Khami Ruins


Just 22km from Bulawayo, the Unesco World Heritage–listed Khami Ruins may not have the grandeur of Great Zimbabwe, but it's an impressive archaeological site nonetheless. The second largest stone monument built in Zimbabwe, Khami was developed between 1450 and 1650 as the capital of the Torwa dynasty, and abandoned in the 19th century with the arrival of Ndebele. It's spread over a 2km site in a peaceful natural setting overlooking the Khami Dam.

The complex series of walled structures generally follows the same aspects of Great Zimbabwe, but possesses its own features and expressions in the patterns and elaborate decorations. It has the longest decorated wall in the entire sub-region, while archaeological remains of Spanish and Ming porcelain found at the ruins provide evidence of a historic trade link; some of these remains are on display at Bulawayo’s Natural History Museum.

At its entrance is a small museum displaying artefacts, where you can also pick up a copy of the highly recommended booklet on the ruins (US$5) by Rod Barrett. It's especially handy given there's no signage at each site; hiring a guide is also recommended for this reason. Tour operators run day trips from Bulawayo, or take a taxi (US$20 one way).

Don't expect to be blown away by the site; instead it has a more relaxed, subtle and mysterious beauty about it.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bulawayo attractions

1. Bulawayo Railway Museum

9.76 MILES

Whether you're a train enthusiast or not, Bulwayo's Railway Museum rarely disappoints. Its passionate curator, Gordon Murray, will take you on a tour of…

2. National Art Gallery

10.38 MILES

Set in a beautiful 100-year-old, colonial, double-terrace Edwardian building, the National Art Gallery shows temporary and permanent exhibitions of…

3. Natural History Museum

11.27 MILES

Zimbabwe's largest and best museum makes for an essential visit. Set over three floors, it offers a great overview of the country's natural,…

4. Matobo National Park

27.97 MILES

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…

5. Rock Art Caves

27.99 MILES

Dotted around the 425-sq-km Matobo National Park are 3000 officially registered rock-art sites, including one of the best collections in the world of San…

6. World's View (Malindidzimu Hill)


One of Zimbabwe's most breathtaking sites, the aptly named World's View takes in epic 360-degree views of the park. The peacefulness up here is immense,…