Reasons to Visit Zimbabwe this Year
Emerging from a period of uncertainty for tourists, Zimbabwe is one of the most underrated countries that Africa has to offer with a plethora of gems ready to be explored. Here we give the low down on why Zimbabwe should be where you head to next…
1. National Parks
Zimbabwe’s national parks are amongst the finest in Africa and offer something special that should not be missed with a real remote and unspoilt feel to them. The national parks are really diverse, showcasing some of Africa’s best wildlife viewing – relax on the shores of Lake Kariba, hike the slopes of the Eastern Highlands or sit in the secret hides found throughout Hwange National Park whilst you watch herds of elephants and buffalo congregate around the waterholes. These are all great ways to experience Zimbabwe’s diverse landscapes.
Hwange National Park, set aside purely to protect wildlife in its natural habitat, is one of Africa’s biggest conservation areas. The level of conservation means that it provides an opportunity to see Africa’s largest draw, the big five, with elephant sightings being particularly impressive.
The diverse and remote landscape creates concentrations of game including elephant, buffalo, cheetah, leopard and lion. It also contains some of the most diverse birds in the world, with over 420 species being recorded. Whilst none are endemic to Zimbabwe, there are near-endemics often found in the Eastern Highlands. If you are a keen birder, then the best sightings are to be had from November – April when many migratory species make their way south during the European winter. With something to suit everyone’s interests and tastes, a Zimbabwe safari creates an epic experience like no other.
Zimbabwe has focused its tourism towards quality rather than quantity, ensuring an exclusive safari experience. For example, it is likely that you will only share your safari experience in Hwange National Park with a handful of other people, unlike the neighbouring Chobe National Park. This level of remoteness creates a feeling of exclusivity, providing you with a more personalised and private experience. Enjoy close up encounters with wildlife, allowing you to truly appreciate wild and unscathed Africa, without the hordes and chaos sometimes endured in other safari destinations.
4. Quality of guiding
An excellent safari wouldn’t be possible without the best quality guides. Zimbabwe offers one of Africa’s premier safari experiences with a reputation for some of the best guides on the continent. Those who have decided to dedicate their lives to guiding go through rigorous training that lasts a minimum of four years. This produces a selection of dedicated guides who will certainly impress with their bush knowledge.
Since switching to the US Dollar the Zimbabwean economy has stabilised somewhat. An increase in confidence and tourism keeps prices stable and inflation steady. Earning its place in a competitive market, Zimbabwe is an excellent, more affordable option to some of its neighbours which offer similar experiences. Be quick though, because once Zimbabwe becomes centre stage, we will start to see the prices increase.
6. The Zimbabwean smile
There is nothing like it! Zimbabweans are known for being some of the friendliest and most welcoming hosts in the world – there is no better place to experience this than being on safari in Zimbabwe. At each lodge you will be welcomed with open arms, a big smile and greeted like old friends popping in for a visit. There may have been tough times recently, but the spirit still lives on and Zimbabweans pride themselves in showcasing what Zimbabwe has to offer each and every visitor. The close knit communities ensure that all visitors feel welcomed and safe, which instils an admiration of the ‘can do’ attitude and leaves guests yearning to return.
7. Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is one of greatest waterfalls in the world with the thrashing waters creating a curtain almost twice the size of Niagara Falls. The Falls has earnt its place as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and since 1989 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This natural phenomenon known as Mosi-oa-Tunya – literally ‘the smoke that thunders’ should be top of any Zimbabwean, or even African, bucket list.
The steep gorge that the Zambezi has created is an adrenaline junkie’s heaven, with plenty of thrilling activities to entertain the whole family. Examples include bungee jumping, abseiling and even gorge swinging. For a more sedate way to witness majestic views, how about afternoon tea at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel?
8. Heritage and History
Zimbabwe is teeming with history and heritage, with unique rock art and archaeological ruins a particular attraction. Evidence of the ancient civilisation can be found at the Matopos Hills, where some of the best preserved rock paintings in Africa are located, as well as a selection of other interesting artefacts dating all the way back to pre-middle stone ages. Zimbabwe’s wealth of ethnic groups includes the Shona people, whose soapstone sculptures are famous in the artisanal world. See for yourself the numerous awe-inspiring sights Zimbabwe has to offer, and broaden your horizons as you learn about a culture unheard of by many.
9. World Heritage Sites
Zimbabwe is home to five different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Mana Pools National Park, Matobos National Park, Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe and Khami Ruins. Mana Pools National Park boasts some of the best safaris, with a plethora of wildlife including lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos and more. Great Zimbabwe provide an insight into the country’s incredible history, and linger as a reminder of ancient African civilisation. Thriving with both natural and cultural sites, Zimbabwe is full of notable historic attractions and majestic natural beauty.
Zimbabwe does not fall short when it comes to accommodation. It boasts a wide spectrum of options from lodges to hotels, safari camps and luxury accommodation for those that really want to spoil themselves whilst on holiday. Many of the choices come with picturesque views, exhilarating activities, ideal locations and untouched wilderness. There are new properties popping up all the time and the older more traditional properties have all seen a recent makeover, and continue to win prestigious awards.
For a luxurious option in Hwange National Park we recommend staying at Bomani Tented Lodge! If you’re tempted by Mana Pools then Ruckomechi Camp is well worth considering.
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