Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park is the biggest park in Zimbabwe and is home to one of the biggest elephant populations on the planet! Animals can easily be spotted at artificially pumped waterholes which makes Hwange one of the best parks in Zimbabwe for game viewing. From thick forest and open grassy plains to the sands of the Kalahari Desert, Hwange National Park has a variety of different landscapes where animals can be found and beautiful panoramas can be seen. The park is well known for its amazing wildlife diversity and whether you go out on game drives or simply sit at one of the waterholes all day, you will experience incredible wildlife encounters. Travel to Hwange National Park for a genuine safari experience where you can spot the Big Five and more!

  • Best Time To Go


  • Average Safari Cost

    $200-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $20

  • Highlights

    Amazing wildlife encounters, underground 'Look Up' spots for intimate game viewing, incredible photographic opportunities, self-drive through the park, many different routes to explore, guided walking safaris, excellent for bird watching.

Why Visit Hwange National Park?

Hwange National Park has an absolute abundance of wildlife to see, with its diverse land it can support many different species within different areas of the park. Water is artificially pumped into waterholes throughout the park as there are no permanent water sources. This ensures that plenty of wildlife continues to thrive and grow within the park. Animals can always be seen gathering around these water sources, especially during the dry months.

There are many accommodation options within the park, from rustic campsites to luxury lodges, which all make your experience in the park truly memorable. Hwange is a massive conservation area that has maintained the land in its natural state so if you are looking for an authentic safari experience, this is the place to visit!

Pros And Cons

  • Camps may offer night drives
  • Incredible wildlife viewing opportunities
  • Many options for accommodation
  • Great diversity of wildlife - Big Five are present
  • Great destination for self-drive safaris and self-catering
  • Roads are not in the best condition
  • Vaccinations are required to travel here

Best Time To Go

The best time to visit Hwange National Park for wildlife viewing is from July to October. This is during the dry season when animals gather around the many waterholes and can easily be seen. April marks the start of the dry season as the rains lessen and the nights become colder. The days are warm and clear with temperatures averaging 79˚F (26˚C) while the nights get very cold with temperatures lowering to about 40˚F (7˚C). October brings a close to the dry season as well as very hot days reaching over 104˚F (40˚C). There is also a lower risk of malaria during the dry season as there are less mosquitoes.

The wet season is from November to March with the most rainfall occurring from December to February. The vegetation is greener and thicker and the animals are more dispersed which makes wildlife viewing more difficult. Newborn animals can be seen during these months and it is the best time for bird watching. The days are hot and humid averaging temperatures between 84˚F(29˚C) and 90˚F (32˚C). Rainfall may disrupt activities and travel plans as the roads become very difficult to drive on. While there are fewer visitors during this season resulting in lower rates, some lodges and campsites may close down.

For our review of best time to visit Zimbabwe broken down by season see Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

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Wildlife And Birds

Hwange National Park is one of the top parks in Zimbabwe for wildlife encounters and diversity. It boasts a massive elephant population so these giant creatures are very common sightings. The big cats, such as lions, leopards and cheetah, are frequent sightings within the park as they follow herds of other animals to the waterholes. This is also one of the few parks in Zimbabwe where giraffe can be found. Many striking and interesting antelope can be seen grazing around the waterholes. Hwange is also an amazing bird watching destination with many different species to look out for.
List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe

Rare Animals

  • Leopard

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, lion, hyena

  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe

Hwange National Park has over 420 recorded species of bird and is one of the best places in Zimbabwe for bird watching. The park is renowned for its massive numbers of birds of prey that soar through the open skies. The park's diverse physical landscapes provide many types of habitats for different bird species to live in. The best time for birding in Hwange is from November to April as this is when the migratory bird species can also be found.

Endangered Birds

  • African skimmer, Egyptian vulture

Getting There And Safety


Charter planes can be arranged or are often a part of safari packages. These can take you to the Hwange National Park Airport or to the airstrips at some of the lodges. Check with your operator if this is a part of your package. It is also very easy to self-drive in a 4x4 to the park and its camps.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Zimbabwe.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Zimbabwe.

For more details about flights see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.


All foreign visitors must have a passport, with a minimum of 3 blank pages, that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Foreign visitors of most nationalities may obtain a visa upon arriving in the country. You can check whether you can obtain a visa upon arrival or if you need to apply for one in advance here.

For more details about visas see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.


The vaccinations recommended for Zimbabwe are cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is also a risk for malaria, especially from October - May, so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as bringing insect repellent.

It is better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.

For more details about vaccinations see our Zimbabwe Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Zimbabwe. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check the World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.

What To Pack

Pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and quite cold at night depending on what time of the year you go. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.

p>For more details about what to take with you on a safari see our Safari Packing List.

Do I need a 4x4 vehicle?
Yes, a 4x4 vehicle is necessary if you want to self-drive around the park. Some of the roads are in bad condition and can get very difficult to drive on in the wet months.
Gas Stations in the Park
Petrol and diesel are usually available at the Main Camp.
Are game drives worth going on if I'm self-driving?
Yes, even if you are self-driving through the park, organised game drives are highly recommended as the guides know where to find and how to look out for animals so you often see more than you would in your own vehicle.