History of Hwange National Park

Read about the history of Hwange National Park and a conservation success story. Situated in the northwest of Zimbabwe, just below Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park is the country’s biggest national park. Founded in 1928, the park was historically a hunting ground for early colonists. It is now a conservation success story and a must-visit on your safari to Zimbabwe. Hwange will not disappoint and leave you inspired with an incredible game viewing experience.

 Quick facts about Hwange National Park

  • Covers 15 000 square km, about the size of Belgium
  • Home to the Big Five
  • Pans and salt licks unique to Hwange National Park
  • Zimbabwe’s biggest and most popular park
  • Formerly called Wankie National Park

The incredible history of Hwange National Park

In 1928 the then Rhodesian government, spurred by the enthusiasm of members of the Legislative Assembly such as Major W Boggie, declared the park as a reserve. It was the last retreat for big game animals left in Zimbabwe that were not under pressure from humans.

In September 1928, Ted Davison a 22-year-old official employed at the time for Tsetse Fly control was offered the appointment as First Warden. He accepted readily. In the 33 years he remained in charge of the reserve, he developed it to its full grandeur as a great national park.

The original Wankie Game Reserve, as it was first called, was proclaimed as a national park on 27 January 1950. From that time on it was developed as a major conservation and tourist asset.

Davison found the reserve in a wild state, without roads or pathways. It had only been occasionally penetrated by hunting parties of Bushmen and visiting Europeans. It’s a flat and sandy landscape that’s hilly and stony in the north. In the north, the recluse HG Robins made his home, complete with an astronomical telescope mounted on a tower. When he died, he bequeathed his block of farms to Hwange National Park. Robins Camp now houses visitors around his original home and observation tower.

 What makes Hwange National Park so incredible

The most remarkable physical features of the park are the shallow pans and natural salt licks (sodium and lime) that attract game animals from the adjoining Kalahari wilderness.

The pans comprise one of the natural wonders of Southern Arica. Most of them are 20 to 30 meters in diameter. They reach a depth of up to 1 meter of water after the rains. Strangely the pans have been created by ants and other wildlife. The ants who build ant heaps bring salts such as lime to the surface. The salts attract wild animals, especially elephants, who have a particular craving for it. Eating the ant heaps to obtain the salts, the wild animals form hollows in the ground that collects rainwater. The hollows are constantly expanding as animals eat the lime-flavoured soil, drink the water, and carry the mud away on their hides.

The largest pans have formed in the areas of the richest lime deposit near Main Camp, Kennedy, Ngwashli and Nga. The lime-flavoured water attracts heavy concentrations of wildlife. 

Observation platforms built at some pans (such as Nyamandlovu and Guvulala) allow visitors the pleasure of watching an endless procession of animals coming to drink, bath, and ambush one another in fights for survival.

The animals of Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park is the scene of an impressive wildlife spectacle in northwest Zimbabwe. A safari to Hwange will deliver astonishing sightings of the 40 000 strong elephant population as well as the other members of the Big Five, the endangered African wild dog, and rare species like roan and sable antelope. It is also the only protected area in Zimbabwe where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in small numbers. The skies above Hwange are filled to capacity with almost 400 different birds and the bateleur eagle, kori bustard and southern ground hornbill are just some of the most notable species.

The camps and accommodation in Hwange National Park

Today there is a variety of accommodation with good roads leading to most of the interesting places in the park. The population of game animals, protected and supplied with reliable, permanent water sources such as boreholes augmenting the natural supply in some of the pans, has increased widely. Discover the pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife of Northern Hwange National Park when choosing Hideaways Nantwich as the accommodation for your Zimbabwe safari. The position of Nantwich makes it the perfect mid-way stop between the southern and eastern regions of this wilderness area as well as connecting to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Situated in the northwest corner of Hwange, it is also the closest lodge to Victoria Falls.

Safari Packages to Hwange National Park

Our all-inclusive Best of Hwange Safari package provides the opportunity to traverse this largely untouched area on game drives and guided walks, marveling at the astonishing array of wildlife. There’s also the chance to combine the wildness of Hwange with the spectacular sight of “The Smoke That Thunders” on the Hwange and Victoria Falls Safari. Lying within the embrace of Hwange National Park, the prime wilderness location of Elephant’s Eye and Nantwich assure an authentic African safari in Big Five country.

Home » Tales from the Bush » History of Hwange National Park
Travelers’ Choice Award goes to Mogotlho Safari Lodge

Travelers’ Choice Award goes to Mogotlho Safari Lodge

Hideaways Africa is proud to announce that Hideaways Mogotlho Safari Lodge received the prestigious Travelers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor. Mogotlho…
“New” Elephant’s Eye ready to Welcome Guests

“New” Elephant’s Eye ready to Welcome Guests

A fresh take on African elegance is the unmistakable signature of the “new” Elephant’s Eye.
10 Fascinating Facts about African Wild Dogs

10 Fascinating Facts about African Wild Dogs

Here’s ten fascinating facts about African wild dogs, who are some of the most misunderstood animals on the continent. It’s…
10 Best Things to Do in Hwange, Zimbabwe

10 Best Things to Do in Hwange, Zimbabwe

When travelling to Zimbabwe, a visit to Hwange National Park is a must and should be part of any Zimbabwe…