Zimbabwe is showing signs of recovery after two decades of political instability; employment is on the rise and the economy is improving. On the ground, the Zimbabwean people are some of the warmest in Africa and for a visitor to this resilient land nothing will change the ever-present natural beauty of Zimbabwe. Expect few tourists on top-class safaris through lush forests and boulder-strewn landscapes where you’ll spot the Big Five, explore laid-back and elegant cities, discover ancient rock-art that is over 13,000 years old, and of course pay your respects to the majestic and epic Victoria Falls.
For many, the biggest lure to Zimbabwe is the chance to get up close to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is twice the size of Niagara Falls and widely considered to be one of the most staggering sights of the natural world. Those who visit Victoria Falls, known as Mosi-ao- Tunya, or ‘Smoke That Thunders’ in local Tonga dialect, can access through the teak and mopane forest, wet with clingy mist from the falls, before the view opens out onto a gigantic sheet of fast-flowing water dropping down sandstone cliffs with a thunderous crash, clouds of spray filling the air. Even in the dry season, from October to December, the water still falls in an impressive cascade over the cliff, unlike neighbouring Zambia, where lack of rain means only bare rock is visible.
Those with an adventurous streak may like to bungee jump from the bridge that links Zambia to Zimbabwe or board a thrilling helicopter ride to take in the grandeur of the falls from the air. Afterwards, take afternoon tea at the distinguished Victoria Falls Hotel which has a view onto the falls itself and is one of the oldest hotels in Africa. Around Victoria Falls is some of the highest quality accommodation in Africa. At the &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge, enjoy the luxuries of a contemporary safari lodge with river-facing suites to spot hippos, crocodiles and buffalo in the Zambezi River.
Accessibility to Victoria Falls is better than ever, with the newly opened Victoria Falls International Airport and this also means that getting around Zimbabwe is even easier; flying to northern Zimbabwe, for example, to the remote and untouched Mana Pools. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it offers visitors a truly authentic experience in the bush. Excellent guides are also on hand to assist with spotting elephants, wild dogs, leopard and cheetah. In fact, Zimbabwean guides are widely regarded as the best in Africa. At Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest, you won’t see many other safari jeeps but you could see thousands of migratory elephants and waterholes in winter that attract over 400 types of bird and plentiful large game. Hwange also sheds light on Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage through a series of rock engravings at the Bumbusi National Monument.
Rock art is visible across many of the ancient archaeological sites of Zimbabwe showing the longevity of this fascinating country. Despite recent turbulent times, Zimbabwe’s epic sights have an enduring appeal and it is now a stable time to visit this raw and energising country.