Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is a year-round wildlife destination and offers a range of unique African safari excursions. The best time to visit Hwange will depend on our personal preferences and what you want to experience. There are a couple of factors to consider when you are planning your trip to this natural gem in southern Africa. And most important of all is the different seasons.
Dry Season: Wildlife viewing
If you prioritise optimal wildlife viewing, the dry season is a great choice. Keep in mind that Hwange can get very hot during the dry season, so be prepared for high temperatures. However, if you are interested in birdwatching, then the wet season might be appealing. The dry season between May and October is regarded as one of the best times to visit Hwange National Park for a safari. June to August is the peak of the dry season with wildlife congregating around water sources, making it easier to spot animals.
Hwange is known for its large elephant population, and you’ll have front-row seats as these majestic creatures quench their thirst at the various waterholes. Herds of buffalo won’t be too far off. For those lucky enough, there will be sightings a plenty of predators like lions, hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs during the dry season. And though elusive, leopards are also present and might be easier to spot during this time when the vegetation is less dense.
The dry season is also one of the best times to visit Hwange for excellent viewing opportunities of the various antelope species in the park. These include sable, roan, kudus, eland and impalas. In September and October, temperatures start to rise. Wildlife viewing remains excellent as vegetation is thin and animals are more visible. The wet season, from November until April, sees the landscape turn lush and green, and a whole host of baby animals being born.
Green Season: Birding
While some areas of the park may be inaccessible due to flooding between January and March, for bird watchers it is one of the best times to visit Hwange as migratory birds fill the skies. These include the colourful plumage of the Southern carmine and European bee-eater, the Steppe eagle, black kite, Abdim’s stork, yellow wagtail and Amur falcon. Ultimately the best time to visit Hwange depends on your interests. What is important, is to pack accordingly when you are planning your African safari.
For clothing, make sure to take lightweight and neutral-coloured clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect against sunburn and insect bites, t-shirts and shorts for hot days as well as a fleece or a light jacket for cooler evenings, a sun cap, comfortable closed-toe walking shoes for game drives and walks and sandals or flip-flops for lodge wear. When it comes to safari gear, remember to make space for binoculars, a camera with extra batteries and memory cards, a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries, a birding field guide, insect repellent for protection against mosquitos and other bugs, sunscreen and lip balm with sun protection as well as a small backpack.