Overwhelmed in Hwange

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Having been a Delta baby for many years I wasn't sure what to expect from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, where Wilderness has three camps. Davison’s, Little Makalolo and the newest, the phenomenal Linkwasha Camp.

My first impression of these beautiful open grasslands, with Rhodesian teak, false mopane (rosewood) and the odd camelthorn forests separating miles of protected land, was of immense beauty and tranquillity. But once the afternoon sun had worked its magic, transforming the seemingly dormant and clandestine wildlife populations into sudden abundance, my impressions not only gathered meaning but turned into overwhelming excitement.

Imagine the sun setting in an already picturesque landscape with literally hundreds of Africa’s gentle giants moving past in family herds? Some moving swiftly, yet others more gracefully making their way past camp, all stopping to partake of the generous, life-giving pans that provide purpose to each camp’s unique location.

Water in Hwange is not naturally generous, and in the past its low yield has been known to decimate wildlife populations. Today, with 14 individually pumped pans, Hwange comes alive in the hot hours of the day, and it's not uncommon to share sundowners with a myriad species which all seem to share an appreciation for the lifeline these water points hold.

Today these pumps are driven by Lister engines, but the first of many solar-driven pumps has just been installed, delivering fresh and clean daily water without any carbon footprint. This, in my opinion, is a fantastic success story, and an eye-opening experience, not to forget just how exhilarating it is to share the African savannah with literally hundreds of African elephants in one of the world’s most perfect settings.

Hwange, Zimbabwe's largest national park, boasting over 1.4 million hectares (only slightly smaller than the whole of the Okavango Delta), has no permanent water, yet has some of Africa's largest wildlife populations. It is estimated that there are around 82 304 elephants in Zimbabwe (2014) with 45 000 of these living in Hwange.

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By Deon de Villiers

I have always had a passion for photographing wildlife and the natural world in any aspect. My aim has been to photograph the beauty around me and to ultimately build a database of images which will remind me of the road I have travelled... it's a personal thing, which luckily I am today able to share with those that are interested and who share the same passion. Today Kym and I live in Botswana with our two little children, and I manage the operations for number of Wilderness Safaris Delta based camps.

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