To date, a lot of trips to Zimbabwe are carried out in trucks, as part of epic overland journeys coming all the way from Cape Town. However, what is less known is that Zimbabwe has the most superb network of trekking trails. The secret is, of course, is to have the best walking guides to lead you up the likes of Mt. Nyangani, the country’s highest mountain, or through the Chimanimani Mountains.
The fact that it isn’t well known as a family destination is to Zimbabwe’s advantage. Chat with a specialist in tailor made family holidays here to discover a world where you can track rhino one day and go rafting on the Zambezi the next. Go on a nighttime game drive in Hwange or be sprayed by Victoria Falls. It is also worth checking out three-country overland trips specialising in families.
One of the country’s lesser known national parks, it boasts habitat for elephants and lions drinking on the banks of the Lower Zambezi. Its name means ‘four’ in the Shona language, because of the four inland pools that are the remnants of oxbow lakes. These spots attract hippo, crocodiles and a vast array of birdlife, making this a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. Mana from heaven.
Zimbabwe is a member of the pan African Peace Parks Foundation which has created Trans Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) which protect wildlife corridors across borders. Zimbabwe is a member of two TFCAs (with more in the pipeline): Kavango-Zambezi TFCA and the Great Limpopo Trans Frontier Park in the SE, helping the vital movement of many animals, especially elephants.
You can bungee them, zipline them, swim in the Devil’s Pool above them, fish in them, fly over them and take a sunset cruise alongside them. Or you can just let nature create its own adrenaline and let the sound of this most powerfully beautiful sight get your heart beating all on its own. Because no matter how you experience this spectacle, it’s deep.
There are many ways to experience it and just watching it plummet over Victoria Falls is the favourite way. However, you can also canoe on its gentler waters and, if you travel with expert guides you can paddle through wildlife paradise seeing hippo, elephants and buffalo along the way. For adrenaline seekers, the white water rafting is also second to none on the Zambezi. Always raft responsibly.
The country’s biggest national park, and only a stone’s throw from Victoria Falls (relatively speaking), it has a thriving elephant population, and you can spot four out of the Big Five here. It is also linked with protected landscapes in Botswana and Namibia, so wildlife on the move is a feature here. And with public and private camping facilities in the park, 24/7 wildlife viewing is possible.
Biodiverse and beautiful, Zimbabwe is at the juncture of tropical Central Africa and temperate Southern Africa, as well as offering vital waterholes for wildlife at the Zambezi River, Mana Pools and Lake Kariba. And so, hello zebra, elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, cheetah, impala… the list goes on and on.
It’s unusual not to have at least one town or city in our travel guides, but the Zimbabwe urban offering is, frankly, pretty ugly. In their heyday they were clean and neat. Now, not so much and with little funding around, the parks and museums are shabby. Use your time getting out into nature which is the antithesis of ugly. Utopia in fact.
Zimbabwe doesn’t get an easy ride in the press, and in some cases this is merited. However, like anywhere, they often upstage the really good stories. The vast, untouched wilderness, the mountains, the friendliness of Zimbabweans. Even the police at road blocks are polite. They value the new surge in tourism and welcome visitors.
It’s a tough country to get around, so plan carefully or go on a small group tour or tailor made trip by experts who know that, for example, Lake Kariba, is surrounded by such deteriorated roads that a journey along its banks will take you two days instead of half a day. Or that in most cases, it is unrealistic to fit Vic Falls, Hwange and Gonarezhou into one trip too.
Like in South Africa, this horrific ‘sport’ still happens in Zimbabwe. We don’t support canned hunting at Responsible Travel, a lucrative industry where animals are bred specifically to be shot dead. Petting, cuddling or walking with lions is equally a big no no. If you see this anywhere, just walk well away.