Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park, located in the remote southeast corner of Zimbabwe on the border with Mozambique, offers a unique wildlife experience for safari enthusiasts. As part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, one of the largest conservation areas in the world, Gonarezhou is known as “the place of elephants.” With over 11,500 elephants, it boasts one of the highest densities of elephants in any protected area in Africa. But the wildlife diversity doesn’t end there – the park is also home to over 450 species of birds and 89 large mammal species, making it a haven for nature lovers.

One of the enduring natural features of Gonarezhou National Park is the iconic Chilojo Cliffs. Standing 180 meters high along the Runde River, these towering sandstone cliffs form a breathtaking backdrop to the park’s scenic beauty.

Key Takeaways

  • Gonarezhou National Park is a remote safari destination in Zimbabwe, bordering Mozambique.
  • It is renowned for its high density of elephants, with over 11,500 elephants calling the park home.
  • The park is part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, one of the largest conservation areas in the world.
  • Visitors can admire the majestic Chilojo Cliffs, towering 180 meters high along the Runde River.
  • With over 450 species of birds and 89 large mammal species, Gonarezhou offers a diverse wildlife experience.

History and Conservation

Gonarezhou National Park has a rich and turbulent history, from early human settlements by the Shangaan people to the ivory trade. It was first established as a game reserve in 1935 and later proclaimed a national park in 1975.

The park has faced challenges during periods of conflict and economic instability. Still, since 2007, it has been managed through a partnership between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Frankfurt Zoological Society. In 2017, the park management was handed over to the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, a co-management partnership between the two organizations. This model aims to enhance investment in the long-term sustainability of the park and the protection of its resources.

Features and Wildlife

One of the most prominent features of Gonarezhou National Park is the Chilojo Cliffs, soaring sandstone cliffs that line the south bank of the Runde River. These magnificent cliffs, standing at an impressive height of 180 meters, provide breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The park is a haven for diverse wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Among the notable species that Gonarezhou National Park home is the endangered Cape wild dog, also known as the African wild dog. Their distinctive coat patterns and social behaviour make them a fascinating sight in their natural habitat.

In addition to the Cape wild dog, the park is renowned for being part of the Big Five, a term coined by hunters to represent the five most challenging animals to hunt on foot. The Big Five consists of the mighty elephant, the formidable buffalo, the majestic lion, the elusive rhinoceros, and the stealthy leopard. Seeing these iconic creatures up close in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience for any wildlife enthusiast.

Accommodation Options

Gonarezhou National Park offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. For those seeking luxury and exclusivity, Singita’s Pamushana Lodge and Chilo Gorge SafariLodge provide world-class amenities and services amidst the park’s wilderness. These lodges offer the perfect blend of comfort and immersion in nature.

The park offers self-catering options and camping facilities for those who crave a more adventurous experience. Gonarezhou Bush Camps provide an authentic bush camping experience, allowing visitors to connect with nature on a deeper level. The developed campsites in the park provide the necessary amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay amidst the wild beauty of Gonarezhou.

For a truly unique and enchanting experience, visitors can opt for starbed platforms. These elevated platforms offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to sleep under the stars and immerse oneself in the sounds and sights of the African wilderness.

“Gonarezhou National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders and wildlife diversity. With its awe-inspiring Chilojo Cliffs, rare Cape wild dogs, and the legendary Big Five, the park promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa’s untamed beauty.” – Wildlife enthusiast

  • Chilojo Cliffs: Towering sandstone cliffs along the Runde River
  • Wildlife: Home to the endangered Cape wild dog and the iconic Big Five
  • Accommodation options: Luxury lodges, self-catering options, camping facilities, and starbed platforms


Gonarezhou National Park offers a unique and unforgettable safari experience, showcasing the scenic beauty of its untamed wilderness. Nature lovers and adventure seekers will be enthralled by the park’s diverse wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes.

The park’s rich history and ongoing conservation efforts highlight the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife for future generations. By promoting sustainable tourism, Gonarezhou National Park ensures that visitors can enjoy its wonders while contributing to the long-term conservation of its natural heritage.

Whether exploring the iconic Chilojo Cliffs, embarking on thrilling game drives and walking safaris, or simply immersing in the peacefulness of the wilderness, Gonarezhou National Park promises an unrivalled wilderness experience. It is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to witness the beauty of nature in its purest form.

Fee Type Local (USD) SADC (USD) International (USD)
Conservation Fees 15 20 20
Vehicle Entry Fees (Saloon vehicles and 4-wheel drives) 5 5 N/A
Buses 20 20 30
Accommodation Rates – Lodge 2 bedrooms (4 beds) Not Known Not Known Not Known
Accommodation Rates – Camping per person Not Known Not Known Not Known

Wildlife Viewing in Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park in South Africa is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. With its diverse ecosystem and abundant wildlife, it offers unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing. Whether you’re an experienced safari-goer or a first-time visitor, you’ll be amazed by the incredible sights that await you.

Marvel at Majestic Animals

While exploring the park on game drives or walking safaris, you’ll encounter a wide range of majestic animals. From elephants to lions, cheetahs to rhinos, and buffalos to antelope species, Gonarezhou National Park is home to a rich variety of wildlife. Keep your cameras ready to capture these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.

Discover an Avian Paradise

Aside from its impressive mammal population, the park is also a paradise for birdwatchers. The diverse habitat attracts a wide range of bird species, making it a perfect destination for bird enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for unique and colorful bird species as you traverse the park’s trails.

The Wildlife Table

Animal Species Common Sightings
Elephants Regularly spotted roaming the grasslands and near water sources
Lions Often found lazing under the shade of trees or on their hunting expeditions
Cheetahs Sometimes seen sprinting across the savannah in pursuit of their prey
Rhinos Rare sightings due to their conservation status, but their presence demonstrates the park’s conservation efforts
Buffalos Frequently seen grazing in herds, lending a sense of wild authenticity to the park
Antelope Species Various antelope species can be spotted throughout the park, displaying their graceful movements and unique characteristics

No matter where you turn in Gonarezhou National Park, there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter remarkable wildlife. The park’s dedication to conservation ensures that these magnificent creatures are protected and thrive within their natural habitat.

Guided Tours in Gonarezhou National Park

To make the most of your visit to Gonarezhou National Park, consider taking a guided tour. Experienced guides will provide you with valuable insights into the park’s wildlife, history, and culture. Guided tours offer a unique opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the conservation efforts in place to protect the park. Whether you prefer a game drive, a walking safari, or a boat tour, there are various guided tour options available to suit your interests and preferences.

Game Drives

A game drive in Gonarezhou National Park is an excellent way to explore the vast landscape and encounter the diverse wildlife. Knowledgeable guides will take you on thrilling safaris, where you can spot elephants, lions, cheetahs, and other fascinating animals in their natural habitat. With the help of experienced trackers, you’ll have the chance to witness extraordinary wildlife interactions and capture memorable moments through your camera lens.

Walking Safaris

For a more immersive experience, embark on a walking safari in Gonarezhou National Park. Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll venture into the heart of the wilderness, observing the park’s incredible biodiversity up close. With each step, you’ll discover the intricate details of the ecosystem and learn about the flora and fauna that thrive in this unique environment. Walking safaris offer a chance to appreciate the smaller wonders of the park, such as colourful birds, endemic plant species, and intricate insect life.

Boat Tours

Explore the waterways of Gonarezhou National Park on a boat tour, giving you a different perspective of the park’s natural beauty. Drift along the Runde River and witness a thriving aquatic ecosystem, with hippos, crocodiles, and various bird species in abundance. As you navigate the river’s gentle currents, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot elephants and other wildlife that come to quench their thirst at the water’s edge.

Tour Type Highlights
Game Drives – Up-close wildlife encounters
– Spectacular sightings of elephants, lions, and other iconic animals
– Expert guides with extensive knowledge of the park
Walking Safaris – Immersive experience in the park’s wilderness
– Intimate encounters with flora and fauna
– Unique perspective on the smaller wonders of the ecosystem
Boat Tours – Scenic views along the Runde River
– Abundant birdlife and aquatic wildlife
– Chance to observe elephants and other animals drinking and bathing

Adventure Activities in Gonarezhou National Park

If you’re an adrenaline junkie or an adventure seeker, Gonarezhou National Park in South Africa is the perfect destination for you. This stunning park offers a wide range of thrilling activities that will get your heart racing and leave you with unforgettable memories.

One of the top adventure activities in Gonarezhou National Park is climbing. The park boasts rocky outcrops that are waiting to be conquered. Strap on your climbing gear and challenge yourself to reach the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

For those who prefer water adventures, boating on the Runde River is a must. Hop aboard a boat and navigate through the waterways, immersing yourself in the beauty of the aquatic wildlife. You might spot hippos, crocodiles, and a variety of fish species along the way.

If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, Gonarezhou National Park has something special to offer. Visit local communities and participate in activities such as palm-wine tapping, where you’ll learn about traditional practices and connect with the local culture. It’s a chance to expand your horizons and gain a deeper understanding of the region.

For those who love fishing, the park also offers fishing safaris. Grab your fishing rod and enjoy a day of casting lines and reeling in fish surrounded by the park’s serene beauty. If you’re more inclined towards capturing moments through the lens, join a photography tour and immortalize the park’s stunning landscapes and wildlife through your camera.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, Gonarezhou National Park has a wide variety of adventure activities to satisfy your cravings. So pack your bags, prepare yourself for an exciting journey, and get ready to create lasting memories in this enchanting park.

When it comes to the best time to visit Gonarezhou National Park, June to October is the ideal period. This falls in the middle to end of the dry season, offering pleasant weather and excellent wildlife sightings. If you prefer to avoid crowds, plan your trip between June and August when the park is rarely busy.

Gonarezhou National Park boasts a vast size of 5,000km² (1,930mi²) and an altitude range of 165-530m (541-1,739ft). It is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, with its untamed wilderness and stunning scenery. You’ll be captivated by the beauty of the Runde and Save Rivers and the magnificent Chilojo Cliffs.

One of the highlights of visiting Gonarezhou National Park is its incredible wildlife diversity. The park is home to the famous Big Five, including the recently reintroduced black rhino. It boasts one of the densest elephant populations in the world, providing exceptional opportunities for elephant sightings. You can also spot other wildlife species such as buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, nyala, greater kudu, eland, roan, sable, and if you’re lucky, even wild dogs.

As for activities, there’s something for everyone in Gonarezhou National Park. Embark on thrilling game drives, where you can explore the park’s scenic beauty and encounter its diverse wildlife. For a more immersive experience, opt for guided walking safaris and connect with nature on a deeper level. Don’t forget to treat yourself to unforgettable sundowners overlooking the majestic Chivilila Falls.

Now that you’re excited to visit Gonarezhou National Park, it’s essential to plan your trip accordingly. The best way to reach the park is by flying into Buffalo Range Airport or Beitbridge Border Post and transferring to the park entrance. When it comes to accommodations, you can choose from rustic campsites to luxurious lodges, depending on your preferences and budget.

Before your visit, make sure to obtain all necessary permits and visas to avoid any inconvenience. As for essential gear, pack appropriate clothing, sturdy walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat to protect yourself from the South African sun.

With these top tips and guidelines, you’re ready to embark on an incredible adventure in Gonarezhou National Park. Get ready to discover the wonders of this untamed wilderness and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Wildlife in Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife. With its vast wilderness and varied ecosystems, the park is home to an impressive array of species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

The Big Five and More

Gonarezhou National Park boasts an incredible population of the iconic Big Five, which includes the mighty lion, majestic elephant, elusive leopard, powerful buffalo, and the recently reintroduced black rhino. These magnificent creatures can be spotted roaming freely in their natural habitat, providing visitors with unforgettable encounters.

But the wildlife diversity doesn’t stop there. The park is teeming with a wide range of other fascinating species. From herds of buffalo and zebra to wildebeest, nyala, greater kudu, eland, and roan antelope, there is always something incredible to see. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive wild dogs, known for their intricate social dynamics and captivating hunting strategies.

An Elephant Haven

One of the standout features of Gonarezhou National Park is its dense population of elephants. In fact, it is home to one of the highest concentrations of elephants in the world. These gentle giants can be seen in large herds, gracefully navigating their way through the park’s varied landscapes, and providing an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an experience that many consider to be the highlight of their visit to Gonarezhou National Park. Whether witnessing their playful interactions at a watering hole or marveling at their sheer size and beauty, encountering elephants in the wild is a truly unforgettable experience.

A Wildlife Paradise

Gonarezhou National Park is a testament to the incredible biodiversity that Zimbabwe has to offer. From the Big Five to a plethora of other species, the park showcases the rich tapestry of Africa’s wildlife. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, Gonarezhou is a must-visit destination.

Scenery and Activities in Gonarezhou National Park

The picturesque Gonarezhou National Park offers a remarkable variety of scenery, captivating visitors with its natural beauty. One of the park’s most iconic features is the breathtaking Chilojo Cliffs. These towering red sandstone cliffs provide a stunning backdrop and a photographer’s dream. Witness the interplay of light and shadow as the sun rises and sets over these majestic formations.

Immerse yourself in the park’s diverse landscapes, including the enchanting Save-Runde Confluence where the two rivers meet. Marvel at the convergence of these vital waterways and the unique ecosystems they support.

Explore vast areas of combretum and mopane woodland, dotted with ancient baobabs and carpeted with vibrant wildflowers. With every step, you’ll discover a new and captivating scene, each more awe-inspiring than the last.

There’s no shortage of activities to keep you engaged in Gonarezhou National Park. Embark on exhilarating game drives and witness the abundant wildlife that calls the park home. Encounter elephants, buffalos, wildebeests, zebras, and nyala among many other animal species as you traverse the park’s expansive savannahs.

For a more intimate experience with nature, take part in guided walking safaris. Led by experienced rangers, these safaris offer an up-close encounter with the park’s flora and fauna. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the bush as you follow the trails through the wilderness.

Unwind and enjoy sundowners overlooking Chivilila Falls, a tranquil spot where the Runde River cascades over a series of rock formations. Allow the awe-inspiring scenery to wash over you as you bask in the golden hues of the setting sun.

Most Rewarding Areas for Game Drives:

Location Highlights
Chipinda Pools An oasis teeming with wildlife, including elephants, hippos, and crocodiles
Chilojo Cliffs Stunning panoramic views and a chance to observe wildlife from a unique vantage point
Save-Runde Confluence A dynamic landscape where two rivers meet, attracting a diverse range of wildlife

Plan your visit to Gonarezhou National Park and immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and a myriad of activities that await you. Whether you’re exploring the iconic Chilojo Cliffs, embarking on game drives, or venturing on walking safaris, every moment in this untamed wilderness will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Planning Your Visit to Gonarezhou National Park

When is the best time to visit Gonarezhou National Park? The ideal period is from June to October, during the dry season. This is when the weather is pleasant, with less rainfall and more opportunities to spot wildlife in action.

Getting to Gonarezhou is a breeze. You can fly into Buffalo Range Airport or Beitbridge Border Post and easily transfer to the park entrance. The convenience of transportation ensures a hassle-free journey to begin your adventure.

Accommodations in Gonarezhou cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer a rustic camping experience or the indulgence of a luxurious lodge, there are options available to suit your needs. Rest assured that your stay will be comfortable and in tune with the natural surroundings of the park.

Prior to your trip, make sure to obtain all the necessary permits and visas. Taking care of these essential documents ahead of time will ensure a smooth entry into Gonarezhou National Park, allowing you to fully enjoy your experience without any worries.

As you prepare for your visit, remember to pack the essentials. Bring along appropriate clothing for the varying weather conditions, sturdy walking shoes for exploring the park’s trails, sunscreen to protect your skin, insect repellent to ward off any unwanted guests, and a hat for protection against the African sun. With these items in your gear, you’ll be well-prepared for a memorable expedition in Gonarezhou National Park.

Getting to Gonarezhou National Park

When planning a visit to Gonarezhou National Park, it’s important to know the various transportation options and entrance fees. Here are some details to help you with your travel arrangements:


If you prefer to fly, there are several airports near Gonarezhou National Park. The closest options include:

  1. Buffalo Range International Airport in Chiredzi
  2. Harare International Airport
  3. Victoria Falls Airport

From these airports, you can arrange road transfers to the park. Some lodges in the area even have their own airstrips for private charter planes, providing convenient access for visitors.

Road Routes

If you enjoy the freedom of self-driving, there are various road routes available to reach Gonarezhou National Park. You can choose to travel from Harare, Bulawayo, through Mozambique, or through the Pafuri border in Kruger National Park. However, it’s important to note that road conditions can vary, and a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for river crossings and rough terrains.

Park Managed by: