Hwange National Park
The area of Hwange was historically important for its extensive reserves of coal, and a good amount is still mined here. For this reason, the abandoned Cape to Cairo railway was routed through Hwange and Victoria Falls instead of through Harare.
The wildlife area and National Park were actually only set aside due to their poor soil quality making the land unsuitable for agriculture. When the designation was made in 1929, the area was almost devoid of animal and birdlife due to seriously overenthusiastic hunting practices.
Nowadays the Park is a rich habitat for many rare and fascinating species including giraffe, sable antelope, buffalo, impala, kudu, zebra, elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog and jackal. The Park is also home to over 400 bird species including numerous eagle species, kestrels, goshawk, falcons, buzzards and osprey. There are over 1000 species of tree and shrub, presenting a great variety of habitat and scenery.
Unlike the more popular and well-known Parks of East Africa, Hwange is relatively un-crowded and although the area is managed quite extensively by Park authorities, it still represents one of Africa\’s most interesting game areas, with an excellent density of wildlife. The Park is marked into three areas; Main Camp is the headquarters of the Park and is mostly covered with savanna grassland. Sinamatella comprises granite ridges overlooking a lush valley with thick mopane forest. Robins and Nantwich are a little more remote and usually afford good opportunities to view lion. There are 480 km of road in Hwange, 80% of which is only accessible to specialized camping and photographic safaris.
The good underground water reserves in the area allowed the initial establishment of around 60 artificially pumped pans for the wildlife to drink from during the dry season. The best time to visit Hwange is between September and October as the wildlife is concentrated around these water holes. The southern area of the park is situated at the tip of the Kalahari Desert, and giant fossil dunes can be seen in the far eastern corner.