Hwange National Park

Sun May 20, 2012 2:15 pm

Wed Feb 08, 2012

Hwange National Park is located in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe just west of the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

Size & Location: 14 000 square kilometres, Western Zimbabwe

When to visit the park: Year round

Climate: Winter - cool and dry (April to August) / Summer - hot and wet (November to March)

Image ©ngoko.com

Hwange, the largest of Zimbabwe's National Parks, covers an area of more than 14 000 square kilometres, the size of Wales in the United Kingdom.

It was declared a Game Reserve in 1928 and through a careful management system over the years, the small wildlife nucleus has grown into large herds that now roam the game park. The National Park is estimated to have more than 40 000 elephants.

Hwange is also home to a wide range of other species, one of the most rare being the wild dog (or painted hunting dog) that through the efforts of a dedicated team of experts are once again breeding and growing in big numbers. The parks also boasts 400 bird species and 107 species of game, including the Big 5.

The magnificent sable antelope, zebra, eland, kudu and waterbuck, the bad tempered buffalo, and the tall gracious giraffe are just a few of the animals which are commonly seen on game-viewing drives.

Dawn and dusk game drives and observation platforms beside watering holes provide unforgettable scenes of the natural world in its wild state.

Lions on night patrol are a common sight around the luxury hotels and safari lodges on the National Parks perimeter.

Anytime is the right time to visit Hwange. Early in the year after the rain season the vegetation is green and lush, colorful wild flowers carpet the ground and the newly born animals cavort with their parents. It is also the same time that migratory birds start their long flights home. Later on in the year, when water is sparse the animals converge at water points providing excellent photographic opportunities.

The park has 3 camps - Hwange Main Camp, Robins Camp and Sinamatella, and there are plenty of luxury hotels and safari lodges on the borders of the park.

Hwange Main Camp is located close to the main entrance in the southern part of the park. Main Camp can easily be reached via a tarred road, off the road from Bulawayo to the Victoria Falls. Here, guests have a choice between self-catering lodges, chalets and cottages, as well as a camping and caravan site.

The self-catering lodges are en suite and have one or two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a veranda. Cooking is done in a thatched communal area, where electric hot plates are provided.

The self-catering cottages share a central communal thatched dining area. The fridges are also for communal use. Guests must provide their own cutlery and crockery.

The self-catering chalets are one or two-bedroomed units, each with a veranda. Guests make use of communal ablution facilities. Each unit is equipped with a fridge and kitchen sink, and wood or charcoal braais are provided.

The camping and caravan sites are equipped with piped water to each site, and wood or charcoal braais are available. The ablution facilities are communal.

Other facilities in Hwange Main Camp include a restaurant and bar (if you do not feel like cooking), as well as a grocery shop and fuel station. Keep in mind that petrol deliveries to Main Camp can be erratic, so plan your driving accordingly. There is also a curio shop where you can buy small gifts for the people back home.
The area around the Hwange Main Camp has many waterholes and pans, including the Ngwesha Pan and Dom waterhole. The loop road to the Ngwesha Pan is a very pleasant outing, while the Dom waterhole is famous for its beautiful sunsets. The Nyamandhlovu Platform is well-known for excellent game viewing.

Image ©temba.co.za

Image ©maplanga.co.za

Sinamatella Camp sits atop a cliff overlooking an open vlei area and provides camping, chalets, cottages and lodges.

Image ©all.travels.com

Robins Camp, which lies to the west of Sinamatella, has chalets with outdoor cooking facilities, a small grocery shop, a restaurant and bar. Here you can arrange guided day and night walks with armed game scouts.

Image ©4x4community.co.za

Image ©e-gnu.com

Image ©hellotravel.com

Image ©animal.discovery.com

For reservation enquiries visit: http://www.zimparks.org/

Re: Hwange National Park

Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:07 pm

Zim weighs cost of too many elephants
2012-10-23 07:50

Hwange - A herd of elephants hobbles past a cluster of acacia trees to a water-hole deep in Zimbabwe's vast Hwange game reserve, attracted by the drone of generators pumping water round the clock into the pool.

With the elephant population ballooning, wildlife authorities have resorted to using 45 generators, each consuming 200 litres of diesel a week from June to November, to ensure the animals can get water.

The strategy appears to be working. So far this year around 17 elephants have died in the area due to the extreme heat and lack of water, compared to 77 last year.

"The elephants drink close to 90% of all the water [pumped] here," said Edwin Makuwe, an ecologist with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority,

"I think elephants now know that when they hear an engine running, chances are that there is water close by."

But the water, while life-preserving, may be running against the flow of nature.

The 14 600-square-kilometre reserve is home to between 35 000 to 40 000 elephants, twice its capacity.

The increase in the elephant population has led to higher demand for water at the park, home to over 100 different species of animals including the "Big Five": elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and the endangered rhinoceros.

Makuwe said the rise in the elephant population at the game reserve, established in 1949, had also led to the destruction of the environment.

Negative effect

"There is so much activity by the elephants that the vegetation has been affected negatively, the trees are no longer growing as fast as they should."

"[The trees] are no longer producing as many seeds as they should. In the long term this will have a negative effect on the entire habitat of Hwange."

He said the quality of the forage had gone down, with elephants stripping tree barks and digging roots for food.

"The African savannah is supposed to be a mosaic of trees and grasses. The moment you start to have more grasslands than trees it is not functioning as African savannah."

Makuwe fears small animals and insects who live in the trees risk extinction.

"If you lose the trees and you are left with the grasslands, then definitely some of the species will be lost," he said.

The authorities are yet to find a solution.

"Some people advocate to let nature take its course ... [but] we are yet to find a method which can convince all the people to accept and bring down the [elephant] population," Makuwe added.

With tourists, who have shunned the country over the years, slowly returning, there is little incentive to cull the main attraction.

In the meantime, Tom Milliken, of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said elephants in Hwange were suffering greatly due to the water shortages.

"This is the worst time of the year for elephants and we still have a month before the rains come," he told AFP. "Elephants have most stress this time of the year when there is no water."

- AFP

Re: Hwange National Park

Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:03 am

FROM A RECENT EDITION OF 'THE MORNING MIRROR' a weekly publication sent by email members
Dated 23rd October 2012

1) EDITORIAL

Mastodon Maelstrom

HeeHoo and I always get a yearning to visit Hwange Game Reserve at this time of the year. Its a good time to see the birds and animals as the vegetation is sparse, however we were just not prepared for the surreal scenes that awaited us.

We arrived at 2.30 on Friday at Main Camp, it was dry yes, very definitely, but we had seen it dry before year after year at this time. However something was different this year, something intrinsically different.

The twenty kilometers surrounding main camp, en route to Nehimba Exclusive Photographic Safari Camp, was a frenzy of elephants. There were hundreds, nay thousands, all excruciatingly thin, all in a frantic search for water, that most precious of all commodities.

Worse still, there were more dead and dying elephants than I have ever seen in all my years of game viewing. Almost every natural pan was dry, and there were giant carcasses everywhere.

The vegetation too, was reminiscent of a lunar landscape. Not a single tree or shrub had been spared, they were torn up, striped bare of all bark, not a green leaf to be seen anywhere, just a total, desolate, devastation.

I know its Mother Nature's way of keeping down the population, I know the National Parks and Wildlife folk work tirelessly to keep as many pumps going as they possibly can, but this was a natural disaster of vast proportions as far as one could ascertain.

We ventured further afield along the main road towards Robbins and Sinamatella, and were faced with further ravages to the park, fires had also taken their toll, and the normal abundant plains game was just not to be seen. A few desultory herds of zebra, a couple of giraffe listlessly searching the tops of the Mopani trees for anything, just anything, to fill their bellies.
Very few impala, not a single wildebeest, a lone Sable as skittish as the day was long.

But it was the pressure of the vast families of skeletal elephant that scared us the most. The poor creatures had to walk so far away from the existing waterholes that they were exhausted and starving, and yet it was imperative that they returned every twenty-four hours to the overburdened waterholes.

As we neared Nehimba there were even more of the great behemoths, racing from dry pan to dry pan frantically. Those pans that were pumping were absolutely clogged with eles and sadly they were fighting in panic for that most precious commodity on all the earth.

HeeHoo and I are no strangers to elephant behavior, we have undertaken ten Hwange Game Counts where we have observed these gentle giants for countless hours. Their behavior in normal years has always been impeccable. A new group arriving at a waterhole will usually stand patiently waiting it's turn at the pan, issuing the famous "elephant rumble" to advise the elephants at the pan that they are waiting so "hurry up".

Courteous, deferential, polite and gracious, as thirsty as they may be, usually the entire family would wait until the pan had been vacated by the previous herd, but not today! Running at full tilt, and believe me an elephant can move pretty fast when he is thirsty, these poor dehydrated beasts, exhausted from their weary food search over hundreds of kilometers, would barge their way into the pan, knocking each other over, shrieking in rage, squealing in frustration and desperate thirst.

We had never heard or seen anything like it before. Even the buffalo were nibbling the new acrid shoots on the trees, where buffalo are not browsers they are grazers !!

Every natural pan we passed was totally dry, or a giant mud seep, where the carcasses of elephants had died an agonizing death, stuck firmly in the treacherous mud. The Hwange operators told us tales of lion attacking weak and debilitated elephant in their dying throes, phenomena seldom heard of in Hwange.

Their giants skins hanging grey, dull and lifeless, their eyes filled with white mucous, herd after desperate herd, moms, dads, babies all trudging, running, frantically seeking their lives' blood.

This happened ten years ago in the early nineties, when yet another crippling drought ravaged Matabeleland, thousands of animals died an agonizing death, by dehydration and starvation. And as the pressure of the elephants descended on the few working waterholes, so the plains game, the cats and the small mammals are driven away by the frantic multitudinous mass of elephants.

Fortunately further south east in the park the operators, Friends of Hwange and National Parks, are furiously putting down boreholes to try and create water points in areas where there is still a little grazing, but sadly not enough and not in time.

At the delightful photographic safari camp where we were lucky enough to be staying, the swimming pool was a focal point as countless elephant came in their droves, to drink the fresh water from the pool! A great entertainment for the guests but a tragic indication of the desperation of these great grey giants.

The Loxodonta Africana, Africa's jewel, so special and yet seriously under the threat of yet another of Matabeleland's horrendous and devastating droughts.

Contact this loyal band of dedicated conservationists if you would like to help "Friends of Hwange Trust" - visit the Trust's website at

http://www.friendsofhwange.org/help

Next week I will tell you about Nehimba, Hwange's best-kept secret, an exclusive photographic Safari Camp with a great big future.

Re: Hwange National Park

Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:05 am

From the latest edition of THE MORNING MIRROR, a weekly publication emailed to their members
Dated 30th October 2012


EDITORIAL

Pachyderm Pandemonium

It seems I have been a bad girl by writing (from my heart) that last editorial about Hwange National Park.

However it was not done with malice or the express intention of destroying our tourism, it was done with a fierce and undying love for my country and all that is contained therein.

Hopefully my article will bring in floods of donations to Friends of Hwange and National Parks for more pumps, diesel and assistance.

HeeHoo and I had brunch at The Waterhole at Main Camp, which is now a flourishing little haven of peace AND if you look closely you might spot that elusive little Crimson-Breasted Shrike wearing a bright yellow waistcoat - the rare yellow morph!!

At Nyamndhlovu Pan we watched a pride of 9 lion stalk a malnourished roan antelope (unsuccessfully as their bellies were obviously full) and we spent a wonderful hour watching the four cubs trying their hardest to annoy Papa Lion.
The guard at the pan was delightful in his enthusiasm for the game at the pan, and would not let us leave until we had absorbed all the little interplays that were taking place at this magical spot.

Another very magical spot was Nehimba.
Nehimba is a newish Photographic Safari Camp in Hwange and we were lucky enough to be able to spend a weekend there recently.

It was extraordinary. We had seen Nehimba 18 months earlier when it had been a piece of dry and barren land with but a seep and an anthill to grace it, and due to a young couple's steadfast dream, a beautiful lodge has emerged like a phoenix from the ashes.

Situated about fifty kilometers from Main Camp, Nehimba is now one of the most crucial players in the area, in establishing much needed watering points for the glorious herds of plains game and elephant.

Small and exclusive, Nehimba has a very personal touch, such a personal touch that one can almost touch the elephants!

Poor pachyderms in pandemonium, their desire for water lead them right to the lodge swimming pool where there was a constant tussle with the hot but exhilarated guests!!
Great caution is urged with these mighty beasts as a wild animal is always unpredictable, but the giant gentle beasts had but one thing on their mind, the search for water.

The lodge owners have drilled several boreholes to provide relief in the area, and slowly the game is moving back to assuage their lifeblood.

Traditionally the Park is dry and devastated at this time of the year, but it has its own peculiar beauty. It is actually a seriously gut-wrenching beauty that only a Zimbo will ever understand. Stark, scary, the pinks, greys, taupes and terracottas blend brilliantly into a tapestry that takes one's breath away. Mile after mile of desolation, but mile after mile of the promise of a new dawn. Suddenly as the first soft rains fall, tiny sprigs of hope shoot swiftly and unexpectedly in a silent promise of salvation.

It's natures way - her own inglorious culling program, her own cruel scorpion twist, stark, terrible, but necessary.

Nehimba means "Land of Giants". Relax in a land of yesteryear, where strongholds of elephants roam freely without fences or restriction.

http://www.nehimba.com

Re: Hwange National Park

Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:51 am

Thanks very much indeed, ispeak! \O \O \O

Re: Hwange National Park

Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:29 pm

Thank you Ispeak... and yes, this brought tears to my eyes.

I am planning a trip up to Hwange next year with my kids and will certainly check out Nehimba. \O

Re: Hwange National Park

Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:21 pm

That is sooo cool that you guys have responded to this erudite rendition of the present state of the pre rains Hwange National Park

Expect ..... the ...... unexpected .....when you visit next year .... if there is one..... \O

ISB

Re: Hwange National Park

Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:23 am

ispeakbaobab wrote:.when you visit next year .... if there is one.....


Are you a follower of the Mayan calender, Ispeak!? :shock: O-/



-O

Re: Hwange National Park

Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:35 pm

Sorry Mods

Please move...

Think I posted in wrong thread :o0ps:

Re: Hwange National Park

Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:32 pm

Moved here Twigga:

viewtopic.php?f=237&t=1950&p=140199#p140199

\O