Zimbabwe is one of the best safari destinations in southern Africa.
With the Grand Victoria Falls, the jewel of Zimbabwe, there is more still thrills that make Zimbabwe a very satisfying destination. Lake Kariba, the Eastern Highlands or the mysterious ruins of Great Zimbabwe are all amazing features of this popular country.
October-April is summer in Zimbabwe, when days are hot and generally sunny. Daytime temperatures can rise to 30ºC and night temperatures drop to around 14ºC – 16ºC. May-September is winter, when days are dry, sunny and cool to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 20ºC and can drop to as low as 5ºC at night.
English is the official language of Zimbabwe although it is only the first language of about 2% of the population. Other indigenous languages spoken include Shona and Ndebele.
Hwange National Park
The largest (5,656 square miles), and most famous of Zimbabwe’s national parks, Hwange is home to over 100 different animal species and over 400 bird species. The park is known for its huge herds of elephants, but other common sightings include lion, wild dog, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and sable antelope. Although you can find game all year, the best game viewing is in the dry season from June to October. Safari vehicles are allowed only for licensed tour operators who also conduct armed game walks. Its proximity to Victoria Falls makes it a popular choice for visitors to the Falls.
Chizarira National Park
One of Zimbabwe’s more remote wildlife areas, Chizarira covers 740 square miles. Located on the Zambezi Valley escarpment, the park does not have huge herds of animals. Access is usually by charter aircraft.
Gonarezhou National Park
Zimbabwe’s second largest park (1,950 square miles), lies in the southeast of the country bordering Mozambique. This is the most recent of Zimbabwe’s National Parks and is the most remote and least visited. Although hot and dry for most of the year, it is a great place for bird watchers and for viewing animals rare to other parts of the country.
Matusadona National Park
This relatively small (543 square miles) park was founded along the southern shore of Lake Kariba after the dam was built in 1958. Game viewing by boat is the main activity as the permanent water attracts herds of elephant, buffalo and antelope to the lake edge. Lion, cheetah, leopard, black rhino and various antelope species may also be seen. This is also an excellent area for game walks and foot safaris. The lake supports large populations of birds.
Mana Pools National Park
Below the Kariba Dam, the Zambezi ambles through an ancient floodplain on its way to the Indian Ocean. Here the river has left behind the remains of old channels that now form small seasonal pools. During the dry months of September and October the pools attract large numbers of big game. It is one of the few places left in Africa to see black rhino. This is an excellent park for more adventurous travel, as both canoe safaris and walking safaris are offered. The park itself comprises 845 square miles of open grasslands dotted with giant acacia trees.