Why to visit Zimbabwe
Southern Africa

Zimbabwe Travel Guide

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Zimbabwe is a vibrant African nation, blessed with a rich history, cultural diversity, and incredible natural beauty and wildlife.

Famous for being one of the top safari destinations in Africa, Zimbabwe is an emerging travel hotspot for nature lovers around the world.

Nestled in the heart of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is bordered by several countries: Zambia to the North, Mozambique to the Northeast, South Africa to the South, Botswana to the Southwest, and Namibia to the West.

The country’s diverse landscapes include the highlands of the Eastern Highlands, the fertile central plateau, and the iconic Victoria Falls, which lie on the border with Zambia.

Best places to visit in Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is an ancient archaeological site located in southeastern Zimbabwe, approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the city of Masvingo.

It is one of the most significant historical and cultural sites in sub-Saharan Africa and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986.

Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which existed from the 11th century to the 15th century.

It was a thriving center of trade, politics, and religion, and its influence extended throughout the region.

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe provide important insights into the ancient civilization that once flourished there.

The architectural style of Great Zimbabwe is remarkable and unique.

The ruins consist of stone structures made of granite blocks, expertly fitted together without the use of mortar.

The most iconic feature of Great Zimbabwe is the Great Enclosure, a massive stone wall surrounding an area of approximately 6 hectares (14.8 acres).

The walls reach heights of up to 11 meters (36 feet) and enclose a series of structures and passageways.

The ruins of Great Zimbabwe are divided into three main areas: the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex, and the Great Enclosure.

The Hill Complex sits atop a granite hill and is believed to have been the royal residence, while the Valley Complex housed the general population.

The Great Enclosure, with its unique elliptical shape, is thought to have had ceremonial or symbolic importance.

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park

The country is renowned for its national parks and game reserves, which provide a haven for a staggering array of animal species.

Hwange National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, is home to over 100 mammal species, including the iconic African elephant, lion, buffalo, and leopard.

You can explore the park by embarking on exciting game drives or opt for walking safaris to witness the wonders of the African wilderness up close.

Hwange National Park is home to some of the best safari camps in Zimbabwe.

Mana Pools National Park

Canoeing in the Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park is a renowned wildlife reserve located in northern Zimbabwe, along the southern bank of the Zambezi River.

It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its exceptional biodiversity and remarkable landscapes.

Mana Pools offers a unique safari experience that combines stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and immersive activities.

It is known for its breathtaking landscapes, characterized by the floodplains, riverine forests, and the iconic “mana” or “four” pools that give the park its name.

These pools, formed by the meandering Zambezi River, attract a multitude of wildlife, providing stunning reflections during sunrise and sunset.

Mana Pools National Park at sunset

The park is renowned for its diverse wildlife population, including large concentrations of elephants, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, and various antelope species.

Lions, leopards, cheetahs, and spotted hyenas are among the predators that roam the area.

Mana Pools is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 400 bird species recorded, including African fish eagles, herons, storks, and numerous waterfowl.

One of the unique features of Mana Pools is the opportunity to explore the park on foot during guided walking safaris.

Accompanied by experienced guides, visitors can get up close to wildlife, observe their behaviors, and appreciate the smaller details of the ecosystem.

Walking safaris offer an intimate and thrilling wildlife encounter that is unlike any other safari experience.

Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

The crown jewel of Zimbabwe is undoubtedly Victoria Falls, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Locally known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (The Smoke that Thunders), Victoria Falls is a majestic curtain of cascading water that spans 1.7 kilometers (1.1 miles) in width and plummets over 100 meters (328 feet) into the Zambezi Gorge.

The sheer power and beauty of this natural spectacle leave visitors awe-struck, and activities such as guided tours, helicopter rides, and thrilling white-water rafting allow for unforgettable experiences.

Traditional villages

Traditional villages with mud huts in Zimbabwe

Rural villages in Zimbabwe offer a fascinating glimpse into traditional African life, characterized by a strong sense of community, vibrant cultural traditions, and a deep connection to the land.

These villages provide an opportunity for travelers to experience the authentic way of life in Zimbabwe and engage with the local people on a personal level.

Traditional huts are made of mud, thatch, and locally sourced materials.

These huts are typically round or rectangular and are designed to withstand the region’s climate.

They reflect the rich cultural heritage and architectural traditions of the local communities.

Agriculture forms the backbone of rural life in Zimbabwe, with subsistence farming being the primary occupation for many villagers.

Maize, millet, sorghum, and various vegetables are cultivated in small fields using traditional farming methods.

Travelers can observe and even participate in farming activities, gaining insights into the daily lives of rural communities.

Visitors can explore local markets, where they can purchase beautifully crafted souvenirs, or immerse themselves in the rhythmic beats of traditional music during cultural festivals.

Batoka Gorge

Batoka Gorge, the perfect place for adrenaline seekers and bungee jumping

Zimbabwe also offers opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adrenaline-fueled adventures.

The country’s diverse topography lends itself to thrilling activities such as bungee jumping, zip-lining, and abseiling.

The iconic Batoka Gorge, located downstream from Victoria Falls, provides the perfect setting for white-water rafting, offering heart-pounding rapids and breathtaking scenery.

Accommodation in Zimbabwe

Luxury safari accommodation in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe boasts a range of luxurious lodges and safari camps that cater to travelers seeking comfort and tranquility.

Many lodges are located within or near national parks, allowing guests to indulge in a unique blend of luxury and wildlife experiences.

From tented camps overlooking watering holes to lavish resorts nestled in private concessions, there is an accommodation option to suit every taste and budget.

When is the best time to visit Zimbabwe for a safari?

When is the best time to visit Zimbabwe for a safari?

The dry season, particularly from June to October, is generally considered the best time for wildlife viewing in Zimbabwe.

During this period, the vegetation becomes sparse, and animals gather around water sources, making them easier to spot.

The weather is typically sunny and dry, and temperatures are pleasant, ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F) during the day.

Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park are particularly rewarding during this time, as large concentrations of animals can be observed.

The wet season, also known as the “green season,” occurs from November to April and brings sporadic rainfall to Zimbabwe.

While the lush landscapes and vibrant colors create a picturesque setting, wildlife viewing can be more challenging as animals disperse across a wider area.

However, this is an excellent time for birdwatching, as migratory birds flock to the country.

The wet season also offers lower rates, fewer crowds, and the opportunity to witness newborn animals. It’s worth noting that some remote areas may become inaccessible due to heavy rains.

The shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October can be an ideal compromise for visitors.

These periods mark the transition between the dry and wet seasons, offering a balance between wildlife sightings and favorable weather conditions.

Vegetation is still relatively green, and the temperatures are moderate.

Wildlife is more active, and you may encounter fewer tourists compared to peak season.

It’s important to keep in mind that wildlife behavior can be unpredictable, and sightings are never guaranteed regardless of the season.

However, visiting during the dry season generally increases your chances of witnessing large concentrations of animals around watering holes.

Is Zimbabwe a safe travel destination?

Zimbabwe is generally considered a safe travel destination.

While it has experienced periods of political and economic challenges in the past, the situation has improved, and the country has been relatively stable in recent years.

Overall crime rates have decreased, but petty theft and opportunistic crimes can occur in urban areas and popular tourist spots.

It is advisable to take common-sense precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings, avoiding displaying expensive items, and being aware of your surroundings.

Exercise caution, particularly at night and in busy areas.

Zimbabwe is home to diverse wildlife, and encounters with wild animals can be thrilling.

However, it is essential to respect the guidelines provided by professional guides and authorities.

Always maintain a safe distance from animals, follow instructions during game drives or walking safaris, and adhere to park regulations to ensure your safety.

While Zimbabwe has faced its share of challenges in recent decades, the country has made significant strides in ensuring the safety and satisfaction of travelers.

Infrastructure has improved, and tourism operators adhere to international standards, ensuring visitors can enjoy their experiences with peace of mind.

With its wealth of natural wonders, captivating history, and warm hospitality, Zimbabwe offers a unique blend of safari experiences and cultural encounters.

Whether you seek heart-pounding adventures or serene moments in nature, Zimbabwe promises an unforgettable journey that will leave a lasting imprint on your soul.