|Having just spent the month of May in Zimbabwe checking out the destinations, attractions and accommodations, we are excited at the unique advantages afforded by this wonderful country. Safaris in Zimbabwe are truly wild and about incredible game viewing. Safaris here are not just about watching animals from vehicles, it is about close encounters while tracking potentially dangerous wildlife, such as lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes, on foot or by canoe or boat.
Key Areas to Visit:
The life-giving power of the Zambezi River makes Mana Pools National Park one of Zimbabwe’s most lush and flourishing regions, designated as the country’s second World Heritage Site and known as one of the continent’s premier game-viewing regions. Canoe trips are offered year round and provide a unique and memorable way for visitors to experience the area’s striking scenic beauty and diverse fauna, while guided walks are a great way to take its pristine riverside forests.
One of the original natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site and an extremely popular tourism attraction. Known locally as ‘The Smoke that Thunders’ this spectacle is accessible from both Zambia and Zimbabwe and it is an ideal place to combine a game viewing and water sports. There is excellent fishing, a terrifying bungee jump and arguably the best commercial white water rafting in the world.
Hwange National Park:
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s biggest reserve, home to a profusion of wildlife, including giraffe, lion, zebra and approximately 40 000 elephants. It provides sanctuary for all the country’s endangered species, including a population of wild dogs thought to be among the most sizeable surviving groups on the continent. Terrain ranges from desert dunes and savannah lands to rocky outcrops and sparse forests, and visitors have the choice of game drives, guided walks or horseback safaris as a means of experiencing the park and its creatures.
The planet’s most voluminous man-made lake, Kariba is a popular tourist destination that was created in the 1950s when the mighty Zambezi was dammed. It stretches for more than 200 kilometres along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, forming a natural boundary between the two countries. The lake’s waters are home to abundant crocodiles, hippos, fish and aquatic birds, while its shoreline and islands are rich with terrestrial game such as elephant and buffalo. It has become one of Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions offering houseboat holidays, fishing safaris and wonderful game viewing experiences.
Gonarezhou National Park:
Meaning ‘place of elephants’ Gonarezhou is Zimbabwe’s second-largest national park, extending across a vast area of baobab-dotted scrubland and pale orange sandstone cliffs. It is home to 4 of Africa’s ‘Big Five’ – elephant, leopard, lion and buffalo – as well as a multiplicity of other animal and bird species.
Matobo National Park:
The Matopos Hills are rich in history dating back more than 300 000 years and in 2003 the area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 3,000 registered San rock art sites are dotted across the area in caves and crevasses. In more recent times the hills were of great significance to the Ndebele people, their name meaning ‘Bald Heads” was given by their founder Mzilikazi. The Hills are the resting place of the country’s most famous colonial icons including Cecil Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson and Allan Wilson and his ill fated Shangani Patrol.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins:
Once Zimbabwe’s capital, the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe is the biggest and most significant stone archaeological complex in sub-Saharan Africa. It is also one of its oldest – thought to date back to the 11th century and second only to South Africa’s Mapungwe. Composed entirely of rectangular granite blocks stacked on top of one another without the use of mortar, the walls and towers of the city measure up to 12 metres in places, and it is unsurprising that Great Zimbabwe was designated a World Heritage Site in 1986.
So when is the best time to visit...
Jun/Oct ... is the dry season in Zimbabwe and generally considered to be the best time to be out on safari as the majority of animals converge on the few year round water sources. During the early part of the season, May/Jun, night time temperatures can be rather low, so do bring warm layers and a decent jacket. The grass and foliage cover can also be a little high during the first month or so, making it a little bit more difficult to find the animals. Towards the end of the season the wildlife viewing should be at its absolute best, but it can become extremely hot and humid day and night. Visitor numbers are relatively high, but this tends not to be too much of an issue here.
Nov/May ... is the green season, with showers being possible at any time, but generally focused on Dec/Feb when they can become persistent. This rain can cause many of the minor tracks to become difficult and increase the grass and foliage cover, both of which make wildlife viewing more challenging. However the bush looks beautiful, with lots of wildflowers and baby animals. Visitor numbers are very low, except for the Dec/Jan holiday season.
Here are a few sample tours you might wish to checkout
Zimbabwe History and Wildlife
Zimbabwe Grand Tour