Zimbabwe travel guide

The Ultimate Zimbabwe Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Check out our Zimbabwe Travel Guide

Renowned for its magnificent natural landscapes, abundance of wildlife, and cultural treasures, Zimbabwe is an incredibly diverse destination that promises exciting adventures and memorable experiences for travelers. This comprehensive guide provides key details to help you plan your perfect Zimbabwe holiday.

Key takeaways

Category Information
Top Attractions Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools National Park, Matobo National Park, Lake Kariba, Zambezi River
Best Time to Visit April-Oct (dry season), May-July (moderate temps), Nov-March (wet season)
Top Destinations Victoria Falls, Hwange NP, Bulawayo, Mana Pools NP, Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Wildlife Viewing Elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, 400+ bird species
Activities Safaris, walking safaris, canoeing, white water rafting, bungee jumping, helicopter tours, houseboats
Culture Sadza, tsunga stew, Shona villages, local markets, music & dance
Travel Tips Carry US dollars, apply for visa, pack lightweight clothing, take malaria precautions, follow wildlife safety
Tour Companies The Grown-up Travel Company

 

Top Sights and Experiences Not to Miss

Be Awestruck at Victoria Falls

 

Known locally as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders), the majestic Victoria Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. View the massive curtain of water plunging into the gorge from viewpoints along the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The spray from the falls can be seen from miles away! Popular activities in the area include:

  • White water rafting – Ride the rapids along the Zambezi River for an exhilarating experience.
  • Helicopter tours – Take to the skies for a bird’s-eye view of the falls and to feel the spray.
  • Bungee jumping – Leap off Victoria Falls Bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia for the thrill of a lifetime.

Discover Great Zimbabwe Ruins

The ancient city of Great Zimbabwe thrived between the 11th and 15th centuries as the heart of trade and ceremonies in the medieval era. The magnificent stone wall ruins provide evidence of the sophisticated early Shona civilization that inhabited the area. Take a guided tour for fascinating insight into the history, society and architecture.

Go on Incredible Safaris

Renowned as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Zimbabwe boasts superb national parks teeming with diverse wildlife. Top safari experiences include:

  • Hwange National Park – Zimbabwe’s largest park with huge herds of elephants and excellent game viewing.
  • Mana Pools National Park – Remote wilderness perfect for walking safaris and canoeing to observe elephants, lions, wild dogs and more up close.
  • Matobo National Park – Home to endangered black and white rhinos along with over 3,500 ancient Bushman rock paintings.
  • Gonarezhou National Park – Off the beaten track park with iconic baobab trees and diverse antelope species.

Take a Houseboat Safari on Lake Kariba

The stunning Lake Kariba offers pristine landscapes and relaxing houseboat cruises to observe hippos, crocodiles and elephants along the shores and islands. It’s a peaceful alternative to traditional safaris.

Visit Mystical Matobo National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Matobo National Park contains unique granite domes, wooded valleys, and impressive balancing rock formations. It houses ancient Bushman cave paintings and diverse wildlife like the endangered black and white rhino.

Experience the Power of the Zambezi River

The mighty Zambezi River powers the iconic Victoria Falls and offers spectacular white water rafting excursions including family friendly options. For a more relaxed experience, enjoy a sunset cruise on the river.

Best Time to Visit Zimbabwe

  • April to October – The peak dry season brings warm, sunny days ideal for wildlife viewing on safaris and adventure activities at Victoria Falls.
  • May to July – Cooler temperatures and Victoria Falls at full flood capacity make these months a great option to avoid crowds.
  • November to March – The wet season has hotter weather with dramatic afternoon thunderstorms. Abundant migratory birdlife and newborn animals.

Top Destinations and Attractions

Hwange National Park

Boasting over 100 mammal and 400 bird species, Hwange is Zimbabwe’s top national park. It harbors one of the largest elephant populations in Africa, estimated at over 40,000! The park offers exceptional opportunities for safaris and sightings of lions, buffaloes, leopards, wild dogs, giraffes, zebras and more.

Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo contains historical landmarks like the Natural History Museum, local markets and the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage where injured animals are rehabilitated. Nearby destinations like Matobo National Park and the Khami Ruins archaeological site can be visited on day trips.

Mana Pools National Park

Bordering the Zambezi River, the remote wilderness of Mana Pools National Park allows for adventures like canoeing safaris to observe hippos, crocodiles and plentiful birdlife. Walking safaris provide incredible views of wildlife including elephants, lions and African wild dogs in their natural habitat.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

The granite stone ruins at Great Zimbabwe provide evidence of an ancient prosperous city that was once the hub of trade for the Kingdom of Mutapa during the country’s Late Iron Age. The site spans over 720 hectares and the ruins have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Zimbabwe’s Welcoming and Vibrant Culture

Beyond the natural attractions, Zimbabwe’s friendly people and culture make a visit to the country incredibly rewarding. Here are some memorable cultural experiences for travelers:

  • Try dishes like sadza (ground maize porridge) and tsunga (meat and vegetable stew) and interact with local vendors at markets.
  • Learn about ancient Shona traditions and ways of life on tours of rural villages.
  • Shop for stone sculptures, wood carvings, basketry and textiles crafted by local artisans.
  • Attend vibrant music and dance performances showcasing Zimbabwe’s talented artists.
  • Visit community-based tourism projects supporting local livelihoods through conservation, farming and other initiatives.

Essential Information for Your Trip

  • US dollars are widely accepted in Zimbabwe. Carry small denominations for purchases and tipping.
  • Apply for visas in advance through eVisa or at the nearest Zimbabwean Embassy/Consulate.
  • Pack lightweight, neutral clothing. Bring rain protection, hats, insect repellent and warm layers for early morning game drives.
  • Drink bottled water only and take precautions against malaria when visiting rural areas and parks.
  • Follow guide instructions closely during activities for safety. Give animals ample space.
  • Take advantage of tour companies that support local communities and conservation efforts.

Start Planning Your Dream Trip!

With its magnificent landscapes, abundant wildlife and cultural treasures, Zimbabwe promises an unforgettable adventure. Use this guide to start planning your idyllic Zimbabwe getaway! Reach out to reputable tour operators like The Grown-up Travel Company for customized itineraries or to arrange complete package deals. Alternatively, connect with an Africa travel specialist for expert advice tailored to your interests and budget. The wonders of Zimbabwe await!

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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