Welcome to Zimbabwe
Rich in wildlife and natural wonders
Welcome to one of the most spectacular countries on the continent. Political and economic woes may have turned some people off visiting Zimbabwe over the years, but stability is returning to this resilient country and, with it, tourism.
People come here to marvel at the breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife, be inspired and informed by top-class safari guides, and stay in über-luxurious lodges and tented camps in glorious wilderness areas.
Two mighty rivers border this landlocked country: the Zambezi that runs along the northern frontier and the Limpopo in the south. In between there are world-class game reserves and incredible natural sites, including Hwange, the country’s largest national park, renowned for its huge herds of elephants;
the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mana Pools National Park, on the banks of the Zambezi; and the vast inland sea that is Lake Kariba. Matobo Hills, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument and Khami Ruins National Monument are just some of the splendid cultural sites to be explored as well.
Of course, its most famous attraction is the dramatic Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of falling water in the world, which plummets off a precipice some 108 metres high. Known locally as Mosi oa Tunya, meaning “The Smoke that Thunders” prepare to get very wet if you venture close to these wonderful falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
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At a glance
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa roughly three times the size of England. It takes its name from Great Zimbabwe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in medieval times. This ancient stone ruin is said to be the ancestral home of the Shona people (”Zimbabwe” is a Shona name that, while the translation varies, can mean “houses of stone”). Once a 720-hectare city, Great Zimbabwe flourished between roughly the 10th and 15th centuries AD and was the location of the Royal Palace of the ruling monarch at the time.
Zimbabwe’s colonial history began in the late 18th century when Cecil Rhodes from the British South Africa Company (BSCA) gained the rights for gold mining in the area. He began to establish company rule over the region which led to a war against the Ndebele (Matabele) Kingdom. Rhodes and the BSCA won. In 1895, the BSCA changed the name of the territory to Rhodesia, after Rhodes, and the region of the lower Zambezi basin became known as Southern Rhodesia. After failed rebellion attempts by the Ndelebele and Shona people the United Kingdom annexed Southern Rhodesia and it become a self-governing British colony in 1923. Zimbabwe only gained official independence in 1980.
Today, the Shona people make up around 70% of the country’s population. Once a rich nation, Zimbabwe has had a turbulent history and suffered from ridiculous hyperinflation of 231 million percent. These days the local currency is the US dollar. Zimbabwe is slowly getting back on its feet: its economy stems mainly from farming and agriculture, while tourism is ever-growing.
If you’re travelling to Zimbabwe to go on safari, you can expect mild temperatures throughout the year. The dry season, which runs from May to October, is considered the best time to visit for wildlife due to clear skies and little rain.
When it comes to visiting Victoria Falls things are slightly different – if you want to see the Falls at their peak force, thundering like you see on documentaries, it’s best to visit in April or May. The later in the year you travel, however, the better it is for things like white water rafting.
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