The National Geographic Traveller put together a global list of not-to-miss destinations for 2019. The list comprises 19 nations of which Zimbabwe is amongst them on position 9. This actually puts Zimbabwe at the top spot in the continent. Last year alone, tourist arrivals were almost 3 million. All this puts into perspective the fact that there are numerous places locally that are appealing to not only locals but the world at large. Upon combing through reviews & recommendations by several travel & tour data, I hereby present to you the 9 best places to visit in Zimbabwe this year.
Gonarezhou National Park
This is the second largest game park in the country which also happens to be home to the biggest elephants in Southern Africa. The name connotes ‘the scared dwelling place of elephants’. It is located in Chiredzi district found in Masvingo Province. The easiest way to get there is by getting to Chiredzi first then you proceed Mutare-bound, after about 18 km you take a right (at the Chipinda Pools signage). You then proceed roughly another 56 km to get to the campsite. There are several lodge & camping options to choose from namely, Chipinda Pools, Chinguli, Malapati, Chilo Gorge Safari & the Gonarezhou bush camp. There is a diversified portfolio of fun activities to do there e.g. game viewing/drives, hunting expeditions, bird viewing etc.
The Eastern Highlands
There are countless breath-taking mountain ranges, scenic places, historical sites etc. Some of the main places of interest there are Bvumba mountains, Mt Inyangani, Nyanga National Park, Chimanimani National Park, Mtarazi Falls (which happens to be the highest waterfall in Zimbabwe standing at 762 m high), Ziwa ruins etc. Other interesting sites there are tea, banana, timber, macadamia plantations, Honde valley, World’s view (which gives you an elevated view of northern Zimbabwe). The weather there is cool and tropical, even nicknamed by some as Little London due to the predominantly cool weather all-year round. I’ve been there several times and I can attest to how scenic the place is and the very exotic weather you get to experience there.
Mana Pools National Park
It is located at the farther most part of the northern region of the country. This is the country’s second World Heritage site and is dubbed the best place on the continent for viewing game. It is also home to the famous Mana Pools. Some of the prevalent animals there are crocodiles, hippos & elephants. Canoeing along Zambezi River, walking safaris or game drives & bird viewing are the most common activities there. This is a very convenient place for avid wildlife photographers & videographers.
Chizarira National Park
This is a hub for the leopards and it’s the 3rd largest national park in Zimbabwe. It is found in the northern part of the country and overlooks the Zambezi Valley and the upper portion of the Kariba Dam. Game drives and walking safaris are key activities there. It is acclaimed for its peaceful & tranquil environment due the fact that it’s remotely positioned. The terrain is very rough & rugged such that to conduct worthwhile game drives you need to use off-roaders.
Kariba is well-known because of the Kariba Dam which is the largest man-made lake on the face of the earth (by volume). The region is home to all the animals titled the Big 5. Kariba is the best destination for vacations; boat cruises, game viewing & fishing are common activities there. There are other interesting attractions such crocodile farms, the dam wall, Lake Harvest etc. The place is characterised by all-year round hot temperatures (even during the winter season it tends to be warm to hot).
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
These are the biggest ruins in the whole Southern African region. It is located near Lake Mutirikwi (in Masvingo) & is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The name denotes ‘great house of stone’; these ruins are quite symbolic to the name of the country. There are beautiful walking trails that help you to navigate the ruins plus there is a historical museum on-site. For those who haven’t been there it’s a must see because of the engineering prowess that is apparent from how the ruins stand strong is a marvel. The fact that the stones (bricks) were meticulously carved and placed on each other without mortar and with amazing geometric adherences is unfathomable.
Hwange National Park
This is the largest local game park located west of Zimbabwe is also home to the Big 5. The terrain is characterised by vast grasslands & Mopane woodlands. It houses approximately 40 000 elephants & approximately 400 species of birds.
Matobo National Park
It’s located south-west of Zimbabwe; Matobo Hills is actually found there. It has the world’s biggest concentration of the native black eagles & leopards. It’s also another UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s characterised by expanses of granite-based domes and balancing rocks. This is where you find Cecil John Rhodes’ grave located at the apex of Malindidzimu hill. There is a wide array of flora & fauna to provide a satisfying interaction with nature.
This is amongst the 7 wonders of the world located west of Zimbabwe; it’s the biggest current of falling water in the world. It is found in the Victoria Falls National Park, along Zambezi River on the Zimbabwean side. It is the only waterfall on earth with a span and height exceeding 1 kilometre & 100 metres respectively. ¾ of the falls can be seen from the Zimbabwean side whilst the rest are seen from the Zambian side. Did you know that the noise made by the falls and the mist produced by the falls can be heard & seen from 40 kilometres and 50 kilometres away respectively?
Make an endeavour, this year, to visit at least one place that you haven’t been to before. Let’s not trail behind foreigners who get to know and experience more what’s in our own backyard.