Gonarezhou National Park: The Place of Elephants

Are you planning a safari trip to Zimbabwe? Then you must visit the Gonarezhou National Park to have a complete experience of wildlife!

Explore and appreciate Zimbabwe’s variety of flora and fauna in Gonarezhou National Park! Situated in south-eastern Zimbabwe near the remote corner of Masvingo Province and Mozambique border, it covers more than 5,000 km2 of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the whole country, including the iconic Chilojo Cliffs, meandering rivers, and vast woodland savannahs. This park got its reputation as a premier destination for quality wildlife sightings, including the 11,000 elephants in the park. For this reason, the Gonarezhou National Park is dubbed as the “Place of Elephants.”

The Gonarezhou National Park is Zimbabwe’s second-largest national park next to Hwange National Park. It consists of the following areas:

  • An area of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
  • A peace park that connects that links Gonarezhou National Park with South Africa’s Kruger National Park
  • A peace park that unites Gonarezhou National Park with Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park

The history of Gonarezhou National Park

The Gonarezhou National Park was founded and created as a protected area as a Game Reserve in 1936, eventually declared as a National Park in 1975. During the Rhodesian War and the Mozambique Civil War, the national park was closed to the public. It was then reopened in 1994 when the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority managed the whole national park. In 2007, they reinvested in the infrastructure and protection in the park. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority joined forces with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to develop a technical assistance model to improve the whole national park. In March 2017, the management of Gonarezhou National Park was passed over to the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, a co-management partnership created by the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management to establish a platform that will enhance the investment into the long-term sustainability of the national park.

The attractions you can see from the Gonarezhou National Park

The Gonarezhou National Park is not widely-acclaimed for nothing—it hosts a wide variety of sceneries that you would not find elsewhere. One of its prime attractions includes the breathtaking Victoria Falls. Other notable attractions include the Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park, and Lake Kariba.

Apart from these spectacular places, this is the perfect place to witness Africa’s Big 5: elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinoceroses. You can also sight several mammal species such as the giraffe, hippotamus, Cape buffalo, wildebeest, cheetah, zebra, and hyena.

Activities in Gonarezhou National Park

More than appreciating the beauty of wildlife, Gonarezhou also offers a wide array of activities to make your stay worthwhile. The main activities this national park offer are game viewing from vehicles and walking around (with strict restrictions). Main roads such as those that surround Mabalauta and Chilojo Cliffs are accessible for 2×4 vehicles. Those who wish to venture further would need a 4×4 vehicle.

You could venture in the following activities as well:

Bird watching – Are you an avid bird-watcher? This national park is the perfect spot for you! Have an excellent overview of Africa’s most colorful birds. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars with you!

Boating – Dive into the beauty of the aquatic wildlife by riding a boat or canoe!

Bush walks – This approach is a fun way to interact with nature. Bush walks are only allowed in regions where it’s generally safe to wander around.

Cultural visits – Have a glimpse of Zimbabweans’ way of living and culture when you visit the Gonarezhou National Park! Join local tribes as they fulfill their daily activities.

Photography – Preserve your wildlife memories! Document your whole trip, upgrade your wildlife photography portfolio, upload them on the internet, or simply take pictures for mementos around the national park!

Accommodation – Do you wish to spend the night in wildlife? The Gonarezhou National Park offers various accommodation choices, from remote campsites with zero facilities to the comfort of chalets at Swimuwini. They have three developed campsites, namely Chipinda Pools, Chinguli, and Mabalauta, all of which have running water, access to shared ablution blocks, toilers, and braai place. Other resources are on you—you are required to be self-sufficient! All in all, this experience aims to invite people to immerse themselves in the beauty and thrill of living in wildlife.