Zimbabwe is the safari travellers dream come true. being a small country means that the sights are not too far apart and one can comfortably take a drive around the country to visit all the major sights. This is a country that is blessed with a temperate climate and very distinctive seasons hot and cold. The most popular of Zim’s attractions is without a doubt The Majestic Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. The Zambezi begins its journey in the north west corner of Zambia as a tiny spring and snakes its way slowly through Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia eventually giving up its load to the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.
Made famous by the Intrepid Traveller and missionary, David Livingstone, The falls are the largest single curtain of falling water on the planet when in full flood. Zimbabwe has other attractions such as Mana pools on the countries Northern boundary with Zambia. Named after four pools that are on the flood plains, Mana is a world heritage sight and is one of the few places on earth where you may go unescorted on a walk in dangerous game country. This came to be from days of old when Mana was the playground of the local farming communities when on holidays. It was agreed that these farmers lived all their lives in the wilds of Africa and would have the sensibility to know what to do in “Big Game Country”. Mana is home to the acrobatic bull Elephants that can be seen standing on their hind legs as though in a circus act. They will in fact be trying to get to the nutritious Albida fruit that feeds most of the herbivores in the valley during winter.
Lake kariba is another amazing stop. Built in 1959 as a source of Hydro electric power the lake soon turned into one of the best water play grounds in the region. After the Dam was created the valley was faced with a dilemma as many animals were being marooned on islands by the fast rising water. A man named Rupert Fothergill isntigated what was to become the largest ever animal rescue operation on the planet. Operation Noah was a resounding success with the help of the ladies from all over the world who donated their nylon stockings to be used as ropes to secure the animals during transportion. The Southern Shore of the lake is home to Matusadona National park. This water wonderland has breathtaking sunsets and is home to the elusive Black Rhino as well as having the highest concentration of lions on the continent. Walking safaris are a big attraction as well as game drive in vehicles and on small boats.
Leaving the Valley behind,one travels up onto the escarpment and within 3 hours you get to the Capital Harare. A bustling metropolis of good architecture and amazing art sculptures. The city stays alive at night to the beat of many local musicians. There are many places to enjoy fine local and international cuisine and the people are very friendly and hospitable.
The Great Zimbabwe ruins Give this country its name. This site was once the center of Civilisation for the Shona Kingdom and from here the Shona kings traded with Arab Traders from the East coast. These ruins are the largest ancient civilisation south of the equator and second Largest on the continent to the pyramids of Egypt. A walk up to the hill complex leaves you in awe of the workmanship and some say they can feel the “magic” of the kings.
In the South of Matabeleland lies the Matopos National park
BULAWAYO (City of Kings)
Home to the Ndebele warrior nation who are an off shoot from the Zulu. Bulawayo has kept it colonial splendour and has wide streets designed to allow 16 span oxen drawn carts to make “u” turns.
Matobo national park is nearby and has white rhino walks as the main attraction. Matopos has rolling hillocks of balancing granite rocks creating the feel of being in a giant art gallery which indeed we are. Matopos also has the highhest concentration of Leopards and Black Eagles in the world.
Cecil John Rhodes fell so in love with Matopos that he chose his burial site at what is known as “Worlds View”.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest park and is home to the big five. Hwange is unique in that it has no rivers flowing through the heart of the park so the animals have to rely on natural water holes which are supplemented by man made pumps during the dry season. Ted Davidson was the first warden of the park and he came up with the ingenious plan to pump water during the dry season. The result was that the animals stopped making the yearly migration to the rivers in the north and this boosted the Game numbers to what we see today.
Zimbabwe is not just about big game. The eastern Highlands is home to rolling hills reminiscent of parts of England. Pine forests were introduced here a long time ago and is now a thriving business. Mount Nyangani is the highest point in the country and is a good challenge for the more adventurous trekkers. There are many ancient structures that are still at the center of huge debate as to who built them and the function of the “pit structures”.