Zimbabwe

Beautiful and enigmatic, Zimbabwe is the ideal introduction to Africa. Best known for the legendary Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe has a truly spectacular variety of natural assets from ancient cities to pristine wilderness areas. For abundant game, bewitching scenery, history and adventure activities Zimbabwe will captivate your soul.

Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest national park and one of the finest elephant conservation areas in Africa, with up to 30,000 elephants. This is vast wilderness area of Kalahari sands, saltpans, acacia scrub, vleis and grassy plains. The west of the park has black cotton soils and mopane woodlands. The terrain supports a huge variety of animals and over 400 species of birds, providing an exceptional game viewing experience.

A breathtaking wilderness haven can also be found at the remote Mana Pools National Park in the northern tip of the country on the banks of the Zambezi, bordering with Zambia. A designated World Heritage site, this wild and untamed park supports large game densities and numerous species of bird life. A guided canoe safari down-river is an unforgettable experience as you weave your way past territorial hippos and drift slowly as elephant herds swim across the river in front of you.

Located in a region packed full of history, the bewitching Matobo National Park in the southwestern part of the country combines history, scenery and wildlife. Famous as the burial place of the British Imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, who described his burial site as the “World’s View”, the park enjoys a spectacular landscape of balancing granite rocks. Bushman rock art dating back several hundred years can be seen in caves throughout the park. The hills are now home to the country’s largest population of white rhino.

An artificial inland sea, formed by the continent’s third largest dam in the 1950’s, Lake Kariba is a popular centre for water-sports and fishing. There is also plenty of wildlife on the banks of the lake, including buffalo and elephant, and the bird life is prolific. The bleached trunks and branches of the dead trees drowned by the dam make a stunning foreground to amazing sunsets. Matusadona National Park, on the shore of the lake is a beautiful park with a wide variety of wildlife, including a small population of the endangered black rhinoceros. The park is bordered by the Zambezi Escarpment, providing a scenic combination of flat plains and rugged mountain country.

Perhaps Zimbabwe’s most scenic park, however, is Chizarira National Park, which lies astride the Zambezi Escarpment. Highly remote, Chizarira is the least visited of Zimbabwe’s parks and facilities are limited. For many the silence and isolation are part of the attraction of this stunning location, with high escarpment views, green gorges, natural springs, dense woodlands and floodplains. The park is rich in wildlife, including elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo.

The majestic ruins of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe provide a fascinating insight into past – and highly advanced – African civilizations. The massive stone constructions at this World Heritage site date back some 700 years and are the oldest man-made stone structures south of the Sahara. Great Zimbabwe is at the heart of the country’s historic past and Zimbabwe itself derived its name from here, “Zimba ramabwe” meaning “big house of stone”.

Other places of interest are the scenic Eastern Highlands, nicknamed the Scottish highlands of Africa. The highlands form a natural border with Mozambique and are a superb area for hikers and birding enthusiasts. The rugged and impressive Gonarezhou National Park is a region of baobabs, scrublands, sandy rivers and sandstone cliffs.

The second African Peace Parks project is aiming to join Gonarezhou with South Africa’s Kruger National Park and the Limpopo National Park of Mozambique, leaving the animals with no political boundaries.

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