Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie Game Reserve) named after a local Nhanzwa chief, is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying 14 650 square kilometers. The park lies in the North West bordering Botswana, off the main road between Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls. The park is easily be reached by road and air and is open all year round, the excellent time to visit is in the dry winter months. The park was founded in 1928. Before this, it was the royal hunting ground for Matabele king, Mzilikazi.
The Park hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species with elephants numbers more than 20,000, up from about4,000 when the park was established thought to be one of the biggest populations of African wild dog left in the world along with Kruger National Park. Tremendous pride of lion and buffalo are also common, and you have a good chance of spotting leopard and rhino, cheetah and the woolly brown hyena also occurs here sometimes.
A significant feature of Hwange is the absence of permanent surface water. There are some waterholes which are maintained by various lodges in the park throughout the year thereby ensuring the livelihoods of thousands of animals, and excellent game viewing as wildlife congregates these points.
The landscape in the park is diverse, with a dense teak forest in the north and Kalahari Sandveld in the south. In between, open grassy plains lined with acacia lie alongside mopane woodland and islands of ilala palms. The seasons, too, compel dramatic changes on the park. During the hot summer rains between December and March, the bush becomes lush, and the wildlife disperses. Between June and October, during the winter months see the bush quickly dry and thin out, with very few waterholes remain, and the wildlife is focused and easy to spot.