The most popular attractions in Zimbabwe lie in the northwest near the border with Zambia. Most visitors will opt to go on safari in Hwange National Park and tour Victoria Falls before continuing on to another destination. While these two areas have certainly merited the popularity, other lesser known parks are also becoming increasingly popular with travelers looking for more of a "true wilderness" safari experience. Regardless of where you visit, the people and wildlife of Zimbabwe are sure to leave any visitors eager to return.
Victoria Falls - This attraction, and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, draws visitors from all over the globe and is a 'must-see' on your itinerary. The Falls are immense, particularly during high water from Jan through May. The town of Victoria Falls also is known as Africa’s adventure capital, with whitewater rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, game viewing, and Zambezi River cruises all offered from this location. Village visits and access to local markets are also available from this convenient base.
Hwange National Park – Only a few hours from Victoria Falls lies Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s most popular large game viewing destination. This park is home to some of the best wildlife viewing, particularly the largest concentrations of elephant in all Africa after Botswana’s Chobe National Park. The predators seen on a regular basis here also draw in many wildlife enthusiasts eager to spot the action.
Zambezi National Park – Upstream from Victoria Falls, this park along the upper Zambezi offers a game-rich experience particularly during dry season. Large numbers of elephant, buffalo, hippo, and giraffe are commonplace, and it is a preferred location for spotting lion, leopard and wild dog. If you are only staying in Victoria Falls, a day-long game drive gives a quick taste of the safari experience.
Harare - This budding city is a common hub for accessing northern Zimbabwe sites. This cosmopolitan city offers a multitude of shops, restaurants and a growing art scene.
Mana Pools – One of the more renowned yet lesser developed national parks in Africa is Mana Pools National Park. This World Heritage Site, located in northern Zimbabwe, offers fantastic game viewing opportunities and draws quit a few local Zimbabweans to visit as well. Flood plains turn into a large expansive pool during wet season which dries up forming 4 larger permanent pools along the Zambezi River banks during dry season, attracting large game species from all over. The Park has large concentrations of hippopotamus and crocodile, as well as elephant and buffalo during dry season.
Lake Kariba – Set in northern Zimbabwe along the border with Zambia, this is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir. The enormity of the water pool created is believed to have increased the seismicity in the region. The lake is rich with a variety of species, as well as hippos, crocodiles, and some occasional herds of elephant.
Matusadona National Park – Set on the southern banks of Lake Kariba, this region offers picturesque lake views combined with some large game viewing such as hippo, elephant, and antelope. Guided walk along with ‘boat safaris’ complete with fishing opportunities are a big draw to the region.
Bulawayo – The second largest city, this centrally located region is the access point for some attractions such as Matobo Hills and Great Zimbabwe ruins out of neighboring Masvingo. The colonial city itself offers a few interesting attractions such as the National Art Gallery and National Museum and some local markets as well. Most visitors opt to arrive and transfer outside of the city the same day.
Matobo Hills – Eroded granite hills formed years ago now creates dramatic 'rock architecture' and hills strewn with sculpted and balancing boulders surrounded with vegetation. Covering an area that is 3100km squared, a portion of the Hills have been set aside as Matobo National Park, the oldest park in Zimbabwe. This park holds a high concentration of botanic diversity, including some 200 species of trees, as well as a variety of species including the elusive white rhinoceros and a dense population of leopard. Hiking, horseback riding and fishing are all activities allowed in the park.
Gonarezhou National Park – Located in the southeast corner of Zimbabwe, this park is close to the borders with Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. These three huge parks make up a vast area and stomping grounds for the Big 5 that is sure to impress. Visitors can spot rhino, elephant, buffalo, some of the big cats, dogs, and witness amazing birdlife. Malilangwe Private Reserve nearby has recorded over 400 species of birds including 14 species of eagle.