Once the royal hunting grounds of Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi, Hwange National Park boasts abundant wildlife befitting its heritage – its 14 650km2 are brimming with more than 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 species of bird. But its majestic elephants are Hwange's drawcard; the reserve is home to one of the world's largest populations.
A couple of hours' drive south of the mighty Victoria Falls brings you to Hwange, Zimbabwe's biggest reserve. An open vehicle gets you to Tom's Little Hide, the private tented camp in The Hide concession. Your safari has begun; and when you meet the warm, friendly staff, you know you have arrived.
Set in acacia woodland with views from your verandah over the waterhole, at Tom's Little Hide you wake with Africa's dawn chorus and slip into sleep to its night sounds. The concession is open to the vast Hwange park, allowing you unfettered access to the reserve, and the game to wander at will – and wander they will to the waterhole. Sit quietly in the hide near camp and watch: a few metres away they come down to drink, almost close enough for you to feel their body heat. This will be a memory to cherish.
For spectacular game viewing, the dry months, between June and October, are the best. The vegetation thins out and only a few waterholes remain, making the wildlife easy to spot. But the lushness of the hot summer has its own special allure.