park and reserve infoZimbabwe National Parks & Nature Reserves
CHINHOYI CAVES RECREATIONAL PARK
Historically, the first white man believed to have discovered the Caves was Frederick Selous, the famous European hunter, during his wanderings in 1887. The traditional name for the Caves is ‘’Chirorodziva’’ which means the ‘’ Pool of the Fallen’’. The name was derived from an incident which took place in the 1830s when the Angoni Tribe, who were moving northwards surprised people living near the Caves and flung them into the pool.The Caves consist of a system of tunnels and caverns. This system is a dying one (in geological time spans), in that they are slowly collapsing. These collapses can be noticed by the sink holes and depressions within the surrounding area.
The Wonder Hole, which is the main feature of the Caves, is in fact a ‘’swallow hole’’ or a large cavern with a collapsed roof. The walls or sides of the Wonder Hole drop vertically down for 50 m to the Sleeping Pool. The pool is unbelievably blue and crystal clear which reflects great depths up to 91 m and non-flowing water. This fluctuation in depths is attributable to the amount of rainfall received in a particular season. The Caves are composed mainly of the sunlit ‘’Sleeping Pool’’ and the artificially lit Dark Cave. CHINHOYI CAVES RECREATIONAL PARK is included in Tour 57
GONAREZHOU NATIONAL PARK
Gonarezhou National Park is situated in the south eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe and covers an area in excess of 5 000 square km. “Gonarezhou” meaning “Place of many Elephants” is an extremely scenic Park full of rugged and beautiful landscapes. Gonarezhou National Park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), a massive Pan-African Park that includes South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park and Mozambique’s Gaza. Three major rivers – The Save, Runde and Mwenezi – cut their courses through the Park, forming pools and natural oases from which hundreds of species of birds and wildlife gather to feed and drink. As its name implies, Gonarezhou is famous for its elephants, and many of the largest-tusked elephants in the region maybe found within the Park. Lion, leopard, cheetah (including the rare king cheetah), buffalo, giraffe, zebra and many species of large antelope are also present within the Park. The rare nyala and smaller suni are two of the highlights of the Park’s smaller antelopes.
In addition, hundreds of species of birds may be spotted in the Park. One of the most prominent natural features of Gonarezhou National Park is the beautiful Chilojo Cliffs. These magnificent red sandstone cliffs have been formed through erosion and overlook the scenic Runde River valley. GONAREZHOU NATIONAL PARK is included in Tours 56 & 57
Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which existed from 1100 to 1450 AD during the country’s Late Iron Age. The monument, which first began to be constructed in the 11th century and which continued to be built over 300 years until the 14th century, spanned an area of 722 hectares (1,784 acres) and at its peak could have housed up to 18,000 people. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of their political power. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five meters high and which were constructed without mortar.
Eventually, the city was largely abandoned, and fell into ruin, first being encountered by Europeans in the early 16th century. The ruins at Great Zimbabwe are some of the oldest and largest structures located in Southern Africa and are the second oldest after nearby Mapungubwe in South Africa. GREAT ZIMBABWE is included in Tour 56 & 57
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park is the largest park in Zimbabwe and covers 14 650 square km. It is located in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe and an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls. It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th Century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929.
Hwange was proclaimed a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world. Various dams, pans and hides provide excellent game and bird viewing. HWANGE NATIONAL PARK is included in Tours 55, 57 & 58
MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK
Mana Pools National Park borders in the north on the Zambezi River and covers 2 196 square kilometres and is part of the 10 500 square kilometre Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. This large area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area – even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.
This unique park is a World Heritage Site, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular parks, and it is easy to see why it falls into this profile. The name “Mana” means “four” in the local Shona language. This applies to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River.
Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces. Lions, leopards, spotted hyena and cheetah are present in the area, but their secretive nature makes them more difficult to see. Despite this, it is not often that the visitor leaves Mana Pools without seeing at least one of these large carnivores. MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK is included in Tour 57
MATOBO NATIONAL PARK
Matobo National Park occupies a total area of 44 500 hectares. Established in 1953, the Park was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in June 2003. The Park includes an Intensive Protection Zone where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are successfully breeding. The Park offers a diverse package of tourist attractions and activities.
The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. Matobo meaning ‘bald heads’ was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park. Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu -‘ hill of benevolent spirits’. He referred to this hill as having a ‘View of the World’.
The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. The Park is home to a wide variety of animal species including: black and white rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, eland, sable, klipspringer, leopard, hyena, cheetah, hippo, warthog, rock dassies, waterbuck, wildcat, springhare, common duiker, crocodiles, baboons and monkeys. The richness of the Park can also be seen from the diverse bird life. The park is famous for its large concentration of black eagles. MATOBO NATIONAL PARK is included in Tour 58
MATUSADONA NATIONAL PARK
Matusadona National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba.. It became a Game Reserve in 1963, and in 1975 a National Park. The Park comprises some 1 400 square kilometers of diverse flora and fauna.
Animal species that are found in abundance include elephant and buffalo. Other common species are black rhinoceros, hippopotamus, zebra, warthog, common duiker, grysbok, klipspringer, waterbuck, bushbuck, reedbuck, sable antelope, eland, antelope, kudu and bush pig. Predators include lion, leopard, spotted hyena, wild dog, cheetah, civet, wild cat, honey badger, civet, small spotted genet and side-striped jackal, Bordering on Lake Kariba, Matusadona offers good birding opportunities. MATUSADONA NATIONAL PARK is included in Tours 57
VICTORIA FALLS & ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARKS
The Victoria Falls & Zambezi National Parks is a world Heritage Site and the falls is one of the ‘Seven wonders of the world’ and one of the largest and most spectacular water falls on earth. The falls are 1,7 kilometers wide and nearly 550 million liters of water cascade 70 to 108 meters into the chasm below – every minute – during the Zambezi River’s peak flow. Victoria Falls is made of five different “falls”. Four of these are in Zimbabwe: The Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and Horseshoe Falls – and one, The Eastern Cataract, is in the bordering country of Zambia.
Zambezi National Park together with Victoria Falls National Park covers an area of 56,000 hectares. The northern border of the Park is formed by the great Zambezi River which also forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia for much of its length.
A wide variety of larger mammals may be found within the Zambezi National Park including The Big Five: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and white rhinoceros. In addition, herds of sable antelope, eland, zebra, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck and impala as well as many of the smaller species of game can be viewed. VICTORIA FALLS & ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARKS is included in Tours 43, 49, 50, 52, 54, 55, 57 & 58