Because of the political situation in Zimbabwe, tourists are few and prices are competitive, but the main parks are still cared for and well worth visiting. Hwange is not to be missed, and Mana Pools offers great canoeing safaris on the Zambezi.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent guiding
- One of the best walking safari destinations
- A chance to see Victoria Falls
- Competitive rates and low tourist densities
- Some decline of facilities and wildlife numbers
- Political instability
Hwange and Mana Pools are Zimbabwe’s prime sites for wildlife watching. The most commonly spotted animals are the elephant and hippo, while the giraffe, zebra, lion and hyena are also present in good numbers. When it comes to the leopard or other cats, however, sightings can prove rare. The beautiful sable antelope and the bat-eared fox are two lesser-known highlights of the local animal population.
More about the wildlife
The very accessible Hwange National Park has great diversity and is excellent for good overall wildlife viewing. In the dry season, big herds of elephants congregate here from the surrounding bush. Mana Pools National Park is an excellent off-the-beaten-track-destination and offers unrivaled wilderness to be explored by 4x4, on foot and by canoe.
Weather & Climate
Zimbabwe’s temperate climate is characterized by a moisture-less Dry season (April to October) and a sodden Wet season (November to March). The drier months are cool to warm, although the temperature shoots up in advance of the rains. In the wetter months, the temperature climbs to an afternoon average of around 30°C/86°F, but high levels of humidity give the heat more bite.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife can be viewed in Zimbabwe year-round. But the generally beautiful weather and high visibility of animals in the Dry season (April to October) make this the best time of year to hitch a ride on a game drive. Note, though, that views of Victoria Falls are often obscured by a veil of spray from March to April because of the amount of water tumbling down its face. You’ll have a much clearer view of these famous falls if you visit from May to September, when the Zambezi River calms down.
More about the best time to visit
The best time to visit Zimbabwe is from May to September. It can, however, be visited at any time of the year. The best wildlife viewing time is in the Dry season, May to October, when animals congregate around the rivers and waterholes. This is especially true in Hwange where the artificially pumped waterholes attract many animals, including big herds of elephant. The best time to see Victoria Falls is also from May through September.
Best Time May to September (All parks)
High Season July to October (Won't feel crowded; only Victoria Falls gets busy)
Low Season November to April (The parks will be very quiet)
Best Weather April, May and September (Pleasant temperatures; afternoon rains are rare and seldom interfere with your safari)
Worst Weather October to February (Very hot in low altitude parks; February to December are the wettest months)
April to October –Dry Season - Winter
- Vegetation is less and animals concentrate around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot
- Virtually no rain, clear blue skies and lots of sunshine; there are fewer mosquitoes
- Although it is high season, the parks won't be crowded, except for Victoria Falls
- Victoria Falls is most spectacular from May through September when the water is mid-to-low, and the spray doesn't block the view to the falls
- October can get very hot in the low-lying areas, with temperatures well above 32°C/90°F
- It gets cold at night and in the mornings; it's recommended to pack warm winter clothing for morning game drives in open vehicles during the months of June, July and August
- From March to May the flow of the Zambezi river is at its peak, but the massive clouds of spray will block the view of Victoria Falls
November to March –Wet Season - Summer
- The scenery is greener, and it's low season resulting in lower rates
- Many animals give birth in the Wet season, so this is the best time to see newborn animals
- Bird watching is at its best, many birds are in their breeding plumage and migratory birds are present
- Rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom have a negative impact on your safari – but the rains can continue for days
- Wildlife viewing is more difficult since there is more vegetation and animals no longer rely on water holes
- The humidity combined with the higher temperatures in the low-lying parks can make it feel uncomfortably hot
- From October to December, the flow of the Zambezi river is at its lowest and Victoria Falls isn't at its best
Best Time to go to Zimbabwe by Major Park
Most parks offer year-round wildlife viewing, but they are at their best during the Dry season when wildlife is easier to spot. Hwange is best visited in September-October when it is a magnet for big elephant herds. Photo opportunities of Victoria Falls are best between May and December. The rainy season is a beautiful time in Zimbabwe and excellent for bird watching, but the roads in some places can be a problem, especially the 4x4 tracks in Mana Pools.
Premier Parks & Reserves
- Hwange NP – Classic safari
- Mana Pools – Walking, canoe and classic safari
- Matobo Hills – Walking, sightseeing and classic safari
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