Chizarira National Park
Chizarira National Park is a national park that lies in Northern part of Zimbabwe. At 2,000 square kilometres (490,000 acres), it is the third-largest national park in Zimbabwe, and also one of the least known because of its isolated situation on the Zambezi Escarpment. It has good wildlife populations and some majestic scenery. The name of the park comes from the Batonga word Chijalila, which translates into English as “great barrier”, referring to Zambezi Escarpment, of which Chizarira rough terrain forms a part.
Where does Chizarira fit into your Zimbabwe Adventure?
The northern portion of the park is situated within the Southern miombo woodlands Eco region, while the southern part is located within the Zambezian and mopane woodlands Eco region. The escarpment falls steeply some 600 metres to the Zambezi River valley floor and offers magnificent views towards Lake Kariba, 40 kilometres north. Rivers such as the Mcheni and Lwizikululu have cut almost sheer gorges in the escarpment. At the north eastern extremity of the park lies Tundazi, a mountain on which, according to local legend, resides an immense serpent, the river god Nyaminyami. The southern boundary is marked by the Busi River which is flanked by floodplains supporting winter thorn Faidherbia albida woodlands.
Chizarira is Zimbabwe’s 3rd largest national park, with a high population of four of the Big Five animals with the rhinos missing. The terrain is excellent for leopard, and there is a good variety of herbivore. Its main attraction is its enormous wilderness appeal. Walking safaris are a big part of the experience. Arguably Zimbabwe’s third largest National Park and indisputably the most remote wilderness area, Chizarira national park derives its name from the Batonga word “Chijalila” which means “The Great Barrier”, an orientation of phenomenal mountains and copious hills that form a fabulous portion of the Zambezi Escarpment. The terrain in the park is craggy, punctuated with ragged mountains, intensely incised by gorgeous gorges and awesome gulches. In the intensely impenetrable valleys, sandwiched by the unique open plain rests the lush vegetation comfortably suckled by vibrant natural springs. This has made the park an amazing place to appreciate nature.
Safari activities in Chizarira National Park
Chizarira National Park, located in Zimbabwe, is a hidden gem for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This remote and lesser-known national park is home to a breathtaking landscape and an abundance of wildlife. Here are some of the top attractions and things to explore when visiting Chizarira National Park.
Chizarira National Park is renowned for its stunning vistas and panoramic views. The park is perched on the edge of the Zambezi Escarpment, offering visitors awe-inspiring vistas of the Zambezi River valley below. Prepare to be mesmerized by the dramatic cliffs, deep gorges, and cascading waterfalls that dot the park’s rugged terrain.
The Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, making it a paradise for animal enthusiasts. Visitors can spot a variety of species, including elephants, lions, leopards, hyenas, buffalos, and a plethora of birdlife. Game drives offer an excellent opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Chizarira national park in Zimbabwe has a diverse bird population, with hundreds of species spotted within the park. The African broadbill, Livingstone’s flycatcher, western Nicator, African emerald cuckoo, and the uncommon and elusive African pitta are among the most sought-after birds documented. The Taita falcon, which breeds within the Park, also calls the park home.
Because of its remoteness and lack of visitors, Chizarira has seen a rise in poachers in recent years. Due to a lack of lodges and safari companies in the park, poachers have had free reign, and the park has suffered as a result, particularly during Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in the early 2000s.
The Park has a number of hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The trails take visitors through some of the park’s most scenic areas and offer opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy breathtaking views.
Explore the local culture and traditions by engaging with nearby communities. Arrange a visit to a local village to learn about the customs, traditions, and way of life of the Tonga people, who inhabit the region surrounding Chizarira National Park. Participate in traditional dances and crafts, and gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural heritage of the area.
Where to stay? See lodges & Camps
Zimbabwe’s Chizarira national park has seven exclusive bush camps where wildlife enthusiasts can spend a night or two. Each of the camps is usually limited to a maximum of 12 persons. The facilities include Mucheni Gorge Camp, Mucheni View Camp, Busi Camp, The Platform Bush Camp, Kaswiswi Camp and others
When to go? Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Chizarira national park is July to October, game viewing is at its best at waterholes and rivers. Sunny, clear skies and an absence of mosquitoes are other advantages of visiting at this time of year. The greenery does flourish when the rains come, but this tends to be outweighed by unreliable roads.
How to Access Chizarira national park?
Access by Road
At Gokwe take the Binga tarred road via Chitekete for 120 kilometres until you reach a T-junction with a sign post indicating Binga to the left. Take this dirt road towards Binga via Siabuwa Business Centre until you see a sign indicating Chizarira National Park at the 47 KM peg. Turn left and proceed for 20 KM to the Park headquarters.
From Bulawayo on the A8 for Chizarira National Park turnoff east at Cross Roads 50 KM south of Hwange town, then travel 28 KM to Kamativi on good gravel road, then 50 KM to the Mlibizi turnoff. Continue east 54 KM to the Binga turnoff. Continue east toward Siabuwa, but turn right after 47 KM soon after crossing the Mucheni River where a sign indicates Chizarira National Park. A further 20 KM of dirt road up and over the escarpment gets the visitor to Park headquarters at Manzituba.
Access by Air
Airstrip exists at Chizarira National Park Camp for private/charter aircraft. Prior permission to land must be obtained from Chizarira National Park Office. Fly into Binga Airstrip and then travel 95km by road to Chizarira National Park along Siabuwa road.
From Karoi drive inland west towards Siabuwa crossing the Sanyati and Ume Rivers.