Zimbabwe – Wilderness and Ruined Cities
Zimbabwe means the Victoria Falls, an extraordinarily rich African fauna and the mighty ruined city Great Zimbabwe. On holiday in this country, however, you can also discover its unspoiled nature or get to know the mix of African and British lifestyle.
Geography - In the middle of southern Africa
The inland country Zimbabwe is located in southern Africa and is enclosed by a number of countries. In the north, the Zambezi river winds through many gorges. There is a mountain range with heights of up to 2,600 metres in the east. The greatest part of the country is dominated by a granite plateau, which is crossed by a landscape of hills, mountains and ibexes from the north-east to the south-west. Subtropical climate creates hot and humid summers with up to 35 °C (November to March) and cooler, rainy winter months with about 25 °C (April to October). The temperature differences between day and night can cause frost at night.
Nature - Out and about in the African savannah
Almost the whole country is covered in the typical, African savannah. These regions full of half-height grass are crossed by baobabs and umbrella thorn acacias. While the grass is dried up and faded during dry season, it grows lushly during rainy season. It reaches heights of up to two metres and is eaten by many animals. Rhinoceroses, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, buffaloes and zebras ramble through the savannah. Several regions contain forests which are vegetated by hardy trees such as the unique mopane trees with their leaves in the shape of angel's wings and their bean-shaped seeds.
Natural sights - The gigantic Victoria Falls
Zimbabwe's most significant tourist attraction are the gigantic Victoria Falls. The Zambezi, which is 1.7 kilometres wide, drops between 70 and 110 metres and creates spectacular water columns as well as a huge spray, which can be seen from a distance of 30 kilometres. Visitors can watch this spectacle from a boat or plane. You have a truly great view from the small Livingstone Island at the edge of the waterfall. Beneath the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi is dammed up to build the Lake Kariba, which is 300 kilometres long and suited for fishing or boating. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles live at its banks. Zimbabwe's greatest national park, the Hwange National Park, accommodates the diversity of the African savannah. You can marvel at the extraordinarily high number of elephants, rhinoceroses and buffaloes on foot or from raised stands. The park also contains camps for staying overnight. Numerous animals come to drink from and bathe in the many tributaries of the Zambezi and the ponds which run through the Mana Pools National Park. You can best explore the park's beauty on foot through binoculars or by canoe. This park also offers overnight stays in camps.
Culture - Fascinating finds of bygone times
Due to bone finds and rock paintings from the Stone Age, Zimbabwe is considered a possible cradle of humanity. During colonial times it was part of the British colony Rhodesia. The country gained independence in 1980. Since 1987 Robert Mugabe has been Zimbabwe's president. Companionship and family play a major role in the population's traditional culture. Part of it is ancestor worship. Celebrations and church services are accompanied by lively music and dance. In addition, the art of sculpting is very common in Zimbabwe.
Cultural sights - The modern metropolis Harare
Travellers should definitely visit the fascinating ruins of Great Zimbabwe, one of Africa's most important cultural-historical sites. The once powerful city emerged in the 11th century and comprised up to 18,000 inhabitants. The impressive walls of the mountain ruin with its tower and the walled alleys have been preserved to the present day. A completely different impression is created by the capital Harare. This neat metropolis displays Zimbabwe's modern side with its skyscrapers and its wide shopping and commercial streets. At the same time the colonial atmosphere lives on here, which you perceive in the preserved Victorian buildings with their great terraces. You learn more about the country's history in the Queen Victoria Museum, which exhibits rock paintings and historical objects. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, is also worth a visit. It contains beautiful avenues, which invite visitors to take a walk. Several museums and the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, an orphanage for wild animal babies, are part of the city. A luxuriously furnished, nostalgic steam train, which stops at many tourist destination, runs between Bulawayo and the Victoria Fall. You find mysterious caves with prehistoric rock paintings in the Matobo Mountains with their round granite rocks and table mountains near Bulawayo. Close by, the ruined city Khami from the 15th century accommodates further impressive historical testimonies.
Experience - Out and about in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwean dishes unite British and African influences. A modest cuisine developed in the barren landscape. The basis of many dishes is maize porridge. It is prepared with meat and dip, which is one of the country's specialities next to maize beer. Popular souvenirs are objects of African handicraft. In exchange for cash or old pieces of clothing you get wood carvings, sculptures, ceramic ware, native clothing or paintings, especially on the markets. The big cities and tourist regions offer a wide range of night-time entertainment: discos, clubs, casinos and theatres.
Activities - Playing golf in Zimbabwe
With its wonderful, wild nature Zimbabwe offers many opportunities for being active outdoors: Jeep safaris, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing and climbing are possible. It is also suited for such thrilling activities as bungee jumping and white water rafting - tours at the Victoria Falls are considered the most challenging on earth. The fishing of the gigantic African tigerfish with their powerful teeth also thrills holidaymakers. Golf courses can be found all over the country and offer great conditions for practising this sport.
International airlines land at the airport in Harare (HRE). There are several buses which travel across the border, for example to South Africa. Most cities and some rural regions can be reached through Zimbabwe's well-developed road network (left-hand traffic). You can easily communicate in English. Before setting out on their journey, travellers should inform themselves about the current security situation.
Due to the natural spectacle of the Victoria Falls and the rich African fauna, Zimbabwe is a greatly suited travel destination for those who are interested in natural beauty or want to be active outdoors. Moreover, lovers of culture will enjoy the country's unique historical sites.