There is a surprising array of options in and near HARARE including good introductory and highly-recommended wildlife experiences. See ABOUT – LOCATION – HARARE.
Apart from a climate often rated the finest on the planet Zimbabwe is also blessed with a variety of other enticing attractions that truly make this country the Jewel of Africa. Here is a snapshot of a few for you to consider:
The second largest city in Zimbabwe with a population of 1m. It is known as the “City of Kings” and the people, who speak Ndebele, are an off-shoot of the Zulu. For international visitors the primary fascination with the area is the Matobo National Park, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, given that lofty status in 2003. The park includes an Intensive Protection Zone where populations of black and white rhinoceros are successfully breeding. The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a phenomenal range of granite rock formations – a hiker’s paradise.
Matobo, meaning “bald heads”, was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele king Mzilikazi, who is buried in the hills. The park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, who referred to this hill as the “View of the World.” The Matobo area has a great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and important “ancestral” ceremonies still take place. Many outstanding busman paintings in the caves are testimony to a people with a distant history.
THE EASTERN DISTRICTS
The extreme east of Zimbabwe, bordering on Mozambique, features the most beautiful mountains of the Bvumba and Nyanga. It is a scenic wonderland with little traffic and lodges and hotels in the areas provide activities such as hiking, trout fishing, horse riding and golf. These areas are about a three-hour drive from Harare.
The well-worn cliché “Best Kept Secret” truly applies to the awe-inspiring Lake Kariba, one of the largest man-made lakes on the planet created in 1958, to provide hydroelectricity, when the flow of the mighty Zambezi River was stemmed with a massive dam wall. Kariba is wedged between Zambia to the north and Zimbabwe to the south and is 300 km long, with 2000 km of shoreline. The lake is studded by islands and fringed with mountains, but its uniqueness is in the fact that it boasts an array of spectacular wildlife which may be enjoyed by boat, by foot or on a 4 x 4 safari. There are several outstanding safari lodges, from 5 to 2 star, and also self-catering National Parks lodges for hire at very reasonable cost. Kariba is also famous for the annual Kariba Invitation Tigerfish Tournament held every October and attracting teams from many countries.www.kitft.co.zw
Kariba Airport is a one-hour direct flight from Harare or Victoria Falls while chartered light aircraft can also land at several of the safari lodges private air strips.
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange is one of the Africa’s greatest wildlife parks – a massive 14,000 sq km located in the west of the country a two-hour drive from Victoria Falls or from Bulawayo. The park is set aside purely for conserving wildlife in its natural habitat and it contains more than 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds. Hwange is also (along with Chobe Botswana) the world’s greatest elephant sanctuary with more than 45,000 of the4se majestic beasts and herds of 100 or more often witnessed. National Parks accommodation is available in the park and several private safari operators offer first-rate camps such as The Hide, Makololo, Somalisa, Sikumi and Ivory Tree Lodge. Hwange Safari Lodge offers a fabulous location overlooking a prolific waterhole and features 100 rooms, perfect for families seeking a cost-effective experience in the area.
MANA POOLS NATIONAL PARK
One of the most wild and wonderful areas in all of Africa. A UNESCO World Heritage Site (1984) on Zimbabwe’s northern Zambezi River border with Zambia. There are a few small specialised camps, some basic some more luxurious, and you also have the option of experiencing Mana with a mobile camping operator. Mana Pools is unique, being the only Zimbabwean national park with species such as elephant, lion and buffalo, in which you may walk unaccompanied, at your own risk of course; so do so only on the vast floodplains where the visibility is good. Apart from game walks, cruises and 4x4 safaris fishing for the fighting tiger is an excellent sport and canoeing is exhilarating adventure.
The Zambezi Valley is a western extension of the Great Rift Valley, the massive geological fault that extends right down the continent of Africa. The southern edge is formed by the Zimbabwean escarpment which you descend into the Mana Pools area – across the Zambezi River you can see the Zambian escarpment on the other side, the northern edge of the valley. In this valley lies a wilderness paradise with almost all species of Central African wildlife occurring in large numbers. To access this very unique area you will need to fly in a light aircraft into the Mana Pools airstrip or drive (4 x 4’s only) in the dry season.