CHIZARIRA NATIONAL PARK
One of the most remote national parks in Zimbabwe, Chizarira receives few visitors to its wild, rugged landscapes and is a place to appreciate the tranquility of the African bush. 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.
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.