Zimbabwe

OVERVIEW

Despite the economic uncertainties of recent years, Zimbabwe continues to attract safari connoisseurs, which should come as no surprise, given its dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife. Zimbabwe was one of the first countries to embrace eco-tourism and has some of the best safari guides in the business. The Zimbabwean guide’s license is particularly hard to obtain, so it really does signify that you’re in the hands of an expert.

Spend time there, and it’s not hard to see what inspired them to spend their lives in the bush. Locals joke that, as a landlocked country, the only thing Zimbabwe lacks is a beach. Other than that, it really does have everything.

Zimbabwe can easily be combined with neighboring countries in southern Africa (especially Botswana and Zambia) as part of a multi-destination itinerary, but it also deserves your full attention on a single-country trip.

Stories of economic distress meant that Zimbabwe lost some of its luster as a destination, but this was a case of perception rather than reality. Reduced visitor numbers meant that national parks and game reserves were even less crowded than usual, and Zimbabwe could offer exceptional value. The smart money is on Zimbabwe making a resurgence, and we predict that it will soon reclaim its rightful place among Africa’s leading safari nations.

Many people’s entry point into Zimbabwe is Victoria Falls – it would be almost unimaginable to visit the country without coming to admire what is one of the natural wonders of the world. Whether in full flow after the rains, or separated into individual ribbons of water in the dry season, the Falls remain just as breathtaking as when Livingstone first “discovered” them.

Visiting the Falls is just scratching the surface of Zimbabwe, however – beyond them lie some of Africa’s greatest national parks. You can choose to follow the course of the mighty Zambezi River through Mana Pools, or marvel at the herds of buffalo and elephant in Hwange.

Zimbabwe also has a fascinating history, with the stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe (at Masvingo) confounding historians who maintained that Africa was somehow undeveloped. Your lasting impression of Zimbabwe – and the reason you’ll want to return – is likely to be the warm smiles and genuine hospitality of the people.

Gateway cities: Harare, Victoria Falls

Best time to travel: April through November

Highlights: Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Matobo Hills, Mana Pools National Park, Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe, Kariba

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