Landlocked Zimbabwe is a multi-faceted jewel. Here a visitor can gaze on hundreds of species of tropical wildlife, thrill to the experience of white-water rafting; scale chilly mountain peaks and savor the history of a people that goes back tens of thousands of years. This diverse country is rich in heritage and natural wonders.
From one end of the country to the other, the wildlife is so staggering in its profusion that it makes any safari through the game parks a voyage of discovery. Game drives in open safari vehicles are available, and the adventurous can walk or paddle canoes within feet of elephants. Other treasures include the ruins of ancient civilizations, massive stone constructions of culture whose roots are lost in the distant past. The Zambezi River has the best white-water run on the continent. With the emergence of an exciting modern artistic movement, local crafts centers offer artifacts of many cultures. Shona sculptures are a vibrant art form that makes full use of the country's spectacular geological inheritance.
A Spotlight on Zimbabwe
Mosi oa Tunya, the "Smoke that Thunders," sends clouds of spray high into the air to "rain" down on the luxuriant forest that exists only because of the moisture from the falls. In addition to observing the natural spectacles of the falls and the rain forest that surrounds it, you can kayak, canoe or raft on the Zambezi River's famous white water. Vendors offer plenty of crafts, including Shona stone sculptures. And you can participate in day and night game drives and walks in the nearby national parks and private reserves.
Matopos National Park
The Matopos hills are a world of knobby granite outcrops that look as if they have been transplanted from another planet. As soon as you enter the park, you are in another Africa. Here is an eerie panorama so brooding and mysterious that it has enchanted Ndebele kings and colonial settlers alike. Today, the visitor can gaze on the tombs of Cecil Rhodes and his deputies and, not far from these monuments to colonial ambition, the vestiges of very different people-cave paintings by ancient bush people depicting a world existed thousands of years before the name "Zimbabwe" was ever invented.
The ruined city of Great Zimbabwe, near Masvingo, is the largest and most significant ancient monument south of the Sahara. The towering dzembabwe ("stone houses") are the remains of a city of some 20,000 Shone-speaking people, who prospered between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. The city is an eloquent testimonial to the advanced culture of its African builders. The complex extends across 720 hectares and is constructed entirely without mortar-a million stones balance on one another.
Hwange National Park
Close encounters with as many as 35 large mammal species await the visitor to the sandveld and teak forests of Hwange, Zimbabwe's largest national park. The density and variety of wildlife at Hwange, including more than 400 kinds of birds, is comparable with the world's best. The park's 500-kilometer network of game viewing roads is crisscrossed by great herds of elephant, buffalo, rhino, giraffe, zebra, graceful impala and score of predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah.
Matusadona National Park
This park came into being when the mighty Zambezi was dammed in the late 1950's, producing manmade Lake Kariba. The resultant new ecosystems sustain a large variety of wildlife. The lake teems with hippo, crocodile and huge shoals of the celebrated Kariba bream, tiny tasty kapenta, and the fighting tigerfish. Elephant, buffalo, countless antelope and the occasional black rhino come down to the south shore of the lake from Bumi Hills and the rugged wilderness of the park.
Mana Pools National Park
In the long, hot African summer, huge herds of elephant and buffalo wander across the old Zambezi River flood plain at Mana Pools. The river has shifted slightly north toward Zambia over the years, leaving thousands of pools and ponds in which water seasonally collects. The sandy alluvial soil supports lush grasses and acacia trees that are perfect for the big browsers. Mana Pools supports phenomenal numbers of antelope, lion, cheetah and wild dog.
The Eastern Highlands
On Zimbabwe's eastern border, running some three hundred kilometers from north to south is a string of mountains that are quite striking in its rugged beauty. Forming a natural border with a neighboring Mozambique, the Eastern Highlands vary from the gently rolling countryside near Nyanga in the north to the fierce granite spikes of Chimanimani. The fabulous scenery of the Eastern Highlands makes them a natural holiday destination. Trout fishing, golf, bowls and horse riding are all enjoyed throughout the year, and there are several sumptuous hotels of an exceptionally high standard. Further south are the Vumba, an archipelago of misty peaks famed for their fabulous views into Mozambique. They are also home to the Vumba Botanical Gardens that are just a few minutes' drive from the eastern metropolis of Mutare, containing shrubs and trees that have been gathered from all over the world. Overlooking the giant water lilies on the ornamental lake is a tea house which appears for all the world like an English cricket pavilion, uprooted from a village green in the Home Countries and replanted in the heart of Africa. At the southern end of this exquisite mountain chain, the volcanic peaks of Chimanimani are sharp and jagged. Most of them can be conquered with little mountaineering skill, and they are punctuated with hundreds of rivers, waterfalls and pools to entice bathers after a long day's hike.
|Summer: Oct - Mar||
Hot, you can experience thunderstorms in Nov to Mar.
Average Temperatures: 62/81
|Fall: Apr - May||
Warm, with cool nights.
Average Temperatures: 54/77
|Winter: Jun - Jul||
Dry, with cold nights.
Average Temperatures: 49/69
|Spring: Aug - Oct||
Average Temperatures: 50/80