Our Guide to a

Zimbabwe Safari

Abundance of sites and wildlife

Zimbabwe safari holidays  are proving to be a great choice for those looking for an all round safari experience, packed with adventure and a touch of safari holiday luxury. Zimbabwe family safaris are gaining popularity too as more and more properties provide exceptional facilities, accommodation, tailored luxury safari tour activities and more. Here’s what the hype is about…

Zimbabwe has impressive natural features, abundant wildlife and UNESCO cultural and natural sites like Victoria Falls, Mana Pools National Park, Matabo Hills, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument and Khami Ruins National Monument. They are known for what Zimbabwe is famous for.

Two mighty rivers border this landlocked country, the Zambezi that runs along the northern frontier and the Limpopo in the south.  Hwange National Park is known for its large elephant population, some 50,000 animals with herds as large as 400 often seen whilst on safari. Here you will have the opportunity to track for 100 mammal species, 400 bird species and enjoy a biodiversity that rivals the Kruger.

The benefit here is fewer people, camps and cars. Mana Pools boasts the best of both worlds, with game viewing activities taking place on land and water. The stillness of sleeping out in the bush with nothing but the wind and calls of wildlife around you is blissful, if not a little intimidating that first night.

A Wildlife safari in Hwange and Mana Pools National Parks are beautifully book ended with a visit to Victoria Falls and time out on Lake Kariba.

Known locally as ‘Mosi oa Tunya’ meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’ Victoria Falls stands tall at a staggering 108 metres with an endless flow of enraged water plummeting over the edge. At its peak, more than 27 million cubic feet of water fall per minute with the spray rising up to 1,300 feet drenching its spectators.

Kariba is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world like an inland sea. The adjacent Matusadona National Park teems with wildlife. Across the expanse of water and wildlife rich plains sits a spectacular escarpment that stretches to the Rift Valley.

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More on a Zimbabwe Safari

Facts and figures are not for everyone. So we will keep this brief and interesting, mixing up some statistics and our take on Zimbabwe.

Where is Zimbabwe and what should one expect?

Zimbabwe is another landlocked south Central African country that is known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife. A Zimbabwe safari holiday is absolutely the best safaris in Zimbabwe as it will be hugely rewarding for all ages with a relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals and passionate safari industry. 

What is Zimbabwe famous for?

Beyond the current political environment, Zimbabwe is certainly famous for Victoria Falls and a nostalgic safari experience because it was one of the industry founders back in the day.

Zimbabwe’s animated past

Zimbabwe takes its name from Great Zimbabwe, a fortified trading hub built in medieval times and used by the Shona tribe. Today, the Shona constitute 70% of the country’s population. What was once a rich nation, Zimbabwe has had a turbulent history that saw great loss including its own currency after a ridiculous inflation of 231 million percent. These days the local currency is the US dollar. Slowly getting back on its feet, Zimbabwe’s main economy stems from farming and agriculture whilst tourism is ever-growing.

Great Zimbabwe, has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site. It is an ancient stone ruin that is said to be the ancestral home of the modern day Shona people. Established in the 11th century AD the site was the location of the Royal Palace of the ruling monarch at the time. The empire was at its strongest during the mid 14th century where it controlled trade between East and Southern Africa and was a seat of political importance. The site is home to the Great Enclosure, the Hill Complex and the Valley Complex. All built of stone and clay.

Zimbabwe’s colonial history began in the late 18th century with Cecil Rhodes from the British South Africa Company (BSCA), as he gained the rights for Gold mining in the area. Rhodes began to establish the company rule over the region and this led to the First Matabele War, which Rhodes and the BSCA won.

In 1895, the BSCA changed the name of the territory to Rhodesia, and the region of the lower Zambezi basin became know 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 gained its independence on the 11th of November 1965.

Want to read more? Check out our travel guide.

Zimbabwe Travel Guide

Best time to visit Zimbabwe Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe safari goers can expect mild temperatures throughout the year. Maximum temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees whilst minimum temperatures range from 7 to 20.

The dry season runs from May to October and is considered the best time to visit for wildlife due to clear skies and little rain. Bear in mind September and October become very hot and dry and at this time, wildlife congregates more than usual around waterholes and rivers. Rainy season is December through to around February.

Victoria Falls is slightly different and if you seek the thrill of the falls like you see on documentaries, it’s best to visit in April and May. It is truly spectacular to see the full force of water surging over the cliffs. The later in the year you visit Victoria Falls, the lower the water levels and it is reduced to the main cataract falling in December.

Having said that, it is then the best time to go white water rafting because the rapids are more exposed making for a thrilling adventure.

Conservation in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is home to an impressive wildlife and biodiversity of wilderness that is supported almost entirely by private conservation efforts funded by tourism. A great example is Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. This land was once cattle and cotton territory and conservationists soon realised its unique natural attributes, not least the 38 distinct habitats. Imagine sandstone hills, basalt soils and rocks, rivers, grasslands and gneiss. The Malilangwe Trust purchased the land and remain to this day committed to returning it to its natural pristine state. Old fences have been removed, indigenous grasses returned, alien species removed, wildlife restocked, poaching controlled and fires controlled and more.

Zimbabwe conservation is essential for Southern Africa as partners and governments from multiple countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe) are working together to form KAZA (The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area).

The tourism industry is beneficial to sustainability of communities and conservation of wilderness and wildlife. Firstly, tourism provides employment for thousands, it then raises revenue to fund essential services to communities like schools and health clinics. Finally, it can teach sustainable practices with lifelong benefits to its people and advocate for conservation and place pressure on government decision makers to get it properly on the national agenda.

Zimbabwe Feedback

From those who have ventured

From start to finish we have had the absolute best service from Encompass Africa.

Southern Africa family adventure -Wheeler family

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We will definitely return to Africa. It was an amazing family holiday.

Southern Africa Family Holiday – Watson family

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The trip was nothing short of fantastic, all aspects worked really well. Shame we are not on holidays 365 days a year.

Zimbabwe Adventure – The Smiths

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Fantastic itinerary created for our family with two boys aged 10 and 12 – very special memories!

Botswana and Zimbabwe Family Adventure – Ierino family.

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