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The Perfect Travel Guide to Zimbabwe

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If visiting the world’s largest waterfall is on your bucket list, take a trip to Zimbabwe to see the spectacular sight of the massive Zambezi River plunging deep into a gorge. Witness one of nature’s most amazing spectacles. Fill your senses with the sounds and sights of a surrounding rain forest in the backdrop of roaring, smoking water.

A Zimbabwe trip is not your usual R&R, but an action-packed holiday around every bend. If adventure is what you are looking at, pack your travel gear and head out to Zimbabwe for a holiday of a lifetime.

Zimbabwe – A country that adopted its historical legacy of ‘stone civilization’

Zimbabwe was formerly the country of Southern Rhodesia (1898). It was named after the British entrepreneur Cecil John Rhodes during the colonization by the British South-Africa Company in the 19th century. After independence, when Zimbabwe became a Republic in 1980, the country chose to rename itself “Zimbabwe”. In local Shona dialect, it means ‘large houses of stone”, representing the former medieval kingdom of the Shonas and their stone-based architectural supremacy.

When to go

The best time to visit Zimbabwe is winter, during the months of May to October, when the temperatures are mild and the weather dry. Game viewing is at its best and the risk of malaria is low. The water levels are lower, so water-based activities and rafting is at their best. The Victoria Falls is also best viewed as the spray is lesser in the dry months, making the falls more visible.

Where to go

Tourists traveling to Zimbabwe will most likely be visiting the country for the Victoria Falls and iconic adventure activities centered on the Zambezi River and National Parks.

Victoria Falls

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This is where all the action lies. Although most likley you are traveling to Zimbabwe for the  famous Victoria Falls – the largest curtain of falling water in the world – you will be greeted with more. Besides being one of the ‘Seven Natural Wonders of the World’, the Victoria Falls is also a beautiful natural rain forest site with a unique ecosystem. You can expect to see plants and birds that are native to this location because of the year-round availability of water. The sheer height of the Victoria Falls as it plunges over a wide cliff into the Boiling Pot below creates large clouds of smoke visible for miles. The reason it is called the “smoke that thunders” in the local Tonga dialect.

Hwange National Park

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This is the largest national park in Zimbabwe boasting an abundant selection of wildlife – 100 species of mammals and 400 recorded bird species. The Park’s elephant population counts among the largest in the world. Hwange offers some of the best game viewing, especially during the dry months of August to November. Wilderness trails, bush camps, dams and viewing platforms, are some of the Park’s leading attractions.

World Heritage Sites

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Although a listed UNESCO world heritage site, the Great Zimbabwe is a little known architectural wonder from the medieval period. Also known as the “house of stone” it is a massive stonewalled complex of ancient ruins of the Shona kingdom, and a must-see for its sheer grandeur, history and stone craftsmanship.

Khami Ruins is another protected national site of dry-stone walled structures, of the former 15th century Torwa dynasty. The Matobo Hills and Caves are sites of 20,000 cave paintings from the Early Stone Age, with huge boulders strewn across the landscape resembling “Bald Heads”.

What to do

Zimbabwe is the place for adventure travelers. Expect to have a thrilling experience wherever you go. The spectacular settings are an add-on, heightening the adrenaline rush. However, most of the activities would not be for the faint-hearted.

Crocodile Cage Diving

Do not miss out on Zimbabwe’s wildest adventure – getting up-close with huge Nile crocodiles native to the Zambezi River. Have one of the most unique and exhilarating encounters with crocodiles from the safety of an underwater cage, and gaze at open jaws a few inches away from you.

Lion Walk

If you are more than 1.5 metres tall, then take a walk with a lion at Livingstone Way or Antelop Park at Victoria Falls. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is possible only at select places in the world.

High-wire Activities at Victoria Falls

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The Victoria Falls is a popular destination for adrenaline junkies. It offers a wide range of unusual, exciting activities over the Victoria Falls site and the gorge – gorge swinging, ziplining, bungee jumping, and Flying Fox.

Take off from the edge of a 120 m high river cliff and swing on a cable over the river gorge. The high you experience from the gorge swing surpasses any other adventure you have had before. Experience your adrenaline rush on the longest Zip Line ride in the world. Travel at a speed of 106 km and hurtle 425 m across the gorge, dangling 120 m above the Zambezi River. Bungee jump 111 m down towards the mighty Batoka Gorge. Take the ultimate free-fall and take away a video recording of your adventure captured on a DVD. For a more tame adventure, opt for the Flying Fox. Fly across the gorge 125 m above the valley floor and enjoy a spectacular bird’s eye view.

White Water Rafting

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A Zimbabwe visit cannot be complete without a white water rafting adventure on some of the best Grade 5 high volume rapids in the world. Get wet and wild on the mighty Zambezi River. Have an electrifying day of whitewater action or opt for a multi-day rafting adventure combined with stays in the gorge. Whether you are a rafting newbie or a seasoned expert rafter, you can tailor your white water action to low-water or high-water rafting.

Game Drives

Game drives in open safari vehicles feature in the list of Zimbabwe adventures. Have a night safari adventure in the flood plains of the Zambezi River. Go for afternoon game drives in the Thetford Game Reserve, or catch the wildlife in action at a morning game drive in the Zambezi National Park.

Fishing Safaris

Zimbabwe offers the finest of year-round fresh water fishing amidst some of the most spectacular settings. Each fishing site has a unique feel with different fish species and safari experiences. Lake Kariba, the Zambezi River and Eastern Highlands, are the popular go-to fishing safari locations.

Cruising Safaris

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Cruising safaris are a popular attraction in Zimbabwe. Whether you opt for an intimate luxury cruise along 270 kms of Lake Kariba, a sunset dinner cruise or an exciting bird watching cruise on the Zambezi River, you can expect a matchless cruising safari.

Cultural Encounters

Book a traditional village tour and see tribal life. Have cultural encounters with the locals.  Take a traditional boma meal. Dance with the locals to the sound of their drums. Visit the local markets and take away souvenirs, while supporting eco-friendly tribal crafts. A Zimbabwe holiday is like no other.