Why visit Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is best known for the magnificent Victoria Falls, known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. Zimbabwe is home to four World Heritage Sites – Victoria Falls, Mana Pools National Parks, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins and the Kama Ruins. A journey to Zimbabwe will take you through unspoiled landscapes, lush mountains and magnificent rivers. Zimbabwean people are truly a joy to meet – friendly, warm and always willing to help. The country is also recognized for its abundant birdlife, with more than 600 recorded species. Lake Kariba is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world offering unbelievable wildlife sightings at its shores. Lake Kariba is also home to the fierce tiger fish, renowned among avid anglers. Exhilarating adventure activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping, helicopter excursions are on offer for the thrill seeker.
Where to go in Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (translating to the Smoke that Thunders) is a waterfall located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water: Boaruka Island is nearest to the western bank and Livingstone Island nearest to the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls. The spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres and is visible from up to 48km away. The Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and; one of the seven natural wonders of the world for having the largest curtain of falling water on the planet. The town is well-known as being Southern Africa’s adventure and safari hub. Activities on offer include: white water rafting, canoeing on the river above the falls, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge over the mighty Zambezi River, abseiling into the gorge, and helicopter and microlight flights over the falls. For the thrill-seeker a swim in the Devil’s Pool on the edge of the falls is sure to get your pulse racing.
“The most wonderful sight I have witnessed in Africa. None can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” — David Livingstone
The game reserve takes its name; Mana, from the Shona word meaning ‘four’ and refers to the four large watering holes that are formed by the Zambezi River. Mana Pools is not only one of the most remote and least developed parks in Zimbabwe but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mana Pools protects over 2,000km2 of Zambezi riverfront vegetation, comprised mainly of forests of mahogany, wild fig, ebony, mopane and baobab. The unique combination of beautiful trees, wildlife and unspoiled river is set against the backdrop of distant mountains making it a dream for wildlife-lovers, birders, fishermen and photographers. Large populations of elephants, hippos and Nile crocodiles gather at sunrise in the Long Pool and in the park’s south, lions wait for prey around the waterhole at Chitake Spring. During the rainy season, much of the wildlife retreats from the wet ground on the valley floor and heads for the escarpment. Then from around April, as the pools in the bush dry up, they start to return to the riverine areas.
Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is the largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe and one of Africa’s finest havens for wildlife: home to large herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and a large concentration of giraffe. The park is situated between Bulawayo and the world famous Victoria Falls. The park has a variety of landscapes: one part running alongside the North-eastern end of the Kalahari Desert; the south is sandy with forests and open grassland. Hwange has one of Africa’s four viable wild dog populations and has reasonable numbers of the endangered brown hyaena and the rare gemsbok.
Lake Kariba is by volume the largest artificial lake and reservoir in the world located on the Zambezi River. The Kariba Lake is home to several islands, including Maaze Island, Mashape Island, Chete Island, Sekula, Sampa Karuma, Fothergill, Spurwing, Snake Island, Antelope Island, Bed Island Chikanka. Lake Kariba is a tremendous wildlife experience. Nile crocodiles and hippos thrive in the lake. Kariba’s fertile shores attract a wealth of game animals – including elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah and antelope. Great fishing and wonderful houseboats that can be taken up and down and along the great expanse of water. Incredible sunsets, wonderful birdlife and animals coming down to drink along the banks.
Masvingo is a small and busy centre located in southern Zimbabwe, almost at the middle of the country’s four important cities—Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Beitbridge (a border town with South Africa). The city is close to Great Zimbabwe, the national monument from which the country takes its name. The home to the Zimbabwe Ruins, which is Africa’s oldest stone monument after the Pyramids and was home to nearly 10 000 of the Shona peoples. The town lies near Lake Mutirikwe and is home to a golf course and a freight railway line. It lies on the Mucheke River, with Queen Victoria Gardens in the town centre and Shagashe Game Park and an Italian memorial church built during World War II nearby. It also has an airstrip. There are a variety of tourist attractions within a thirty mile radius of the town. Within 20 km of Masvingo are the Great Zimbabwe National Monument and the Lake Mutirikwe Recreational Park and Kyle game resort with 12 different species, including the white rhino.
The precarious balancing rocks of Matopos are unbelievable. The Park includes an Intensive Protection Zone where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are successfully breeding. The Park offers a diverse package of tourist attractions and activities. The Matopos park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. The majestic and rugged terrain of the park is a hikers paradise and the diversity of the vegetation supports a wide range of wildlife. Matobo meaning ‘bald heads’ was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park. Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu -‘ hill of benevolent spirits’. He referred to this hill as having a ‘View of the World’. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of massive boulders. The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. The Park is home to a wide variety of animal species including: black and white rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, eland, sable, klipspringer, leopard, hyena, cheetah, hippo, warthog, rock dassies, waterbuck, wildcat, springhare, common duiker, crocodiles, baboons and monkeys. There are so many exciting adventure activities on offer in Vic Falls no wonder its called the Adventure capital of Africa . You could spend a week here and it still won’t be enough time for you to partake in all of the incredible adventure activities on offer .
When to go to Zimbabwe
The best wildlife viewing time is in the dry season, May to October, when animals congregate around the rivers and waterholes. The skies are clear, temperatures are on the milder side, and little rain means fewer mosquitos. September and October are considered the best time to see elephant herds in Hwange National Park. If your main reason for visiting is to experience the Victoria Falls, then April or May will be the best time when the river is at its fullest. October is also dry but very hot with temperatures soaring into the thirties. The nights between June and August are cool, so make sure you have warm clothes for the mornings and evenings. If you ae seeking water sports, then book your trip between August and December when the water is lower and the rapids are more pronounced.
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