Zimbabwe is a tropical country but has a mild climate because much of it lies on a high plateau. Water runs off a grassy veldt into the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers which are surrounded by thick forest. The veld is crossed by The Great Dyke, a rocky ridge with deposits of gold, nickel, and chrome. The natural parks and wildlife reserves are immense and exploring it gives the feeling of reliving the emotions that the early explorers felt during the olden times.
Here is a rundown of the top ten not to be missed places in Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls (Mosi – Oa-Tunya)
There are places where you particularly feel the strong power of nature and realize you are just a tiny creature. In these places, you feel the energy of nature and its irresistible character. Such impressions can be felt at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. For better appreciation, it is highly recommended to view the falls from both sides. It takes two hours to get around it from one end to the other. The 100 meter long spectacle gives an impressive show especially during the months before winter (August – September) when the influx of water is lower and the falls are more visible. You can get wet from head to toe despite the raincoats provided. Refrain from taking pictures if you don’t have a waterproof camera.
To see this attraction you need to take the route that is part of Zambia and adjacent to the falls area. The landscape can go through different levels, go up the stairs and then down to a path where a sloping trail winds through the trees to get to the very edge of the falls. Admire the huge waterfall as the mists formed out of the sprays create a spectacular background of rainbow colors. The feeling of being within 2 meters of the water jump is indescribable. Nearby there is a small souvenir market. You can get there without problems and if there are elephants walking on the rocks and drinking you are assured to enjoy the show with the sound of waterfalls in the background.
Zambezi River Bridge
The Zambezi Bridge is a historic structure that connects the state of Zambia with Zimbabwe, but if you want to feel like a king or queen for a few hours go and enjoy the view from the garden of the Victoria Falls Hotel, the oldest building in Zimbabwe that is now converted into a luxury hotel. From there you will dominate the valley and you will enjoy the deck with the right shot. From Victoria Falls, the bridge is easily accessible by a taxi ride. You can alight and cross it on foot and see the charming character of the bridge that offers beautiful scenery of the falls. In addition, for the more adventurous traveler, they can go bungee jumping or cross through the pulley on a cable that connects the two ends of the rift. The bridge also serves as a railroad and there is a special train that makes a stop for a view of the falls.
If you have been to the waterfalls, take a trip to the bridge where the atmosphere is more breathtaking, especially when the Zambezi performs a tremendous water flow. Here you can feel the power of nature, the roaring Zambezi falls into the depths, the water spraying a fine mist and the sun conjuring numerous rainbows in the sky. If you feel like it and can take a boat ride on the Zambezi River, there are so many boats both from the side and from that Zambia-Zimbabwe route that usually starts just before sunset. You can see many animals along the river (hippos, elephants, and monkeys) all while you are comfortably seated and enjoying an aperitif served by the staff on the boat.
The Victoria Falls Steam Train
Of all the activities offered to observe and enjoy the majestic Victoria Falls, the Steam Train (Victoria Falls Steam Train) provides the most impact and astounding view of this spectacle. Upon leaving the train station, one feels transported to the colonial times because every part is wonderfully preserved. The calm journey through the African savanna makes you rediscover the vital sense of existence. The sound of falling water, the softness of the raindrops that it causes, the green and lush vegetation of the rainforest and the last rays of the late eminent rainbow makers can be experienced during the 40-minute stop in the solid bridge.
There are many advantages and unique sensations when visiting the falls on the train, including beverages and snacks, the exclusive party car, dining car, lounge car and its top-notch staff. There are thrilling surprises along the way. For the extreme sport enthusiasts, bungee jumping is available from the bridge portion. Elephants coming from nowhere and crossing the railroad are one of the surprises that await every passenger of the old world style locomotive riding experience.
Matobo National Park
The Matobo National Park is well worth a visit for its spectacular setting characterized by the “rocks in the balance” and rocks in the shape of the back of a whale and water basin formations. The lodge and camp site is well maintained. Poaching has decimated some of the animals, with patience you can see some of the few rhinos reintroduced as well as other hoofed animals. The grave of Cecil John Rhodes is located high above and in the center of the Matobo National Park.
It is an interesting park where the conformation of the granite rocks are like sculptures made by man. The Matobo National Park lies in wind eroded granite hills to the southwest of the Bulawayo region. The hills are famed for their ancient cave paintings. Buffaloes, elephants, lions, zebras and hippopotamuses live in the park. The park is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the cave discoveries and the burial site that can be found within its proximity.
Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage and Research Center
The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage and Research
Center located in the Bulawayo region offers a realistic contact with wild animals. It has a wide collection of feline animals. The animals are well cared for and the center is well maintained. Animal volunteers provide their services for the upkeep of the place and to oversee that the animals are not harmed. Kids can have a great day interacting with the wild as they staff allocates an area where they can touch, pet, and feed their favorite animal.
All the necessary information regarding the care and needs of the animals were properly labeled by information boards that can be seen all over the wildlife center. The owners lead the educational tour for the kids and answers all their questions with factual answers interspersed with a joke or two. It is an ideal weekend family getaway where they can bond along and meet these animals and at the same time enjoy a good Sunday brunch or a taste of African cuisine at one of the restaurants that is found inside the center.
Wild Is Life Trust (The Animal Sanctuary)
When in Harare, a visit to the Animal Sanctuary is an eye opener and a good way to learn and understand the value of wildlife animals and the need to protect every species that this land is famous for. The sanctuary is composed of an outdoor safari that is focused on caring and preservation of endangered animals and to avoid the helpless animals become victim to the rampant poaching in the province of Harare. Located just a stone’s throw away from the airport, the commendable effort of the owners and their staff to help these creatures are made open to the public to encourage awareness of their cause regarding wildlife preservation work.
Even the animals that have an illness or injury are sheltered under their care and not allowed to return to their natural habitat unless they have fully recuperated. By afternoon, when all the animal care activities (feeding and petting, touching and a simple animal show) and tours are done the owners offer a free snack of tea and biscuits while enjoying a pleasant sunset view from its grounds.
The ancient city of the Great Zimbabwe was settled around A.D. 1000 and gave the country its name. The Shona people and later traders known as the Rozwi, built walls of massive granite slabs to protect them from other colonizers. They can still be seen today at the ruins near Masvingo. It is quite a large complex that can be explored in two ways; a part is built on a hill while the other part is along the plains. The place is interesting from the point of view of history and archeology.
The ancient ruins that are seen are the most imposing and impressive man-made sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps there was a restoration a bit excessive. The visit is particularly challenging. Wear a pair of comfortable shoes and be ready do a bit of hiking uphill. But it’s all worth it. In the park, there is a small museum with some interesting findings and rare artifacts.
Hwange National Park
The Hwange National Park is a great place to see African wildlife biodiversity. It allows every visitor the privilege of seeing a huge herd of animals and enjoys it admiringly. At close range, you can have the best privilege of meeting a presidential herd of animals (more than 100 of them). All the wonder and might that the marsupials can proudly display is highlighted in their rustic and untouched natural habitat. Hire the services of an exceptional guide to make this informative tour a unique adventure. On board a 4 wheel drive they can take you to the small pool of the camp with elephants, which after wallowing at the waterhole takes a sip of clear water and splurge on it with such delight.
The guides can also bring you to an enclosure of sable antelope common in South Africa but exclusively housed on these reserves. The tour leads all the way up to the gorge rich with many elephants, buffaloes, ostriches, wildebeest, migratory birds, eagles, rhinos, hippos, big turtles, and the lions. It is the most unique safari you can ever discover.
In the northern part of Zimbabwe stands the Mavuradonha Mountains where a world of wildlife wonder awaits for all who think they have seen it all in Africa. For a few years now, Varden Safari Tour owners James and Janine Varden offer riding safaris of a special kind. Their brand of safari tour is more of a ‘travel by horse’ approach in an absolutely isolated mountainous landscape that one can conquer only by foot or horseback.
For a different kind of adventure, a stay in their provided camp teaches the back to basic existence. No generator, no mobile or internet disturbs the peace of solitude. All hot dishes are expertly prepared on an open fire, so nothing to be desired. James Varden is one of the best guides in Zimbabwe and leads to elephant trails as well. Native bushmen join you on the safari where they can lead you to the bamboo forests that are a century old and around the huge rocks that gives a wide view of the mountain. The expedition goes on up to the caves filled with bats. It will commence at the promontory where the preserved wildlife consists of; Elephants, saber antelope, zebra, lions, baboons, cheetahs and other small antelope species that visitors can come near with and have a closer interaction. Bring a good hiking boots, warm clothes, camera, sunscreen and mosquito repellent for an enjoyable adventure. A good 4- 5 stay is the best option to immerse and understand what a real safari means.
Lake Chivero Recreational Park
Located within a short distance from the city of Harare, the
Lake Chivero Recreational Park is filled with lodges where a family can stay overnight and observe all kinds of wildlife in a comfortable setting. The whole park is rich with lots of flora and fauna.
A great variety of animals can be seen like; rhinoceros, groups of giraffes, and a herd of zebras, many species of deer and ostriches. The park and its adjacent lake offer lots of fun activities to do such as fishing, sailing and bird watching.