Located along the western border with Botswana, on the edge of the Kalahari biome, Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest national park. A journey through Hwange takes you across a wild and varied landscape of deep Kalahari sands, open grassland, woodlands, granite hills, small valleys, and magnetic water pans. Strong lion prides, leopards, massive elephant herds, hyenas, sable and roan antelopes, giraffes, and blue wildebeests are common in this wildlife-rich area. Special sightings of cheetahs and wild dogs also occur here.
At the start of the twentieth century, human presence around Hwange began to encroach onto the region. Migratory routes to areas with natural water supplies were cut off, and with this, the wildlife suffered. In the 1920s, conservationists constructed pumped water holes throughout the park, allowing the wildlife to remain in Hwange. Hwange is famous for amazing wildlife encounters around its magnetic, life-giving water holes year round.
During the dry season, natural water holes shrink, and animals depend on maintained water holes, creating an unprecedented wildlife show. Elephant herds, one hundred strong, trek through the park, and massive congregations of animals fight for space around the water’s edge. This time of year is a dream for photographers, as many camps in Hwange maintain hides around water holes, providing a unique perspective to a wildlife show that plays out before you.
In April, Hwange begins its transition into winter. By June, the temperature and humidity drop, and days remain comfortable. Temperatures average in the 70s during the day, and nights become cold and crisp. The lack of water during the dry winter months draws incredible amounts of wildlife from the woodlands to its water holes, generating unbelievable interactions and impressive wildlife sightings.
Between September and October, temperatures begin to rise as the area awaits the coming rains to welcome summer. Days become warmer and reach the 90s. With the setting sun, temperatures drop comfortably at night as heat quickly escapes the Kalahari sands. Typically, by the end of November the first substantial rain arrives. From December to April, the green season is in full force in Hwange. The landscape is colored with lush green grass, bright feathers of resident and migratory birds, and vibrant wildflowers. The start of the rains and the subsequent abundance of fresh food signal the start to the birthing season for many species, and the area fills with a new generation of young.
Hwange boasts an incredible array of wildlife with more than 100 mammals and 400 bird species. While renowned for its great herds of elephants, this beautiful park is also home to large herds of buffalo, giraffes, gemsboks, blue wildebeests, and zebras. Hwange is also one of the best places to see sable and roan antelopes in Africa. In addition to Hwange’s considerable numbers of lions, leopards, and cheetahs, it is an important stronghold for one of the largest populations of wild dogs. Its high numbers of plains game, predators, and scavengers creates constant traffic and wildlife spectacles around essential water holes, especially during the dry season, typically from May to October.