Gonarezhou National Park
Gonarezhou National Park is a National Park located in south-eastern Zimbabwe in a relatively remote corner of Masvingo Province, south of Chimanimani along the Mozambique border. At 5,053 km² Gonarezhou is the country’s second largest game reserve after Hwange National Park. The word Gonarezhou means “Place of Many Elephants”. It forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Gonarezhou with the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. Animals can move freely between the three sanctuaries. Three major rivers – The Save, Runde and Mwenezi – cut their courses through the Park, forming pools and natural oases from which hundreds of species of birds, wildlife and fish gather to feed and drink. As its name implies, Gonarezhou is famous for its elephants, and many of the largest-tusked elephants in the region maybe found within the Park. Lion, leopard, cheetah (including the rare king cheetah), buffalo, giraffe, zebra and many species of large antelope are also present within the Park. The rare nyala and smaller suni are two of the highlights of the Park’s smaller antelopes. In addition, hundreds of species of birds may be spotted in the Park. Unique species of aquatic wildlife such as the Zambezi Shark, Freshwater Goby, Black Bream and the unique turquoise killifish can be seen within the Park’s rivers and pools.
One of the most prominent and enduring natural features of Gonarezhou National Park is the beautiful Chilojo Cliffs.
These magnificent red sandstone cliffs have been formed through eons of erosion and overlook the scenic Runde River valley.
This park is definately worthwhile a visit whilst on safari in Southern Africa.
This unique park is a World Heritage Site, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular parks, and it is easy to see why it falls into this profile. Easily accessible by road from Harare or Lusaka (although you will need a good 4×4 for driving in the Park) or by light air charter from Harare or any of the parks in Zimbabwe.
The name “Mana” means “four” in the local Shona language. This applies to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River. These pools are the remnant ox-bow lakes that the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago as it changed its course northwards. Hippopotamus, crocodiles and a wide variety of aquatic birds are associated with the pools. As one moves northwards towards the Zambezi River from the forests on the Karoo sediments, the vegetation changes to open Faidherbia albida woodlands on the old river terraces. This vegetation gives a unique look to the area and a surreal light filters through the trees giving Mana Pools its distinctive cathedral-like atmosphere. The old river terraces are ideal areas for walking.
Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces as they come out to eat the fallen Albida fruit. Lions, leopards, spotted hyena and cheetah are present in the area, but their secretive nature makes them more difficult to see. Despite this, it is not often that the visitor leaves Mana Pools without seeing at least one of these large carnivores. Northwards, off the river terraces, is the mighty Zambezi River flowing sedately on its way to the Indian Ocean. Mana Pools is 2,196 square kilometers in extent but is part of the 10,500 square kilometer Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. This large area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area – even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.
Mutusadonha National Park
Matusadona National Park is one of several protected wildlife areas with shorelines on Lake Kariba. Some 1370 km² in area, it is bounded on the west by the Ume river and on the east by the Sanyati River. Two-thirds of it lies south of the Zambezi Escarpment formed by the 600 m high Matusadona Hills from which it takes its name.
Matusadona boasts of unique wilderness, together with water frontage of Lake Kariba. It is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhinoceros. It is commonly recognized as having the second largest concentration of wild lions in Africa after Ngorongoro Crater.
Matusadona, now holds strong populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley. Buffalo are especially prominent and herds of up to 1,000-strong often congregate along the shoreline in the dry season.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometers. The park can easily be accessed by road and air and is open all year round, although the best time to visit is during the dry winter months.
The Park hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species with elephants numbers in excess of 20,000 (up from around 4,000 when the park was proclaimed), and what is thought to be one of the largest populations of African wild dog left in the world along with Kruger National Park. Large prides of lion and buffalo are also common and you have a good chance of spotting leopard and rhino in addition to cheetah and spotted hyena. The wild and woolly brown hyena also occurs here and is something of a rarity.
The landscape in the park is diverse, with a dense teak forest in the north and Kalahari sand veld in the south. In between, open grassy plains lined with acacia lie alongside mopane woodland.
During the hot summer rains between December and March the bush becomes lush and the wildlife disperses. Between June and October, the winter months see the bush rapidly dry and thin out, all but a few waterholes remain, and the wildlife is concentrated and easy to spot.