The Mosi-O-Tunya National Park
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to one half of the Mosi-oa-Tunya — 'The Smoke Which Thunders' — known worldwide as Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. It is only 66 square kilometres but there are plans to extend the park further up river. Because the park is small, it affords a wonderfully relaxing drive alongside the river for much of the circular route and the wide variety of species can be easily seen.
The Park provides a home for numerous antelope species, zebra, giraffe, warthog, a variety of birds and smaller animals. Elephants cross the Zambezi and freely walk through the park and the surrounding area.
One can take a pleasant drive around the park in a couple of hours and all the species there should be seen at close range. Since there are no predators, they are very relaxed and afford some excellent photo opportunities. Visitors can drive their own vehicles through the park or go on organised open vehicle game drives and recently elephant back safaris have been introduced.
Victoria Falls National Park
The 23 km2 of riverine jungle, ilala palms, ferns, figs, liana vines and mahogany provide a peaceful setting from which to view the five cascades of the Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls National Park, in Zimbabwe, has a network of trails leading to 16 spectacular viewpoints, a couple of the most popular being 'Danger Point' (on the cliff edge) and the 'Chain Walk' (going down into the gorge).
Wandering through the park's patch of rainforest where a fine mist of droplets creates an almost constant rainbow, you begin to appreciate why the local Batonga people named the Falls the 'smoke that rises'. For the unwary tourist, they might have added; 'Smoke that rises and makes you wet,' so cover your camera and take a raincoat or umbrella.
A notable feature of the park is the rainforest which grows in the spray of the falls, including ferns, palms, liana vines, and a number of trees such as mahogany not seen elsewhere in the region. Visitors have the chance to view elephant, cape buffalo, white rhino, hippopotamus, eland and a variety of other antelope during drives and walking safaris. Crocodiles may be seen in the river, and a nearby Crocodile Ranch offers a safer view of these dangerous animals.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie) is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe. The park lies in the west, on the main road between Bulawayo and the widely noted Victoria Falls. Hwange National Park covers over 14,600 square kilometres. The park is close to the edge of the Kalahari desert, a region with little water and very sparse, xerophile vegetation.
The Park hosts 105 mammal species, including 19 large herbivores and eight large carnivores. All Zimbabwe's specially protected animals are to be found in Hwange and it is the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers. The population of African wild dogs to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the largest surviving groups in Africa today. Elephants have been enormously successful in Hwange and the population has increased to far above that naturally supported by such an area.