At 14,651 km², Hwange National Park in Matabeleland is the largest national park and game reserve in Zimbabwe.
The land on which the park was constructed is arid; pans and waterholes have been artificially constructed with intensive water pumping during the dry season to aid the survival of large herbivores and major predators such as the lions.
Most of the traveller facilities are in the north while the south and southwest portions of the park are wilderness areas with no roads or travel infrastructure.
Flora and Fauna
Among the more than a hundred mammal and four hundred bird species in the park are nineteen large herbivores and eight large carnivores. Protected animals include gemsbok and brown hyena; one may also spot elephants, lions, leopards, African wild dogs, spotted hyena and cheetahs. All of Zimbabwe’s specially-protected animal species may be found in Hwange in reasonable number.
Various research projects actively observe park wildlife, including Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit (WildCRU), the National Leopard Project and Painted Dog Project.
The rainy season (late November to April) brings lush green fields, an abundance of food and the arrival of newly-born animals. The Southern Hemisphere spring and summer (September-May) can be extremely hot, while winter (June-August) brings warm days and extremely cold nights (with occasional night time frost). The dry season (August-October) offers opportunities for game viewing, as one can quietly wait at one of the few pumped waterholes in an otherwise-parched savannah.