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Hwange safari


... is typically quite an earthy and outdoorsy experience, with intimate small camps, many of which offer some serious walking safari, including on foot approaches to elephants and lions. Due it proximity to Victoria Falls it is the most visited safari area in the country, but still retains a good sense of remoteness and authenticity.

At 15000 square kilometres Hwange National Park, situated to the north-west of Zimbabwe, is a very substantial reserve of very pretty flat open landscapes comprising broad sandy grasslands dotted with tall palm trees and substantial patches of hardwood forest. A very wide range of plains game includes buffaloes, sables, roans, elands, zebras and giraffes, harried by loads of lions and reasonable numbers of cheetahs, leopards and wild-dogs.

The reserve contains an extensive network of around sixty waterholes, most of which are artificially pumped to sustain the dense wildlife populations, which have long since been cut off from the Zambezi River by human settlement.

Most of the good camps are set alongside these waterholes, providing some great 'armchair safari'. Elephant viewing in particular can be exceptional, sometimes it feels like you are under siege, as the local herds wander between the tents and drink the swimming pool dry.

The main activity here is conventional vehicle safari, travelling around the reserve from waterhole to waterhole, punctuated by breaks for drinks, bush meals and sundowners. Some of the best camps also offer some decent walking safari, potentially including high adrenaline approaches onto lions and elephants, as well as some relatively serious night vehicle safari. One of the great highlights of Hwange area the animal hides, which provide some very different and often very up-close interaction with animals as they come and go from the various waterholes.

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