Destinations > Zimbabwe
‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.’
Zimbabwe has undergone dramatic changes over the past 15 years, with hyperinflation as one major outcome, resulting in the Zimbabwe doller needing to be removed from circulation, and replaced with the multicurrency system. The multicurrency system allows trade to be completed using major currencies, for example, the US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Rand, and the Pula. Settlement in most trade would be the US Dollar, and is certainly the easiest currency to travel with, as change is more likely to be available. The multicurrency system allowed the government to try and gain some stability for trade. Redistribution of land under the Mugabe government and the impacts this has had on everyone has not been easy, though alot of stability has returned allowing trade to start again. Despite the countries struggles, the Parks remain some of the best in Africa and this indeed makes it the very reason to visit, as lower numbers of visitors, compared to other destinations, make your experience very exclusive, and prices that out compete other destinations. We do suggest taking a closer look at Mana Pools National Park renowned for its incredible game viewing and location in the Lower Zambezi, as well as Hwange and Matusadona National Parks. Zimbabwe was once known as the bread basket of Southern Africa and for the highest literacy rates. Safety in Zimbabwe is no different than anywhere else in Africa, and if anything better than many of the most popular destinations. In our highlights below we also point out the lesser known gems such as Nyanga, Chimanimani and Matobo National Parks, and we suggest everyone takes the time to visit Lake Kariba.
The Magic of Zimbabwe is listed in our highlights below;
Nyanga National Park
Nyanga National Park is situated in one of the most scenic areas of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. Rolling green hills and winding rivers transverse the park. Higher altitudes provide cool weather and fresh mountain air, perfect for rest and relaxation. With stunning mountain views, waterfalls, varied activities and unique flora and fauna, Nyanga National Park will provide the visitor with an unforgettable holiday experience.
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park is a unique park as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, based on its wilderness and beauty, with a wide diversity of mammals, bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular parks, and it is easy to see why it falls into this profile with this great diversity and simply stunning location on the Lower Zambezi floodplain and views over the river to Zambia’s escarpment mountains. The name “Mana” means “four” in local Shona language. This applies to four large pools inland from the Zambezi River. These pools are the remnant ox-bow lakes that the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago as it changed its course northwards. Hippopotamus, crocodiles and a wide variety of aquatic birds utilize these pools. You can access this park by road or bush plane and plenty of options exist for a safari of a life time here. A destination that is always rewarding.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie) is the largest game reserve in Western Zimbabwe on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Hwange National Park is close to the edge of the Kalahari desert. Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena exist in reasonable numbers. The population of African wild dogs in Hwange is also one of the largest surviving groups in Africa today. Wells were drilled to provide year round water and this has contributed alot to the success of Hwange National Park. Hwange is a first class wildlife destination.
Matusadona National Park
Matusadona National Park is in northern Zimbabwe. The park was named after the local Matuzviadonha Hills, these hills are a stunning combination of flat plains and rugged mountains. The meaning of “Matuzviadonha” is “falling dung” – thought to be the sight of elephants dropping dung balls as they make their way up hills. The name is often abbreviated as “The Matus” in colloquial speech by locals. Matusadona offers a unique combination of pristine and rugged wilderness, with the water along Lake Kariba. It is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the endangered Black Rhinoceros. Matusadona is also recognized as having the second largest concentration of wild lions in Africa after the Ngorongoro Crater. Its relatively poor accessibility by road and extremely harsh internal network of roads keep visitors and vehicle numbers low, though accessible by boat from Kariba and from the Bumi Hills airstrip. Our guests will sometimes take a houseboat safari to the shores of Matusadona. Many of the animals rescued during Operation Noah when Lake Kariba was filling (following the construction of Kariba Dam) were released into Matusadona, which now holds strong populations of most mammals occurring in the Zambezi Valley. Buffalo are especially prominent and herds of up to 1,000-strong often congregate along the shoreline of Kariba in the dry season. We encourage our guests to take advantage of the walking safaris in Matusadona.
Lake Kariba is around 220 kilometers (140 mi) long and up to 40 kilometers (20 mi) wide and when measured by volume the largest artificial lake and reservoir in the world. It is located on the Zambezi river, about halfway between the river’s source and mouth, about 1300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean, and lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam. The Zimbabwean town of Kariba was built for construction workers on the lake’s dam, and today the town is used as a base for houseboat safaris and is the main airstrip for those flying into different National Parks such as Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi and Matusadona National Park on the shores of Lake Kariba. Before Lake Kariba was filled, the vegetation was burned, creating a thick layer of fertile soil that would become the lake bed. As a result the ecology of Lake Kariba is vibrant. A number of fish species have been introduced to the lake, notably the sardine-like kapenta (transported from Lake Tanganyika), which now supports a thriving commercial fishery. Lake Kariba is also home to Nile crocodiles and hippopotamus. Gamefish, particularly Tigerfish, which was among the indigenous species of the Zambezi river system, now thrive on the kapenta, which in turn encourage tourism. Sunsets and safaris are known to be first class here.
Chimanimani National Park (Caves and Water Falls)
The breathtaking beauty and pristine Chimanimani mountains have always drawn adventurous travellers. At present the park provides only basic facilities, catering for the self-sufficient explorer. Hiking, rock climbing, birding, camping in caves among the sparkling waterfalls and natural swimming pools, it’s a park for those who want nothing more than to revel in the heart-soothing loveliness of nature. Local tour guides with excellent knowledge of the area’s specialised wild plants and animals offer hiking tours into the national park. The Chimanimani National Park is very little known by international traveller’s. The park includes the magnificent Chimanimani Mountains, a massive barrier of ancient and jagged crystalline rock forming the border with Mozambique. For those looking for an adventure, a great amount of exploration awaits here.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins (UNESCO National Monument)
Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which existed during the country’s Late Iron Age. The monument, which first began to be constructed in the 11th century and which continued to be built until the 14th century, spanned an area of 722 hectares (1,784 acres) and at its peak could have housed up to 18,000 people. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of their political power. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high and which were constructed without mortar. Eventually the city was largely abandoned and fell into ruin. The builders of this kingdom have never been confirmed, research and ‘opinion’ has proposed many possibilities. All the possibilities are of interest to us. The ruins are south of Harare, near the town of Masvingo, the former Fort Victoria.
Matobo National Park (Matopos Hills)
The Matobo National Park (Matopos Hills) is just over 30km south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The park is made up of many granite rock formations known as Kopje’s. The Hills were formed over 2000 million years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to leave what we see today known as the traditional African kopjes, or in this case called ‘hills’ interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi of the Ndebele nation named the area, meaning ‘Bald Heads’, as seen clearly in our photo here, and better known and the mother and child kopje. The resident Rhino popluation is good and sightings are generally high. This area is known to have the highest leopard density, based on the high numbers of rock hyrax that live here, making for a good easily available food source. San Bushmen lived in the hills about 2,000 years ago, leaving behind a rich heritage in many rock paintings found throughout this park and certainly worth a visit, especially when accompanied by a good guide, make this a meaningful visit. The Matobo Hills were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Victoria Falls (Livingstone & Victoria Falls Town)
The Victoria Falls can be accessed from the Zambia side of the falls, or the Zimbabwe side. The ‘town’ of Victoria Falls is on the Zimbabwe side, the town of Livingstone is on the Zambian side of the falls. Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and early explorer, is the first European recorded to view the Falls — which he did from what is now known as ‘Livingstone Island’ in Zambia, the only land accessible in the middle of the falls. David Livingstone named ‘Victoria Falls’ in honour of the Queen. The local name of ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ means the ‘Smoke that Thunders’. Victoria Falls is recorded as having the largest sheet of falling water in the world.