Zimbabwe’s “Place of Many Elephants”

by Sandy Salle on June 22, 2017

It may not have the global cache of Kruger or the Serengeti, but make no mistake that Gonarezhou National Park is a very special place to visit and view African game.

Situated along the Mozambique border on southeastern Zimbabwe, the park takes is name from the Shona term for “place of many elephants.” And there are indeed many pachyderms, some of the largest in southern Africa as a matter of fact.

The park’s mopane woodlands and grassy lowveld regions harbor many species, including rarely seen nyala and suni antelope, lion, leopard and cheetah, and more than 500 bird species.

Three Mighty Rivers

With three great rivers flowing through the park on their way to the Indian Ocean, there’s also plenty of water in  Gonarezhou. As well as strange creatures below the surface — like the turquoise killfish and Zambezi shark.

Given its extreme isolation and the fact the Gonarezhou was closed to the public during the long Zimbabwe civil war and strife in neighboring Mozambique, the park remains surprisingly pristine and underdeveloped compared to others in southern Africa.

But that’s not to say it’s totally primitive. Accommodation options range from basic camping on walking safaris to luxury wilderness lodges.

Secluded Bush Camps

Gonarezhou Bush Camps offers two options for exploring the park. The first is a mobile bush camp that can only be booked on an exclusive basis. In other words, you and your party have the entire 10-person camp to yourself. Days are spent on guided hikes around the camp or 4×4 game drives deeper into the bush.

Getting even close to nature, the same outfit organizes multi-day walking safaris with overnights in a lightweight fly camp. It’s an active adventure that takes guests through some of the wildest and most rugged corners of Gonarezhou.

Wilderness Luxury

At the opposite end of the accommodation spectrum is Pamushana, a luxury safari lodge located in the private Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve adjacent to the national park. Inspired by the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the lodge architecture features thick stone walls and meticulous thatching.

All of the six suites and the five-bedroom villa flaunt panoramic views of the landscape and their own private plunge pools. In addition to gourmet cuisine and spa treatments, Pamushana also offers game drives, community visits and a daily sundowner cruise on the lake below the lodge.

Best Time to Visit

As for when to visit, Gonarezhou Bush Camps operates between April and November during the dry season, when temperatures are cooler and the vegetation more sparse. Pamushana is open year-round, including the lush rainy season months (November to March) when the bush is suffused with green and baby animals.

No matter what time of year you visit — or whether you’re sleeping in a bush tent or sacked out in a luxurious villa — Gonarezhou is an extraordinary African wilderness adventure.

Intrigued by Gonarezhou? Let Hills of Africa arrange your walking safari or luxury lodge sojourn in the park, as well as logistics of getting there and touring the rest of Zimbabwe.


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