5 Reasons Why Zimbabwe National Parks Should Be on Your Travel Bucket List

Have you ever considered visiting Zimbabwe’s national parks? This beautiful African country is home to some of the most stunning wildlife and landscapes on the continent, and its national parks offer a truly unique travel experience. From the vast savannahs of Hwange National Park to the rugged beauty of Mana Pools, Zimbabwe’s national parks are a must-see for any nature lover or adventure seeker.

In this article, we’ll give you five reasons why Zimbabwe’s national parks should be on your travel bucket list. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through some of Africa’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

Zimbabwe National Parks overview

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. It is known for its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. The country is home to several national parks, each offering a unique experience for visitors.

Zimbabwe’s national parks cover a total area of over 16,988 square miles (44,000 square kilometers) and are home to a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, and more. These parks offer visitors the opportunity to witness some of Africa’s most iconic animals in their natural habitats.

The uniqueness of Zimbabwe National Parks

Zimbabwe, a gem in African tourism, is famous for its magnificent national parks. Each park in Zimbabwe offers a unique blend of diverse landscapes, thrilling wildlife, and authentic African experiences.

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest park, is known for its Savannahs and teems with a rich variety of game including the Big Five. The park provides the best game viewing experience with game drives, particularly in the dry season when animals cluster around waterholes.

Next on the list is Mana Pools National Park, recognized for its rugged beauty and the legendary Zambezi River. Adventure lovers can embark on canoe trips or game walks for a closer encounter with the park’s wildlife, including elephants, antelopes, zebras, and hippos.

At Victoria Falls National Park, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, experience the mesmerizing spectacle of the falls and spot the elusive fish eagle, a regular here. For those seeking a unique blend of wildlife and heritage, Matobo National Park, a World Heritage Site, is a must-visit.

Journey further to the serene shores of Lake Kariba, where Matusadona National Park lies. Here, enjoy game viewing by boat or a sunset safari drive into the park, spotting crocodiles, black rhinos, and leopards.

In Northern Zimbabwe, explore the rugged wilderness of Gonarezhou National Park, known for its elephants, and the tranquil woodlands of Nyanga National Park in the Eastern Highlands. These parks, along with Chizarira and Kazuma Pan, host endangered species, offering visitors an unforgettable wildlife experience.

Lodging isn’t a worry either! Comfortable accommodation options range from chalets overlooking the park to lodges within the park’s boundaries. So, the best time to visit? Anytime, as each season provides a different lens into the life of these parks.

Visit Zimbabwe’s national parks for the trip of a lifetime.

1. Hwange National Park – The largest National Park in Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park, the largest in Zimbabwe, spans over 14,600 square kilometers and nestles an extraordinary diversity of wildlife. It’s a must-visit among Zimbabwe national parks, famed for elephant sightings and home to the ‘Big Five’ – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and elephant. This park offers thrilling game drives, immersive walking safaris, and exquisite bird-watching experiences.

Apart from the ‘Big Five’, you can spot zebras, giraffes, antelopes, hippos, and crocodiles around the park. For bird enthusiasts, spotting a fish eagle or a woodland kingfisher can be a memorable highlight. Hwange National Park lies in the eastern highlands and borders Matusadona and Chizarira National Parks.

Your visit could be more rewarding during the dry season (May to October) when the wildlife congregates around watering holes, offering remarkable game viewing. The park is also home to the 14th-century Bumbusi National Monument, a heritage site adding cultural richness to your wildlife exploration.

Accommodations within the park range from cozy chalets to luxurious lodges, providing views of the magnificent wildlife. The park is also just a drive away from Harare, and its office in Harare can provide essential information for your journey.

Experience the wonder of Zimbabwe’s rich wildlife heritage in the magnificent Hwange National Park.

2. Mana Pools National Park – One of the few untouched wilderness areas in Africa

Embark on a thrilling journey to Mana Pools National Park, a pristine jewel among Zimbabwe’s national parks. Situated in northern Zimbabwe, along the Zambezi River, this park teems with a rich array of wildlife. From imposing elephants and cunning leopards to graceful giraffes and playful zebras, you’ll encounter the Big Five and beyond on your safari adventure.

Immerse yourself in the pulsating heart of Africa’s wildlife by taking a game drive across the park’s diverse woodland and savannah landscapes. Watch antelopes leaping through the grass and marvel at the magnificent sight of the mighty hippopotamus in the Zambezi’s waters. For bird enthusiasts, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to over 350 bird species, including the majestic fish eagle.

For an unforgettable experience, take a walking safari. Feel the ground vibrate underfoot as a herd of elephants roams nearby or spot a rare black rhino concealed within the park’s lush foliage. These game walks, guided by experienced professionals, bring you close to the wilderness.

Mana Pools National Park also offers boating safaris and canoeing, where you can admire crocodiles basking in the sun or spot wildlife on the southern shores of Lake Kariba. For those seeking relaxation, the park hosts a variety of lodges and chalets offering premium accommodation amidst stunning natural beauty.

The dry season, from May to October, is the best time to visit as wildlife congregates around waterholes, enhancing game viewing opportunities. Don’t miss this gem on your Zimbabwe travel itinerary, and experience the wildlife magic that lies within the borders of Mana Pools National Park.

3. Matobo National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning rock formations

Located in southwestern Zimbabwe, Matobo National Park is a revered UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its striking rock formations that took over 2 billion years to form. One of the best national parks in Zimbabwe, Matobo is not only steeped in geological wonder but is also rich with ancient rock art dating back over 13,000 years.

The park is a vibrant haven of wildlife, hosting not only a variety of game like elephant, leopard, giraffe, zebra, and antelope but is also a sanctuary for endangered species like the black rhino. Bird lovers are in for a treat, with over 300 species of birds including the majestic fish eagle soaring over the park.

Matobo offers a unique blend of experiences. Embark on a thrilling safari drive into the park, spot crocodiles lazing around waterholes, or witness the majestic leopard on a game walk. For an up-close experience with the ‘big five,’ Matobo is your destination.

The park is dotted with lodges and camps offering a range of accommodations from chalets to camping sites, catering to all kinds of preferences. The park also boasts excellent wildlife management, ensuring a safe and enriching experience for all visitors.

The best time to visit this gem in Zimbabwe is the dry season, from May to October, when wildlife congregates around water sources, increasing your chances of an unforgettable encounter. Nestled in a region of Zimbabwe teeming with natural beauty, Matobo National Park lies close to other attractions like the eastern highlands, Kazuma Pan National Park, and the southern shores of Lake Kariba.

In all, Matobo National Park is an iconic part of Zimbabwe’s travel offerings. Whether you’re hiking through the lush woodland, canoeing down the Zambezi River, or marveling at the diverse fauna, Matobo truly is a magnificent tribute to Zimbabwe’s natural heritage.

4. Gonarezhou National Park – Home to the Big Five and the stunning Chilojo Cliffs

Gonarezhou National Park, a gem among Zimbabwe’s national parks, is situated in the country’s southeastern region. It’s an under-explored game reserve that hosts the Big Five: elephants, leopards, lions, buffalos, and rhinoceroses, along with other majestic creatures such as the African wild dog, the elusive leopard, antelopes, and the endangered black rhino.

This park is also home to the stunning Chilojo Cliffs, rising over 180 meters above the Runde River. These red sandstone cliffs provide a remarkable backdrop during your safari drive into the park. Additionally, the park’s vibrant birdlife, boasting over 400 species, including the fish eagle, enhances the overall game viewing experience.

The best time to visit Gonarezhou is during the dry season (May to October), when wildlife congregates around waterholes, offering easier sightings. The park offers thrilling game drives and walks, allowing close encounters with the wildlife. An experienced guide ensures the safety and rich wildlife insights during these tours.

Comfortable accommodations around the park range from campsites to luxurious lodges. For a more rustic experience, consider camping within the park’s woodlands or opting for a chalet overlooking the beautiful vistas.

The park borders the Zambezi River to the north, offering a unique canoeing experience where one might spot hippos and crocodiles. Furthermore, the park lies within driving distance from other notable sites such as the Matusadona and Chizarira national parks, and the Kazuma Pan.

Despite being one of the lesser-known parks in the country, Gonarezhou National Park provides a genuinely unspoiled safari experience, merging magnificent wildlife with Zimbabwe’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

5. Nyanga National Park – A mountainous and scenic national park with stunning waterfalls

Nestled in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, Nyanga National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. This park, one of the best national parks in Zimbabwe, boasts magnificent wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and an unmatched safari experience.

Being home to species such as the elephant, antelope, and elusive leopard, the park offers exciting game drives. Within the park, you can witness the Big Five – elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, and the rare black rhino. Not to mention, zebras trotting around the park add to the picturesque woodland scenery.

The game reserve also offers game walks, enabling you to encounter rich wildlife up close. Look out for the hippopotamus and crocodile lurking in the waters and giraffes gracefully striding across the savanna. Bird lovers will relish the sight of the fish eagle soaring above, as the park hosts over 300 species of birds.

Located near the gorgeous Pungwe Falls, Nyanga National Park is not only about wildlife but also stunning scenery. The park borders the Zambezi River and lies near the southern shores of Lake Kariba, offering remarkable views. The park’s highlands and the four pools add to its charm.

In terms of accommodation, the park provides several options. You can choose from lodges, camps, or chalets. The safari drive into the park is an adventurous journey, one that starts from the office in Harare. Besides, canoeing opportunities in the nearby waters add an element of thrill to your Zimbabwe travel.

Nyanga National Park, the largest national park in the region of Zimbabwe, is also a world heritage site. Among sites within the park, don’t miss the Nyanga National Monument, a testament to Zimbabwe’s rich heritage.

The best time to visit is during the dry season, from May to October. This is when the game can be found concentrated around the waterholes, making game viewing a rewarding experience. From game reserves to historical sites, Nyanga National Park truly is one of the seven wonders of the world.


Zimbabwe’s national parks offer a truly unique travel experience that is not found anywhere else in Africa. From the vast savannahs of Hwange to the rugged beauty of Mana Pools, each park offers something different for visitors to experience.

With their diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, Zimbabwe’s national parks should definitely be on your travel bucket list. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through some of Africa’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

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