DECLARED A GAME RESERVE in 1928, this land was the royal hunting reserve of Mzilikazi and his successor Lobengula. Then the white hunters came along with their guns and decimated the wildlife.
With human intervention, the wildlife has returned, in particular elephants, to this massive park bordering Botswana and Zambia.
14,600 sq km. Hwange is vast. It takes half the day to drive the 140km from Main Camp to Robins Camp.
Now one of the world's truly great parks, 100 years ago, it was devoid of wildlife.
Both black and white rhino were extinct, and elephants numbered fewer than 1000.
Poor soil and low rainfall made survival precarious for wildlife. Trigger happy white guys can't have helped.
An original park official, Ted Davidson, began drilling 60 bore holes to provide permanent water.
Animals began to return, especially elephants and buffalo.
These days Hwange is one of Africa's most important lion habitats.
Success has brought its own problems, with elephant numbers in the tens of thousands, more than the park can sustainably support.
While that is bad for the park, for the visitor, elephant sightings are guaranteed, often in big numbers.
Hwange's size presents challenges. Wildlife has plenty of space to hide, and you have limited time to drive.
The best strategy is to head to one of the bore holes drilled 100 years ago.
There's a dozen or so water holes of various size within 2 hours drive of main camp.
Some, like Kennedy and Nyamandlovu, have viewing platforms. It is possible to sleep overnight at some.
While you will likely see some game as you move between water holes.....
....it's best to sit, be patient and wait to see who comes.
On a cold, windy day, conditions poor for game viewing, the normally reliable Nyamandlovu Pan was quiet.
We moved to Dopi Pan, where the lone kudu headed off as we approached. We saw literally nothing for almost an hour, and then this girl came, and stayed for 30 minutes.
Of course it is possible to see Hwange on a safari tour.
There are very highly priced private camps, many with their own water holes.
But with your own vehicle, is can be done independently.
From memory, US$50pppn would cover entry and camping at either Main or Robins.
Main Camp has seen better days- baths have water but not showers for example. But you possibly have the whole camp area to yourself.
Facilities are apparently better at Robins, worth the drive for the good game viewing if you have the time.
Main Camp does have a restaurant, although at $30 for a steak, self-catering is advisable.
The massive herds of elephant, and if luck is with you, big cats, will be the highlight of Hwange.
And there are plenty of lesser lights, the smaller animals without whom there'd be no predators.
There is something truly magical about the Zimbabwean bush.
Like so much of this troubled country, perhaps Hwange's mere survival is itself remarkable.