The 10 best places to visit in Zimbabwe

 

South of the modern day capital, Harare, are the medieval remains of the countries Iron Age capital, a site known as Great Zimbabwe. Covering an area of 7.2 square kilometres (2.7 square miles) it is according to legend the former royal palace of the Queen Of Sheba. Inhabited as a major and renowned trading centre of the Middle Ages, abandoned in the 15th century, the archaeological site with it's 5 metre (16.5 ft) dry stone walls is a unique testimony to the Bantu civilisation. Declared a national monument of Zimbabwe, it is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Great Zimbabwe

 

North west of the capital, Harare, is the Chinhoyi Caves National Park, encompassing a system of limestone and dolomite caves that have become a favourite among divers. The main chamber contains a pool of cobalt blue water, often referred to as the 'Sleeping Pool' or 'Pool Of The Fallen, a name derived from the mid 19th century when members of the Angonni tribe attacked local people and threw their bodies into the cave. The water is so clear it has a visibility range of approximately 50 metres (164 ft).

9. Chinhoyi Caves National Park

 

In the north west of the country, straddling the border with Botswana, covering an area of some 14,651 square kilometres (5,657 square miles) is the Hwange National Park. On the edge of the Kalahari Desert in a region dominated by grassland and seasonal wetlands, visitors are able to view some of the largest animal populations on the continent. Home to over one hundred mammal species, the most common are elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, Cape wild dogs, buffalo among many, many more.

8. Hwange National Park

 

In the south west of the country, south of the city of Bulawayo is the 424 square kilometre (164 square mile) Matobo National Park. This vast hilly landscape is interspersed with large rock formations and huge granite boulders between the vegetation. Visitors to the park are able to witness a whole host of animals, including white and black rhinos, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, antelope, impala, baboons and ostrich among many other species. Home to the highest concentration of black eagles on the planet, the park also contains the densest population of leopards on Earth, making it one of the most likely spots to view these amazing creatures in the wild. The entire national park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Matobo National Park

 

In the extreme north of the country, on the southern edge of Lake Kariba that forms the natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is Matusadona National Park, named after the Matuzviadonha Hills. Encompassing an area of some 1,400 square kilometres (540 square miles) of protected park land, the terrain is one of flat plains, rugged mountains and pristine wilderness. Virtually inaccessible before the construction of the Kariba Dam, visitors to the park can now view some of the finest wildlife that Zimbabwe has to offer, with large mammals such as elephant, Cape buffalo, black rhinoceros, lion and leopard among a whole host of smaller species.

6. Matusadona National Park

 

In the extreme east of the country, in the Eastern Highlands that form the natural border with Mozambique, is the Chimanimani National Park. Covering some 171 square kilometres (66 square miles) this protected wilderness is considered some of the finest mountain landscape in the country. Distinguished by tall peaks of rifted quartzite, the parks highest point is the Monte Binga, standing 2,436 metres (7,992 ft) above sea level. With it's untouched pristine nature, high mountains, deep valleys, steep waterfalls, tropical rain forest, amazing vistas and relative isolation, it has become one of the countries most popular hiking destinations.

5. Chimanimani National Park

 

In the far south east of the country, in the remote corner of Masvingo Province along the border with Mozambique, is the 5,053 square kilometre (1,951 square mile) Gonarezhou National Park. Connected across the borders by the Kruger National Park of South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, it forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Peace Park that allows animals to pass freely between the three sanctuaries. With such huge areas of pristine wilderness, from the Mopane Woodlands to the southern African bush, from wild scrubland to steep sandstone cliffs, visitors can view a landscape to match the wildlife. Mammals in the area include elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, Cape buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, lion, black and white rhinoceros, leopard, cheetah and a whole host more.

4. Gonarezhou National Park

 

In the far northern reaches of the country, connected across the Zambian border by the Lower Zambezi National Park, is Zimbabwe's own 2,190 square kilometre (845 square mile) Mana Pools National Park, one of the least developed parks of southern Africa. The flood plains of the Zambezi River create permanent pools flanked by thick lush forests, attracting one of the largest concentrations of wildlife on the continent. This in turn makes Mana Pools one of Africa's most renowned wildlife viewing regions. With such high numbers of threatened and endangered species, the park has been declared a Ramsar Wetland of international importance, and also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Mana Pools National Park

 

In the far east of the country, close to the border with Mozambique, north of the Chimanimani National Park in the north of the Eastern Highlands is the Nyanga National Park, containing the highest plateaus within Zimbabwe. Made up of vast montane rain forest that cover the steep slopes of the parks enormous valleys, Nyanga is home to Mount Nyangani, with a peak height of 2,592 metres (8,504 ft) above sea level it is Zimbabwe's highest point. At the southern end of the park is another of the countries natural wonders, the Mutarazi Falls, the highest waterfall in Zimbabwe. With it's enormous fall of 772 metres (2,533 ft) it is the second highest waterfall in Africa and the sixth highest in the world.

Pictured is Mutarazi Falls.

2. Nyanga National Park

 

In the far north west of the country, where the Zambezi River creates a natural border with Zambia, is the small 23 square kilometre (9 square mile) Victoria Falls National Park, encompassing one of the most famous waterfalls on the planet. Known by it's indigenous Tonga Name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning 'The Smoke That Thunders', it is more commonly known as Victoria Falls, named by the first European to lay eyes on it, David Livingstone, in honour of the then Queen Of Great Britain, Queen Victoria. Measuring 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) wide, falling a height of 108 metres (354 ft) from the main gorge, it holds the title of the largest sheet of falling water in the world, rivalled only by the Iguazu Falls in South America. This marvel of nature has understandably been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Victoria Falls National Park

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