After a decade of political ruin, violence and economic disaster, finally some good news is coming out of Zimbabwe – tourism is back. Visitors are returning 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 world, Victoria Falls.
A journey here will take you through an attractive patchwork of landscapes, from central highveld, balancing boulders and flaming msasa trees, to laidback towns, lush Eastern Highlands mountains and a network of lifeblood rivers up north. Along the way you’ll receive a friendly welcome from locals, famous for their politeness and resilience in the face of hardship.
While there may be a long way to go, sure signs of recovery continue in Zimbabwe, giving hope to this embattled nation that a new dawn will soon rise.
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.
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.
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.
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.