HARARE

As early as 200 B.C. the San people are believed to have first inhabited the country of Zimbabwe. Then came the Bantu rule, followed by the Shona people, the Nguni and the Zulu tribes. In the mid-19th century, the descendants of the Nguni and Zulu tribes called the Ndebele established their own kingdom in the country. In 1850, the British came and conquered the country making it their colony. They named the country Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company. Soon it became Southern Rhodesia and in 1923, the European settlers of the country voted to become a self-governing colony of the British.

In 1963 after the World War II, Northern Rhodesia, which is Zambia at present) and Nyasaland, now Malawi, voted for independence while Southern Rhodesia chose to remain as a colony. After 2 years, the white minority of Rhodesia declared the country’s independence from Britain and in 1970, Rhodesia formally became a republic. The white minority of Rhodesia, lead by Ian Smith, continued to control the government and resist demands from the Black majority which lead to war. In 1978, the White Minority agreed to transfer power to the Black Majority, however, Smith remained the country’s Prime Minister for 2 years. In 1980, a multi-racial election was held to settle national issues. As expected, the Black Majority won the election by a landslide victory with Robert Mugabe becoming the head of the country. In April 17, 1980, the country celebrated its independence and changed its name to Zimbabwe.

Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, was founded in 1890 at the spot where the British South Africa Company’s Pioneer Column halted its march into Mashonaland. It was formerly named Salisbury after Lord Salisbury, the then British prime minister. The name Harare was derived from the outcast Chief Neharawe, who occupied the area at the time when the land was seized by the British.

The city developed after the arrival of the railway in 1899, linking the port of Beira, Mozambique, becoming a market and mining centre. It was chartered as a city in 1935. Industrialization during and after World War II led to an influx of population.

Salisbury was retained as the capital by the new government of independent Zimbabwe in 1980 and renamed Harare.

 

Harare is the bustling Zimbabwean capital which surprises many visitors . A haven for wondrous wildlife, the city is encompassed by sprawling African plains and spectacular scenery, home to giraffes, lions, wildebeests and more. With some great museums and majestic gardens, travellers can easily lose themselves in this charming place. The Greater Zimbabwe is a curious beast. Ravaged by wars and civil strife, it had a particularly stormy exit from the age of European colonialism in Africa. While there are still lingering human rights complaints and authoritarian tendencies in the government here, the general consensus is that those dangers are slowly subsiding. That means Zimbabwe is once again entering the safari fold, and beginning to entice intrepid travelers with the promise of its natural wonders. Of course, there are some mainstream attractions, not least of all the roaring wonder of the famous Victoria Falls. If you are feeling adventurous and ready to throw caution to the wind, it is worth considering this lost jewel of the African south for sure… Lets explore the best places to visit in Zimbabwe.

1. Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe

A wildlife sanctuary for local animal species, located near to Harare’s International Airport. The sanctuary offers the incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. Tours here allow visitors to witness rescued animals in their natural habitats, and to watch rescue workers as they feed and clean many different species. Some of the animals you’re likely to see here are baby elephants, towering giraffes, roaring lions and speedy cheetahs. Wild Is life makes for an unforgettable afternoon, and showcases how a caring rescue operation respectfully treats animals before releasing them back into the wild.

2. Thetford Game Reserve

 Thetford Game Reserve covers a sprawling 3,300 hectares of beautiful countryside and mountain terrain, and is set some 30 kilometers outside of Harare. Despite being such a short distance away from the lively city center, visitors will find this place an idyllic piece of paradise, a site teeming with wildlife and over 150 species of birds. The game reserve was founded with the objective of providing a safe space for animals to breed, and it is now home to many diverse species including buffalo, girrafes, impalas, zebras and rhinos. There is the chance to go on a guided safari here, and you also can grab some tasty meals on site.

3. National Botanic Gardens

Located 4 kilometers north of the city center, deep in the suburbs of Alexandra Park, the beautiful National Botanic Gardens boasts a wide ranges of indigenous and exotic plants native to Zimbabwe. The garden area covers almost 7 square kilometers, and within the space there are species from Zimbabwean woodlands, as well as exotic trees and plants from such far away places as South America, India and the Far East. The lawns here make for an excellent picnic setting, and you can walk around and enjoy the cool shade of the trees on those scorching Harare afternoons.

4. Lion and Cheetah Park (and Snake World)

The Lion & Cheetah Park is a favorite for locals and tourists alike, and is an extremely appealing place for young kids. Situated only 30 minutes outside of Harare, the Lion & Cheetah Park houses big game, lions and deadly snakes, and is also the home for zebras, impalas and wildebeests. If you crave extra adventure take a turn through the Drive Through Lion Enclosure, with windows up of course, and experience these majestic mammals up close. 

5. Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conversation Park

Set in tranquil surroundings within 4000 Acres of private game reserve. Managed by Kate Travers and Chris Carless, a highly-experienced chef and management team, The Imire Lodge offers welcoming family style hospitality, fine home cooking and spectacular game viewing. Four of the big five guaranteed!

Experience unique close encounters with some of the world’s most intriguing and endangered animals. Imire Lodge offers both day trips and overnight stays. A day trip visit includes a full game drive and lunch served in the conservancy with a visit from the elephants or rhino as a highlight of the day. Overnight trips include feeding the rhino and elephant, followed by sundowners at the lookout and a gourmet three course dinner.

Imire Game Park began life as a cattle, maize and tobacco farm in the 1950s. During the 1970s, Imire made a name for itself by bringing significant numbers of game animals back to what was formerly under used farmland. By the mid-1980s, during a period of Zimbabwe's worst rhino poaching, seven orphaned baby black rhino were translocated to Imire for their safe upbringing and the Imire Black Rhino Breeding Programme began. During the last 30 years there have been 14 black rhino born on Imire, with 11 returned to National Parks across Zimbabwe. Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to protecting wildlife and strongly believe that rural communities and conservation programmes can successfully thrive side by side, working together to ensure the protection of our natural heritage. Imire is only 90 minutes from Harare. 

www.imire.co.zw

2. Mbizi Game Park

Only 22 Kilometers from the city center, Mbizi Game Lodge is submerged in the harmony of the African bush. 1000 Acres of privately owned, tranquil land, full of mystery and self contained cottages for the comfort of every visitor. There is accommodation to suit every need at Mbizi. A renovated old farm house for visitor who like to enjoy true african hospitality. The Lodge is exquisitely decorated in African decor and saturated with teak furnishings. Mbizi Game Park is a true haven, a land on untouched wilderness where giraffe, zebra, warthog and various other antelope roam free. Be captivated by the mystery of the rock paintings left by earlier settlers in this enchanted African paradise.

mbizi.co.zw

Thetford Game Reserve

National Botanic Gardens Harare

Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conversation Park

Wild Is Life Grand Zimbabwe

Mbizi Game Park

Coimbra Restaurant Harare

Meikles Hotel Harare

Meikles Hotel

(5 Star Luxury)

 Coimbra Restaurant

One of Harare's best downtown eats is this authentic Portuguese restaurant that is a perennial local favourite for its tasty plates of spicy charcoal chicken

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.

Victoria Falls

Mana Pools National Park

Hwange National Park

Matobo National Park

Great Zimbabwe