Hwange National Park (previously known as Wankie National Park) is a sprawling game reserve. It is the biggest in Zimbabwe, and is full of animals like hippopotamuses, elephants, lions, leopards, and more. Hwange is only a couple of hours from Victoria Falls, around six hours from Bulawayo and around ten hours from Harare.
One of the first decisions when exploring Hwange National Park is where you're going to stay. Accommodation ranges from the more basic lodges to luxurious safari camps. There are three national park camps: Main Camp, Sinamatella and Robins Camp; you'll find this accommodation a little cheaper than the private concessions and while they are a lot more basic you'll still find all your necessities. If you're staying at Main Camp you're also staying right near the Hwange Park HQ. You'll find a restaurant and bar, as well as any information you need for the camp.
Most other accommodation is run through private concessions. Nehimba Safari Lodge is a beautiful spot further into the park. There are outdoor showers where you'll occasionally be visited by elephants who decide to drink the water, hanging chairs on the private balconies, large bathtubs that are run hot when you return from a day of animal spotting, and luxurious beds complete with hot water bottles. Other more luxurious options include Elephants Eye and Camp Hwange. Of course, if you're after something a little more low key you can even pitch a tent and camp at various spots around the National Park.
Driving through Hwange is best done with a guide. You'll be able to organise game drives at most of the different lodges and camps. Having a guide means that you'll not only know the best places and times to spot animals, but you'll be able to learn a lot more about them. There are waterholes all over the park, and these are great spots to see many different types of animals. There are lookouts and hides to watch the animals from afar.
Elephants are clearly the kings of Hwange National Park. They are absolutely everywhere, and Hwange is home to one of the largest elephant populations in all of Africa. No matter how many times you come across them, whether you spot a lone elephant or a large herd, you still get that same rush of excitement.
At night you'll have the opportunity to go for night drives. This can be one of the best times to spot carnivores like lions or painted dogs. It can be chilly on the back of the truck, but it's worth it to try and catch a glimpse of animals you're less likely to see during the day.
Hwange is one of the best game experiences in Southern Africa. You can tailor your experience to suit the way you like to travel. For the best experience give yourself a couple of days. Most activities can be booked and organised during your accommodation. If you're planning on adventuring through the park on your own then it's a good idea to get in contact with the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority.