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Stay Longer, Stay Remoter: Hwange

Elephants drinking at Somalisa Acacia‘s waterhole

When news broke this week that two coal mining concessions within Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park had been granted, the Zimbabwean safari industry and environmentalists swiftly responded. They condemned the Zimbabwean government for granting the concessions without due process, and implored them to reconsider the immense negative impact coal mining would have on one of Africa’s great safari areas.

One such person who spoke out was Blessing Munyenyiwa, a native Zimbabwean and friend of AAC:

Blessing, and all the others who responded, played a pivotal role in the government’s decision to overturn the mining concession permits! BBC News Article

So let’s find out why Hwange is a safari destination so worth protecting – and why’s its worth a “longer” stay.

Hwange: Overview

Hwange sunsets are among Africa’s most stirring

Hwange can be characterized as a park with wide open, uncrowded spaces with an impressive array and concentration of wildlife. In fact, with over 100 different species, it has the second largest mammal diversity of any park in the world!

Patient safariers will enjoy waiting at waterholes for elephants, and other animals to arrive
A highlight of elephant herds visiting waterholes is seeing the playful babies!

The most notable is the elephant. With over 40,000 elephants, Hwange has the second largest concentration of elephants in Africa. Thanks to the park’s numerous pumped waterholes and natural springs, breeding herds move to and fro, drinking water before resuming browsing from the park’s dispersed woodlands.

The lowest leaves of this acacia tree are just in reach for this giraffe
Sables, arguably Africa’s most photogenic antelope, can be distinguished by their ochre to jet-black coats and massive horns curving backwards

Other notable species include giraffe, wild dog, cheetah,buffalo, lion, leopard, sable, and zebra. In the park’s Sinamatella region in the north, there is even a concentration of black rhinos. This part of the park is hillier than the rest, dotted with beautiful granite kopjes and more mopane woodland.

Of the more than 400 bird species in Hwange, the Lilac-Breasted Roller is one of the most recognizable and colorful
Besides large elephant herds, Hwange has several large buffalo herds as well

The park is also home to an impressive array of bird life, with over 400 recorded species. Birding is best from rainy months of December to April, when seasonal migrates arrive. Hwange in particular is an important haven for birds of prey,like bateleur, martial eagle, tawny eagle, and the white-headed vulture.

With such a plentiful buffalo population, Hwange contains several lion prides, and of course, cubs!
If you want to see black rhino while at Hwange, AAC encourages you to stay at Camp Hwange, located in the park’s far north

The highest concentration of wildlife in the park is around the Makalolo and Somalisa concessions in the southeast part of Hwange. Predators are particularly abundant hear, thanks to the big open plains, fringed by the occasional palm tree. The Dry Season months of June to October are the best time of year for game viewing in Hwange.

Several camps in Hwange offer elevated or underground hides adjacent to waterholes that allow guests to observe and photograph wildlife

The camps we recommend the most are located in private concessions. This affords guests unique privileges, like going on night drives and walking safaris. Elephants are the animals most commonly approached, but don’t discount the possibility of approaching other wildlife, even lions. Or if you’re staying at Camp Hwange, you’ll have the chance to approach black rhino on foot! Hwange also has numerous above and below-ground photo hides, often next to waterholes. Whether you’re an avid photographer or not, there is always something to look forward to approaching the waterhole.

AAC’s Favorite Camps & Lodges

Map of Hwange National Park

Camp Hwange

The spacious, comfortable interior of one of Camp Hwange‘s 6 tents
  • Location: Sinamatella Region (Northern Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 6 tents
  • Available Activities: Day & Night Game Drives; Guided Walks; Photo Hide
  • per Person per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $457.00 // $760.00
The thatched main area of Camp Hwange, with the campfire in the foreground

AAC’s favorite camp in Northern Hwange, Camp Hwange allows guests to appreciate a remote region of the park. Guests’s focus is on walking safaris, where their guides will lead them up close to animals – including black rhinos, which are found only in this region of the park! The camp exudes rustic charm, but is no doubt makes for a comfortable stay. For guests looking to combine more than one camp during their stay in Hwange, we highly suggest combining Camp Hwange with one of the other camps listed below.

Davison’s Camp

One of the tent interiors at Davison’s
  • Location: Makalolo Concession (SE Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 8 tents & 1 family tent
  • Available Activities: Pool, Day & Night Drives; Guided Walk; School & Community Visits
  • per Person per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $395.00 // $660.00
The dining area and campfire overlook a waterhole

To access the area of the park with the highest concentration of big game at a reasonable price, look no further than Davison’s Camp. But by no means is this camp basic: the spacious lounge, bar, dining area and plunge pool all attest to this. AAC Founding Director Alison Nolting stayed here during her most recent visit to Hwange, commemorating her experience with a poem: The Collaring of Nkwele.

Khulu’s Retreat

The common area of Khulu’s Retreat is split between a lounge and a fully-stocked kitchen
  • Location: Khulu Concession (Bordering Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 2 bedroom Villa (max. 4 guests)
  • Available Activities: Day & Night Game Drives; Guided Walks; School & Community Visits
  • per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $2762.00 // $3086.00
Exterior view of the 2-bedroom villa

If your group includes two couples, parents with 2 kids, or if you just want some privacy, you should consider the exclusive-use Khulu’s Retreat. This 2-bed, 2-bath villa is located on a private concession just outside Hwange Park. As a family-owned and operated property, you will no doubt feel pampered with your private chef, guide and staff.

Linkwasha

One of the spacious, luxurious tents at Linkwasha
  • Location: Makalolo Concession (SE Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 8 luxury tents & 1 family tent
  • Available Activities: Pool’ Day & Night Game Drives; Guided Walks; Photo Hide; Star Bed / Sleep Out; School & Community Visits
  • per Person per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $540.00 // $1190.00
The common area exudes a simple elegance

Linkwasha is arguably the most luxurious property in and around Hwange. Located in the Makalolo concession, game drives and guided walks produce many superb wildlife sightings. But if you want to spend a morning or afternoon in camp, don’t feel guilty: the waterhole next to the camp is oft-visited by big game; avid photographers should be sure to take advantage of the great photo hide as well! Each tent is very spacious, with a small lounge and private veranda overlooking the plains.

Little Makalolo

  • Location: Makalolo Concession (SE Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 5 luxury tents & 1 family tent
  • Available Activities: Pool; Day & Night Game Drives; Guided Walks; Photo Hide; Star Bed / Sleep Out; School & Community Visits
  • per Person per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $480.00 // $936.00

For guests desiring an intimate safari experience, Little Makalolo is an enticing option. The stylish camp has only 6 tents. Like Linkwasha, it also has a pool, photo hide and even a sleep-out!

Somalisa Acacia

Be mesmerized sitting out on the veranda in front of Somalisa Acacia’s waterhole
  • Location: Somalisa Concession (SE Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 2 luxury tents & 2 family tents
  • Available Activities: Pool; Day & Night Game Drives; Guided Walks; Photo Hide; School & Community Visits
  • per Person per Night Rate Low // Peak Season: $520.00 // $990.00
The interior of the family tent

With only 4 tents, this is the most intimate camp in Hwange, ideal for groups of 12 or less and multi-generational families, especially those with younger kids. The Ngwana Club is a dedicated kids program that will educate and enthrall about Hwange’s marvelous ecology and wildlife. When Mark and Miles Nolting visited Hwange last July, they stayed here for 4, action-packed nights!

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