Gonarezhou - The Place of Elephants

On the southeastern side of Zimbabwe bordering Mozambique, you will find the Gonarezhou National Park. Gonarezhou National Park is the second largest park in Zimbabwe spanning an area of over 5000 square kilometres and is home to the densest population of elephants in the country, giving it its name of “The Place of Elephants”.

 Elephants in the Save River, a common sight in Gonarezhou

There are a few rivers that wind their way through the park, the main ones being the Save and Runde Rivers.  One of the major attractions within Gonarezhou are the impressive Chilojo Cliffs, an ancient cliff face carved out of the waters from the Runde River over millions of years, they create a spectacle that cannot be missed when visiting the park.

The Chilogo Cliffs on the banks of the Runde River

Wildlife in the park is abundant with herds of elephants and buffalo, to lions, leopards and hyenas, to all of the plains game – zebra, antelope, giraffe.  Two endangered species that you are likely to come across within the park are rhinos and pangolins, due to conservation efforts between Gonarezhou, Zim Parks and private reserves, these two animals are building up their populations within the park.  Since 2007 The Frankfurt Zoological Department has been working in conjunction with Zim Parks and Gonarezhou focusing on the conservation of all animals and habitats within the Gonarezhou National Park.

There is accommodation for all types of travellers, from rustic unfenced bush camps and self-catering chalets managed by the Gonarezhou National Park, to luxury fully inclusive lodges such as Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge situated on the cliffs of the Save River and Singita Pamushana which is located just outside the park on its own private conservancy.

Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge views
Chipinda Pools Tented Camp

If you are self-driving, you will need a 4x4 vehicle with high clearance, maps can be obtained at the main gate, they will also advise of any road closures.  For air travel, Buffalo Range Airport is the closest immigration port of entry, most lodges will arrange to collect you from the airport.

Gonarezhou is open from March to early January each year, closing in mid-January to carry out maintenance to the roads and camps.  Some campsites and chalets are closed over the wet season from November to December due to inaccessibility.  The best time to visit the park is between September and November, although the temperatures can reach highs of 40+ degrees Celsius during the day, this is the best time for game viewing in the park.  Having said that, a trip to Gonarezhou will be magical whichever month you choose to go in.