Gonarezhou & Save Valley

Gonarezhou & Save Valley

In southeast corner of Zimbabwe the Masvingo region (also called the South-East Lowveld or even the Save-Limpopo Lowveld) hides some of Zimbabwe’s lesser known wilderness destinations. Bordering Mozambique and a sliver of South Africa, this is one of Zimbabwe’s larger provinces with wildlife areas that are less developed and subsequently quieter than the more well-known parks in the north and west.

While this is a large area, we have concentrated on only two destinations with quality camps and lodges run by owners and companies we have long known. We have also separated out the historic Great Zimbabwe into its own area as this is a very different proposition.

Gonarezhou National Park

Adjoining Mozambique and South Africa, in the far southeast of Zimbabwe lies Gonarezhou National Park and its 5,000km² of remote undeveloped wilderness varying from open pans of tall grass to dense woodlands and winding river gorges.

Gonarezhou is one of the least visited of Zimbabwe's national parks. It borders the north of South Africa's Kruger National Park and Mozambique's vast Limpopo National Park. Combined these three huge parks make up a truly enormous wild area known as the The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. In total, this covers around 35,000km², an area similar in size to the Netherlands!

Gonarezhou is also Zimbabwe's second largest national park after Hwange. It protects beautiful spreads of mahoganies, ironwoods and tall acacia albida trees, amongst which the birdlife is prolific, particularly after the rains. The game-viewing is good, but it is the ambience of unspoilt wilderness that really attracts – and most visitors will journey to see the impressive red sandstone Chilojo Cliffs.

Highlights of the Gonarezhou experience include watching herds of elephant – although the elephants here have a reputation for being quite aggressive, and so care should always be taken. As well as its many other antelope species, Gonarezhou National Park is known for good populations of the beautiful, but often secretive, nyala. 4WD game drives and walking safaris are among the activities which are available here.

Savé Valley Conservancy

To the north of Gonarezhou the Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) was officially established in 1991 and is one of the largest private conservancies in Africa covering over 3,400km². Comprising of land owned by private investors, the community and the government it is a fantastic conservation success story.

Since its formation the area has seen the successful re-introduction of 14 different species including black and white rhino as well as what was at the time the largest translocation of elephant ever. The huge area with the variety habitats it contains has led to the SVC being designated a conservation area of international importance. Despite remaining relatively unknown there are significant populations of both species of rhino, increasing numbers of predators including lion, cheetah and African wild dog. Other threatened species such as southern ground hornbill, lappet-faced vultures and elephants are also thriving.

Due to the diversity of wildlife, numerous charities and NGOs are involved in research and conservation here. These include the Lowveld Rhino Trust, the African Wildlife Conservation Fund (AWCF) – Lowveld Wild Dog Project and Tusk who continue to assist with funding and training for anti-poaching units in the valley.

This makes the SVC a fantastic area for travellers looking to get away from the crowds and while it isn’t a destination for wall to wall game, it is a perfect area for those who want to experience unspoilt nature, often on foot, with a chance to see conservation in action.
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