In Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel

Zimbabwe : If not to Victoria Falls, then where to?

Like many African nations, Zimbabwe has a branding problem. People tend to associate the country with difficult politics and economics that also plague other parts of the continent. However, Zimbabwe is a developing nation with a promising future. One of the key industries predicted to flourish in the future is tourism.  

Although tourism is down from it’s highest levels from the 90s and early 2000s, tourists are slowly trickling back into the country. Most travellers naturally flock to its most well-known attraction; Victoria Falls. This is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. However, the country has many other sites worth visiting which encompass it’s natural landscape, art, animals and culture.

Here are my top five picks.

1. Gonarezhou

This national park is near the country’s southern border with neighbouring South Africa. The name translates to ‘the place of the elephants’ in the native Shona language. Wildlife levels in the region were dwindling in the past but have rapidly grown due to tough anti-poaching laws. This area is often referred to as a ‘hidden gem’, because it possesses the wildlife levels of Kruger National Park but does not suffer the same levels of intrusion from tourists. A recommended place to stay is the Singita Pamushana Lodge, which offers luxurious accommodation and incredible views of the nearby Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. Another key attraction in Gonarenzhou is the towering sandstone columns of the Chilojo Cliffs. These span a total of 30 kilometres and resemble a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. A five- star residence overlooking this jaw-dropping view is aptly named, the Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge.

credit: Zimpark

2. Matobo Hills

Credit: Free Image

Much of this area is a national park which is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is most commonly known for the balancing rocks which are indigenous to the Southern African region. At the world’s viewpoint, visitors can take in the breathtaking views of both the recreational and game park. The park has approximately 3000 rock-art sites with a collection of Ancient San paintings, which may be between 6000 and 10,000 years old. Along with the rockery, tourists are attracted to the prospect of seeing the area’s large population of both black and white rhinos.

Credit: Pixabay

3. Great Zimbabwe

A UNESCO Heritage Site since 1986, this dry-stone structure is evidence of the spectacular engineering of the Bantu people, ancestors of the modern day people of Zimbabwe. Records estimate that the city was built between 1100 and 1450 and was the largest settlement in Southern Africa at its peak. In the Shona language ‘Zimbabwe’ means ‘house of stone’, therefore this ancient settlement is a vital part of the country’s identity. A popular tourist attraction, visitors can experience the ancient history of Southern Africa by walking through the remnants of the dwellings. The site includes the Great Zimbabwe National Museum where visitors can see artefacts derived from the site, including Zimbabwe birds. These bird-shaped, soapstone sculptures are the national emblem of the country.

Credit: Free Image

4. Lake Kariba  

In this landlocked nation, Lake Kariba is known as Zimbabwe’s inland ocean. Divided between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the lake draws tourists who wish to experience the waters of the Zambezi River. In an incredible feat of human engineering, this man-made lake drops 320 feet at it’s highest point. The mild climate and abundance of freshwater breed high levels of biodiversity. Wildlife tourists flock to the area to catch tiger fish, which are endemic to the area. Next to the lake is the Matusadona Wildlife Reserve that has the highest population of lions in the country. Other wild animals such as the Nile crocodile, hippos and the endangered black rhino also appear in large quantities in the reserve. Adventure seekers visit the area to enjoy a variety of water sports in the choppy waters such as wave boarding, surfing and white-water rafting. Bumi Hills is a luxury safari lodge that is built on a hill overlooking the entirety of Lake Kariba, charming guests with a surrounding view of the African landscape, with its large mass of water and fresh greenery.

Credit: Pixabay

5.   Nyanga World’s View

Credit: Shamiso Chimbo

Another hidden gem lies in the Nyanga National Park in the Easternmost part of the nation, home to the Manyika people. The Eastern Highlands offer lush green vegetation and steep winding mountain roads with spectacular cliff-side views. Nyanga’s Worlds View Point is only a few minutes drive from one of the most popular resorts in the Highlands, called the Troutbeck Resort. Tourists can expect dizzying views of the Nyanga landscape at 2,300 metres in the air. The entire site spans approximately 70 hectares and features a circular viewing point where visitors can experience panoramic views. Granite plaques mark the distances to 30 famous African cities such as Adis Ababa and Johannesburg. At night visitors can even spot the lights of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city which is 287 km away.

Meet the Author

Shamiso Chimbo is a twenty-something creative who is passionate about fashion, technology and development. She was born in Zimbabwe and later migrated to London in her early years.

After a recent visit to her home country, she was inspired to embark on a mission to shed a positive light on a beautiful nation often painted negatively in the international media. 

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