Rhodesia's Wankie National Park
THE Wankie National Park, occupying an area of over 5,000 square miles in the Western region of Rhodesia, has been described by the world's most-viewed wild-life television programme as "Tusker Territory". This title is certainly apt, for in the northern part of the park the many water-holes attract a large proportion of the reserve's 7,000 elephant as well as many other species of game. Visitors' cars are often held up by herds of elephant up to 250 strong and by buffalo herds of 400 or more. But there are not only elephant and buffalo: Wankie is well noted, too, for its variety of animals. More than 50 species inhabit the reserve.
Accessibility has increased the reserve's popularity enormously in recent years, and close proximity to the world-famous Victoria Falls has spurred further development of access routes, game-viewing roads and touring and accommodation facilities. At the same time, however, careful planning has ensured that camps are of a limited size and many miles apart, thereby guaranteeing uncrowded game viewing. Each visitor can thus, savour to the full the individual experience of seeing an elephant cow washing her calf, a bambi-like steenbok on the roadside, a pride of lion on a kill in short, untamed Africa.
WHEN TO GO THERE
Main Camp is open throughout the year. Sinamatella and Robins, in the north, are open from June 1 to November 30, subject to the condition of the roads after the rainy season (Nov.—March).
A general view of Main Camp
HOW TO GET THERE
The Park lies between the main road/line-of-rail from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, and the Rhodesia Botswana border.
Arriving on a C.A.A. aircraft at Main Camp
By air from the new Rhodesian airport at Victoria Falls and from Salisbury via Kariba there are eight scheduled DC3 flights a week to Main Camp, and this number is usually increased between June and October. Wankie is prominently featured in the national airline's "Flame Lily" all-inclusive holiday tours marketed throughout the world.
An attractive lodge at Main Camp
The restaurant at Main Camp
By rail, trains from Bulawayo and Victoria Falls daily arrive at and depart from Dett Station, and transport is available for the visitor to cover the 14 miles to Main Camp. The Railways run "Game trail" package tours to Wankie and "Rainbow" package tours to the reserve and the Falls from all centres in Rhodesia.
By road there are separate access roads to the three camps from the new modern highway between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Main Camp is 14 miles from a turnoff,' 162 miles from Bulawayo or 120 miles from the Falls. Sinamatella Camp is 30 miles from Wankie township, which is 70 miles south of the Falls and 212 miles north of Bulawayo. Robins Camp is 44 miles from a turn-off at Matetsi, only 32 miles from the Falls.
ACCOMMODATION AND FACILITIES
Accommodation for 200 persons is provided in three rest-camps, and lodges for another 50 people are under construction. Accommodation varies from single roomed chalets to double-bedroomed lodges with dining-room, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. All chalets and lodges have basic furniture with drinking water, hot baths and water-borne sanitation within or close by. Bedding, refrigerators, cooking utensils and fuel are available if required. Each camp has a petrol-filling station; a store selling foodstuffs, liquor, toilet requisites and photographic film; a licensed restaurant with reasonably priced table d'hote meals which often include a Rhodesian dish such as eland steak or jugged impala; a caravan site and camping site, both of which have the use of the camp facilities and are floodlit at Main Camp.
Main Camp is in the south-eastern corner of the Park and has been established for about 30 years. At present it has 24 chalets and one lodge, with total accommodation for 54 people, but a further 25 two-bed lodges (each with a bathroom and toilet but without a kitchen) are now being built. The air strip is alongside the camp.
A general view of Sinamatella, perched 180 ft. above the plain below
Sinamatella Camp was opened in 1966 and lies near the Park's northern border. It consists of 20two-bedroomed luxury lodges which extend along a ridge commanding a fine view for many miles to the south.
One of the well-constructed lodges at Sinamatella
The restaurant at Sinamatella.
A typical interior of a thatched chalet at Main Camp and Robins
The restaurant at Robins
Robins Camp was named after a rancher who formed a private game-sanctuary from which grew the Park as it is known today. It is situated in the north western corner of the reserve and can accommodate 52 people in its three four-bed and 20 two bed chalets. Five miles west of Robins, at Nantwich, are three double bed-roomed self-contained lodges overlooking a large water-pan to which many animals come to drink at sundown.
A general view of Robins Camp
A lodge at Nantwich
From Main Camp a tarred road leads for 50 miles west to Shumba, which is a picnic site en route to the other two camps. There are about 250 miles of other roads, some of which have gravel surface.
Because a car and caravan are not sufficiently manoeuvrable when encountering game on the road, towing within the park is not allowed.
Very large motor-coaches are also prohibited from driving through the Park because they cause abnormal wear on the roads and produce dust which disturbs the game viewing.
For other vehicles there is a speed limit of 25 m.p.h., and driving is allowed only between sunrise and sunset. During the day there are ultimate departure times, after which visitors are not allowed to travel from one camp to the next.
At Main Camp, United Touring Company has on hire a fleet of seven-seater micro buses. Each bus has a driver-guide, and the open roofs for convenient game viewing and photography are most popular.
Two of the most famous of Wankie's waterholes, Nyamandhlovu and Guvulala Pans, are close to Main Camp. Viewing-platforms, at which the visitor can sit in comfort and look down on the animals as they come for their evening watering, have been constructed alongside. Apart from designated places such as these, visitors for their own safety are not allowed to leave their vehicles.
RESERVATIONS & INFORMATION
The Regional Warden, Wankie National Park,
P.O. Dett, Rhodesia.
GAME TO BE SEEN
Apart from the enormous herds of elephant and buffalo already referred to, the list of game within the Park is almost endless. Rhino, black and square-lipped or (white), have been re-introduced, and there are about 40 of each. Giraffe, frequently with zebra, are seen throughout the Park. Lion appear to favour the Robins basalt area, where prides of 15 may be seen. They occur, of course, in good numbers in other parts of the Park. Other predators that are most likely to be seen are wild dog and black-backed jackal. There are cheetah, leopard, side-striped jackal and manyvarieties of mongoose as well. Antelope such as kudu, wildebeest, eland, sable, waterbuck, impala and steenbok are most common, and there are also gemsbok roan and tsessebe. Ostrich, baboon and vervet monkeys can also be freely seen.
Lions at a kill
Elephant crossing the road
Giraffe at a watering hole
End of Article
Recompiled, by Eddy Norris, from scanned pages/images made available by Diarmid Smith, of a brochure which is thought to be dated in the 1970's. Thanks Diarmid
The recompilation was done for no or intended financial gain but rather to record the memories of Rhodesia.
Paul Norris for the ISP sponsorship.
Paul Mroz for the image hosting sponsorship.
Robb Ellis for his assistance.
Should you wish to contact Eddy Norris please mail me on email@example.com