Zimbabwe continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Despite a power-sharing government headed by Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai that pledged to improve the lives of Zimbabweans the country still faces a mammoth task consistently frustrated by political infighting. Even though the economy has slowly improved from it's worst nadir, millions are still dependent on food aid and disease outbreaks only compound the situation.
But behind the grim data lies one of southern Africa’s most beautiful countries. And despite being forced to sacrifice so much, Zimbabweans have not lost their humour or resolve. With so few visiting the country, those who do can expect royal treatment. They need you. While the world’s media focuses on the fall of Zimbabwe, visitors will see a very different image of the country. From the absolute wilderness of Mana Pools National Park, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the mountains looking over Mozambique in Eastern Zimbabwe, to fine dining in Harare or bungee jumping over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe offers something for everyone.
Zimbabwe is no longer nearly as cheap as it once was, but its richness in culture and colour remain. Colonialism remains etched in all sorts of ways, but local traditions are visible. If you’re willing to join a tour group, or pay and plan your own trip, then a country of charm, political intrigue and magnificent wilderness awaits. Oh, and Zimbabwe’s got one of the world’s best climates…even the worst government can’t destroy that.
Best places to stay in Zimbabwe
Southern Africa travel guide
Southern Africa rings with legend: the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari, Fish River Canyon, Kruger, Victoria Falls, Cape Town - these are just a few of the iconic destinations that unfurl African dreams.
Hold tight: the world's best rafting rivers
Zip up your wetsuit, cinch your helmet: we bring you the biggest, baddest and raddest rivers for rafting the world over – and all guided commercially for your convenience. Sun Kosi River, Nepal Raft negotiating the 'Meatgrinder' rapid on Sun Kosi River. Image by Anders Blomqvist / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images...
Southern Africa - Zimbabwe (Chapter)
Visitors are returning to Zimbabwe in numbers not seen since the turmoil began, to spot the Big Five strut their stuff around spectacular parks, discover World Heritage-listed archaeological sites and stand in awe of the natural wonder of the...
Victoria Falls National Park
Located just before the border crossing and about 1km from the town centre, here on the Zim side of the falls you're in for a real treat. The walk is along the top of the gorge on a path, with various viewing points opening up to the extraordinary front-on panoramas of these world-famous falls. One of the most dramatic spots is the westernmost point known as Cataract View .
Top 10 things to throw yourself off
Have you had a good plummet lately? No? Well, if you'd like to add an adrenaline rush and an element of danger to your next trip, we've pulled together a list of ten of the best places around the world to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness you can only get from the perfect fling. Are you ready to take the plunge? 1...
Mana Pools National Park
This magnificent 2200-sq-km national park is a Unesco World Heritage–listed site, and its magic stems from its remoteness and pervading sense of the wild and natural. This is one park in Zimbabwe where you’re guaranteed to see plenty of hippos, crocs, zebras and elephants, and almost guaranteed to see lions and possibly wild (painted) dogs.
The greatest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Heritage–listed Great Zimbabwe is one of the nation's most treasured sights. So much so, that it was named after it! This mysterious site provides evidence that ancient Africa reached a level of civilisation not suspected by earlier scholars.
Kruger, Falls & Zimbabwe
When it comes to raw, in-your-face wildness, southern Africa can’t be topped. This trip offers a fully immersive, unyieldingly authentic experience of the natural and cultural wonders of this incredible region.
Zambia, Mozambique & Malawi - Victoria Falls (Chapter)
Taking its place alongside the Pyramids and the Serengeti, Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya – the ‘smoke that thunders’) is one of Africa’s original blockbusters. And although Zimbabwe and Zambia share it, Victoria Falls is a place all of its own.
Hwange National Park
One of the 10 largest national parks in Africa, and the largest in Zimbabwe, at 14,651 sq km Hwange (‘Wang-ee’) has a ridiculous amount of wildlife. Some 400 species of bird and 107 types of animal can be found in the park, including lions, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild (painted) dogs.
Travel literature review: The Fear
The Fear by Peter Godwin Rating: 4 out 5 Reviewed by Angela Tinson Peter Godwin’s The Fear is a harrowing account of the situation in Zimbabwe following the 2008 election that should have removed Robert Mugabe from power. The book’s title comes from the name given to this horrific period by the Zimbabwean people...
Southern Africa Encompassed
When it comes to raw, in-your-face wildness, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are incredible—and from the vantage of our rugged overland vehicle—even more spectacular.
Zimbabwean Dinner, Dancing and Bongo Drums Evening at Boma in Victoria Falls
Immerse yourself in Zimbabwean culture during a 4-hour buffet dinner at 'The Boma – Place of Eating' at Victoria Falls. The award-winning restaurant offers more than just a dining experience; it assails your senses with the sights and sounds of Zimbabwe, too. Watch Amakwezi dancers, have your face painted and hair braided and listen to a storyteller.
Matobo National Park ('The Matopos')
Home to some of the most majestic granite scenery in the world, the Matobo National Park is one of the unsung highlights of Zimbabwe. This Unesco World Heritage Site is a stunning and otherworldly landscape of balancing rocks, kopjes – giant boulders unfeasibly teetering on top of one another.
Lake Kariba is the nation's Riviera where it's all about houseboats, beer, fishing and amazing sunsets. It's one of the world's largest artificial lakes, covering an area of more than 5000 sq km and holding 180 billion tonnes of water.
Matusadona National Park & Lake Kariba Islands
Situated on the southern shore of Lake Kariba, the beautiful Matusadona National Park is home to the Big Five, including the endangered black rhino. Ghostly dead trees act as roosting places for fish eagles, cormorants and darters. The best time for wildlife viewing is between July and November.