Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe, covering an impressive 14,650 square kilometres. The Park is unfenced and extends westward to link up with the Kasane Forest and Chobe National Park in neighbouring Botswana. 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. Hwange National Park has earned a world-wide reputation for its large herds of resident buffalo, its predators & more especially so, huge numbers of African elephant. Not only is it estimated that some 40,000 elephants reside within Hwange & make it their home range, but there is a millenniums-old elephant migratory trail that runs from the Caprivi Strip through the Chobe region of Botswana, to the far south-eastern corner of Hwange National Park. Over 100 species of mammals reside here, whilst almost 400 species of birds make this a bird watchers paradise, particularly in the wet season.
Dry season game-viewing is assisted by the shallow pans threaded throughout the park. The natural salt-licks provide elephants with favourite mud holes for wallowing and sixty man-made waterholes give much needed water during the hot parched winter months when everything else dries up. Several waterholes have raised wooden hides in which you can spend many hours observing animals and the interactions between them.
The main entrance to the Park is a two-hour drive or 30-minute flight south of Victoria Falls, making Hwange a logical safari add-on to any visit to the Falls. 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, the summer showers also bring forth stunning vegetation. This ensures mesmeric bird-watching opportunities as the local population finds itself bolstered by migrants from the Northern Hemisphere. Hwange National Park truly is a year-round wonderland.
Hwange National Park is bordered by the privately owned Hwange Estate, which is home to the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. This semi-habituated herd (a clan of over 450 elephants) received a presidential decree in 1990, protecting them from hunting and culling. Hwange’s presidential elephants are now known throughout the world, thanks largely to the work and writings of conservationist Sharon Pincott and to a multitude of wildlife documentaries.
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I run Pembury’s transfer department. I have to ensure that all road transfers are booked on our system and that they correlate to flight times etc. It’s critical that clients booked on road transfers are collected on time so I have to be well organised. I look after our team of tour guides and drivers and make sure they have clear instructions so that everything runs like clockwork. It is all about systems, systems, systems!