A Hwange safari offers spectacular big game country only two hours drive south from Victoria Falls.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest and oldest game park ranging over an area of 14,600 km². Its sheer size means that it offers a range of vegetation with a resulting diversity of game. This ranges, from the dry southern acacia bush bordering the Kalahari Desert to the mopane woodlands, valleys and granite hills characteristic of the north. Hwange is certainly big game country with massive herds of elephants. These are especially visible at the end of the dry season in September and October. They are joined by lion, buffalo, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest sable, roan and other antelope.
Game-viewing in Hwange Park is made easier by the shallow salt pans throughout the park. These natural salt pans offer the perfect cooling mud bath for elephants. Ultimately the pans develop into small waterholes. However because of the deep Kalahari sands, these waterholes dry up as the dry season progresses. Hwange is unusual in that, right from the park’s inception, the rangers have pumped water into these waterholes in the dry season. This means that the park is a veritable mecca for game in the dry winter months. A Hwange safari between July to October will offer plenty of wildlife as animals flock to these pans for much-needed water.
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I really liked Camelthorn Lodge for its location in the beautiful South-western part of the park and also for its extensive community development programme involving the local school. Camelthorn is a luxurious lodge with spacious chalets. The chalets are very well appointed with high ceilings, fireplaces for cold winters evenings and a roof top sitting area which can also be used for sleep outs under the stars.
Though the location is not as attractive as its sister lodge. Bomani Tented Camp, I suspect that Camelthorn would be the better lodge to stay at both in hot summer months and also the coldest winter nights of June/July where the chalet fire would be very cosy at night. (It’s also the smartest of the two camps and more expensive.)
The same activities are available at either camp: namely game drives, bush walks and visits to the community especially the local school. However Camelthorn is situated on community land and so is much closer to the village if this is important to you.
I really enjoyed visiting the school, hearing them sing their local songs and also spending some time interacting with the kids, getting to grips with the Ndebele language and also teaching them a little about my home country. If you like the idea of your tourism dollars actively going towards a good cause, then support lodges like Camelthorn and Bomani…