By Eminently Eve
In my world, every day is a perfect day to visit a game park or nature reserve, even when it rains, the smell from the wet earth and the sounds from the wild animals make me feel energized. Public holidays, however, are the most convenient days to plan for those trips with friends, family, or a partner because schedules tend to align a lot easier during those days.
I have listed six of my favourite game parks to visit which are less than 100km from the CBD of Harare, in no particular order. I will share with you what stood out for me at these particular game parks; the distance, their rates, contact details, and the activities on offer.
1. Haka Game Park
I have visited this game park every single weekend for the past 12 months, except for the few ones where I had plans to visit other parks. The most notable aspect that grabbed my attention to this park was its distance from Harare CBD, which is just 13km. This is a walkable distance, which means that it is quite accessible to anyone.
The second reason that drew me was their unique way of maintaining the park which ensures that you see most of the animal species they have. The best season for game viewing country-wide is the dry season, from mid-April to September. Sometimes it even stretches into November/ December, depending on how soon the rains come.
To drive or walk to Haka Game Park, you take Samora Machel road until you get to the roundabout at Pick’nPay Supermarket in Msasa, where you turn left onto Harare drive. Everything that you see on the right side is Haka Game Park so you just drive a few km to get to the entrance. Alternatively, you can use the Mutare road entry which is opposite Pick’nPay. The entry fees are $8 per adult; $4 per child and no extra charges for the vehicle.
The mammal species that I have witnessed during my visits include Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Warthog, Eland and Tsessebe. The management team of this park is conservation-driven and constantly working towards adding more species. The Tsessebes for example, were introduced into the park in June 2021. From the conversations I have had with the owner, plans to add more giraffes and other antelope species are underway.
Other activities besides game drives (in the form of self-drives) are canoeing, picnicking, braaing, horse riding, balancing rocks, rock painting visits and bird watching. The picnic sites have thatched shelters and neatly cemented braaing facilities and are dotted around the park so one will have enough space to enjoy with their loved ones. Their contact number is +263773343310
2. Dana B Savanna Camp
I did not know about the existence of this park until a few months back when someone messaged me about it. The experience was more than I thought it would be. The grasslands gave me such beautiful Hwange national park vibes with the added advantage of being able to walk around freely.
This private game reserve is located less than 40 km from Harare CBD along the Harare/Mutare road. To get there, you drive for 30 km on the highway from the Pick’nPay Msasa roundabout and you will find the turnoff to the park on the right. There is a toll gate before the turnoff so do budget for that as well. The turnoff is not easy to miss because there is a visible signpost written “Dana B Savanna Camp”. However, remember to use your indicators well ahead of time, (just as you reach the bridge after the dual carriageway becomes a single lane highway), to give other drivers behind you ample warning time. The right turnoff from the highway takes you onto a dirt road that stretches for 4 km to the game park entry point.
The entry fee is $10 per adult and $5 per kid for a day visit. An overnight camping visit costs $20 per adult and $10 per kid. Firewood is charged per vehicle at $5 each.
Visitors can take part in self-drives around the park. Mammal species that I spotted include Kudu, Tsessebe, Blesbok, Impala, Wildebeest, Zebra and Giraffe. Other activities include camping, braaing, canoeing, fishing, nature walks and picnics have no additional fees. There is a very cosy splash pool that is exclusive for the campers during summer at no extra cost. Dana B Savannah Camp also hosts weddings, parties and other group gatherings for which you can contact the management team for more details. The contact number is +263783407579
3. Lion Park
I remember vividly being hesitant to visit this park for the first time. I was used to visiting Haka and so the change was a bit unsettling. The lion enclosure visit completely changed my thoughts and feelings. It brought a pleasantly unique experience to my weekly game park visits. So now, whenever I want to switch things up a notch, then better believe I am at this park. The drive is quite pleasant too; the longest part of the journey is a highway, Bulawayo road, which is great for fuel consumption. It is located just 34.4 km from Harare CBD. There is a clear signpost written “Snake world and Lion Park” so the left turnoff is definitely not one you can miss.
The entry fee is $10USD per adult, $5 per kid and there is no extra charge for vehicles.
The Lion Park has 2 separate sections, one with the lion enclosure and the other one with the plains game. As soon as the gates into the lions’ territory are opened, you can feel a certain sensation. I love the tense feeling I get in my stomach when I am around lions. The feeling is actually not from seeing the lions though, but rather from the wildlife documentaries that I watch in which the lions are in action. The real feeling, I get looking at the lions is somewhat calming. They seem to have that effect on other people too because they do not look as fierce as they actually are when they are just lying around resting.
The plains game species that I saw in the second section which you can also expect to see include Impala, Wildebeest, Eland, Zebra, Warthog, 120+ years old Galapagos Island tortoise and Giraffe. Surprisingly enough, they also have both the male and female Nyala. The sight of this species is quite an interesting one because it has sexual dimorphism, meaning that the male and female look distinctly different.
In addition to the self-drive for game viewing, Lion Park also has a braai and picnic sites. You can bring your food or you can purchase from their canteen. You can also enjoy the phenomenal balancing of rocks and rock paintings. Their contact number is +263772236099.
4. Chivero Recreational Park
Where else in Harare are you going to drive just 40km from the CBD and observe White Rhinos for only $3 per adult, $1 per child and $3 per vehicle?… Nowhere! A lot of Game Parks that have one of the big 5 animals are just so expensive. In many cases the prices are justifiable; however, it would be really sad for us locals to not manage to see these animals because the fees are way beyond what we can afford. This is something I greatly appreciate about Chivero Recreational Park.
To get to it, you take Bulawayo road and drive past all the “Lake Chivero” signposts, until you get to the last one which is immediately after crossing the Manyame River. The turnoff is a sharp hairpin corner so be prepared, indicate well in time and be cautious when turning.
In addition to the White Rhinos, the park is also home to Zebra, Giraffe, Impala, Warthog, and Ostriches. Visitors can take part in rhino tracking, guided safari walks and horse riding. The famous lake makes it possible for activities such as fishing, canoeing and boating to be experienced. For accommodation, visitors can choose either to camp or sleep in the self-catering lodges and chalets that are reasonably priced. It is another “must visit” park. Their contact number is +263773500373.
5. Gosho Park
For 8 years, I had been going up and down the Harare – Mutare highway, with zero clues of the existence of this exceptional gem tucked 4 km from Marondera town (85km from Harare). Gosho Park is an initiative of Peterhouse Group of Schools and is located right next to the Peterhouse Girls School.
I know after reading, “Peterhouse” you are probably thinking, “Okay… so how bad is my bank account going to crack after this visit”. Surprise! Surprise! It is one of the most affordable game parks you will ever visit in Zimbabwe at $5 per adult, $5 per vehicle and $3 per child.
What stood out the most for me in the game park is the fact that they have Sable Antelope – one of the very few animals that make lions think twice before launching an attack on them – thanks to their long sweeping horns which are such a masterpiece. Digital media and pictures actually do these horns no justice. In all the other game parks I have been to so far in the country, the Sable there are extremely skittish. It is so hard to see them up-close. In Gosho Park, on the other hand, it is easy to spot all the animal species and witness them in close proximity; an incredible experience I must say. Blesbok is another rare antelope species to come by in Zimbabwean game parks but is found in this game park. It is said to be endemic to South Africa – (confined only to one specific geographical location and not naturally occur anywhere else in the world). Other animal species that I have witnessed at each of my visits to Gosho Park include Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Wildebeest, Impala and Kudu.
Gosho Game Park is perfect for walks, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, camping and has an aesthetic landscape. The park also has picnic sites and rock paintings which are worth visiting. Their contact numbers are (+263)(065)2323599/ 2324951/ 2322200 – 4.
6. Pamuzinda Safari Lodge
Last but most definitely not least is Pamuzinda Safari Lodge. This is a great park if you want a bit of luxury but without it costing you an arm and a leg. I love to visit this park when celebrating something special and want to stay overnight, relax and just be spoilt. The strikingly cosy accommodation they offer and the admirable, warm relationship they have with their rescued animals will keep you hooked.
Pamuzinda Safari Lodge has located just 88km from Harare CBD. You take Bulawayo road, past Norton and once you pass through a small town called Selous, watch out for their signposts which are quite prominent. These signs will lead you right to the safari lodge.
They have several packages on offer which include a half-day visit, full-day visit and an overnight visit. The half-day visit includes a game drive and lunch; the full-day visit includes lunch and 2 activities; and the overnight package includes bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner and one activity. Bookings are a prerequisite for all packages.
We had the opportunity to see Giraffe, Warthog and Impala right in front of the reception area on arrival. During the game drive, we also spotted a Zebra, Wildebeest, Jackal, Common Duiker, Eland, more Giraffe, more Impala and lions. Their contact number for inquiries and booking is +263772573022.
Those are my top 6 favourite game parks to visit which are near Harare, each game park offers a unique and precious experience. Why not spoil yourself and your loved ones with a game visit treat this upcoming holiday and for that matter any time you need to unwind?!
– Remember to always have a little intimacy in your life, & as always I’m talking about intimacy with nature –
The rates are always to be confirmed with the specific park as they are subject to change and bookings before your travels are also very important to avoid disappointment.
Images by Eminently Eve
Originally published in the 5th Ndeipi Newsletter