Expert Reviews – Chizarira NP
Kim is a travel writer who authored and updated over 15 guidebooks, including Lonely Planet's South Africa and Bradt's Tanzania guides.
Into the wild
Zimbabwe’s wildest and most remote national park is also its least visited. Spanning the dramatic folds of the Zambezi escarpment overlooking Lake Kariba, it is known more for its scenic beauty than for its concentrations of game. But you don’t come here for the Big 5; you come here for the bush experience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any animals. In fact, leopards are known to roam the rocky terrain. Though, I’m still yet to spy any. If you’re up for the exercise then I recommend you take a guided walking safari. It’s the best way to appreciate the sheer magnitude and tranquillity of the park. While our sightings were limited to a troop of baboon, a few small herds of skittish impala, a shy duiker, a pair of klipspringer and two old buffalo bulls which stormed away on our approach, for me it’s the sense of isolation and wild frontier appeal that I like most about Chizarira. And there’s no better way to soak it all in than with a G&T at the end of day at the Chizarira Wilderness Lodge watching the sun set over the Zambezi Valley.
Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
Zimbabwe's wildest wilderness
While it is one of Zimbabwe's largest and most beautiful national parks, Chizarira is also one of Southern Africa's least well-known wildlife reserves. Lovers of wilderness and solitude will find Chizarira enchanting with its incredible views across the Zambezi Valley to Lake Kariba. There are few tourists, virtually no paved roads and only limited accommodation options in this wild park. Somewhat surprisingly, quite a bit of money has recently been spent on upgrading the park's rundown infrastructure. Chizarira was once a black rhino stronghold, but sadly no longer and, although wildlife numbers have suffered, we did see hundreds of waterbuck and a decent array of general game as well as elephants. Nonetheless, I would say Chizarira’s greatest appeal is its scenic beauty, spectacular vistas, wonderful birdlife and wild wilderness vibe.
Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.
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Seclusion close to Lake Kariba
Lying southeast of Lake Kariba, Chizarira looks reasonably near Hwange, Matusadona and Harare on the map, but once you’re there it feels extremely remote.
I wouldn’t recommend Chizarira to anyone who’s primarily interested in Big Five wildlife-watching: there are elephants here, and some rare antelopes, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the same concentrations of animals as Zimbabwe’s flagship parks, Hwange and Mana Pools. The main reasons I like it are for its picturesque scenery, with rugged escarpments, deep gorges and fine lake views, and for its peaceful, wilderness quality. It’s also a great place to go hiking along elephant tracks and highland trails with a guide. The accommodation options are basic (one simple lodge and a few campsites), there are no tarmac roads, and very few tourists visit.