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Beautiful, vibrant Zimbabwe is situated in Southern Africa. This is truly one of Africa’s most gorgeous destinations, yet it manages to fly below the mainstream radar in terms of tourism. This means that a trip to “Zim” (as locals and visitors alike are apt to call it) is very much an adventure! Prices are low and the opportunity for utter spellbinding enchantment is high… now is the perfect time to visit!
Of course, the headliner attractions here are Victoria Falls and the elephants! The spectacular expanse of Vic Falls is not the world’s biggest, but definitely one of the best. And the best part about seeing elephants in Zimbabwe? On the country’s unique, unforgettable foot safaris, you can get almost close enough to touch them! But the trunk-swinging superstars are far from the only wildlife you’ll encounter here. Step off the beaten path in Hwange National Park and you’ll run into kudu, zebras, lions, and hippos! This is truly a nature-lover’s paradise.
Zimbabwe is also long on action. From rafting the Zambezi and swimming in Devil’s Pool (overhanging the edge of Victoria Falls) to bungee jumping and ziplining, you won’t soon exhaust your taste for thrills here. Don’t worry that things are all rough-and-tumble, though. Plenty of lovely, luxuriant resorts have sprung up like wildflowers in the bush, offering five-star amenities and service with jaw-dropping views of the great outdoors. This is truly a destination that has it all.
Zimbabwe Top Attractions
The Victoria Falls aren’t the biggest on Earth, but they definitely hold their own in the rankings of the most spectacular. “The Smoke That Thunders” is the name by which locals call Victoria Falls, and it takes seeing them in person to fully appreciate their wonder. Plunging 100 meters down from the Zambezi River into a rocky chasm, the falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gaze at the rainbows that arch up over the spilling water, walk the trails surrounding the gorge, or take a boat on the river for a close-up glance (just make sure to bring your waterproof camera!). Catch a helicopter ride over the falls or, for another high-up experience that actually lets you feel the spray on your face, try out micro-lite flying! For a complete picture of the falls’ majesty, pay your visa fee and head across the bridge to Zambia for a peek from the other side.
Hwange National Park
Ready to head out on a grand safari? All the wild wonders you could imagine await you at Hwange National Park, a massive preserve bigger than the state of Massachusetts! Everything you’ve pictured about an African adventure: the towering acacia trees, the watering holes ringed by curious birds, the chance to lock eyes with a lioness through tall grass. Are you ready to check out elephants on parade, groups of running zebra, and graceful antelopes—and to do it all on foot? Yes, it’s true. While neighboring African countries can boast more of the Big Five on their game drives, Zimbabwe reigns supreme when it comes to getting close to the animals themselves. Heading out into the bush need not mean roughing it, either. Expect over-the-top pampering on your tent safari, a trip that will feel more like a remote resort than a night on the hard ground!
Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake, and an outstanding place to take in a bit of fishing and wildlife-watching. One of the best ways to fully enjoy everything the lake and its environs have to offer is by chartering a houseboat, of which there are a plentiful supply. Spend a few sunny days catching some bream and camping on the gorgeously-scenic shores. The sunsets are picture-perfect here—bring your camera! They say that Kariba is the closest thing Southern Africa has to the Riviera, and you’ll experience it yourself with watersporting, sunbathing, and floating beneath the moonlight with a loved one by your side.
Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, is long on colonial charm. It is incredibly beautiful, even more so than other African capitals, and enjoys a laid-back and mellow atmosphere. The street markets are a great place to do some shopping, while lush public gardens invite you to sit down and forget about the world for a while. Indulge in a visit to the National Gallery, which features both traveling displays and permanent exhibitions, the most impressive of which may be the collection of Shona stone carvings. Enjoy some Afro-jazz at any of the city’s inviting clubs, and be sure to try a hearty bowl of sadza, the thick maize porridge that is the de facto national dish.
They say that the ruins of the Great Zimbabwe (for which the country is named) are second only to the Pyramids as Africa’s greatest lost civilization. During the late Iron Age the Great Zimbabwe stretched across the present-day country into Botswana and Mozambique. The ruins cover 100 - 200 square miles and are divided into the royal sites, living spaces, and the phenomenal, precociously-curving Great Enclosure. It’s impossible to visit and not marvel at the craftsmanship and work that went into building these great houses of stone, the translation for which is “Zimbabwe.” So great is the cultural and historic significance of the area that it has been tapped as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore on foot, and savor the views of monkeys playing on the 900-year-old walls.
|Primary Airports: Harare International Airport (HRE), Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport (BUQ)|
|Currency: US dollar (USD)|
|Population: 14,150,000 (2013 est.)|
|Language: English, Shona, Sindebele|
|Electricity: 220V/50Hz (UK plug)|
|Time Zone: UTC + 2|