Formerly Salisbury, the capital is Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial center and also the usual starting point for any visit. It is a clean and sophisticated city, characterized by flowering trees, colorful parks and contemporary architecture. Local sightseeing includes the modern museum and art gallery, the Robert McIlwaine Recreational Park, which has a lake and game reserve, the Lion & Cheetah Park, the Larvon Bird Gardens and the landscaped gardens of aloes and cycads at Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens. Due to its pleasant climate, Harare is known as the ‘Sunshine City’.
Bulawayo Zimbabwe’s second city is a major commercial, industrial and tourist center. The city is rich in historical associations and is the home of the National Museum and headquarters of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Nearby are the ancient Khami ruins, while to the south is the Rhodes Matopos National Park, notable for its exotic formations of huge granite boulders. Dams with excellent fishing, caves with rock paintings, Cecil Rhodes’ grave and a well-stocked game park make this area popular with visitors.
The Eastern HighlandsThe Inyanga, Vumba and Chimanimani mountain ranges are one of the country’s principal holiday areas for both Zimbabweans and tourists and are ideal for those who want to relax and enjoy crisp mountain air. The country’s highest mountain, Inyangani (2592m /8504ft), is in this area. The scenery is striking in its variety, with deep valleys, gorges, bare granite peaks, pine-forested slopes and bubbling trout streams rolling down steep cliffs. There are challenging hilly golf courses and pony rides through the heather, as well as the opportunity for mountain climbing, squash, tennis, bowls, fishing, snooker and gambling in the casino. Because of the mountainous and forested terrain, game-viewing in this region is more a matter of chance but for the lucky few there are leopards and rare forest antelopes.
A holiday in Zimbabwe would be incomplete without a visit to the Great Zimbabwe National Monument, the largest complex of ruins in Africa south of the pyramids in Egypt. The Main Enclosure, or Temple, has walls over 9m (30ft) tall, 4m (14ft) thick and over 228m (250 yards) in circumference, giving approximately 485,521 cubic meters (635,000 cubic ft) of hand-trimmed mortarless stonework. The remains are what is left of a city-state that flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries, trading in gold. Lake Kyle National Park is not far away; there is a well-organized campsite close to the lake.Parks & Wildlife
From the forested mountains of the Eastern highlands to the sun-washed grasslands of Hwange National Park, from the hot Mopani Forest to the shores of Lake Kariba, more than 11 per cent of Zimbabwe’s land – 44,688 sq km (17,254 sq miles) – has been set aside as parks and wildlife estates. There are 10 national parks and 10 recreational parks around the country, plus several botanical gardens, sanctuaries and 14 national safari areas for hunting (an activity that helps to finance the conservation program and is strictly controlled).Note
For safety reasons, visitors may not enter any national park by motorcycle.Hwange National Park
Formerly Wankie National Park, this is one of Zimbabwe’s largest parks, both in size, 14,620 sq km (5,644 sq miles), and in the variety of animals and birds that may be seen. From the three camps, networks of game-viewing roads guide visitors to areas with good animal concentrations and to waterholes where, in the evenings, great numbers of wild animals congregate. At some waterholes, platforms are erected from which one can observe game closely and in safety. Hwange is one of the last of the great elephant sanctuaries in Africa, with over 40,000 living in the national parkVictoria Falls120km (75 miles) from the Hwange National Park are the largest waterfalls in the world – at 2.5km (1.5 miles) wide, 550 million liters of water plunge 100m (330ft) into a narrow chasm every minute; the spray can be seen 30km (20 miles) away. To gain an overall impression of the Falls, the ‘Flight of the Angels’ light plane trip is a must, as is a cruise up the mighty Zambezi River. It is possible to walk across to Zambia (with the minimum of formalities) to view from the other side; this is also highly recommended, for the Falls are without a doubt one of the world’s grandest natural spectacles and every viewpoint reveals something new. Nearby is the Zambezi National Park, where sable antelopes and other exotic animals graze in a parkland setting.Mana Pools National Park
One of Zimbabwe’s most beautiful national parks, occupying 2196 sq km (848 sq miles) of forest along the shores of the Zambezi River. The animal population includes hippo, elephant, rhino, buffalo and many types of antelope. Game-viewing on foot is allowed. The birdlife along the river and in the bush is particularly prolific. It is possible to fish for tigerfish, bream and the giant vundu.
Situated in the northwest of the country on the Zambian border, Lake Kariba covers 7770 sq km (3000 sq miles) and holds a million gallons of water. It has the second largest manmade dam in the world. Game can be viewed from the comfort of various safari camps, or from well-appointed cruise vessels and self-contained safari-crafts.
Matobo National Park
Located close to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second major city, the park is noted for its spectacular granite rock formations and its wealth of ancient rock paintings. Cecil Rhodes’ tomb can be visited at Malindidzimu (View of the World). The Nswatugi and Pomongwe caves are worth visiting.
Nyanga National Park
Situated in the mountain range that covers the eastern part of Zimbabwe, Nyanga National Park is an area of high grasslands, evergreen forests, waterfalls, cliffs and lakeside cottages. Trout fishing is very popular and the trout hatchery is well worth a visit. Visitors can also climb Mount Inyangani, the country’s highest peak. The World’s View offers a panoramic view across northern Zimbabwe. From here, a steep footpath leads to the road to Nyanga village with its English gardens, village common and church.