Offering An Experience Of A Lifetime On The African Plains

Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe, covering an impressive 14,650 sq km, with the main entrance located a two-hour drive or 30-minute flight south of Victoria Falls. The park is named after a local Nhanzwa chief, and was once the royal hunting ground for the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi, before being classified as a protected National Park in 1929. As you’d expect from a park of this size, the breadth of wildlife species is astounding. Over 100 species of mammals reside here, whilst almost 400 species of birds decorate the skies. Perhaps most exciting is the 40,000-strong population of tusker elephants, whose presence is world-renowned and a joy to watch day after day. The dry season (from July to October) is the best time to visit Hwange, as large concentrations of wildlife– particularly the wonderful elephant herds – descend upon the area to drink from the waterholes in order to survive in this hot and unforgiving environment. Yet, whilst the rains from December to March will see the wildlife dispersing across the park, thus making them harder to spot, the summer showers also bring forth stunning vegetation. This ensures mesmeric bird-watching opportunities as the local population finds itself bolstered by the migrants coming down from the Northern Hemisphere. Hwange National Park truly is a year-round wonderland.

Seasonal Information

January in Hwange is a very green affair. As the rains hit the desert sands, the vegetation comes to life, turning the landscape into a photographer’s dream. Generally, the rainy season consists of dramatic afternoon thunderstorms with large billowing clouds. The rains can continue into the night, cooling things down from the usual hot temperatures during the day. January is a great time of the year for birders as the migrants are in full breeding plumage to attract mates for the season. There are lots of baby impala and other animals around that are a month or two old. The larger family herds of elephants and the younger bulls have moved off into the deeper Mopane woodlands. Older bulls and some family herds remain and will still frequent the waterhole. With less competition at the waterholes now that the larger herds of elephants have moved off, it gives the smaller animals a chance to come out and be seen.

 

Wildlife

Animals like African wild cats, bat-eared foxes, steenbok, and other shyer animals are seen more often at this time of the year. Lion, leopard, and cheetah are residents and so remain in the area, but they may still be tricky to see as they patrol their territories, which can extend past the concession boundaries. Due to their daily migration over considerable distances in search of prey, wild dogs are occasionally spotted. January is a great time for photographers, with green vegetation, often very dramatic cloud formations, and clear air. Walking safaris may not always be possible as the vegetation can be too thick, which can be dangerous. Birders will also enjoy this time of year because of the increased number of species due to the presence of migrants in the area. With the mixed habitats of Hwange, the bird numbers are quite high. Daytime temperatures can go into the high 30°Cs, but with the rain, this can drop, making it quite cool, so a light jacket or fleece is advisable.

 

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