Expert Reviews – Gonarezhou NP
Paul is a travel writer, author of the Bradt guidebook to Zimbabwe and is closely involved in promoting tourism to Zimbabwe.
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Home of the Grey Ghosts
Gonarezhou is a huge park, the second largest in the country that in recent years has reaped the fruits of a long and concerted conservation initiative. Many years ago poaching devastated the wildlife here and earned the park the unfortunate reputation of being a park where big game is thin on the ground. Elephants were so seldom seen they were called the Grey Ghosts though happily, no longer. In my most recent visit the change has been dramatic as I saw more species in my first 20 minutes than I’ve seen in any other park. Particularly gratifying is the way the elephant have become far more trusting of humans. Gonarezhou is dominated by the two vast rivers along its borders, the Runde and Save which between them provide an excellent habitat for wildlife and birds including the rather odd looking antelope, the nyala, rare in Zimbabwe. There’s plenty of plains game in the vast interior making a wonderful pantry for the big predators which include a healthily growing population of wild dog, and at the confluence of the two rivers there is an excellent lodge that has extremely knowledgeable guides to take you to the best viewing spots. Don’t miss the splendidly golden burnished Chilojo Cliffs as the sun goes down which is when the animals come to drink when the river’s flowing. The excellent Chilo Gorge Lodge caters those who seek comfort while camping and 4x4 enthusiasts will be in their element here with plenty of ‘undeveloped’ camping spots along the Runde river.