Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie Game Reserve) ,named after a local Nhanzwa chief, is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometers. The park lies in the North west bordering Botswana, off the main road between Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls. The park can easily be accessed by road and air and is open all year round, although the best time to visit is during the dry winter months. The park was founded in 1928. Prior to this it was the royal hunting ground for Matabele king, Mzilikazi
The Park hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species with elephants numbers in excess of 20,000 (up from around 4,000 when the park was proclaimed), and what is thought to be one of the largest populations of African wild dog left in the world along with Kruger National Park. Large prides of lion and buffalo are also common and you have a good chance of spotting leopard and rhino in addition to cheetah and spotted hyena. The wild and woolly brown hyena also occurs here and is something of a rarity.
A significant feature of Hwange is the absence of permanent surface water. There a number of waterholes which are maintained by various lodges in the park throughout the year thereby ensuring the livelihoods of thousands of animals, and excellent game viewing as wildlife congregates at these points.
The landscape in the park is diverse, with a dense teak forest in the north and Kalahari sandveld in the south. In between, open grassy plains lined with acacia lie alongside mopane woodland and islands of ilala palms. The seasons, too, compel dramatic changes on the park. During the hot summer rains between December and March the bush becomes lush and the wildlife disperses. Between June and October, the winter months see the bush rapidly dry and thin out, all but a few waterholes remain, and the wildlife is concentrated and easy to spot.