Zimbabwe Overview

For years, the South African’s safari destination of choice was… Zimbabwe. In a region known for its magnificent game drives, Zimbabwe’s landscape takes the top spot. It really is that beautiful. The trump card is the swathes of wonderful wilderness packed full of game and birdlife. Five national parks each offer a safari experience unique to the next, and contrary to inaccurate rumours of resistance, Zimbabwe’s people are some of the world’s friendliest and have a renewed enthusiasm for tourism – the only arms you’ll be greeted with will be open ones. Read all about it in our Zimbabwe travel guide.

Our top Zimbabwe holidays

Zimbabwe safari holiday, tailor made

From £3530
8 days ex flights
Safari combining some of the most diverse areas of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe tailor made holiday

From £3350
10 days ex flights
A captivating trip visiting some of the gems of Zimbabwe
Tailor made

Botswana and Zimbabwe lodge safari

From £4399 to £4699
16 days inc UK flights
Victoria Falls to the meandering waterways of the Okavango Delta
Small group2021: 8 May, 22 May, 5 Jun, 19 Jun, 3 Jul, 17 Jul, 31 Jul, 14 Aug, 28 Aug, 11 Sep, 25 Sep, 9 Oct, 23 Oct, 6 Nov, 2022: 12 Mar, 9 Apr, 7 May, 21 May, 18 Jun, 30 Jul, 13 Aug, 27 Aug, 10 Sep, 24 Sep, 8 Oct, 5 Nov

Best time to go to Zimbabwe

The best time to go to Zimbabwe depends on whether you prefer heat, rain or more temperate conditions. The ideal time for safaris is May-November, although the latter part of this season sees temperatures soar into the 30°Cs. July-August hovers in the mid-20°s, but can get pretty chilly at night. Some camps around Hwange National Park close during the rainy season (December-March), but the animals are still very much there, as are the guides who need their jobs. Zimbabwe’s storms can be incredibly atmospheric, bringing migratory birds, beautiful sunsets and really clear skies. Find out more about when to visit Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe temperature and rainfall chart

Map & highlights

Mosi-oa-Tunya is ‘the smoke that thunders’ – a more fitting name for what most of the world knows as Victoria Falls. Hwange National Park is a couple of hours’ drive away; it’s Zimbabwe’s biggest national park. Matobo National Park is less known, but filled with ancient rock art, while the remote Mana Pools is heralded for its free-range elephant herds. Lake Kariba is difficult to reach too, so you’ll see the hippos, leopards, lions and crocodiles in relative peace. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument – the 11th-century ruins of the one-time capital of Zimbabwe – is a spectacular look into the human history of Zimbabwe.
Great Zimbabwe National Monument

1. Great Zimbabwe National Monument

Dating back to 11th century, these are the Kingdom of Zimbabwe’s ancient capital ruins, rightly awarded UNESCO status. Covering 722 ha, this stone city is thought to have housed 18,000 people, and considered one of Southern Africa’s greatest archaeological monuments. Indeed, Zimbabwe means ‘Houses of Stone’ and replaced the colonial name of Rhodesia after independence.
Hwange National Park

2. Hwange National Park

Hwange is only a 2.5hr drive from Victoria Falls and is Zimbabwe’s biggest national park. Famed for its enormous elephant population, you can spot four of the Big Five (minus black rhino) in its forests and scrublands and it has an unfenced link with Botswana, the Chobe River and Namibia, so incredible sightings of huge herds on the move are frequent.
Lake Kariba

3. Lake Kariba

Quite tricky to reach, Lake Kariba rewards your effort with its staggering remoteness. A huge manmade expanse of shimmering water reflecting the beautiful scenery within which it sits, it’s known for its population of fish eagles and is home to islands including Chete, a road-free piece of land where leopards, lions, impalas, and lots of lions and crocs roam free.
Mana Pools

4. Mana Pools

Down in the Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools is another really remote national park (a UNESCO-listed one no less) and what sets it apart from the others is that it has a riverfront – attracting lots of great game – and it’s unfenced too, so there’s every chance of a family of elephants strolling past while you’re having a snack. Safaris on foot are no longer allowed here, but better safe than stampeded.
Matobo National Park

5. Matobo National Park

Home to 3,500 ancient rock art sites and stony outcrops that you can sit above and gaze at, Matobo is a lesser-known national park with a really spiritual vibe. You can game drive, mountain bike and, unusually for Zimbabwe, take a walk with a ranger to see rhinos on foot there, and its hills are also the home of Cecil John Rhodes’ grave. A very atmospheric safari option for the thinkers out there.
Victoria Falls

6. Victoria Falls

Known locally as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’, which means ‘the smoke that thunders’, just one glimpse of the spectacular Victoria Falls confirms why. An immense sheet of gushing water double the height of Canada’s Niagara Falls, this raging waterfall is one of the Earth’s is greatest spectacles and to see it front on as Zimbabwe’s unparalleled views permit, is to really feel the full force of its power.

Safaris

Safari holidays are Zimbabwe’s bread and butter. Hippos wallow in Mana Pools National Park and Lake Kariba, where you can take a boat out to view them… at a safe distance from these 1,500kg beasts. You can drive out to see the elephant herds that still survive in the savannahs, despite years of drought and poaching. The tour specialists we work with quite rightly avoid ‘walking with lions’ experiences like the plague. Instead, track them happily stalking through their natural environment, with expert Zimbabwean guides who’ll also have an eye out for wild dogs, giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest, leopards and hyenas.

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park has come a long way from its days as a hunting ground for King Mzilikazi Khumal in the 19th century. It’s one of the biggest national parks in Africa, and home to most of Zimbabwe’s elephant population, as well as lion prides, packs of wild dogs and springy antelopes. Famously fantastic guides lead the way, driving you out to grassy plains at the crack of dawn and showing you how to track giraffes safely on foot. Your visit to Hwange National Park will be part of a larger tour of Zimbabwe or Southern Africa; choose a tailor made trip to spend extra time here.

More holiday ideas

Zimbabwe & Botswana game tracker safari

From €2490
16 days ex flights
A lodge safari through Kruger, Zimbabwe & Botswana
Small group2021: 10 Apr, 17 Apr, 8 May, 22 May, 12 Jun, 26 Jun, 3 Jul, 17 Jul, 24 Jul, 14 Aug, 21 Aug, 28 Aug, 11 Sep, 25 Sep, 2 Oct, 16 Oct, 23 Oct, 30 Oct, 13 Nov, 20 Nov, 27 Nov, 18 Dec, 2022: 8 Jan, 15 Jan, 29 Jan, 26 Feb, 26 Mar, 9 Apr, 16 Apr, 7 May, 14 May, 21 May, 4 Jun, 11 Jun, 25 Jun, 2 Jul, 9 Jul, 16 Jul, 23 Jul, 13 Aug, 20 Aug, 27 Aug, 10 Sep, 24 Sep, 1 Oct, 15 Oct, 22 Oct, 29 Oct, 12 Nov, 19 Nov, 26 Nov, 17 Dec

Zimbabwe & Botswana self drive holiday

From US $4380
16 days ex flights
Victoria Falls and incredible wildlife on self drive tour

Zimbabwe riding holiday

From £1995
9 days ex flights
Discover Zimbabwe's incredible wildlife on horseback
Tailor made

Zimbabwe family safari, tailor made

From US $3435 to US $3790
9 days ex flights
Discover magnificent Matopos and Hwange National Park
Tailor made

Zimbabwe tailor made holidays

From £5145
13 days inc UK flights
A journey through Zimbabwe's most iconic wildlife habitats
Tailor made

Zimbabwe national parks safari

From US $8143 to US $11170
13 days ex flights
A unique journey along the Zambezi River
Tailor made
Quote. The secret to a great holiday is that it's great for everyone - you, local communities and nature.
Tourist and Masai

More about Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘the smoke that thunders’) in the Lozi tongue and Shungu Namutitima in Tonga (‘boiling water’). As you stand beneath its 108m-tall and 1.5km-wide waterfalls, you can see where these evocative local names come from. Victoria Falls straddles the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, but you’ll get the best views on the Zimbabwe side, where four out of five of the cascades crash. All holidays to Zimbabwe will include a trip to Victoria Falls; for more information, read about the best way to see Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe & Botswana

It almost feels silly not to visit Zimbabwe and Botswana in the same trip. The elephants and lodges of Chobe National Park are just over the border from Zimbabwe, and the Okavango Delta is just a few hours’ drive from there. Botswana has had years to perfect its conservation-based tourism, so expect luxury camps and more visitors, whereas wildlife holidays in Zimbabwe are still in their formative years. The neighbouring countries concur when it comes to rigorous guide training, however: Zimbabwean and Botswanan guides are some of the best in the world.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Zimbabwe or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
[Safaris: St John Wilson] [Hwange National Park: Christine Donaldson] [Victoria Falls: Jason Zhao] [Zimbabwe & Botswana: Wynand Uys]
Photo credits: [Page banner: Steven dos Remedios] [Safaris: St John Wilson] [Hwange National Park: Christine Donaldson] [Victoria Falls: Jason Zhao] [Zimbabwe & Botswana: Wynand Uys]
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