|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Take Me Away On Safari
Zimbabwe, previously known as Rhodesia until mid-1970's, is a landlocked country between Mozambique in the east and north-east, Zambia and Botswana in the west and South Africa in the south. The country is situated on a high plateau and is covered in grasslands and woodlands.
The central region is known for its hills and granite rocky outcrops and the eastern part is elevated by high mountain ranges. In the north of the country lies Africa's biggest man-made dam, Lake Kariba, fed by the Zambezi and other smaller rivers.
The name Zimbabwe comes from Shona, the language of the Mashona people meaning 'stone houses'and is applied to any of the 200 stone ruins scattered throughout southern Rhodesia. Zimbabwe is a country of warm, friendly people, plenty of attractions with the breathtaking Victoria Falls rated as one of the world's natural wonders and the countryside from the mighty Zambezi River to the Eastern Highlands is absolutely stunning.
Zimbabwe has a tropical temperature, summer starts in November and continues through to March, which is also the rainy season, usually during the night and early morning. Although this a comfortable temperature game viewing is not that good due to high grass, but, with the country covered in a beautiful green carpet, seems to make up for the fact you really have to hunt for the game.
The best time to visit Zimbabwe will be in early or late winter (April, May and then again August and September) with the day time temperature in the winter between 15 and 25c, but night-time temperatures can drop to much lower figures.
Harare formerly known as Salisbury is the largest city and the capital of Zimbabwe but does not have the chaotic manner of other cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi. Harare is a city filled with lush green trees during the summer months and a visit should include the Larvon Bird Gardens and the beautifully arranged landscaped gardens of aloes and cycads at Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens, just a 30 minutes drive outside the city. Take a trip to the busy Mbane Musika market for a variety of products including curios and other handcrafts, and a traditional village called the Chapungu Kraal, especially during weekends when traditional dances are performed.
Bulawayo, although the second largest city in Zimbabwe, has a small town feel and huge tree-lined boulevards covered in flowers, especially during the spring. Nearby make a visit to the Khami Ruins and the weird Matopos landscape and then south-west of the city is the National Park.
Chinhoyi is located on the road from Harare to Lusaka and is well know for the Chinoyi Caves with a wonderful underground lake some 50 metres below the surface. Mu is the main town of the Eastern Highlands region and forms an ideal base to explore this region covered in natural forests, grandiose mountains, deep gorges and a huge array of activities. The town itself is very pretty and the Rhode's Museum tells the history of Zimbabwe's past, whilst a stroll in the Vumba Botanical Gardens will calm the anxious spirit. This town and the surrounding areas like Chimanimani with its wonderful pools, waterfalls, mountains and tropical forests are definitely worth a couple of days' exploration and relaxation.
The mysterious ancient Great Zimbabwe Ruins, built between 13th and 15th century, draws one back into the past when the ancient Kingdom of Munumatapa was ruling this area. The reason for this impressive and ingenious building style,(not using any kind of cement and using primitive tools), made up of cylindrical walls and an enclosing wall, still eludes us even today. Visit the museum first to understand the finer details of the ruins and visit the nearby town of Masvingo.
The world-famous Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or "Smoke That Thunders" is a must-see when visiting Zimbabwe. To witness 5 million litres of water dropping every second over a mile long edge into a chasm of white foam 128 meters below is an awesome experience. When David Livingstone visited the falls in 1855, he named it in honour of the then Queen of England, Queen Victoria.
The sound of the thundering roaring waters are deafening and is certainly not surpassed by many other in the world. A heavy mist hangs above The Falls rising often up to 150 meters and creates a spectrum of rainbows while watering the nearby small forest, and as you stand along the edge overlooking this natural wonder it makes you feel very small and insignificant.
July and August are the best times to visit the Falls when it is not so full that the mist obscures the view but whatever time of the year you will be dumbstruck. Try flying over in a light aircraft for the experience of a lifetime.
The town of Victoria Falls attracts visitors from all around the world where it is possible to arrange any number of activities from the 111 meter high bungee jump, parachuting and horse-riding to some of the wildest white water rafting in the world. Here are also various craft markets in and around the town where it is possible to purchase locally made goods and where local tribes perform during dinner at some of the restaurants.
Zimbabwe has no shortage of game reserves where there is an abundance of wildlife parks to match any of those in its neighbouring countries. Imagine sitting in a canoe and silently paddling by an abundance of elephant, hippo, lions, antelope, giraffe and many other animal and bird species, at Mana Pools, one of Zimbabwe's best parks, this can be a reality.
Just south of Victoria Falls is Hwange National Park, some 140,00 km2 of plateau, home to one of the highest concentration of game, especially elephant. It is an amazing park to see whether exploring it by car, foot or on horseback. Waterholes are often floodlit to watch animals at night and evening drives are recommended to see those elusive nocturnal animals.
The most striking feature of the Matopos National Park are the massive granite boulders neatly balancing on top of each other as if by a giant hand. It lacks the abundance of animals found in other parks but there are some white rhino, leopard, some antelope and numerous, brilliantly preserved Bushmen paintings. Matopos National Park has some breathtaking views from the surrounding hills and is the burial ground of Cecil John Rhodes, the explorer and Prime Minster of the Cape Province.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with so much to offer the visitor whether you are just staying short term or longer, so come - visit - stay awhile and sample the hospitality of the people, view the wildlife, take a flight over the Victoria Falls or maybe even attempt a bungee jump - whatever you decide you will not be disappointed.