Perhaps most famous for the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe was once one of Africa 's most sought after safari destinations. With the current political climate few people seem to want to travel to the country. This is decimating the tourism industry. But many hotel owners and safari operators still hang on. They are the last line of defence for the wildlife of that country. In areas like Hwange, Mana Pools and Lake Kariba visitors can still enjoy amazing wildlife experiences (without the crowds!). Zimbabawe is still worth your consideration.
Zimbabwe is also home of the mysterious Great Zimbabwe, a stone-walled city dating back to the 13th century, the resting place of mining magnate, Cecil John Rhodes, amongst the grandeur of the Matobo Hills outside Bulawayo, and many off-the-beaten-track destinations including the Chilojo Cliffs in Gonarezhou National Park (see 1001 Places to see before you die).
If you are a little more adventurous than most, and not too fazed by the current political climate, the talk to us about visiting this beautiful country...
The treasures of Zimbabwe are rich and varied, ranging from her great wildlife sanctuaries, mighty rivers and natural wonders, to the ancient art heritage left behind by iron and stone age man.
There are few appropriate superlatives that have not already been applied to this magnificent natural wonder of the world - in many ways it defies description. The Victoria Falls is the largest, probably the most beautiful and certainly the most majestic waterfall in the world. A trip to southern Africa would not be complete without visiting this memorable sight. Visitors to Victoria Falls can also enjoy sundowner cruises on the Zambezi, flights over the Falls, horse ride, ride an Elephant, dare to go white-water rafting on the rapids below the Falls, and, for the really brave, bungee jump 111m off the Victoria Falls Bridge!
Hwange is the largest and probably the most popular national park in the country. With a land area of more than 14 000km², the park boasts over a hundred species of animal and over 400 species of bird. Hwange is also one of the few great elephant sanctuaries left in Africa.
It took four years of incredible engineering to block the mouth of a narrow gorge in order to flood the Gwembe Trough and form Lake Kariba - a place of outstanding beauty and tranquillity. A golden Kariba sunset, savoured over a cool sundowner against the backdrop of mountains and clear African skies is one of the true pleasures to be had here. At any time of the year the lake, and the Matusadona Natuional Park which lies on its southern shore, offers the visitor relaxation, sport, entertainment, adventure and big game.
Situated in the lower Zambezi valley lies the Mana Pools National Park, a World Heritage Site and scenically stunning area with an abundance of wildlife. Canoeing on the Zambezi and guided walks on the flood plain are the most popular activities together with mobile tented camps strategically sited on the banks of the Zambezi river.
The famous ruined city of great Zimbabwe lies about 30km from Masvingo and is the country's premier national monument. Judging from the ancient iron tools, ceramics, pottery, gold and carvings discovered in the ruins, it is believed to date from the 12th to 16th century. The complex covers about 720 hectares with its huge granite walls, conical towers and fortresses. Tourist facilities are excellent and there are daily guided tours, a souvenir shop and a museum containing the archaeological artefacts recovered from the ruins.
Matobo Hills NP
The Matobo Hills National Park near Bulawayo is another of Zimbabwe's major tourist attractions. Covering an area of 2 000km², it contains fantastic rock formations, fine San (Bushman) paintings at Nswatugi Cave and a game park with 20 varieties of game including white rhino and the world's largest concentration of black eagles. Picnic spots abound in the park and on the hill Malindidzimu "the legendary place of benevolent spirits", lies the tomb of Cecil John Rhodes.
In the southeast of Zimbabwe lies the remote wilderness area of Gonarezhou National Park (meaning 'place of the elephant'). This is one of Zimbabwe's least visited national parks and the setting for the spectacular Chilojo Cliffs. Whilst the game-viewing in this park is nothing to approach Hwange it has a feeling all its own. The privately owned Malilangwe Reserve on its western border boasts the Big5 and two lovely lodges. Ask for details..
There are streams, waterfalls, lakes, forests, hiking trails, golf courses and many other mountain activities to be enjoyed in this region. The crisp mountain air and the lush scenery make this a favourite tourist destination. The region includes Nyanga National Park, with its spectacular World's View; 30 hectares of indigenous and exotic plants, which make up the Vumba Botanical Gardens, and the rugged Chimanimani Mountains, reaching over 2 400m, pose a real challenge to climbers.
Zimbabwe is going through a bit of a crisis right now! So arranging a complete itinerary is more challenging than it once was. Getting to Victoria Falls, and on to nearby Hwange NP, is straight forward. Places like Mana Pools, Lake Kariba, Matobo Hills and Great Zimbabwe will take more planning but are not out of the question. Air charter services are still available and one or two operators can still offer road transfers where required. Do not let the logistics put you off - leave it all to us.
For the time being I would not recommend a mobile tented safari.
Horse riding is available in Victoria Falls - from day rides through to 2, 3 and 4 night horse riding safaris. Ask us for details..
Zimbabwe's walking guides have always been considered some of the very best in Africa. Hwange, Chizarira, Matusadonna and Mana Pools are all good walking locations. Ask us for details.
Nothing beats a canoeing safari down the Zambezi river! From participatory canoe safaris to the more luxurious, and much in between, there is surely a canoe safari to suit you. Read more..
Some points to note when planning your itinerary to Zimbabwe:
Most people are entering Zimbabwe via Victoria Falls at present although there are still flights into the capital, Harare. There are daily flights from Johannesburg, Windhoek and Maun and it is easy to transfer by road from Kasane in Botswana. From Vic Falls, getting to Hwange is a simple road transfer (2 hours).
Air charters to anywhere in the country are generally available from Harare or Vic Falls only.
More so than ever, we recommend using an African travel specialist to assist with your travel plans to Zimbabawe.
For all your safari planning enquiries (or for more information on any of our safaris or destinations) please complete the Enquiry Form below. Please give as much information as you can on what you have in mind, where you would like to go, what you are interested in, and if possible, an idea of your budget. Thank you.
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