1. Victoria Falls
There is a clear reason why Victoria Falls is one of Zimbabwe’s must see places. Victoria fall is a waterfall with the height of 355 feet ( 108 meters ) located at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is the worlds largest waterfall on the basis of its width and height which was discovered by David Livingstone in 1855.
It is forged by the Zambezi river that plummets into a 100 meters deep chasm. Its boom can be heard from 40 kilometers away. It has a diverse collection of flora and fauna. A large number of birds can be seen there and has a large variety of fish. Now this place is named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Main attraction of this place is a devils pool located right next to the cliff and is a place to swim and face a number of amazing things.
2. Mana Pools National Park
This magnificent 2200 sq-km national park is a Unesco World Heritage listed site and its magic stems from its remoteness and pervading sense of the wild and natural. This is one park in Zimbabwe where you are guaranteed close encounters with plenty of hippos, crocs, zebras and elephants. You are almost guaranteed to see lions and possibly African wild dogs, leopards, including cheetahs.
What sets Mana Pools apart from just about any other park in the world is that you are allowed to walk around on foot without a guide. For first time visitors it is hard to fathom how such an arrangement is possible, especially given the prevalence of elephants wandering about as well as cats and other predators. While incidents are rare, be aware this is about personal responsibility: wild animals are incredibly dangerous and fast. Walking with a guide is still highly advised
(The cost of a guide per person, per hour is US$30 and without a guide it costs US$15 per person)
Note that the park closes in the rainy season from January to March. Also be aware there's no fruit allowed inside the park.
3. Hwange National Park
One of the 10 largest national parks in Africa, and the largest in Zimbabwe, at 14,651 sq-km, Hwange National Park, pronounced ‘Wang-ee’, has a ridiculous amount of wildlife. Some 400 species of bird and 107 types of animal can be found in the park, including lions, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. But the elephant is what really defines Hwange, being home to one of the world's largest populations of around 40,000 tuskers.
The park is situated on the road from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, making it the most accessible and convenient park for many visitors. Access is possible in any sturdy vehicle between May and October, but you will need a 4WD during the wet season. Consult a ranger, at any of the three camps, about road conditions before heading off too far into the park.
The best time for wildlife viewing is July to October, when animals congregate around the 60 water holes or ‘pans’, most of which are artificially filled and when the trees are stripped mainly of its greenery. (dry winter season)
4. Matobo National Park
Home to some of the most majestic granite scenery in the world, the Matobo National Park is one of the unsung highlights of Zimbabwe. This Unesco World Heritage Site is a stunning and other worldly landscape of balancing rocks, kopjes – giant boulders unfeasibly teetering on top of one another. When you see it, it is easy to understand why Matobo is considered the spiritual home of Zimbabwe.
The national park is separated into two sections – the recreational park and the game park. The recreational park includes World’s View, a scenic viewpoint and burial site of Cecil Rhodes, and ancient San rock art caves.
The game park may not have the most prolific wildlife in Zimbabwe, as it has been hard hit by poaching, but it remains one of the best places to see both black and white rhinos. It also has the highest density of leopards in Zimbabwe, but you will be extremely lucky to spot one. Matobo is home to one third of the world’s species of eagle, so you may see black eagles, African hawk eagles or rare Cape eagle owls.
5. Gonarezhou National Park
Hidden in the southeast corner of the country is the stunning Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe's second largest park, 5000 sq km, and regarded by many as one of its best kept secrets. Sharing the border with Mozambique, the park is also virtually an extension of South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
In late 2002, the relevant authorities in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique created the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a 35,000 sq-km park straddling all three countries, with no boundaries.
It's one of the ZImbabwe's most scenic parks, with a staggering variation in landscapes, from its iconic sandstone Chilojo Cliffs, major rivers, lowveld scrub and flood plains, magnificent baobab trees, mopane woodland and tracts of palm tree forest. Here you will find giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, plus wild dogs and nyala, among the usual antelope species. There is also an impressive variety of about 450 different bird species.
However, it is most known for its large numbers of elephants with a population in excess of 12,000. Gonarezhou actually translates to "place of many elephants". You will spot their presence from the trail of destruction and the ubiquitous fallen trees, including sadly 1000 year old baobab trees that they bash against for water. Take care if driving, as Gonarezhou's elephants have a reputation for being skittish and somewhat aggressive. This is a result of years of poaching, particularly during the civil war of the 1960s and 1970s.
You will definitely need a 4WD to get around the park and lots of sections are closed during the rainy season (November to May).
6. Great Zimbabwe
The mysterious ruined city of Great Zimbabwe dates back to the 11th to 15th centuries AD and remains the emblem and heart of the nation. The Unesco World Heritage listed site provides evidence that ancient Africa reached a level of civilisation not suspected by earlier scholars.
The site is divided into several major ruins with three main areas; Hill Complex, the Valley and the Great Enclosure.
The site can easily be explored by yourself, but for more info, maps and the best routes, duck into the information centre at the site's checkpoint to pick up one of the booklets. If you want to delve even deeper, you can arrange a two-hour guided tour, about US$12 per person, at the checkpoint.
The best time to explore, and beat the heat, is dawn and dusk when the sunrise, or sunset, enhances what is already a stunning site. Allow at least three hours to explore.