Words by Kim Sparrow Photos by Karen Lowe
Hwange holds a character as biodiverse as the ecosystem itself. Being the largest national park in Zimbabwe, covering an impressive 14, 650 sq km, there is much scope for variety. Imvelo has managed to capture an array of Hwange’s traits, each lodge placed in locations showcasing its differences.
From the chaotic, bustling, rumbling arena of Nehimba - a dynamic and electric atmosphere, teeming with species, Karen is off to Bomani, a 5000-acre private reserve set in the Ngamo Forest area. Bidding a temporary farewell to the adventures of lion kills behind the lodge, to finding leopard at Grannies Pan en route home, photographing elephant mere feet away in the swimming pool, as well as the spiritual encounters of game at the seeps. Here contrast exists in serenity to Nehimba pans, as well as white mud against dark elephant skin. Memories are etched, similar to the hide of an elephant, carried with on journeys to come.
At Bomani, time slows down. The pace of the animals, as well as the experiences, are significantly different, honouring the relaxed nature of the Ngamo Plains. Space stretches with time, Acacia Woodland spanning a desert like vastness, silhouetted by dead trees. This is a place of old - empty at first glance, but filled with stories and energy of wildlife. There is a certain intimacy to the plains, vulnerable in their openness, offering observation.
As if to exhibit its unique character, a herd of buffalo 500 strong welcome Karen at the pan in front of the lodge. Dust and power rise together as the herd moves as one, a formidable assembly of tough, tenacious animals. The energy from the herd leaves one in awe, soaking in the sounds and sight of pure authority. Twice a day, the herd drifts into camp, drinking metres from the deck, confident in numbers, the waterhole their own.
Sunset Boulevard steals a small slice of Karen’s heart. The tranquillity settles along with the heat, both welcomed with gratitude. Witnessing the end of the day, orchestrated in quiet tones of the bush, enveloped in space. One drinks in the vastness, quenching the thirst for silence, as well as the typical African Gin & Tonic, saluting Hwange National Park.