Antelope Park Zimbabwe
Situated a few miles south of the small central Zimbabwean town of Gweru, Antelope Park is a private wildlife and conservation establishment geared primarily towards lion protection, conservation and research. It is the home of African Lion Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and the world’s first Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme.
The Midlands of Zimbabwe could not be considered as an obvious destination for a facility like Antelope Park. This is the agricultural heartland of the country, and just a few miles out of a rapidly industrialising provincial capital with a bourgeoning population. It is hard to imagine a bush idyll taking root here, particularly with its emphasis on lions and elephants, but it has. Considering the difficult recent history of land in Zimbabwe, it is also surprising that a facility like this has managed to survive at all. Despite this Antelope Park is a thriving tourist destination that in a compact and accessible package offers all the iconic features of a wildlife safari.
The focus of Antelope Park is much like many similar establishments across the sub-region. A very comfortable camp facility featuring a central hospitality area, bar and restaurant, set in a picturesque bushveld setting, and a surrounded by a campsite, lodges and a selection of luxurious tented rooms overlooking the river. It is an idyllic setting with a parkland atmosphere and a river backdrop with most noticeably an amazing proliferation of local bushveld and aquatic birdlife.
The park offers facilities for campers and overlanders, with a great campsite, well appointed and serviced by excellent ablution facilities. There are a handful of fire-pits that are lit every evening and offer a superb platform to absorb the African night.
Also on offer is a more secluded selection of tented camps set slightly apart, and boasting the usual high standards of dÃ©cor and comfort that most regional tented facilities offer.
Smaller fixed singles and doubles are also available
The surrounding bush does not boast a huge concentration of wildlife, although a game drive will reveal a selection of local antelope species, excellent birdlife, and now and again a surprise such a pangolin, an aardvark or a bushbaby. What sets Antelope Park apart is its focus on lions, and one of the most thrilling, and sometimes unnerving, activities available is an afternoon walk through the surrounding bush in the company of a small pride of young lions that is truly an elemental African experience.
Other options are a ride on an African elephant, game drives and walks, fishing in the local dams and river, horse-rides on the property, and canoeing, boating and sundowner cruises.
Antelope Park is a stopover with a park-like feeling that does not attempt to appear more than it is. It is primarily a conservation and breeding project, with an associated tourist facility to allow visitors to see and experience African lions at close quarters. As a conservation project it deserves support, and as a brief point of rest and relaxation on an overland journey it is unbeatable.
Don’t miss it!