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When reviewing the best Africans safari areas, Zimbabwe definitely ranks high on the top of the list. So if you are planning for an upcoming Zimbabwe travel experience, well, I can guarantee you have made a great decision.
The country boasts of beautiful natural sceneries and prolific wildlife from its abundant game reserves. Top on the list includes the well known Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park, and Victoria Falls National Park, with the highest concentration of tourist during peak hours. Lesser-known gems such as Nyanga National Park and Matusadona National Park have just as much to offer dollar for dollar.
In this guide, I have rounded up the best Zimbabwe national parks that should be on your bucket list. These are some parks that combine huge game density, spectacular views, and other natural attractions.
Top 10 Zimbabwe National Parks
The parks have game reserves that will definitely offer you a once in a lifetime safari experience over your next safari or game viewing destination. Without further ado, here are the top 10 Zimbabwe National Parks:
1. Hwange National Park
Hwange is the largest and most famous of the Zimbabwe national parks. The game park not only boasts of rich wildlife but also excellent animal viewing experience.
Hwange is best known for its vast population of the Big Five game animals – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. I recommend you visit the park during the dry season when you can easily spot leopards near the river banks and wells.
The park’s proximity to Victoria Falls makes it perfect for adventure seekers.
2. Mana Pools National Park
Located below Lake Kariba, Mana pools’ exotic beauty is the reason it has made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage site.
With more than 43 miles (70km) of the Zambezi river passing through the park, the river forms pools of water, and that is where the name, Mana Pools, comes from.
The park has a unique ecosystem that supports a vast range of wildlife. It is one of the Zimbabwe national parks that boasts of a massive population of elephants and buffalos. You will also see African hippos, crocodiles, and almost 400 species of water and woodland birds.
The park is best explored by canoes or foot. Note that the park is only open during the dry season (April – November).
3. Victoria Falls National Park
This park is home to the great Victoria Falls Zimbabwe and includes the Zambian side as well.
Victoria Falls is one of the largest and most magnificent waterfalls on earth. In comparison to the famous Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls is significantly bigger (twice as high and 1.5 times as broad). As a result, Victoria Falls is referred to as one of the seven wonders of the world.
A famous feature of the park is the rainforest. Trees grow in the spray of the falls, including ferns, palms, liana vines, and a number of trees such as mahogany not seen elsewhere in the region.
You will have an opportunity to view elephants, Cape buffalos, southern white rhinoceros, hippopotamus, eland and a variety of other antelope herds during tour drives and walking safaris.
If you are fortunate, a bask of crocodiles may be seen in the river. While you’re there, be sure to check out the nearby Crocodile Ranch which offers a safer view of these dangerous animals.
4. Matobo National Park
Matobo National Park forms the core of Matobo or Matopos Hills covering over 10,600 acres of land.
Although the high volume of tourists visiting the park in recent years, its scenic view is still one of the best and remains undiluted.
The Matobo National Park is home to the towering granite rocks above the vast plains. If you are looking for rock art, Matobo is one of the places where you will find Bushman rock art sites.
Also, there are over 175 bird and 39 snake species in the park. As a matter of fact, this is one of the Zimbabwe national parks where a self-drive trip is allowed.
5. Zambezi National Park
Located next to Victoria Falls on the Zambezi valley, the Zambezi is one of the smallest Zimbabwe national parks. Notwithstanding, this park is one of the scenic game reserves in Zimbabwe.
The park boasts of the scenic Zambezi River filled with opportunities to see the magnificent giant African hippo and crocodiles.
During your safari drive into the park, you will likely see elephants, buffalos, giraffes, and zebras. Zambezi national park is also home to a variety of antelopes including the waterbuck, sable, and impala. Zambezi National Park should not be overlooked because it is a great park to visit.
6. Gonarezhou National Park
Bordering the iconic Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park offers astounding safari experience. The name ‘Gonarezhou’ translates into ‘place of elephants’ because it has a massive population of elephants.
Its rugged and beautiful sceneries are reasons why thousands of tourists flock to visit this park all year-round.
The fact that the park borders Kruger and Limpopo game reserves mean that it enjoys an abundant variety of wildlife, and a perfect destination for a safari trip.
The park is also home to all the Big Five game animals, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo, and also an excellent birding destination. If you are looking for a walking safari, then look no further! Although often overlooked, Gonarezhou is worth your time.
7. Nyanga National Park
Nyanga is in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. It is one of the Zimbabwe national parks that are not well known when compared to the others.
This park is the source of the big rivers that form the spectacular cascade, the iconic Pungwe falls.
During your visit, check out the vistas, gorges, lakes, and valleys in Nyanga National Park. The park offers incredible hiking and mountain climbing experience for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies.
Very often you will come across herds of antelopes, and troops of monkeys. The park is also an excellent birding destination for your Zimbabwe travel.
8. Matusadona National Park
This game park is located on the shores of Lake Karibu and is best accessed using a boat.
If you’ve been to Matusadona national park, the one thing you’ll love about this game reserve is the presence of all the Big Five game animals. So if you are looking to see the endangered black rhino during your trip to Zimbabwe, then this is one of the parks you should have on your bucket list.
The park also boasts of a massive population of hippos and giant crocodiles. There are also more than 240 species of birds.
9. Chizarira National Park
Chizarira is one of the Zimbabwe national parks that boast of most of the Big Five game animals apart from the rhinoceros.
Although the wildlife density is not huge, the terrain is perfect for a good view; another reason why Chizarira is on the list.
If you are looking forward to an excellent sight of the elusive cat (leopard), Chizarira national park is the place to be.
One last thing; do you love walking safari? If your answer is yes, then the beautiful, dramatic, and rugged scenery at this game park offers the best experience. The only caveat is that there is no accommodation in the park. Be sure to check out alternative accommodations below.
10. Kazuma Pan National Park
If you are looking for an adventure, then Kazuma Pan-national park is one of the best destinations.
The park is an ornithologist’s paradise due to its vast species of water birds. Its remote and preserved wilderness is one of the reasons why tourists flock the park. Bird watching, camping, and game drives are some of the popular activities in the park.
You should keep in mind that an excellent way to explore several parks at the same time is to purchase a tour package (view tour packages here).
You’ll have the benefit of having experienced tour operators that are knowledgeable in navigating through the park
to show you hidden gems that you wouldn’t find by yourself.
Whew! If you made it to the end of this list, you’re the real MVP. These top 10 Zimbabwe National Parks are key places to consider while planning your trip to Zimbabwe and at least one of these should be on your bucket list. You can easily check off Victoria Falls and National Park off your list.
A word of advice, I suggest booking your trip early preferably at the beginning of the year to get the best safari packages. For those of you that feel a safari might be out of your budget, no worries! This post on what to expect on a budget camping safari will shed light on how to make a safari trip within reach.
When is the best time to visit? Glad you asked. I would recommend you visit during the drier months of the year (April- November) if you want to get the most out of your Zimbabwe travel and don’t forget your free downloadable Zimbabwe packing list.
Our posts on Victoria Falls Zimbabwe, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, and Zimbabwe Packing List provide the best travel tips, travel guide, and fantastic trip ideas for your upcoming Zimbabwe and Africa travel.
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