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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Little known to visitors, Mavuradonha is home to some of Zimbabwe's most pristine wilderness, a rugged blend of grey granite with the red serpentine soils of Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke Complex. It’s the escarpment of the Zambezi Valley, where deep valleys bisect towering rock faces and grass-covered mountains.
Gonarezhou National Park
Bordering Mozambique, Gonarezhou National Park is virtually an extension of South Africa’s Kruger National Park. So, in late 2002, the relevant authorities in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique created the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a 35,000-sq-km park straddling all three countries (with no boundaries).
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.