Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves and safari areas. It is bordered by Botswana on the west, Zambia on the north, Mozambique on the east, and South Africa on the south. The capital of Zimbabwe is Harare. The official languages spoken are Shona, English, and Ndebele.
Zimbabwe is a paradise for those who love adventure, exploration and big game. It is also famous for its rivers and archaeological wonders. Some of the things you can do in Zimbabwe include fishing, rafting, hiking, mountaineering, bungee jumping, photography, sightseeing, hunting, helicopter flights to see the falls, and a moonlight boat cruise to see the rainbows at Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe is the other country, besides Zambia that hosts the Zambezi River, and with it part of the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there’s white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos and bird life.
THINGS TO DO IN ZIMBABWE
1. Go Bungee Jumping
You only live once and life is too short to be afraid of heights, so why not be a little dare devil and jump of a bridge… with a safety line of course. Be adventurous and take the opportunity to even jump off over the Victoria Falls. This opportunity is offered by Shear Water Victoria Falls.
2. Go Fishing
Zimbabwe offers excellent freshwater fishing, with it’s many lakes you have a variety to choose from but the best locations would be Lake Kariba (famous for its tiger fish), the Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls (known for its giant catfish), and the streams of the Eastern Highlands.
3. Play Golf
Golfers who may want to get away and relax have plenty of great golf clubs to choose from. There are around 40 golf clubs, most of which have 18-hole courses. The Eastern Highlands have the highest concentration of golf courses. The Zimbabwe Open is an annual competition attracting world-class players. If you are an avid fan of golf, you are bound to have a great golf vacation and enjoy yourself.
4. Game Viewing Horse Back
This type of Safari, gives you the chance to explore! The large Hwange National Park which has over many different kinds of game including the Big Five would be the best place to do it! On Horseback you will ride on many different animal trails and view all kinds of wildlife, in the open or relaxing under the shade of the acacia trees. If you are a horse lover and enjoy being in the bush then this definitely is the activity for you!
5. Go Hiking
Check out the Chimanimani Mountains which form Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique in the Eastern Highlands part of the country. They are an ideal place for hikers, to explore the Chirundu tropical rain forest, and view the impressive Bridal Veil Falls. Many rare species of trees are found in the Chirundu forest such as wild orchids and cycads. Another big attraction is the Big Tree which is a red mahogany that is over a thousand years old!
The Great Zimbabwe Ruins is a historical site which is well worth a visit. The stone buildings were built in the 11th century and are one of the oldest ruins in Southern Africa. The name Zimbabwe came from the stone structures of Great Zimbabwe and it became a World Heritage Site in 1986. Eight soap stones birds were found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe is located close to the town of Masvingo found in the central areas of Zimbabwe.
Formerly Salisbury, Harare, the capital, is Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial centre and also the usual starting point for any visit. It is a clean and sophisticated city, characterized by flowering trees, colourful parks and contemporary architecture. Local sightseeing includes the modern museum and art gallery, the Robert McIlwaine Recreational Park, which has a lake and game reserve, the Larvon Bird Gardens and the landscaped gardens of aloes and cycads at Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens. Due to its pleasant climate, Harare is known as the ‘Sunshine City’.
8. The Matobo National Park & Matopos Hills
The Matopos Hills are considered sacred by natives who believed that their ancestral gods lived between the cracks and crevices of the hills. The Matopo hills are ancient, almost 2000 million years old. They were formed by erosion of the river and have incredible shapes and deep valleys. They also have smooth faced boulders created by forced erosion of granite to the surface. The Matopos Hills stretch over 3100 kilometers and include the Matopo National Park.
Matobo National Park is known for its wildlife including the white and black rhinos. It also has great views of the Mpopomo River Valley. It is the pride of Zimbabwe. It is also a large sanctuary for wildlife including baboons, leopards, black eagles, rhinos, and lizards. It is also famous for its species of trees, shrubs and flowers – a botanist dream.
The Matopos Hills has graves of prominent people like Sir Leander Star, Sir Charles Coghlan and Cecil John Rhodes are located on these hills.
9. The Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls are listed among the top 10 natural wonders of the world. It is the largest waterfall in the world. During the Monsoon season 500 million liters drops down furiously into the Zambezi River, this creates a huge cloud of spray that towers upwards to 1000 metres and can be viewed for a great distance. The falls were named Victoria Falls by David Livingstone but are natively known as Mosi-oa-Tunya which means cloud that thunders. The source of the waterfall is the Zambezi River in Zambia.
10. Zambezi National Park
Zambezi National Park is located on the western tip of Zimbabwe. The great Zambezi River is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and it flows at the northern end of Zambezi National Park. The park has many animals including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, antelopes, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, and impalas. You can go on game drives to explore the dense forests where you can get close up views of these animals.
The attractions in the park include boating, fishing, rafting, bungee jumping, helicopter flights to see the falls, and a moonlight boat cruise to see the rainbows at Victoria Falls. There is accommodation at Zambezi National Park including Lodges and camping facilities. There are fishing and picnic facilities as well.
11. Mount Nyangani
Mount Nyangani is the highest peak in the region. It is home to 3 major rivers, the Nyamuziwa, Kairezi and Pungwe Rivers. The summit is covered with evergreen forests and grasslands on the eastern and western slope. This is a great destination for hikers and botanists as there are rare botanic and wildlife species like the clawless otter and River Inyangani.
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city is a major commercial, industrial and tourist centre. The city is rich in historical associations and is the home of the National Museum. Nearby are the ancient Khami ruins, while to the south is the Rhodes Matopos National Park, notable for its exotic formations of huge granite boulders. Dams with excellent fishing, caves with rock paintings, Cecil Rhodes’ grave and a well-stocked game park make this area popular with visitors.
13. Visit a Zoo
If you have children you can take them to the zoo where they can see and feed a variety of animals in a controlled environment. Check out the Wild is Life Zoo, Grand in Harare and the Lion and Cheetah Park also in Harare.
If you are wondering whether Zimbabweans know how to have a good time, stop right there for you don’t even know the half of it. Zimbabwe is full of a vibrant night life, especially in the capital and other big cities. For a night in the town check out Wild Thing which has gotten good reviews, and Dance the Night Away in the ‘Tube Nite Club.’ If you feel like exploring you may also want to know that even though there are other brands, Zambezi Beer is the national beer in Zimbabwe.
ACCOMMODATION and SHOPPING
With Zimbabwe being a common tourist destination, there are many different places that offer amazing accommodation but there here is a list of a few that are recommended.
• In Harare, the Meikless Hotel or Cresta Lodge
• Over the Victoria Falls, the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Rainbow Hotel Victoria Falls or the Elephant Hills Resort
• In Bulawayo, the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel, or the Matobo Hills Lodges
• Holiday Inn as well is a good place for a family vacation as it is a child friendly, safe and welcoming environment. From personal experience I recommend it as a place to check out. It is available in the cities of Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutare.
For shopping check out the Doon Estate in Harare, which is a great place to go browsing for art and crafts, also check out the Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist’s Village in Victoria Falls to get some creative African souvenirs.
A tourist visa, valid passport, and stamped yellow fever card are required to travel to Zimbabwe. Kenyans don’t need a visa to visit but you can only stay a maximum of 90 days without a visa.
To do with Flights.
• Nairobi, Kenya is 1213 miles from Harare, Zimbabwe
• There are 9 weekly flights from Nairobi, Kenya to Harare, Zimbabwe
• 3 non-stop flights are operating from Nairobi, Kenya to Harare, Zimbabwe today
• KLM has the most non-stop flights between Nairobi, Kenya and Harare, Zimbabwe
• 3 direct flights are operating from Nairobi, Kenya to Harare, Zimbabwe today
• Air France has the most direct flights between Nairobi, Kenya and Harare, Zimbabwe
• Lusaka, Zambia – Lusaka is the most popular connection for one stop flights between Nairobi, Kenya and Harare, Zimbabwe
Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.