Did you know that Wildlife Tourism in Zimbabwe is going through a renaissance?
Despite, the political instability and an economy in shambles, there’s a proliferation of luxury safari lodges.
These lodges are offering affordable wildlife experiences throughout the country.
Away from the cities, in between kopjes (granite outcrops), beautiful national parks, rugged mountains and lush forests, Zimbabwe is truly an unspoilt wilderness.
This explains the renewed interest in the country as a #mustvisit destination.
Recent reviews from Lonely Planet, The Spectator and Conde Nast corroborate this.
Safaris in Zimbabwe are among the most affordable in Africa, according to National Geographic Traveler UK.
Wildlife sightings aren’t marred by hoards of other tourists, and the guides are among the best on the continent, thanks to their rigorous four- to seven-year training.
Zimbabwe boasts of relatively healthy populations of most of the Big 5 game animals which includes the lion, buffalo, rhino, leopard and elephants.
Here are the Best Places To See Big 5 Game In Zimbabwe.
A safari holiday to Zimbabwe is simply incomplete without a lion sighting.
Infact , a safari in Zimbabwe is nothing without the adrenaline rush of approaching wild lions on foot.
The best place to do this in Zimbabwe is at the Mana Pools National park.
During the dry season, wildlife gather around the pools to drink. Lions hang out there too, stalking their prey.
The Elephant is one of the easiest wild animals to spot in Zimbabwe, with large numbers in almost all of the national parks and game reserves.
Hwange National Park aalone houses the largest population – over 40 000.
Other than Hwange National Park, Gonarezhou National Park is the best place to see herds of elephants.
Even the name of the park translates to ‘Place of Many Elephants’ and they are the biggest in Zimbabwe.
What makes Gonarezhou a partculalry good spot to view elephants is that the park remains surprisingly pristine compared to other national parks in Zimbabwe.
Matobo National Park is the best place to see these heavy beasts.
The park is one of the last sanctuaries of wild roaming Rhino in their natural habitat.
A Rhino Safari on foot, in the shadows of the Matobo Hills, is one of the most iconic experiences you can have in Africa.
Feel your heart pound as you get close to one of the world’s most handsome and endangered animals.
Mana Pools National Park is where you have the best chance of seeing this elusive cat.
The park has plentiful supply of impala and crocodile – prey for the leopard.
Leopards are mainly nocturnal, solitary and very territorial. An evening Safari in Hwange National Park may also yeild a leopard sighting.
However, the best known leopard population, is in the Matobo Hills.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest & best Safari destination.
It has more animals and a greater variety of species than any other park in the country.
For this reason, it is a particularly good spot to see herds of Buffalo.
Some herds of buffalo can go up to thousands. You find both females and males in a herd together.
They are easier to see along water sources during the dry season.
An African Safari with your Squad is nothing but epic adventure. But, travelling with your squad may be fraught with conflict & misunderstanding.
Here are 6 Tips to help you Safari together and stay friends.
Before the Trip
1. Verbalise your expectations
Consider everyone’s wants and agree on the basics: where you’re going and how much time you’re spending there. Then agree on what you’ll do during the trip.
For example, everyone might agree on three days in the Matobo Hills and four days in Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls. But one person may want to see more of game animals, while another wants to do more of culture trips and village tours.
Make sure everyone is on the same page with at least a rough schedule before you leave.
2. Agree on budgets
Establish how much to spend ahead of time.Discuss what reasonable amount of money to spend on dinner and accommodation for example.
Money is the cause of more arguments among friends than probably anything else. Be willing to compromise where needed and go it alone if necessary.
During the Trip
3. Take a break from each other
Everyone will need some personal time. Part company for part of the day to explore on your own and then reunite for dinner.
Too much togetherness can put a strain on your trip especially when different people want to indulge different interests.
Just because you’re traveling together, doesn’t mean you need to do everything together.
4. Go with the flow
Bring along your patience and flexibility. These two virtues can augment the epicness of an adventure, yet a lack of them may ruin it.
Be sure not to steamroll your travel companions with ideas all the time. Give everybody an equal chance to call the shots in your adventure. It cannot be about what you want to do all the time.
Don’t focus on being right all the time, instead just focus on being a good travel companion. You’ll have to compromise, make your peace with it.
5. Be present
A Safari with your squad will definitely create shared memories and experiences. In short, it will likely bring you closer together with your friends.
Make the most of being together by limiting your time on social media. in the worst case scenario, too much texting while on a Safari with friends may come off as a sign of disinterest and boredom on your part and may lead to resentment.
6. Communicate openly
Bring up issues openly and respectfully as they arise. If there’s something your friends are doing that’s bothering you, SPEAK UP.
You may think you don’t want to ruin your vacation by talking about your feelings and risking a fight, but the truth is that travel brings out stress and any bottled feelings will explode.
You are better off speaking out about problems early and calmly, so you have a chance to amend behaviours and improve the rest of the trip. Acknowledge your shortcomings too, and be willing to apologise.
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Rivers provide some of the best wildlife🦅 watching around—and some adrenaline-fueled recreation, too🧗♂️.
Here are🔥🔥 5 of the best river trips to take across parks in Zimbabwe.
1. ZAMBEZI RIVER (Victoria Falls National Park)
The Zambezi is the fourth longest river in Africa.
The Vic Falls National Park is in the Upper section of the river.
This is where tour operators run lots of exciting activities including kayaking, canoe trips and river cruises.⠀⠀⠀
2. ZAMBEZI RIVER ( Mana Pools National Park)
The Mana Pools are in the Middle section of the ‘great river’ – Zambezi about 440 km from Victoria Falls.
This middle zone of the Zambezi river supports one of the most important wilderness areas in Africa.
Exquisite canoe safaris, magnificent camps and encounters with Hippos can be experienced here.
3.SAVE & RUNDE RIVER (Gonarezhou National Park)
Gonarezhou National Park is the second largest game reserve in the country.
The park straddles the Save and Runde Rivers and their confluence/floodplain in the north.
The towering Chilojo Cliffs form a backdrop to the Runde River and are visible from 50 kilometres away.
The park is home to the rare nyala antelope as well as a host of other antelope species, and all the big game associated with a dry, lowland area.
4 PUNGWE RIVER ( Honde Valley near Nyanga National Park).
Is one of the country’s best fishing and white water rafting locations.
Pungwe river is a tourist attraction in the scenic Honde Valley which lies adjacently to Mount Inyangani and Nyanga National Park.
Honde Valley is one of the premier birding destinations in Zimbabwe and offers a wide range of species difficult to find in most other parts of the region.
5. MTSHELELE RIVER VALLEY ( Matobo National Park)
The Mtshelele valley is home to the Mtshelele dam which in our opinion, is a scenic hidden gem with picnic and camping facilities available.
Located in the Matobo National Park, the valley constitutes part of a landscape with a stunning Panorama of constantly changing Granite Hills.
Walking the Inanke Cave Trail is a trip for the intrepid traveler who really wants to get off the beaten track.
This spectacular Matobo Hills Hike offers one of the best one-day treks in the world and has all the ingredients of a rugged adventure.
The Inanke trail starts and finishes at Toghwana Dam in the south of the Matobo Hills, whilst taking in the grandest, most majestic cave in all of Southern Africa.
This is a real trek, where you’ll truly be out in some of the most ravishing wilderness Zimbabwe has to offer.
Inanke Cave is the highlight of the trail that is littered with historic sites. Along the route of the hike are several rock paintings and an Iron Age furnace.
When hiking the Inanke trail – it’s important to be realistic about your physical abilities.
The walk is a 12km round trip through an untouched granite wilderness. It is for those with an adventurous spirit, who are in fairly good shape and want to hike for a longer period of time.
THE TRAIL OF LIFE
Hiking to Inanke Cave is a beautiful representation of life.
All of us want to reach a summit of some kind. We all have goals and visions for the future.
Everybody has a timeline in mind, and all we want is to reach the top. We can feel how amazing it will be when we reach that point of self-actualisation.
But Make no Mistake. The climb is hard.
On the trail, vast swathes of savanna and granite give way to magnificent rivers and wildlife.
The walk takes in such a varied array of scenes, from fresh, running streams and waterfalls, to thick dense jungle tracks that you almost need a machete to pass.
This trail will fill you with a pioneer spirit.
Firstly, you have to really want to get to Inanke. Even the road to get there will test your resolve but the payoff is worth it a thousand times over.
A THEATRE OF SCENES
The trail to the cave of Inanke begins with yellow arrows from the Toghwana Dam car park. However, if you have not been there before, it is easy to get lost as the arrows disappear at some points along the trek.
You can expect tall grass and thick bushes along your pathless wanderings towards the cave.
Inanke cave is very rarely visited because of it’s location. The majestic cave is carved high into a granite hillside and filled with Masterpieces of ancient bushman art.
Once inside, a granite rock canvas containing some of the worlds most remarkable rock art sits still and patiently in the cool of the cave.
The Cave is undeniably awe-inspiring, a breathtaking mural of ancient life in the Matobo Hills.
The paintings are said to range from about 2000 years to 13 000 years old.
This iconic cave allows you to marvel at the work of people from almost another epoch, it fills you with a sense of perspective and wonder all at once.
If Zimbabwe is on your bucket-list, then reading a book set in the country will definitely enhance your travel experience.
Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, set in the past or present day, it will surely turn your adventure into an enlightening undertaking.
Here’s a review of 5 books that will help you navigate the complex cultural and socio-political landscape of your destination.
1. A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa by Frederick Courteney Selous,
First published : 1881
This book tells the story of Frederick Courteney Selous, generally acknowledged as the greatest African hunter of all time. While Selous was first and foremost a hunter, he was also a close personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and a naturalist whose careful observations and succinct writings were read by layman and scholar alike. The African wing of the British Museum of Natural History is named after him, and the crack special forces unit in the Zimbabwe War of Independence was named the Selous Scouts.
2. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
First published :1988
Set in the late 1960’s — 1970’s, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s 1988 novel “Nervous Conditions” (1988) tells the story of an adolescent girl growing up in rural Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘postcolonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.
3. Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin
First published :1996
Mukiwa opens with Peter Godwin, six years old, describing the murder of his neighbor by African guerillas, in 1964, pre-war Rhodesia. Godwin’s parents are liberal whites, his mother a governement-employed doctor, his father an engineer. Through his innocent, young eyes, the story of the beginning of the end of white rule in Africa unfolds. The memoir follows Godwin’s personal journey from the eve of war in Rhodesia to his experience fighting in the civil war that he detests to his adventures as a journalist in the new state of Zimbabwe, covering the bloody return to Black rule. With each transition Godwin’s voice develops, from that of a boy to a young man to an adult returning to his homeland. This tale of the savage struggle between blacks and whites as the British Colonial period comes to an end is set against the vividly painted background of the myserious world of Southern Africa..
4. The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
First Published: 2009
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country’s long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers’s parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. Lyn and Ros, the owners of Drifters–a famous game farm and backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains that was one of the most popular budget resorts in the country–found their home and resort under siege, their friends and neighbors expelled, and their lives in danger. But instead of leaving, as their son pleads with them to do, they haul out a shotgun and decide to stay.
5. Sibanda and the Rainbird by C M Elliot
First published :2013
Sibanda and the Rainbird introduces Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda, a bush-savvy policeman stationed in a large village on the borders of a national park in rural Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.
Sibanda’s expertise often outranks – and frustrates – his colleagues, not least his superiors. But when Sibanda isn’t feeling challenged enough, there’s always his courtship of local beauty Khanyi Mpofu to keep him busy and further distract him from his memories of Berry Barton who he met while studying in the UK.
However, Sibanda soon encounters more pressing matters. A horribly mutilated corpse is discovered in the park near the luxurious Thunduluka Lodge. At first it looks like the corpse was savaged by vultures, but Sibanda quickly concludes that the victim was murdered for body parts and from then on nothing is quite like it seems.
With Sibanda are his trusty sidekicks: Sergeant Ncube and Miss Daisy. Ncube is an overweight, many-wived mechanical genius and Miss Daisy is an ancient, truculent Land Rover that is the apple of Ncube’s eye. And then there is the bush itself, explored through Sibanda’s passion for and encyclopaedic knowledge of it, which emerges as a character in its own right in this madcap, contemporary African adventure.
Harare is home to some remarkable art galleries, historical artefacts, botanical gardens and wildlife reserves.
p style=”text-align: justify;”>There are a variety of restaurants both downtown and in the city’s leafy suburbs for food lovers.Harare’s bars will have night lovers a sweating till the break of dawn.
Just outside the capital Harare, one can enjoy an incredible view of the city from the orange domes in Domboshava.
Water lovers and avid fishers will also be thrilled to know that there are dams of all sizes near the city. Some of the dams are perfect for fishing (like Darwendale Dam) or skiing (like Arcadia Dam or Lake Chivero).
9 . GONAREZHOU
The country’s second biggest game reserve, derives its name from a Shona term meaning, “place of the elephants”. The elephants at Gonarezhou are believed to be the largest in the region.
It is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park which links Gonarezhou with Kruger and Limpopo National Parks. This huge Park – also known as a peace park – spans across boundaries of 3 countries.
The Park is home to the Chilojo Cliffs. These beautiful red sandstone cliffs overlook the picturesque Runde River. The Save and Mwenezi are two other major rivers in the Park which attract birdlife, wildlife and fish.
8. EASTERN HIGHLANDS
The Eastern Highlands is a magnificent mountain range forming a border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The sparsely populated highlands have a wetter and cooler climate than the rest of Zimbabwe. and their picturesque rolling hills covered with grassland, render the area a natural holiday destination.
Vumba – or Bvumba – Mountains can be accessed by road and are located some 25km to the east of Mutare. The mountains are popularly known as the Mountains of the Mist as mist – bvumba, in Shona – is often seen rising on most mornings.
Bird watchers will find interest in the botanical gardens which shelter birds such as Swynnerton’s robin and Chirinda apalis.
7. CHIZARIRA NATIONAL PARK
Chizarira National Park is the third largest in Zimbabwe. Some believe it is also the most remote wilderness area in the country. Its name comes from Chijalila – a Batonka word – which means, “great barrier”.
The terrain here is rugged: jagged mountains deeply incised by gorges and ravines. In between, in the valleys and the odd open plain, you’ll find lush vegetation fed by clear natural springs.
This has long made Chizarira National Park a great place to appreciate the tranquility of the African bush Chizarira National Park is a good spot to locate the leopard – a shy creature which prefers rocky habitats..
6. MANA POOLS
Situated in lower Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park attracts quite a lot of large animals searching water supplies.
This makes the park one of Africa’s most prominent spots for game viewing.
Mana Pools is believed to hold the country’s biggest concentration of hippopotami and crocodiles.
In the area, you can also expect to see other threatened species including the lion and cheetah and near-threatened species such as the leopard and brown hyena.
Kariba is home to the Big Five, various bird and animal species. It is a perfect spot for a vacation with so much fun activities to partake in.
The Lake in Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake (by volume); Lake Kariba forms a boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Lying on the southern shore of the lake is Matusadona National Park, once a rugged area before the 1950’s but now an area teeming with diverse wildlife.
Other animals, visitors can expect to see include night apes, honey badgers, civets, banded mongoose, spotted hyenas, wild cats, lions, leopards, yellow spotted dassies, black rhinoceros and zebras.
4. GREAT ZIMBABWE
Masvingo, the third largest province in Zimbabwe occupying about 56 566 square kilometers.
The province is home to Great Zimbabwe ruins, the largest collection of ruins in Southern Africa. a UNESCO World Heritage site
The ruins are not only a national monument but a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are located about 27kms southeast of Masvingo city and around 7kms from Lake Mutirikwi. Its soapstone bird carvings are a national emblem.
A guided tour of the Ruins will take you through the three sectors– the Hill Complex once (inhabited by the King), the Great Enclosure (once inhabited by the King’s first wife and the Valley Enclosure (where all the other wives lived) .
3. HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
One of the popular Protection Zones in Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park borders Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is located on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Covering about 14 651 square kilometres, it is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe.
Home to an estimated 40,000 elephants, all the Big Five and more than 400 species of birds, Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s top safari resorts. The national park, which was home to the famous Cecil – the lion – for about 13 years, was established in 1928. Initially, it was seen as a game reserve before being accorded National Park status in 1961.
2. MATOBO NATIONAL PARK
Established in 1926 it is one of the oldest national parks in Zimbabwe.
It is believed to be home to over 200 species of trees, including mountain acacia, wild pear, paper bark tree and fig tree.
There are also many aloes, wild herbs and over 100 grass species. The park has the world’s highest concentration of the African Black Eagle and leopards, both of which feed on the rock hyrax, a common resident in this balancing rock environment.
Other bird species include the fish eagle, martial eagle, pied crow and Egyptian geese.
1 . VICTORIA FALLS
Lying in north-west Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls National Park is open to visitors throughout the year. A key feature of the park is the evergreen rainforest which is continually watered by the never-ending sprays of the Falls.
Victoria Falls National Park is home to wildlife including white rhino, eland and the Cape buffalo. Visitors to the park can enjoy viewing these animals during their game drives and walking safaris.
As 2018 turned into 2019, people all over the world celebrated New Year’s Eve in all sorts of fashion.
Watching the Ball Drop in New York City.
And lighting fireworks in Sydney, Australia.
However, Safari lovers who chose to be in the scenic Matobo Hills had a unique experience.
There was serenity, warmth and purity.
Surreal balancing rocks, mood-altering reptiles and multi-coloured lichen all combined to create a scene from another planet.
Connecting with Ancient Culture
The Mbibas, a family of four who drove all the way from Harare, spent the New Year’s weekend hiking, rhino tracking and visiting the caves.
Only one word could describe their stay in the Matobo Hills. Refreshing.
Letty Mbiba said that, “It was beautiful interacting with nature on those hikes and rhino 🦏 tracking!”
Letty’s husband and their two children were also impressed with Matobo Hills Lodge and tour guide Bheki.
“Bheki made our stay at the lodge unforgettable! We all looked forward to our escapades with him,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
We knew the Matobo Hills would be a nice, quiet place to reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the upcoming one
As evening fell, other families, couples and solo travellers joined the clock as it ticked away the last hours of 2018.
All that could be heard besides laughter were deep croaks and ribits of toads in the pool.
Lisa, and her family based in England, together with her friends and their family gathered around a bon fire at Matobo Hills Lodge.
Without music or fireworks – they did a good job counting down seconds to the new year at the top of their voices.
At the stroke of midnight, the two families all raced to take position atop a granite mound, gave a toast to the new year and struck a pose at their very first group photo of the year.
The camaraderie of the group was just contagious.
Lisa, family and friends said that they wanted to do something different and more intimate for New Year’s Eve.
“We came out here just to enjoy the New Year’s holiday as a family. We knew the Matobo Hills would be a nice, quiet place to reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the upcoming one,” said Lisa.