Game Warden

Let's talk Hwange National Park. (Zimbabwe)

28 posts in this topic

So who has been, where did you stay, how was the accomodation and tourist infrastructure? What sightings did you have? What are you recommendations for Hwange National Park? Feel free to post anything which you think will be of interest to those visiting below, including photos.

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Any ideas here.

I am thinking of going there this November.

Any input appreciated.

Thanks Thomas

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We stayed at Little Makalolo for four nights the end of August 2010. We had great game viewing including one night after watching a male cheetah off and on, we saw it take down a juvenile wildebeest. We went back the following morning to find it just having finished the meal. Some of the game drives involved what seemed like a long time to get where we were going, but worth it. Lion, sable and of course the elephants. Our guide was great although no longer at the camp. We would return to the area.

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@@Wild Dogger No clue about November - The W-S newsletter often showed very good sightings during this month both for general game and predators. I visited in August 2012 for 3 nights and stayed at Somalisa- their own concession is smaller than W-Ss and most game drives were outside the concession. I was told rhino sightings (white rhino was seen here with some respectable regularity) has really dropped due to poaching. The whole viewing in Hwange is built around the concept of 'pumping water holes' so not sure if early rains will cause quite a bit of dispersal. Its an elephant paradise around the water holes in dry season. Sables, zebras, giraffes, roan, kudu, buffaloes. Lions are easy to see. Cheetahs and leopards quite difficult. No offroading-even in the private concessions.

 

The flat landscape and water pans can make for great ele sunset pictures. I saw

 

-same pride of lions feasting on 2 ele calf on subsequent days

-lions mating

-giraffes drinking, sable drinking, eles drinking, kudus drinking, wild dogs drinking, zebras drinking - water from the water holes

-Really good elephant dynamics

-good birding

-the scenery for me took a while getting used to but by the end of 3 days it was quite beautiful.

-Another very big pride of lion curiously inching toward an elephant that had died of natural causes

 

 

Hwange is the only park where wild dog numbers have decreased in recent years. So far the PDC estimated around 50 dogs in a park thats 14k sq km which is very low density and they are spread out wide. However recently they reported sightings of a new pack they had not seen. The areas around Sinametela -where hardly any private camp vehicle goes on a full day is supposed to be good for rhinos cheetahs and dogs but you would need to camp here- they have decent infrastructure for camping as well.

 

Early-mid August can still get quite cold- in 2012, early August saw temps going in sub zero celsius and mid August when I was there to 1-5 degrees celsius. End August-early September is probably the best time though if rains are delayed early November should not be bad- there are 40k elephants there so you would still see many together I guess.

 

With the off-roading rules, I am skeptical of taking a chance in the start of the rainy season but the pics I have seen on W-S site/fb page in green season look lovely.

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@@Wild Dogger Somalisa camp is great as is The Hide,but November is not a good time for a European tourist to visit Hwange as it is very hot and dry.Unless you can tolerate heat I would not advise this time of year,good game viewing though.

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Thanks all.

Heat will not be a problem.

Any reviews on Davison´s Camp?

Thomas

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I will just add the 2 things I know as I was planning to stay there but didnt- they dont offer a PV but Nov is not busy so you might not want one anyways. And secondly I would just ask the TA to ask W-S directly if the gamedrive loops have any restrictions in accessing the entire W-S concession as they have 2 other camps in that concession and Davison's is an Adventure camp. I have stayed in one Adventure Camp and in others had a PV so not a fair comparison but I found the Kalahari Plains Camp a bit inflexible but that could be because I am comparing to PV experiences.

 

One more thing depending on if its important to you or not is how flexible they are in visiting the park ( like say a full day drive ) outside and further away from the concession.I have never really heard anything negative about the camp per se when I was researching it.

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My husband and I stayed at Little Makalolo last October. Loved it, but it was my first safari. Game viewing was great. Aardwolf, oryx, roan, sable, wildebeest, giraffe, buffalo, cheetah, lions, ostrich, and of course lots of elephants. We met someone in Cape Town who stayed at Davisons and they had a great time.

 

I would not count on seeing any rhinos. We had a talk by one of the rangers about the rhino situation in Hwange and there are not many there. I don't remember the number we were told, but it was not many.

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@@Double Dare the rhino in Hwange are mostly found near Sinematella camp further north from where you were,better vegatation for them and mostly black rhino found there.

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We were at somalisa sept 2011. Unfortunately there was a huge wild fire in the area so most of the game had left. Amazing for eles though (drinking the pool) and good roan and sable numbers

 

Wasn't very impressed with the management (but maybe that has changed)

 

Would like to go back, but can't see it happening anytime soon with the political situation

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Posted (edited)

Did a bit of reading about this place and found it interesting, also had a few queries.

1.) Are Brown Hyaena (and to a lesser extent other Kalahari dwellers like Gemsbok) in the park? Confirmed by a good source? From all trip reports I've read I haven't seen a mention of one, only that they're apparently there? Davison in his book on Hwange (back when it was known as 'Wankie') photographed one but that was in 1930...
2.) What are general carnivore numbers / sightings like?
3.) It seems to be described (well, on Wikipedia...) as a transition between the Kalahari and the bushveld - is this a good description? Or is it more similar to other parks and more bushveld-like?

Edited by Big_Dog

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@@Big_Dog

 

1) As far as I know, Gemsbok is sighted every now and then, whilst I have not heard of Brown Hyena, Springbok and Red Hartebeest

 

2) I do not know about exact numbers of predators in Hwange, but lion prides tend to be fairly large

 

3) Hwange is a big park, and there are differences between the north (moister) and the south (drier) and the west (drier) and the east (moister and gently climbing towards the park's borders and beyond). Vegatation wise, you have Kalahari sandveld in the SW, leaving space to open plains in the SE. Beyond that it is mostly mopane woodland and scrub, but there are quite large patches of acacia woodland in the north and teak forests in the west.

 

This is what I recall, at least - I have not been there in 21 years, but I will be back in August.

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@@Paolo - Thanks, great response. Is game viewing good in south and western parts, with a lot of open space despite dryness?
Hopefully your August trip will result in a trip report! :)

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We saw gemsbok in October 2012. Our guide was excited as he said they are not often seen.

 

The photo was taken from very far away.

post-17536-0-76016200-1391971982_thumb.jpg

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@@Big_Dog

 

Not sure about the SW, but the SE part of Hwange is very good, and it is where you find some of the better known camps, like Makalolo/Little Makalolo, Somalisa and Davison's.

 

Apart from a few hours around Main Gate and in the Sable Valley (just to the east of the central part of The ), it is also where I have spent ny time in Hwange.

 

But this year I am heading in the Shumba Pan area in the center - north, since lately this has been the area favoured and recommended by many top Zim guides - besides the fact that I have never been!

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@@Paolo when are you going to Shumba? I will be there in September. Good to know that it's being recommended as it wasn't my first choice in the area (my first choice was Masuma which was already booked up more than a year in advance). Are you going on an organized trip?

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Posted (edited)

@@cheetah80

 

I will be staying at Camp Hwange, which is close by to Shumba Pan. I will spend three nights there (August 10, 11 and 12) coming from Gonarezhou and moving to Mana thereafter.

 

We will be on a private safaris guided by Craig Van Zyl, who will also be our pilot throughout the trip.

Edited by Paolo

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@@Paolo, that sounds awesome & with Craig as a guide too ... wow! We'll be self-driving & going to Mana afterwards too. Can't wait to hear your stories, something tells me it's going to be special!

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@@cheetah80

 

Last time I was with Craig in Matusadona and Mana (2011) it was very special indeed. Hopefully it will be the same this coming August.

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@@Paolo & @@cheetah80 ~ I've visited Shumba many times during the 1990's. When it's on it's very, very good but it can get quiet at times. I must admit the best time I'd seen it, there had been an early dry season fire and then a localised thunderstorm had the grasses producing green shoots.

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I've been to Hwange before, and stayed at Somalisa camp for four days. I saw an incredible battle between elephants, and baboons for the waterhole. The baboons won it initially, but the elephants realized that they had been outsmarted chased the baboons out!! It was an amazing spectacle.

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@@cheetah80

 

I will be staying at Camp Hwange, which is close by to Shumba Pan. I will spend three nights there (August 10, 11 and 12) coming from Gonarezhou and moving to Mana thereafter.

 

We will be on a private safaris guided by Craig Van Zyl, who will also be our pilot throughout the trip.

Paolo Im in the process of booking Zimbabwe..Can I ask if you booked with Craig Van Zyl directly or did you go through an agent...?

Is it a walking safari mainly you are going on with him..Im trying to decide whether to book a package through one of the agents or through one of the good guides directly...Any info would be much appreciated..

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@@RichB

 

I replied on the Mana thread re the walking/driving.

 

I am about to send you a PM with Craig's contacts.

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@@Geoff

 

Thanks.

 

As far as I know Shumba area has been quite consistent in terms of game viewing over the past few years (during the dry season - forget it in the summer) and has become a favourite amongst several Zim guides that previously were using more Makalolo/Somalisa.

 

Anyway, we will explore a bit out of Camp Hwange - it will be a new area for me, and I hope some of the pans in that part of Hwange will be "on".

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sombody who was there in raintime?? i like to drive there in february.....

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