This was my second visit to Zimbabwe in the last two years and the trip reinforced my view that Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a very enjoyable and safe country to visit.
We found the Zimbabwean people incredibly friendly and helpful and guides have a reputation as the best in Africa.
After a long period in the doldrums due to the political situation the country seems to be undergoing a renaissance and all the parks and safari camps we visited seemed to be doing very nicely. There are no obvious shortages and the camps seem to have everything they need to operate as top-class tourist destinations.
In June the weather was warm and sunny during the day and cool at night with nighttime temperature in Hwange National Park dropping into single figures. Conditions for safari are just about perfect.
We visited the four most popular areas for overseas tourists Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools and Matusadona National Park.
Victoria Falls needs little explanation, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a must see destination for first time visitors to Zimbabwe or Zambia. The head on view from the Zimbabwe side is probably better than the view from Zambia and at the time of our visit the Falls were in full spate and at their most awesome.
There is a very well-established tourist infrastructure here and the range of exciting safari and adventure activities on offer here makes the Falls the adventure capital of the world. The more relaxing activities include steam train rides, boat cruises on the Zambezi River, canoeing and scenic flights. Adventure junkies will be enthralled by the white-water rafting, bungee jumping, zip lining and canyon swinging. There is also an interesting cultural aspect to Victoria Falls visits.
We took the evening boat cruise on the Zambezi River and were lucky to witness an elephant swimming across the river using its’ trunk as a snorkel. Lunch at the Lookout cafe on the rim of the gorge is also very worthwhile for its stunning views.
Most guests visiting Northern Zimbabwe will arrive into or leave from Victoria Falls airport so the Falls will be an essential part of most itineraries.
Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s great parks although it is not as well-known as some other reserves or arguably as scenic. The low visitor density is a real bonus and whilst I am sure that new lodges will open as demand increases over the next few years at the moment the park remains wonderfully quiet and untouristy.
We visited several lodges and camps in the more remote South East of the reserve, these were all in the mid to upper price bracket and were located within private concessions within the National Park.
Elephants are a highlight in Hwange with 140000 roaming freely between Hwange and the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park in Zimbabwe. The South eastern part of the park has excellent game viewing at this time of the year and most lodges concentrate their game viewing on the open Ngamo Plains region, although game viewing in the private concessions was also very productive. Guests visiting also have a good chance of seeing cheetah, wild dog and lion here as well as rarer large antelope such as Sable and Roan.
Activities are mainly game drives and guided walks with night drives also being possible in the private concessions.
Mana Pools was our next destination, this is a stunning reserve and world heritage site on the opposite riverbank to the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.
Mana Pools is in my opinion, simply wonderful, the floodplain of the Zambezi River is teeming with wildlife and it is possible to sit on the deck of your tent and watch elephant, buffalo, hippo and a whole host of other species grazing on the riverbank and drinking from the river. The birdlife is superb and this is one of the most scenic parks in Africa. Spending a night or two here you are sure to hear lions roar, elephants trumpeting, leopards growling and hippos snorting which makes the reserve very atmospheric.
The biodiversity here is not as great as in Hwange but there are plenty of lions and the chances of seeing leopard here are very good and if lucky, as we were, endangered wild dogs are also a possibility.
There are also a couple of camps in the hinterland away from the river, these are reliant on game visiting the waterholes or require a long drive to the riverfront for the best game viewing, so, probably best visited in the dry season months.
In addition to game drives, walking is popular on the floodplains and river based safaris and canoe trips are other activities not to be missed. For those interested in fishing the outstanding “catch and release” fishing for the large and ferocious tiger fish that lurk in the Zambezi river will be a highlight.
We strongly recommend that guests include a visit to Mana Pools in any Zimbabwe itinerary.
Matusadona National park on the banks of Lake Kariba was our final destination. This was a new destination for me and contrasted well with the other locations. The lake itself is very beautiful and to watch the sun setting over the lake is truly awe inspiring.
Although this destination is considered to be more of a place to chill out and enjoy the wilderness than a pure game viewing destination the wildlife here is also very good, with plenty of elephant, buffalo and plains game, lions and crocodiles are the most visible predators.
Activities on the lake include game drives, sunset boat cruises and longer boat trips to the beautiful Sanyati Gorge. Fishing here is also reputed to be very good especially during the summer months.
We think this is a great place to chill out after a longer safari.
In conclusion following my second visit in two years i would strongly recommend our clients to visit Zimbabwe, it is an affordable and exciting destination with beautiful landscapes and fantastic wildlife.
← Read Less