2018 – Why There Has Never Been A Better Time To Visit Zimbabwe.
Never before in recent history has there been a better time to visit Zimbabwe. This is the nation that pioneered the true African safaris, gave the world incomparable wilderness experiences and produced the most outstanding safari guides on the continent.
Zimbabwe is a country blessed with many varied habitats and terrains. We are the land of the roaring and mighty Victoria Falls, an expanse of water so great and so earth pounding it has to be seen to be believed. We are a land of untamed national parks where 50,000 elephants roam freely. We are home to a region of chaotic jumbles of rocks and balancing boulders that is the Matobo National Park, an immense granite theatre that not only contains the world’s highest concentration of leopard but is also one of the last bastions of wild-roaming white and black rhino.
Zimbabwe is the domain of the commanding Zambezi river, a waterway of many moods where you can fight one of the most churning and challenging whitewater rafting trips in the morning or, in a gentler mood, canoe in a lazy drift past lions as they rest in lethargic splendour in the afternoon sun under the shade of a baobab tree.
A safari into the depths of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is a handshake with true wilderness. Unlike other famed parks in the region, you won’t be surrounded by dozens of cars jostling for camera position, you won’t be rolling along tarred roads behind other safari vehicles in a convoy like baggage on a carousel, you won’t find speed cameras or garish bars filled with tourists. A safari in Hwange means a visit to one of the wildest parts of the world, disturbed only by your sense of adventure, the roar of the lion, the smell of zebra sweat, the dust of elephants in your eyes and the salty taste of the intrepid explorers who forged your path.
Zimbabwe was for many decades a country unblemished by tourists due to the mismanagement of the country and the economy by Robert Mugabe. He is now gone, forced to resign under military pressure and threat of impeachment. The notorious police roadblocks are also gone, consigned to the scrap heap of his legacy. Travel is now a joy on unhindered roads through a rural paradise.
The great misconception about Zimbabwe, long muddying the waters, is the notion that we are a “dangerous country to visit.” We have seen this inaccurate reporting perpetuated by misguided people with little knowledge of the country or the ill-informed media. While Zimbabwe is certainly a poor country in many ways, it is a safe and secure destination ranking sixty places above its neighbour South Africa in this category. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Zimbabwe has a lower crime rate than countries such as South Africa, Argentina and Brazil.
The whole world watched the orderly manner in which regime change took place in November 2017. It was a true testament to the character, warmth and camaraderie of the people. They sang, they danced, they serenaded as a new dawn crested the horizon. Zimbabwe is now emerging from a period of uncertainty, embracing the country it has always had the capability of being.
The ongoing tragedy of Zimbabwe, however, is that such an exceptional and talented nation has been reduced to despair and desperation by mismanagement and fear. Tourism is now crucial if Zimbabwe is to rise from its knees and fulfill its potential. Unemployment currently stands above 90%. Tourist dollars are significant and cherished. They go further and feed more people than almost anywhere else. Imagine having a fabulous holiday whilst knowing that your involvement is making a compelling difference in people’s lives.
Zimbabweans do not want your sympathy, they aren’t beggars to be pitied, they simply want the dignity of being able to feed their families through work. If Zimbabwe is to be a success story in the future then tourists will have a huge part to play in that tale.
There has never been a better time to visit. Make 2018 the year you discover Zimbabwe. You will be welcomed with open arms, gratitude and a smile wider than the Zambezi.