Zimbabwe Wildlife Highlights
Zimbabwe offers excellent and varied game viewing and is home to all the major species you might hope to see in Africa.
Zimbabwe is especially good for elephant viewing. Hwange National Park is home to over 40,000 elephants and the system of ‘pumped’ water holes throughout the park means that viewing during the dry season is absolutely guaranteed. There are many water holes which are ‘full’ of elephants from midday to midnight, and with the elephants being well habituated to vehicles, you can get quite close to watch the action.
Some of these water holes are located directly in front of safari camps, and elephants will come right up to the edge of camp whilst you are having lunch or dinner overlooking the water hole, or in some cases while you are in a hide next to the water hole. Especially from June to October, Hwange offers some of the best possible elephant viewing in Africa.
Zimbabwe is also a stronghold for wild dogs, which can be seen in various parts of the country, including the key regions of Hwange and Mana Pools. In particular, Mana Pools is superb for wild dog sightings, with opportunities to approach them on foot with experienced guides.
Cheetah are not widely found in Zimbabwe, but can be principally be seen in Hwange National Park, whilst leopard are present throughout though sightings are most likely in Mana Pools National Park around water holes away from the river at the end of the dry season.
Sadly rhino can no longer be seen in Hwange or Mana Pools, and even in Matusadona the chances are extremely thin these days. Matobo Hills will be the best place to see both white and black rhino, whilst the Pamushana Private Reserve bordering Gonarezhou is home to a healthy population of black rhino.
Night drives are widely available making Zimbabwe a good destination for seeking out nocturnal creatures such as honey badgers, civets and porcupines, and it is also worth mentioning the spectacular Kanga Pan and Kavinga Pan in Mana Pools which at the end of the dry season (September to early November) provides the only water sources for miles around. An evening watching the floodlit Kanga Pan or Kavinga Pan at this time of year can be more productive than any night drive – see our short film on Kavinga Pan!
The varied habitats and changing landscapes of Zimbabwe make it a superb birding destination, with nearly 700 species recorded. For serious birders, the Eastern Highlands will provide many interesting sightings, whilst the Matobo Hills are a key breeding site for black eagles. The Zambezi River and Lake Kariba provide super waterfowl sightings, including specialist species such as African finfoot.