Zimbabwe is home to a kingdom from the 11th century. It also contains deep caves, which are home to silent pools discovered by US Navy divers. The world’s largest artificial lake and the biggest waterfall. This beautiful landlocked country makes a wonderful safari destination. It is known to have stunning landscapes and endless natural beauty. There is also a warm and friendly population and some of most spectacular wildlife encounters.
Zimbabwe is home to two World Heritage Sites: Victoria Falls, Mana Pools and Mana Pools. However, there are so many more things to see and do: Hwange’s rich wildlife, Matobo’s majestic Leopards, Gonarezhou’s remoteness and breathtaking sunsets over Lake Kariba. Zimbabwe will amaze you no matter where you go on safari.
Why travel to Zimbabwe
It is the country’s incredible wildlife, extraordinary level guiding and diverse national parks that make it most popular. That’s why thousands upon thousands flock to visit each year. The country values conversation and has many reserves.
The rigorous training of Zimbabwe’s safari guide is what makes them one of the most respected in the world. The course is five years long and includes everything you need to know about the Latin names of all animals, plants, and birds. It also covers basic first aid, advanced driving skills, and weapons training. It is so hard that approximately five percent of the class fail to pass the final written exam. Zimbabwean guides are known for their exceptional knowledge and passion for the bush. They also have a great sense of humour that is fun-loving.
It is part of two enormous cross-border parks because of its commitment to conservation. Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, (KAZA), is roughly the size of France. It includes Victoria Falls and Hwange as well as Lake Kariba. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park covers Gonarezhou and is as large as Taiwan or the Netherlands. These transfrontier zones are an example of Southern African countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa cooperating closely with Namibia, Botswana, Botswana, and Namibia in order to preserve the natural and ancient migration channels for animals, and their traditional habitats.
Zimbabwe offers many other outdoor activities, such as game drives, nature walks or water-based safaris in its national parks.
Zim will always be your home, regardless of where you go – from the rush of Vic Falls or the dry bush at Hwange – the Milky Way will always be above you, the sun shining in the morning and the wonderful hospitality of Zimbabweans.
Where to Go: The Best Safari Destinations of Zimbabwe
The Land of Giants: Hwange National Park
Hwange (pronounced “wang-gee”) is the most popular and well-known park. It spans more than 14600 kilometres/5 850 miles. It provides refuge for 107 mammal and 400 bird species. Mandavu Dam is a favorite destination for many birds during the dry season. Nyamandhlovu Pan, which literally means “Meat of Elephants”, is the ideal place to visit if you are looking for elephants. There are approximately 45 000 to 60 000 of them living in Hwange. Hwange and Victoria Falls are often combined because they’re so close. Zim is the best place to view the Big 5 – rhino, elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo, and rhino – although rhinos are rare.
The Biblical Land, Matobo National Park
This is where Ophir is said to have been located. He was the biblical land where Solomon received ivory, gold and exotic bird. It is now a protected region where the highly endangered white rhino and black rhino are making their comeback. Its granite outcrops provide the ideal hunting ground for Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of leopards. The ‘balancing stones’ are one of the most iconic sites. These are large boulders that are unsupported and stacked in a row. Find out more information about Matobo.
Gonarezhou National Park is Off the Beaten Path
Gonarezhou is located in the far south of the country. Its most iconic landmark is the Chilojo Cliffs of red sandstone. These dramatic rock formations provide a backdrop for late afternoon sundowners while on game drives. Chivilia Waterfalls is another highlight. They flow at their fastest during the summer rainy period.
The Golden Child: Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools can be found further north and is considered one the most beautiful reserves. It is situated near the Zambezi River and has large pools that are home to a variety of wildlife. Canoe safaris are a fantastic way to see hippos and elephants as well as aquatic birdlife such jacanas, terns, and jacanas. You can also see endangered wild dogs and ‘painted wolves’ here.
The Hidden Gem: Matusadona National Park
Matusadona lies on the south shore of Lake Kariba. The name Matusadona comes from the Matuzviadonha Hills. This remote area can only be reached by light aircraft, 4×4 convoys or boats. It is one of the country’s hidden gems. This area is home to endangered black rhino, elephant, buffalo, and Matusadona prides of lions.
Victoria Falls: The Smoke that Thunders
The most famous attraction in Zimbabwe. It is also the traditional end-point for safaris. Mosi-oa Tunya, also known as ‘the Smokethat Thunders’, is the largest waterfall in the world, when combined their height with width. The Zambezi River feeds them, providing adrenalin activities such white-water Rafting, visits to Livingstone Island and swimming in Devil’s Pool at the precipice. Bridge swinging, bungee jumping, sunset cruises are just a few of the many options.
The Riviera of Zimbabwe: Lake Kariba
Kariba, which supplies hydroelectric power to Zimbabwean and Zambian countries, is affectionately called ‘the Riviera to Zimbabwe’ due to the many luxurious houseboats that line its shores. It is a beautiful place for birding. Spurwing Island, named after an African spur-winged goose is a testament to this. Spurwings are well-known for their love of diving for fish. Kariba, a beautiful destination in the middle of Safari Country, is well-known.
Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Local Shona people believed to have constructed the Zimbabwe Ruins in the 11th Century. Dry packing thousands of stones into intricate patterns and towers with stairways, towers and towers was a method used by them. The site was approximately 1 780 acres/722 hectares in size and housed at least 20000 people between the 13th to 15th centuries. It was the trading hub of the Kingdom of Mutapa, Munumatapa, and is now a World Heritage Site. The ruins are so significant that the country is named for them: “Dzimba” refers to houses and “mabwe”, refers to stones, making up “Zimbabwe” (or the “Great Houses of Stone”).
Zimbabwe is an enormous country. Most first-timers to Zimbabwe will visit Victoria Falls and Hwange. Experienced travellers are not recommended to visit other locations in this remote country.
Timing: When is Zimbabwe’s best time of year to visit?
Zimbabwe’s beauty is in its infinite complexity. It all depends on what you’re looking for – safari or Victoria Falls. While most travellers would love to do both, it is not possible to see them both at their best. This is because one, the Falls, depends on rain and the other, peak-season Zimbabwe safari, depends on lack of rain.
Safari High Season
The dry winter months from May through October are the best times to view game viewing. There are many reasons why this is so.
The vegetation is reduced in size, making it easier to spot the animals.
Some water sources may dry up. This means they aren’t far away from other water sources, making them easier and more accessible.
The climate is much more mild as it is warmer during the day.
Because there are fewer bugs around, it is more comfortable.
However, this time coincides in the northern hemisphere with major holiday seasons. Therefore, it is important to make reservations in advance in order to secure accommodation and flights.
Victoria Falls in Full Flood
Victoria Falls in all of its glory is best from late summer through fall, which is between February and May. This is because:
The Zambezi River flows to the Falls and is fed by rains falling far away in the Angolan Highlands. It takes months before the first summer rains, which are usually in November, trickle down to Batoka Gorge by February.
The rainy season is from March to April. The Falls then get’replenished.
It is important to remember that Falls at their fullest and most majestic are often difficult to see and photograph. This is because the 500 000 litres / 132000 gallons water that falls over the edge create a large amount of mist. (And the noise can sometimes be deafening. Hence the name Mosi-oa Tunya, or the Smoke That Thunders). Consider a helicopter flip or, if you are more adventurous, a microlight to really appreciate the Falls and take photos.
Water activities such as white-water Rafting are unsafe because of the strong currents and high water levels. It is also dangerous to swim in Devil’s Pool, or visit Livingstone Island because the water rushes by. These activities should be undertaken between August and December (Low-water Season), when levels are lower to make them safer.
You get the best of both: May through July
For the best chance of seeing Vic Falls at its highest and having a memorable safari, plan to visit May, June or Jul. Although the safari will be better, the Falls will dry up quickly and you won’t see the full curtain. Although the Falls will be fully submerged, it is possible to see the wildlife in its full glory before this happens.
Large parts of the Falls may be completely dry if you go from September to October. The safari will be wonderful, but the Zambian side will not be as impressive by October.
Additional Things to Consider
Hwange and Victoria Falls are very popular with local tourists. It’s peak safari season. The Falls can still be seen. To ensure that you get the best accommodation, plan your trip at least nine months to one year in advance.
Because of regional holidays, it is often very busy between Christmas and New Years. We do not recommend Victoria Falls during that time as they may become a trickle and the game viewing can be difficult for first-timers due to rain, muddy roads, and long grass. Photographers however enjoy the summer Low or Green Season because there are fewer vehicles at sightings, beautiful vegetation makes it a stunning backdrop, many colourful birds are around, and the dust is washed away by the rain.