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10 Best Places to Visit in Zimbabwe - A Tourist's Paradise

Zimbabwe is endowed with breathtaking natural beauty, wildlife, and historical sites that make it a treasure for tourists. As one of the top safari destinations in Africa, Zimbabwe offers incredible opportunities to view Africa's iconic wildlife up-close in their natural habitats. Places like Hwange and Mana Pools host large herds of elephants, while parks like Matopos are home to endangered rhinos and other species.

The mighty Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is classified as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The thundering spectacle of water plunging into the Batoka Gorge is an unforgettable sight. Adrenaline activities like bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge are popular tourist attractions.

Besides wildlife and natural scenery, Zimbabwe also boasts fascinating historical sites. The Great Zimbabwe ruins showcase the artistic talents of indigenous Shona people who built the monuments out of granite. The Eastern Highlands are characterized by mountains, lush forests, and the cultural attractions of cities like Mutare. Lake Kariba offers magnificent houseboat safaris with excellent game viewing opportunities.

So whether you love safaris, adventure, history or culture, Zimbabwe will captivate you with its diversity. Let's explore the top 10 attractions that make Zimbabwe a must-visit destination.

1. Victoria Falls

Undoubtedly one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls is a breathtaking spectacle of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur. Located on the Zambezi River along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the massive waterfall plunges 354 feet down into the Batoka Gorge, creating a misty spray that earned it the local name "mosi-oa-tunya" meaning the "smoke that thunders."

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

Visitors can explore Victoria Falls from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, each offering stunning vantage points. Popular activities include watching the falls from viewpoints along the edge of the falls, walking the rainforest trails, sunset cruises on the Zambezi, white water rafting adventures and helicopter tours for a bird's eye perspective. Vic Falls is one of Africa's most iconic landmarks and a definite must-see on any Zimbabwe itinerary.

2. Hwange National Park

As Zimbabwe's largest national park, Hwange is one of Africa's finest game reserves and elephant sanctuaries. Home to over 100 mammal and 400 bird species, Hwange provides excellent wildlife viewing in a variety of landscapes from grasslands to woodlands.

Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park

Elephant sightings are almost guaranteed in this 45,000 sq km park that hosts one of the world's densest populations of African elephants. Herds of hundreds are a common sight. Other highlights include lions, giraffes, zebras, wild dogs and a small population of the endangered black rhino. Game drives, guided walks and hides offer thrilling wildlife encounters. The diversity of antelope species is also impressive.

3. Mana Pools National Park

Bordering the Zambezi River, the magnificent Mana Pools National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its abundance of wildlife and spectacular scenery. Part of an extensive ecosystem that includes Lake Kariba to the south, Mana Pools encompasses 2,500 sq km of riverine and plains habitats.

A distinctive feature of Mana Pools is its large population of predators including lions, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards. Game viewing by vehicle, foot, or boat offers incredible sightings of animals in their natural environment. Highlights are elephants crossing the Zambezi and huge pods of hippos. Birdlife along the river is prolific while Mana's remote wilderness also provides opportunities to see rare species like crocodiles, pangolins and aardvark.

4. Great Zimbabwe

As one of Africa's most iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the majestic stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe provide a fascinating glimpse into the historical Shona civilization that once dominated this region between the 11th-15th centuries. The monumental grandeur of the stonework construction is impressive, built entirely out of granite without mortar.

Sprawling across almost 1800 acres, Zimbabwe's greatest medieval city has three main structural groups - the Hill Complex, the Great Enclosure and the Valley Complex. The site includes other noteworthy landmarks like the Great Zimbabwe Museum featuring artifacts and displays that bring the history to life. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Zimbabwe for travelers interested in history and culture.

5. Eastern Highlands

Nestled between the border mountains of Mozambique, Zimbabwe's scenic Eastern Highlands encompass a string of national parks characterized by high plateaus, fertile valleys, forests and tumbling waterfalls. Nyanga National Park is the most popular with Zimbabwe's highest peak Mount Nyangani, rolling pastures, crystal clear streams and the scenic World's View viewpoint.

Eastern Highlands
Eastern Highlands

Nyanga and Chimanimani parks offer superb hiking trails with panoramic vistas. Trout fishing, birdwatching and biking adventures are also popular activities. Around the parks are charming towns like Mutare and villages showcasing local arts and crafts. The mild climate and beautiful landscapes make the Eastern Highlands an oasis retreat from the heat.

6. Matobo National Park

Granite rock formations, wooded valleys and cave paintings are the highlights of Matobo National Park, one of the most scenic parks in Zimbabwe. Located just outside Bulawayo, Matobo was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of Stone Age rock art with over 3,000 registered cave painting sites.

The park also provides vital habitat for both black and white rhino, making it a popular destination for rhino trekking walks to spot these endangered species. Hiking past balancing rock formations is another of Matobo's signature adventures. Rich in history, Matobo was once the headquarters of revolutionary leader Robert Mugabe during Zimbabwe's Bush War. Grave sites of Cecil Rhodes and colonial pioneers are also found here.

7. Lake Kariba

One of the largest manmade lakes in the world, vast Lake Kariba stretches 220 km in length along the Zambezi Valley upstream from Victoria Falls. Kariba and Matusadona National Parks along its shores protect some of Zimbabwe's finest wildlife habitats ranged across the hills and lakeshore plains.

Houseboat safaris on Lake Kariba provide intimate wildlife encounters cruising within game viewing distance of the shoreline. Elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, zebras and other wildlife congregate along the shoreline or make their way down to drink. The lake is also home to crocodiles and hippos, while fish eagles circle overhead. With beautiful sunsets over the water, Lake Kariba offers a relaxing complement to land safaris.

8. Nyanga National Park

In contrast to Zimbabwe's savanna safari parks, Nyanga National Park showcases an altogether different landscape as the country's premier mountain retreat. With rolling grasslands, forests, rivers and waterfalls surrounded by the rocky peaks of the Eastern Highlands, Nyanga attracts hikers, bikers and trout fishermen.

Popular sights include World's View - an overlook with panoramas stretching over 100 km - and Rhodes Nyanga Historical Museum. Hiking options range from gentle riverside trails to ascending Mount Nyangani, Zimbabwe's highest peak at 8,507 feet. Nyanga's cool climate, trout streams and verdant scenery make it an oasis escape favored by locals.

9. Gonarezhou National Park

Bordering Mozambique, Gonarezhou is Zimbabwe's second largest national park at 5,000 sq km, providing pristine wilderness habitats ranging from sandstone outcrops to mopane woodlands. The Runde and Save rivers that cut through the landscape attract an abundance of wildlife including sizable populations of elephants, hippos, zebras and rare antelope species.

But Gonarezhou is best known for its predators especially lions, cheetahs and the endangered African wild dog. Chilojo Cliffs is a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking a bend in the Runde River. Getting around the vast terrain of Gonarezhou on guided game drives or walks offers immersion into remote pristine habitats.

10. Bulawayo

Although not a conventional tourist attraction, Bulawayo has emerged as Zimbabwe's second largest city with a fascinating history and lively culture. Founded in the 19th century, Bulawayo was the site of the last stand of the Shona people against colonial rule. Today, it serves as a gateway for visiting Matobo National Park and features some noteworthy points of interest.

The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe houses an impressive collection of stuffed animal displays and ethnographic exhibits. The National Art Gallery showcases traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean art. The Bulawayo Railway Museum chronicles the region's rail history. Tree-lined avenues, parks and charming architecture give Bulawayo a pleasant ambience to explore.

Summary - Highlights of Visiting Zimbabwe

Whether you are craving adrenaline adventures, incredible wildlife encounters or fascinating historical insights, Zimbabwe offers an abundance of remarkable attractions. Victoria Falls is truly one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders and a premier Southern African destination. Abundant national parks like Hwange, Mana Pools and Matopos provide exceptional safari experiences to view diverse African wildlife in their natural habitats.

Scenic wonders encompass thundering waterfalls in Nyanga, placid Lake Kariba sunsets, and dramatic rock formations across the national parks. From majestic ruins of medieval kingdoms to luxuriant highland forests, Zimbabwe shines with natural and cultural diversity at every turn. The welcoming and lively Zimbabwean culture enriches every travel experience for an unforgettable African journey.


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