Three rivers run through Gonarezhou National Park; the Mwenezi to the west, the Runde through its heart, and the Save forming its eastern boundary and at over 5,000 km², it is Zimbabwe’s second largest national park, cutting a swathe of sandstone cliffs, scrub and baobab trees along the country’s south-eastern border with Mozambique. Largely undiscovered by the outside world, this striking land is one of the last great pristine wildernesses in Africa and takes in a huge diversity of habitats.
Lions, leopard, wild dogs, hyena, buffalo, hippo and giraffe can all be seen within the boundaries of Gonarezhou, but this country is known, first and foremost, as the Land of the Elephant. These massive, intelligent creatures are called nzhou in Shona, and give their name to the national park where they number in their thousands.
The conservation collaboration established in 2007 is today one of Zimbabwe’s biggest conservation success stories – Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT) was established under the management of Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) in 2017. GCT is a ground-breaking partnership between Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) and Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), following almost 10 years of working together within Gonarezhou. This regeneration and conservation success can be seen and felt. In July 2021, 30 black rhinos were reintroduced to the park – a unique opportunity for the park and for increasing territory where these endangered animals can roam freely.
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, in partnership with the community and GCT has the protection, conservation and regeneration of the wilderness, biodiversity, ecological processes, wild and scenic landscapes within Gonarezhou and bordering landscapes as its core focus. The park’s exceptional resource values will be sustained for present and future generations, while supporting its role in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area and regional economic development. The culture and history of the Shangani people will be recognised as one of the key components of the park – another unique opportunity. Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge stands for community-led conservation through the benefits of tourism.
Gonarezhou National Park is on the cusp of a great adventure; forming part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, an area the size of the Netherlands straddling Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. This colossal tract of land encompasses three national parks including Kruger National Park and Limpopo National Park. As the fences come down, years of struggle and division will be forgotten as the animals of this vast land – above all Gonarezhou’s ubiquitous elephants – will once again be able to resume their ancient migratory routes.