​Overview – Hwange NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip has traveled through Zimbabwe several times and is the author of more than 20 guidebooks to various African destinations.

Philip is the Zimbabwe expert for SafariBookings and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Philip is our Zimbabwe expert and author of more than 20 guidebooks to Africa.

Hwange National Park is the largest and most popular park in Zimbabwe. Easily visited from Victoria Falls, it offers excellent general wildlife viewing, including all the Big Five (although rhinos are very scarce). Hwange is most famous for its elephants, which are present in impressive numbers throughout the year, but frequently gather around waterholes in their hundreds during the Dry season.

Best Time To Go July to October (Middle and end of the Dry season)
High Season June to October (Hwange’s main area can become busy)
Size 14,650km² / 5,656mi²
Altitude 850-1,133m / 2,789-3,717ft

Pros & Cons

  • Top wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five present
  • Wide variety of animals
  • Night drives and walking safaris are available at many camps
  • Close to the popular Victoria Falls
  • Accommodation options for all budgets
  • Excellent self-drive and self-catering facilities
  • Roads that were previously tarred, and in good condition, have mostly disintegrated

Hwange NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

With more than 100 mammal and almost 500 bird species recorded, Hwange is one of southern Africa’s most biodiverse parks. Elephant numbers are staggering, with up to 50,000 individuals present at the height of the Dry season (April to October). A healthy population of up to 1,000 lions is supplemented by leopard, cheetah and African wild dog. An impressive variety of antelope includes gemsbok, sable antelope, eland and greater kudu.

Scenery

Hwange is not scenic in a conventional sense, but the immersive wilderness atmosphere of this vast park more than compensates. It stands on the eastern edge of the vast Kalahari sands and scrublands. Habitats include teak forest, thornveld and mopane woodland. There is little natural water in Hwange and animals are dependent on artificial waterholes, especially during the Dry season (April to October).

Activities

For most visitors to Hwange, the main activity will be game drives. If you stay at a private camp, guided drives will most likely be included in your package. Self-drive safaris are also straightforward (main roads are navigable in an ordinary car, but some minor roads might require 4x4 and/or high-clearance vehicle). Most camps also offer guided walking safaris, but only those on private concessions are allowed to do night drives.

Weather & Climate

Hwange has two clear-cut seasons. The Dry season (April to October) starts off warm before temperatures dip in the middle of the year. Then the heat quickly gets turned up, peaking in the blazing heat of October. The Wet season (November to March) cools things off at first with its stormy weather before settling into a pattern of hot, humid days.

Best Time To Visit

Hwange is at its best from July to October, during the middle and end of the Dry season, when animals crowd the waterholes. You will pretty much have the park to yourself in the Wet season (November to March), but animals are more scattered at that time.

Want To Visit Hwange NP?

57 Hwange Safaris

Hwange NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Paul Murray  –  
United Kingdom UK

Paul is a travel writer, author of the Bradt guidebook to Zimbabwe and is closely involved in promoting tourism to Zimbabwe.

Big Game Metropolis
5/5

Hwange, which is roughly half the size of Belgium, is Zimbabwe’s premier park, and one of Africa’s finest. It also offers an excellent, uncrowded, wildlife experience. And with 108 species, it has one of the highest mammal diversities...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Caroline Page  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jan 17, 2024
4/5

Would've given Hwange 5 stars, however we did not see any elephants which was highly disappointing since the park is known for the highest elephant population in Africa. What we did see was lovely, but the park is very wooded (not a lot of...

Full Review