming the Kalahari woodlands. During rain season, seasonal wetlands form grasslands.
In the North the Mopane woodlands dominates.
Among the other sightings in Hwange national park Zimbabwe boasts of the conservation programs that have seen a number of endangered species slowly rising. Of significance is the painted-dogs, the rhino as well as the elephant.
19 species of big grazers are in the park which covers 14 650 sq km in size.
The population of painted dogs in Hwange is probably one of the larger surviving groups in Africa
Interestingly Hwange national park has good sightings for rare birds found in Southern Africa region. The grey crowned crane is one of them. The endangered southern ground hornbill is one of the big birds with a loud hose chant that could be heard miles away especially at dawn.
Other notable birds are the yellow-billed kite, racket tailed roller, black-winged stilt, kori bustard, martial eagle, and many more. The kori bustard is the biggest flying bird and can weigh up to 18 kg when fully grown.
Hwange national park does a lot of programs for conservation of wildlife and the environment. For some years back poaching has been problematic in the region but in the last decade there has been so much success stories for anti-poaching. After the abolishment of the culling programs Hwange has since seen a huge increase in the population of elephants that can be sustainable in the given environment. The Kazungula Zambezia Conservation Transfrontier (KAZA) allows free movement of wildlife beyond borders of the five countries Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This region is home to more than 200 000 elephants which is more than half the population of the African elephants.
The Painted Dog Project alongside the anti-poaching efforts has seen the population of the painted dogs steadily increasing in the last years. Injured or orphaned painted dogs are taken in for rehabilitation on a site that they are continuously monitored with the aim of releasing them back into their natural environment.
Safari and Accommodation
Apart from Hwange Main camp and Sinamatella camp, the Robins camp has self catering accommodation, camping grounds and caravan sites.
While at the Main camp and Sinamatella there is a restaurant, a shop and bar the other camps does not have the same facilities. The other permanent camps are Bumbusi, Lukosi, Deka and Nantwich.
Hwange national park has also Bush camps without facilities. These are Lukosi, Vhikani, Rhino bar, Salt Springs and Tshakabika.
If you intend to go on a self-drive it’s highly recommended to have a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle. Otherwise game drives can be arranged on all the other major camping sites. The Main camp is probably the most easily accessible from the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.