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Stay Longer, Stay Remoter: Hwange Safari

February 24, 2023 Stay Longer, Stay Remoter

Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest national park and famous for its large herds of elephant and buffalo. Imagine a day of morning and afternoon game drives, a walking safari tracking lion, or an afternoon spent in a wood-pile hide at the edge of a watering hole photographing iconic Hwange elephants silhouetted against the setting sun then Hwange.

The northern part of Hwange is mudstone and basalt occupied by Camp Hwange and Kazuma Trails, and the southern part is Kalahari sand veld – occupied by Somalisa, Little Makalolo, Davisons and new Linkwasha. The wilderness area of Makalolo/Linkwasha in the southeastern part of the park is excellent for seeing a great variety of game.

So let’s find out why a Hwange safari is 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 from, 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, have ochre to jet-black coats and massive, backward-curving horns

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, 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, you should 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 offer elevated 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. Now, here are our favorite lodges and camps for a Hwange safari.

AAC’s Favorite Camps & Lodges

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

The main area overlooks a waterhole

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, by private guide and owner Dave Carson’s design. 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

View from one of the tents at Davison’s Camp

  • Location: Makalolo Concession (SE Hwange)
  • # of Rooms: 8 tents & 1 family tent
  • Available Activities: Pool, Day & Night Drives; Guided Walk; School & Community Visits

Elephants like to hang around camp

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 there during her 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

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.


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

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

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

Somalisa Acacia

It’s mesmerizing how close you can get to elephants

  • 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

One of the tent’s interiors at Somalisa Acacia

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. Somalisa Acacia’s 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, they stayed there for 4, action-packed nights!

Sable Valley

The journey has come full circle – Sable Valley Lodge is open and welcomes you to join in protecting a pristine and vibrant valley, one with unique and fragile bio-systems, and one that will enthral the wildlife photographer and delight the nature purist.

Back in the 80’s when safaris were becoming fashionable, Sable Valley was built on a fragile ecosystem called The Dete Vlei.

This very camp was made famous in 1991 when her majesty, Queen Elizabeth || and His Royal Highness Prince Philip chose this lodge for their Safari adventure.

Fast forward 32 years, Sable Valley now falls under The Amalinda Safari Collection umbrella. The vision for the new Sable Valley is to celebrate the era of the old 90’s with 11 rooms set in stone rondavles and elegantly styled in a “Moroccan” theme. Large ensuite bathrooms with hot water showers and flush toilets complete the room.

The main lounge area overlooks the vlei with a boma, firepit with large seating area, open-air bar and dining room.

The experience is concentrated around walking safaris and incredible game drive activities on the 15,000 acre concession as well as using their private entrance to access The Hwange National Park. The Dete Vlei is home to the mega herds of buffalo, sometimes 1000s strong and the great breeding herd of The Presidential Elephants.

Featured Itineraries:

12 Day | Hidden Gems of Zimbabwe

12 Day | Legends of Zimbabwe Safari

14 Day | Family Adventure to Zimbabwe

14 Day | Botswana & Zimbabwe Classic Safari

16 Day | Adventure Safari to Southern Africa

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