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Gona-Re-Zhou National Park

Gona-Re-Zhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park is the second largest game reserve in Zimbabwe, and is situated on the south eastern border of the country, below Chimanimani, and shares the Mozambique border. The park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park; made up of Gona-Re-Zhou in Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The Gonarezhou National Park straddles the Save and Runde Rivers and their confluence/floodplain in the north and the Mwenezi River in the south. The towering Chilojo Cliffs form a backdrop to the Runde River and are visible from 50 kilometres away. The park is home to the rare nyala antelope as well as a host of other antelope species, and all the big game associated with a dry, lowland area. The park is noted for its big tusker elephant bulls synonymous with those of the Northern Kruger National Park; in fact its name in Shona means “place of the elephants” and many say these are the biggest and meanest you’ll find anywhere!

Spectacular scenery at Gona Re Zhou NP, Zimbabwe

The river floodplains are interspersed with lagoons and riverine forest, notable species being the Nyala Berry Tree, Ebony and Natal Mahogany. The arid hinterland comprises Mopane woodland and ironwood forest as well as the Sabi Star that grows on rocky outcrops and has a lovely pink flower during flowering season. This park has the highest variety of birds in Zimbabwe and the annual bird count often results in over 350 species.

For further reading on this area try “Valley of the Ironwoods” and “Bvekenya” by T.V. Bulpin. These books offer a fascinating insight to the area during the 1950’s and 60’s, and little has changed since then. There is a strong conservation team on the Save Conservancy which has remained active throughout Zimbabwe’s troubles.

Elephant cow at Gona Re Zhou

As children we visited the park and it was alive with rhino which are sadly extinct today. Very large specimens of leopard were regularly seen close-up and actually prowled around our huts at night. It has always been a park which requires a 4x4 and a great deal of caution as the animals are not fond of humans.

The park is best visited from May to October (dry season) although there is limited access during rainy season. Accommodation within the park is limited to camping, although there are some exceptional lodges outside the park.

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