Gonarezhou is a national park located in Southern Africa that has managed to stay under the radar. The Rundi and Mwenezi rivers carve their way through this huge park that spans over 5053 km2 creating a scenic wonderland of cliffs, rich alluvial floodplains and natural water pans. The varying types of woodland and bush hold an immense diversity of creatures, which make it a rewarding park for walking, game drives and just enjoying the natural beauty it holds.
This unique national park is located in South East Zimbabwe and forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area, including other great parks in South Africa and Mozambique. It was established as a National Park in 1975 and is home to large herds of elephants, giving the park its name. The name Gonarezhou is from the Shona language and is translated as “the place of elephants”. Elephants aren’t the only reason to visit this highly underrated place, which is why we have collected our five reasons why this park should be number one on your list as your next safari destination.
1. Gonarezhou National Park is still a well-kept secret
Many visitors to Zimbabwe flock to Mana Pools and Hwange to see the big game, although both are wonderful parks with great reputations, there are many other beautiful places to discover. Gonarezhou has much more to offer and because all the hoards go to the other two parks, it means we have the vastness, diversity of flora and fauna and all the animals (mostly) to ourselves. The accommodation facilities available to us are strategically spread out through the park to allow access to the rich diversity and allow us to exclusively enjoy everything the park has to offer within 5 to …an unlimited number of days! There is always more to see and you can easily spend 2 full weeks in this park and stay entertained.
2. The animal diversity in Gonarezhou is unbeatable
With such varying soil types, permanent water year-round the natural vegetation is host to a large variety of animals. All creatures great and small are waiting to be discovered. The rivers and pans hold 50 species of fish. Bird sightings are up to 400. Large mammals 89 including endangered painted wolves, nyala antelope, along with the more common large mammals such as elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, kudu, waterbuck impala and warthog. Finding all these treasures in a single national park is what makes Gonarezhou the best one-stop spot.
3. The park is protected with an innovative conservation model
Zimbabwe National Parks have teamed up with Frankfurt Zoological Society to help manage and protect this unique National Park. According to the official Gonarezhou website (highly recommended to scroll through): official Gonarezhou website (highly recommended site to scroll through):
“The Gonarezhou Trust is an innovative new model for protected area management drawn up between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). Built on the back of a strong relationship developed over 9 years of support by FZS for Gonarezhou, the Trust is directly responsible for management of the Park for a period of 20 years, and became fully operational on 1st March 2017.”
This collaboration and new way of approaching conservation can already be felt in the park and will hopefully continue to ensure a sustainable and long-term solution to protect the wildlife and beautiful landscapes for further generations to enjoy.
4. The riverside walks are unbeatable
Both rivers in Gonarezhou are unique, attractive and wind there way through a wide variety of geological formations. Best of all, we can walk alongside all of these amazing features and enjoy them in full.
Mwenezi River: The Simuwini gorge has remarkable potholes and waterfalls, wide meandering sandy sections fringed with tall riverine vegetation. To top this off are some stunning, deep, permanent water holes at Rossi pools. Plus the river winds around the aptly named Buffalo bend.
Rundi River: Downstream from Chipinda Pools the Rundi river descends into the chasm of Chivalila Gorge, after a dramatic waterfall, the river continues through steep gorges as it winds its way ever closer to the Save river confluence where it widens to a huge meandering sandy river. The lush alluvial flood plain is dotted with Ilala palm forests huge mahogany, ebony and
fever trees and iconic baobabs to set the scene where all types of wildlife abound.
5. Gonarezhou has unique landscapes and photographic panoramas
The Rundi river has carved its way through the sandstone to leave the well known Chilojo
Cliffs which stand close to 190 meters tall. Close by are the two well-known natural pans Tembwehata and Machinwa. They host unusual African lungfish and giant freshwater terrapins, and are also both packed with birds, fish and large mammals. On the Mwenezi river, iconic places like Buffalo bend, Simuwini gorge and Rossi Pool are on our doorsteps and easy to access on a Gonarezhou safari trip.
These are our five reasons why this park should be on the top of your list next year. If you’re interested in a Gonarezhou safari send Mike an email today and he’ll set up a personalized trip itinerary tailored to fit your needs.