Alan Murphy
Australia AU
Nov 24, 2015 November 24, 2015

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

Category: Alan Murphy's Column

In this week’s blog Alan turns the spotlight on to Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, an often overlooked part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

Thinking about safari options? Want a bit of adventure? Fancy getting off-the-beaten-track? And how about plenty of elbow room? Hmmm…I think I know the place for you…

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park comprises, Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. However it also comprises Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe – often overlooked due to the problems in that country in recent years.

Zimbabwe: To Go or Not to Go
Let’s face it, Zimbabwe has not been a favourite on many safari-goers’ list in recent years. Understandably, the political and economic turmoil in that country is a bit frightening at times. A pity because it is a truly beautiful place with some magnificent wildlife-watching opportunities.

Although it’s important to always keep your eye on local developments and read your country’s travel advice…it’s also worth considering a safari in Zimbabwe, as the country has put a toenail on the tourist comeback trail in recent times. And with low tourist numbers it could just be the perfect time to go.

Gonarezhou: An off-the-beaten-track Gem
Gonarezhou National Park is a wonderful place to experience the splendour of a Zimbabwe safari. Situated in the southeast of Zimbabwe the park covers more than 5000 sq km and its name, ‘Gonarezhou’, means ‘place of many elephants’. If you like elephants, you’ve come to the right place.

Although hard times translated into dwindling wildlife populations in the past, the animals in Gonarezhou have made a real comeback through increased conservation efforts and repopulation programs. Quite a few species are still shy of vehicles though due to their experience of poaching, hunting and Mozambican troops.

The rugged and beautiful landscape (the richest biodiversity in Zimbabwe) make a perfect backdrop for spotting wildlife. This includes lion, leopard, cheetah (including the rare king cheetah), buffalo, giraffe, rhino, zebra and many species of antelope, including the regal nyala and if you’re lucky roan and sable.

Accommodation Making a Difference
One of my favourite lodges is in Gonarezhou National Park. Hovering on cliff edges, Chilo Gorge overlooks the Save River. Chalets have jaw-dropping views and apart from traditional wildlife drives and walks you can have a cultural experience too. Consider visiting a local village and experiencing a traditional Shangaan community.

Perhaps my favourite part of the lodge is the knowledge that Chilo Gorge is well known for its community development and conservation efforts in the area.

So, yes, keep an eye on developments in Zimbabwe before you go, and while you’re there, but a safari in Gonarezhou National Park could stay with you a long time…