Wide tree-lined avenues, parks and charming colonial architecture make Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, an attractive one. It has a lovely historic feel to it, and it's worth spending a night or two. It's also a popular base for trips to the nearby Khami Ruins and Matobo National Park, and an ideal staging point for Hwange National Park, on the way to Victoria Falls.
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.
Chimanimani National Park
With its pristine wilderness, Chimanimani National Park is a hiker's paradise. The northern end of the park, Corner, is still very wild and unspoiled, but the road there is not good. The park shares a border with Mozambique. For hiking in Chimanimani National Park, 19km from Chimanimani village, you must sign in and pay park fees at Mutekeswane Base Camp.
The Midlands & Southeastern Zimbabwe
Geographically, the Midlands are known as the high-veld, while the warmer, lower-lying southeast is the low-veld. At the transition of the regions is Masvingo and nearby is Great Zimbabwe. The low-veld’s finest attraction is the beautiful, often-ignored Gonarezhou National Park.
Nyanga National Park
The 47,000-hectare Nyanga National Park is a geographically and scenically distinct enclave in the Eastern Highlands. Nyanga is famous not for its wildlife (though it does have antelopes and zebras) but rather for its verdant, mountainous scenery, crystal-clear streams, and Zim's highest mountain and waterfall. It's also reknowned for trout fly-fishing.
Matobo National Park
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.
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.
Just 28km southeast of Mutare, the Bvumba (pronounced Vumba) Mountains are characterised by cool, forested highlands and deep, misty valleys. In the language of the Manyika Shona people, Bvumba means ‘drizzle’ and you’ll probably see why. With its meadows, apple orchards, country gardens and teahouses, the area seems akin to the British countryside.