Top 10 Reasons To Visit Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Attractions
When selecting the destination for your next holiday, a trip to Zimbabwe might not be the first idea that comes to mind … nor even the second or the third! It’s not a country Western Europeans know very well, and its global image may not be the most attractive to many around the world. But the truth is, as an African holiday destination, it’s something of a hidden gem and here are our top 10 reasons to visit Zimbabwe right now!
To truly appreciate Zimbabwe’s attractions, it’s important to look behind the appearances and underneath them lies real adventure. The reasons to visit Zimbabwe go beyond the fact that it’s a less common destination than South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, but for travellers keen to explore an authentic experience in this amazing continent, that’s definitely an added bonus.
Below are some of the key points that should make you want to pack your bags right now and jump on a plane to discover the best of Zimbabwe!
1. Ideal Location for Wildlife
Indeed, it’s worth being reminded of Zimbabwe’s geography. Because if this isn’t a country on many travellers’ radar as a safari and nature hotspot, its near neighbours certainly are. Bordered by South Africa to the South and Botswana to the West, this is certainly a part of the world that boasts world class natural and wildlife wonders. And despite being a landlocked country that does not have access to the sea, it benefits from the presence of many spectacular water points, including Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River.
2. Authentic Safari
Zimbabwe is not known as a massively popular tourist hotspot of a country. But this should be seen as a positive by anyone searching for an authentic safari trip – it’s all part of the country’s charm. It is a land of the “bush”, as they say, brimming with authenticity. Today, it is very safe and studded with small rural villages nestled in the arid savanna. Unlike some destinations in the south of the African continent, Zimbabwe safari visitors will not be bothered by busloads of tourists disembarking and reaching for their cameras. It is a much more exhilarating and immersive experience: with no queues to the wildlife sites, you learn very quickly that this is a personal and almost euphoric trip in some places.
3. Unique Landscapes
The country as a whole is full of landscapes that are without a doubt some of the most impressive places in the world. Many are classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites; and first and foremost is the mythical Victoria Falls, and the mighty Zambezi River that surrounds them. Some of the most impressive of these places are the many national parks and reserves that are dotted around Zimbabwe. These are the country’s natural sanctuaries that allow visitors and locals alike to immerse themselves in the raw unspoiled nature of the bush.
Beyond the incomparable Victoria Falls, the country plays host to striking Kopjes, rocks of granite balanced on top of each other and standing freely in the desert. These wonders underline the originality of the landscapes in Matobo National Park, in the middle of the savannah. To the north, Lake Kariba is a tranquil scene that will delight travellers after a day trekking to their next destination.
To the East, near the border with Mozambique, the Bvumba Mountains on the heights of Mutaré offer travellers views of the seemingly infinite savanna plain in the distance, while enjoying the freshness of mountainous air. A simply stunning scene that it’s impossible to miss on a trip to this country.
4. Stunning National Parks
But arguably even more breathtaking are Zimbabwe’s national parks, offering tourists the opportunity to immerse themselves in the heart of the wildest nature the country has to offer.
For travellers to the African continent this should not be a destination to avoid because despite the fact that other countries in the region have glitzier names and destinations like Kruger National Park in South Africa (the northernmost tip of which borders Zimbabwe, giving a flavour of the world class natural offerings the country possesses) or the Serengeti in Tanzania, Zimbabwe too plays host to the “Big Five” and is perfect for safari explorations.
The Hwange, Matobo and Matusadona parks offer some of the country’s most stunning landscapes and interesting wildlife inhabitants but visitors should also take in Lake Kariba, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, which offers sensational views – especially at sunset.
5. Matobo National Park
If you’ve read this far, you’ll have heard Matobo mentioned already. In the south west of Zimbabwe, travellers will discover this national park offering over 400,000 square meters of land. It is one of the country’s best-known national parks and was opened over 90 years ago, bringing together a significant part of Zimbabwe’s historical heritage. As such, it is a fascinating place not just for its nature and its activities – everything from hiking to boating and fishing – but for its cultural offerings, too.
Next to the park are the Matopos Hills, recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a counterpoint to the savanna, underlining the richness of Zimbabwe’s landscapes.
6. Zimbabwe Safari
Traveling to southern Africa is a trip which is synonymous with safari. Yet only countries in southern and eastern Africa are fortunate to have national parks rich in all of the most recognisable features of the continent’s wildlife. Zimbabwe is one of them.
The National Parks in each of these countries go hand in hand with discovering wildlife and in the largest of Zimbabwe’s nature reserves, Hwange National Park, you’ll find a rich collection of flora and fauna as well as a chance to spot the feted “Big Five” game animals. Among the park’s population of 107 different mammal species are all of the country’s protected animal species. The place is known to be a sanctuary for lions, buffaloes and elephants, but it is especially famous for its white rhino population. These animals are part of a severely endangered species on the verge of extinction but Hwange is one of the few places where you can see this incredible species.
Beyond the exhilarating opportunity to lay eyes on an endangered animal in a conservation area, Hwange is also a great place to observe some of the other most sought-after animal sightings. Here, there is an abundance of elephant and hippopotamus populations which thrive in the area. The park also contains rare wild dogs, hyenas, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes and antelopes among many other animals. on top of that, there are over 400 different species of birds to be seen too!
7. Amazing Waterways
The Victoria Falls are classified as a wonder of nature and are without a doubt part of the most impressive sites in the world. Right in the heart of yet another protected national park, they disturb the quiet flow of the Zambezi River, which provides the natural border between Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
With their height, their power and their beauty, these falls offer some of the most spectacular sights in the natural world. At 108 metres high and 1.7 km wide, they make for a thunderous sound and a breathtaking sight. In addition to the star attraction, the Victoria Falls National Park also includes giant baobab trees, crocodiles swimming in the Zambezi River, colonies of sneering baboons and in the surrounding area it is not uncommon to see elephants and buffaloes out on a walk. It is an unforgettable experience and goes far beyond the falls themselves.
If you travel a little further east along the Zambezi river, you’ll reach one of Africa’s mysterious locations – Lake Kariba. Legend has it that Kariba shelters the God of the Zambezi River, Nyami Nyami, and has the appearance of a snake or a dragon. Like Victoria Falls, the lake punctuates the Zambezi River and is a shared territory between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Despite the fact that this is an artificial lake, it is bordered by a rugged wild coastline, which makes it a must see on any trip to Zimbabwe.
8. African History
Today, little is known about the empires that existed before the arrival of settlers in Africa. The walled city of Great Zimbabwe – designated a National Monument – is a unique testimony to the history of the region. Still well preserved, it contains a wealth of information on this ancient settlement, from its origins in the third century to its golden age in the 13th to the 15th centuries. Zimbabwe has a particularly rich cultural heritage, mixing ancestral civilization with the traditions of contemporary ethnic groups while keeping in mind the more recent memory of colonisation and the subsequent struggle for independence.
Elsewhere in the country lies the ruined city of Khami, another ancient city, formed at a similar time. Indeed, Khami is said to have emerged at the time of the decline of Great Zimbabwe. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument and the ruins of Khami are emblems of the history of the country and located in the south-east and south-west respectively. Both bear the memory of a vanished civilization and both are UNESCO World Heritage sites – they are a must for any trip to Zimbabwe and indeed for anyone interested in incredible, lost history.
In modern Zimbabwe, however, there are also fascinating cities eager to reveal their secrets. Bulawayo – just 22 km to the east of Khami – is a treasure that bears witness to Zimbabwe’s colonial past, whilst the capital, Harare, is undoubtedly one of the most attractive African capitals thanks to its large alleys lined with flowering trees.
9. Great Places To Stay
Whilst trips to safari parks and natural wonders are the main attraction for a Zimbabwe holiday, any visit always requires a great place to stay. All over the Zimbabwean territory there are plenty of wonderful places to stay – everything from youth hostels in the towns and campsites in the countryside to luxurious lodges in protected natural parks and hotels perfect for a few days in the city.
Zimbabwe’s most popular game lodges are located in the north of the country – in the Hwange National Park or by the smaller Zambezi National Park close to Victoria Falls. These places provide amazing game experiences as well as being some of the most comfortable retreats where guests can enjoy a good rest after a day on the tracks. By the Victoria Falls themselves, you’ll find many more fine lodges and hotels that offer elegance and charm as well as the perfect base from which to access the site.
10. Fewer Crowds
Zimbabwe is not yet in the full focus of the global tourism industry. So take advantage of that! Make your trip to Zimbabwe now, as the growth of tourism in neighbouring countries will result in a growing number of people crossing the Zimbabwean border to enjoy the wonders of the country.
If your dream is to be considered a ‘visitor’ rather than a ‘tourist’, ensure you discover the incredible historical and natural sites outlined above and our top 10 reasons to visit Zimbabwe. Both in terms of its landscape – such as the Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba or the Kopjes standing freely in the savannas – or in terms of its wildlife in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe offers a wealth of discovery. But for its cultural significance and its historical sites, it’s also well worth a visit.
A trip to Zimbabwe will be an unforgettable experience, combining nature, adventure and historical discovery to the delight of all who pay a visit.