Chizarira National Park: in detail
Chizarira safari holidays: the full story
Covering just under 2,000km² of wild bush, Chizarira is Zimbabwe’s third-largest national park and arguably its most remote wilderness area. The name Chizarira comes from the Batonka word Chijalila, which means ‘great barrier’: a reference to the imposing Zambezi Escarpment, of which Chizarira’s mountains and hills form a portion.
The terrain here is rugged: jagged mountains deeply incised by gorges and ravines. In between, in the valleys and the odd open plain, you'll find lush vegetation fed by clear natural springs. This has long made Chizarira National Park a great place to appreciate the tranquility of the African bush.
Unfortunately this quiet tranquility has also placed Chizarira at increased risk from poaching in recent years. The relatively small numbers of visitors and lack of lodges and safari operators in the park has made it easy to exploit and it has suffered as a result, particularly during the economic strife that engulfed Zimbabwe in the early 2000s.
Chizarira National Park has never been about seeing huge herds of animals but it did provide a pristine wilderness experience. Sadly, this is no longer the case. It's still an excellent place to spot leopard – which thrive in this kind of rocky, broken landscape – but once-strong populations of antelope, elephant and buffalo have been significantly depleted.
Chizarira was always a park for visitors who take both walking and safaris seriously, and the best way to explore is still by using a combination of 4WD game drives and, in the more rugged areas, walking safaris. Unfortunately, though, the only lodge, Chizarira Wilderness Lodge just outside the park boundary, has fallen into a state of disrepair.
Yet there is enormous potential for Chizarira to return to its former place amongst the best wilderness regions in Zimbabwe. We’re hopeful that as tourism continues to experience a renaissance in the country, this area will receive the investment boost it needs. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update this page accordingly.
Important noteWe’d encourage anyone who has a particular interest in Chizarira to give us a ring to discuss the options, even if we may not be able to help directly. A stay here will only suit the more hardy and adventurous travellers, but we would be happy to chat about the logistics of reaching and leaving the park, and the albeit limited options of what to do once there.
Where to stay in Chizarira
Our suggestions for safari camps in Chizarira National Park