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It’s not surprising that even through its political upheavals, Zimbabwe has remained a deeply longed-for home for those fortunate enough to have been bred, nurtured and bewitched by it. A humble disposition belying incredible beauty, a seductive warmth that makes you feel instantly at home and a slow, contemplative pace, are just a few of the things that make this Southern African gem unforgettable. It was at these destinations in Zimbabwe that we discovered the magic of this wonderful, complex land and vowed to return again and again and again…
There are sunsets and there are sunsets – ones where you are slowly suspended into fantasy, where time pauses for the sun’s daily retreat, an exhibitionist affair staged in an arena where only you and nature are in audience. Explore the Zambezi River on your own if you must, experience it with friends if you can, but absolutely cruise its transparent waters with a loved one if given a choice because here, above the wilderness-flanked crystal-clear waters of one of Africa’s iconic waterways, memories are made.
If a Zambezi River cruise is on your holiday to-do list, be sure to read our blog on places to stay in Zimbabwe for a Zambezi cruise.
Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A picture couldn’t possibly capture the grandeur, the scale, the majesty of the Victoria Falls. The largest waterfall in the world, thanks to the unbelievable amount of water crashing over its crags, its signature rumble and infamous smoke announces its presence far and wide, one of the reasons it’s considered African’s greatest natural wonder.
Because it’s become one those automatic stops on a Southern African holiday, it’s easy to dismiss it as just another overrated tourist haunt but once there you realise that its fame is warranted and that nothing could’ve prepared you for that first encounter. If you find yourself in the south of the African continent, you would be remiss to miss out on a chance to experience for yourself one of the most deservedly iconic destinations in Zimbabwe.
If man and nature live harmoniously long enough, the beasts of the land remember and adhere to an unspoken truce between species – a truce that allows them to live as one within the same sacred sanctuary. The wildlife of Hwange National Park is untamed, beautiful and majestic but also at ease amidst the stream of visitors who navigate its diverse landscape to appreciate its splendour. Safari vehicles in this national park seem to operate as members of a curious species that the wildlife are disinterested in and unwary of, which gives the visitor a voyeur’s glimpse into the inner-workings of the animal kingdom. It is undoubtedly one the best safari destinations in Zimbabwe.
Lake Kariba is a sort of mysterious wonderland whose magnificence occurs to you unexpectedly somewhere in the midst of its great vastness and the epic peaks on its otherwise undisturbed horizon. While cruising its expanse, you are easily taken by the wistful relaxation of a remote journey as for hours you are treated to very few reminders of land and its many distractions.
If you can, journey by houseboat through this enchanting waterway and take your time, we’re talking days, to do so. Exchange your idyllic home for a speedboat and journey across the lake to Sanyati Gorge, a canyon-like watercourse along whose banks large crocodiles lie sunbathing as the skies are decorated by a variety of birds in what feels like a scene from a fantasy film; certainly one of the most scenic destinations in Zimbabwe.
One of those secret sanctuaries beloved by those lucky enough to have found it, Mana Pools National Park is a vast unfenced wilderness so beautiful and treasured it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. For thousands of years, the Zambezi River’s eastwards flow left behind remnants of old river channels and formed several hundred square kilometres of the small seasonal ponds that this beautiful wilderness is comprised of. At the heart of protected areas stretching from Kariba to the Mozambique border, it is home to over 200 000 km2 of protected land and is considered to be one of the enduring wildlife sanctuaries of Africa.
Here, wildlife roam freely through a habitat that enjoys some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in Africa. A night spent at one of the camps is punctuated by a chorus of hippo grunts, lion roars and the constant crooning of Cape turtle dove. While navigating this landscape, diverse wildlife can be sighted along the river and floodplains. Home to over 350 bird species and mammals such as zebra, kudu, leopard and hyena, they can all be sighted on the guided walking safaris that are this parks’ signature. We could go on forever about the wonder of this oasis but our blog on 5 Things to Love About Manapools covers all our favourite things.
A forgotten wilderness with landscapes like no other, Gonarezhou National Park lies awaiting discovery. If Hwange is an enchanted forest then Gonarezhou is the forbidden woods, a savage and vastly untouched land of immense beauty in the lowveld region of Zimbabwe.
There’s something more rugged and ferocious about this park which manages to transform itself from a canyon of layered red sandstone dating back millions of years to cordons of plantation-like vegetation, veld and floodplains; you can navigate the breadth of this park and be convinced each new day that you are visiting a new park every time. From The Tembwahata Pan which draws buffalo and other wildlife, the breathtaking Chilojo Cliffs, the vast mopane woodlands, rocky gorges, sandveld and endless dotting of majestic Boabab, your eyes will never grow idle.
With one of the highest densities of elephant in Africa and thriving populations of lion, spotted hyenas and wild dog (one of the largest population of these endangers creatures thanks to successful anti-poaching measures) it makes for a heightened, as the animals are less habituated, but rewarding safari experience.
If these superb destinations in Zimbabwe are not enough to convince you, let our blog on 8 reasons why 2018 is the year to visit Zimbabwe light a fire under your heels. Be sure to also look at our complete guide to Zimbabwe for a comprehensive look at this beautiful country.
Already dreaming of your getaway? Let our team of expert travel consultants create the tailor-made Zimbabwean holiday of your dreams to include these and more of your desired destinations by clicking here
An enthusiastic globe-trotter born in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Thanda is back in Cape Town after a year of amazing adventures abroad. When not scouring Soundcloud for her next music obsession, she’s plotting a weekend sho’t left or scrambling to keep track of friends who're scattered all over the world.
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