Zimbabwe has been in the news for quite a while now for all the wrong reasons. prior to the political crisis of 2000 it was one of the most popular destinations in the region. The country had a reputation for offering some of the best destinations, for friendliness, accessibility and safety, and in many ways it still does.
The politics in Zimbabwe in a nutshell are internally focused. There have been a handful of incidences of tourists getting caught up in isolated bouts of internal unrest, but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the normal risks of African travel, and although one or two destinations in the country have had to close down, and a certain amount of ecological damage has been caused by a loosening of land management principals, on the whole Zimbabwe is still open for business, and still a great place to visit.
For a relatively small country Zimbabwe has a lot to offer. Here are a few possibilities:
Eco Travel and Wildlife
The key wildlife destinations of Zimbabwe have suffered a little fraying at the edges thanks to the crisis of recent years. This has been mainly due to funding and a subsequent reduction in poaching control. However most of the main attractions are still open and functioning, and the more that tourism can be encouraged to return the more revenue will find its way back into wildlife management.
Hwange: Always the most developed and diverse of Zimbabwe’s national parks, Hwange has suffered a little in recent years, but is always worth a visit. Expect to see most of the big five on any given day, although rhino are becoming increasingly scarce.
Ghonarezhou: Place of Elephants. Always one of the most worthwhile parks in the country to visit. Perhaps the destination most impacted by recent trouble – again for reasons of land mismanagement and poaching
Mana Pools: Still of one the region’s premier eco-destinations. An International Heritage Site, Mana Pools comes in for special treatment and is still in good shape and an incredible wildlife park to visit.
Matusadona: Located on the banks of Lake Kariba, Matusadona is a very special place. It is reasonably well protected by geography and strong numbers of visitors and is still a great place to see elephants in the iconic settings of Kariba.
All of the main eco-destinations of Zimbabwe are well served by lodges and camps that are among the best in the region. It does not compare with South Africa in this regard, nor Tanzania or Kenya, but there are many who tend to think that each of those countries has attempted to elevate their luxury tourist facilities a bit far. Many are out of reach to the average traveler.
Urban and Cultural
Zimbabwe has never been blessed with beautiful cities, but at least those cities are in beautiful natural locations. Both Harare and Bulawayo, however, each boast great restaurants and nightlife with a variety of festivals and events that are ongoing. Perhaps the best known of these is HIFA, or the Harare International Festival of Arts, an annual extravaganza that attracts international and regional and local performers and events.
Besides this the music and arts scenes countrywide are very vibrant. Zimbabwe is perhaps best known for its stone sculpture, but many other craft and art styles and genres are represented.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins: This is perhaps the defining cultural feature of Zimbabwe. Much of the national symbolism of the country is drawn from here. The site has deep historical interest and significance and is an absolute must-see on any visit to Zimbabwe
Highlands and Mountains in Zimbabwe
Chimanimani National Park: The flagship hiking destination in Zimbabwe is the Chimanimani National Park. This is without doubt one of the most unique natural areas remaining intact in the region, representing a convergence of local eco-zones in a unique and stunningly beautiful African landscape. It is highly accessible, easy to enjoy and a region of mixed interest. As with most highland quarters of Zimbabwe, or indeed Africa, it is densely populated with a concentration of African village life available to view and become involved with without any canned aspects.
Vumba: This is a highland region located just outside the small border town on Mutare. It has traditionally been an an area of genteel lifestyles with wide mountain vistas, sweeping moorland and tropical forest. Early European settlers gravitated here for its mild climate and supreme natural beauty. There is much to do, from hiking to birding, golf to casinos. The area is well served by hotels and lodges, with a variety of styles to choose from. This is easy-going Zimbabwe and is always worth a visit.
Nyanga: Similarly this national park is located close to Mutare, but is a little more rugged and isolated than Vumba. It is a landscape of moorland, trout streams and rugged peaks, with a number of accommodation options ranging from casinos to country lodges and guest houses. On offer is excellent birding, walking and hiking, climbing and fly fishing. An unusual destination in the African context, but one very much worth a visit.
Adventure and Adrenalin in Zimbabwe
Look no further than Victoria Falls for all the thrill seeker options you could wish for. From the most hard core white water rafting to extreme bungi, it is all here. Victoria Falls is a central destination and a travel hub serving the travel industry of the entire region. There is so much to do here that a dedicate post will follow.
From this thumbnail sketch of Zimbabwe we hope you are inspired to get in touch and learn a little more. Feel free to contact us for more information on travel destination in Zimbabwe