Gonarezhou National Park is accessible via road travel through six main access gates – three in the north and three in the south.
Samalema Gorge, Gonarezhou National Park
Masasani Mananga, Gonarezhou National Park
Gorwe Pan, Gonarezhou National Park
Frequently Asked Questions
How do i get to Gonarezhou National Park
With pre-authorisation, flights can access three registered airstrips in the Park and customs and immigration procedures are available for international charters at Buffalo Range Airport in Chiredzi.
The roads within the park are unsurfaced roads, made of materials such as gravel, sand, riverbed and other natural terrains, to navigate them a high clearance 4×2 or 4×4 vehicle is required. More off-roading activities on some of the toughest and rugged terrains will require 4×4 vehicle.
Yes, we do. We do have certain restrictions on some types of vehicles that wish to enter the park. Some vehicles may experience limited access due to their nature and others may cause extensive damage to our roads. Always check with our Reservations Team first.
About Gonarezhou National Park
Each season in the Park has its own charm but overall, the best weather conditions for camping are between April and September.
- From November to March is the hot-wet season, day-time temperatures often reach above 35 degrees Celsius and thundershowers can be common making it more difficult to explore the Park.
- The cool-dry season from April to August are ideal, with comfortable day and night time temperatures.
- The hot-dry season from September to November is the peak of the dry season, although daytime temperatures are high, game viewing by waterholes can be spectacular!
The Park itself operates all year round but access to the National Park for tourists is limited during the hot-wet season. The more remote camps in the Park, that become inaccessible during the wet season, are closed from late-November to March/April each year and the whole park is closed to tourists from 10th January to the 1st March annually.
Yes – day visits to the Park are popular for locals or tourist staying in the area. Day visitors can enjoy a self-game drive and visit some of the picnic sites and viewpoints in the park.
At the very least, it is recommended you have a high-clearance vehicle. During the dry season, most of the park, apart from river crossings, is navigable in a high-clearance two wheel drive. However, we do recommend high-clearance four wheel drive vehicles where ever possible. In addition, if travelling to the more remote corners of the park or attempting sand-river crossings, we do recommend travelling with two vehicles and recovery gear.
Gonarezhou is a big-5, wilderness area and whilst game viewing is somewhat of a game of luck, we can, with almost 100% certainty say you will encounter an elephant at some stage – after-all, this is Gonarezhou – “the place of elephants“. You may also chance upon a number of other species if you are lucky, including Black Rhino, African Wild Dog, Lion or Leopard. The rivers are home to crocodile and hippo, and an impressive diversity of aquatic species. The Park also hosts over 450 species of birds, including some rare and endangered species.
The elephant of Gonarezhou have unfortunately developed somewhat of a reputation for being aggressive, a legacy issue from the difficult times they have been through. This is changing daily and although, as with all wild animals, there are some negative encounters, by far the majority of encounters wiht elephant in Gonarezhou are positive. The key to good elephant interactions are:
- Give the elephants space – do not push them, rev your engine or hoot, particularly in a normal encounter, they are only likely to react negatively to that, perpetuating the problem.
- Ensure you have a plan to move away – make sure you have an exit to move away should the situation warrant it.
- Remain calm – Speeding past, revving engines, shouting or panicking is only likely to worsen the situation and perpetuate bad behaviour. Remain calm, keep your eyes on the elephant, watch their body language.
A variety of activities are on offer, mostly being self-led activities such as game drives, photography, picnics, camping, bird watching and fishing (see Activities). Registered operators (see Guided Safaris in Gonarezhou) in the park also conduct guided-safaris in the Park. From May 2022, Gonarezhou will also be able to offer half, full or multi-day game drives with our local learner professional guides based on a minimum of six guests.
Currently, there are no convenience facilities in the Park. The town of Chiredzi is approximately an hour drive from Chipinda Pools and has supermarkets and other facilities for resupply.
Staying in Gonarezhou National Park
- All our self-catering facilities have running water that is untreated and pumped from boreholes or abstracted from the sand in the river bed. Being untreated, we recommend bringing adequate drinking water for your trip.
- Developed campsites have running water available that comes from either boreholes or abstracted from the sand in the river. All other campsites do not have running water and campers will need to collect water for camp from the river (safety first – be careful of crocodiles and other wildlife) and also ensure they bring their own drinking water.
- Most of our self-catering facilities are unfenced. Swimuwini Camp has a small, two-strand fence around the camp but the other camps are completely open allowing wildlife to pass through.
- Campsites are unfenced, Gonarezhou National Park is a wilderness where animals are allowed to move freely. Guest are encouraged to take necessary precautions always!
Fishing is restricted to certain sites within the Park. This is for several reasons:
- To ensure our guests can fish in relative safety from crocodiles, elephants and other wildlife – the braided river means the channel is often far across the open sand from the camp;
- To limit disturbance to other guests staying in the same camp – ensuring that Gonarezhou is a wilderness that is shared & guests do not negatively impact on each other’s stays in this wild place;
- To protect fish stocks – our policy of no fish leaving the Park, recommending catch & release and limiting fishing zones is also aimed at protecting aquatic life in the rivers.
Enquire with reservations as to the status of fishing at your camp.
Planning your trip to Gonarezhou National Park
- For camping in Gonarezhou, you need to bring everything needed for a camping trip to a remote area – tents, bedding, lighting, cooking equipment, water, food, clothing etc. It is also recommended that you carry recovery equipment in case of getting stuck, a portable compressor, spare tyre(s), insect repellant and sun cream!
- The self-catering camps are largely self-contained with a kitchenette/kitchen, fridges/freezers (check the fridge sizes above), braai area, beds, linen and towels. You will need to ensure you bring your food and drinks, personal items, toiletries and we recommend an extra camping fridge/cooler box(es) with ice (particularly in the summer months).