Zimbabwe has long been known for its most majestic African animals – elephants, giraffes, hippos and rhinos are just some of the wildlife delights here. They are also why a lot of travelers head to the country on safari which coincidentally helps Zimbabwe, which has had a turbulent time throughout its recent history, build up its floundering economy and reputation. Let’s see how your adventure could help!
Why does Zimbabwe need help?
Before we get into any amazing details of Zimbabwe safari options, it’s best to explain why the country needs some help at the moment.
Since around 2000, the economy of Zimbabwe has been failing – and dramatically so. In 2000 there was an unemployment rate of 95% and during the 1990s, 60% of Zimbabweans fell below the national poverty line. As in most cases of extreme poverty, those in rural areas were hit the hardest.
The economic turbulence in Zimbabwe means it does need a helping hand from tourism – the largest industry in the world. Tourism not only provides immediate money in terms of paying for accommodation and attractions, but in its secondary industries. Tourism creates more jobs in hire cars for safaris, more safari jobs for locals in rural areas, petrol stations to fuel cars, a car industry within Zimbabwe. Then there are restaurants and shops which pop up to cater for tourists’ desires while visiting the country.
Zimbabwe’s reputation has also suffered since the beginning of the 21st Century due to former President Mugabe’s human rights record. Mugabe, who first came to power in the 1980s, promised the newly independent nation freedom and democracy. This promise soon turned sour when elections in 2002-11 were declared “not free and fair” by the US State Department and a Human Rights Watch report in 2008 found 2,000 examples of torture during the election campaign of that year and 36 murders in state-sponsored violence.
Why visit Zimbabwe?
After what we’ve just told you, you might be wondering why you should still visit Zimbabwe. And the answer is much simpler than the country’s history: it’s a stunning country and for tourists, there is so much it has to offer.
Zimbabwe is ready for tourism, it has to be said. The new airport has 28 aircraft docking bays and a runway able to take the world’s largest planes. This potentially allows for 1.5 million passengers to enter the country in one year – around triple the amount the old airport allowed for.
In terms of what you can see in Zimbabwe, the opportunities are endless. There are the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, the Kariba lake (which is half the size of Belgium), the Hwange National Park (the size of Wales) and the captivating Victoria Falls.
Now that President Mugabe is no longer in charge of Zimbabwe, the country has new horizons – and its people believe in them. The country is ready and open for tourism, so if you want to help Zimbabwe, going on a safari – the primary tourism option – is the best way to do it.
Where can you go on safari in Zimbabwe?
There are a whole host of locations to head off on safari to in Zimbabwe, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top five, giving you the optimum wildlife viewing spots and a chance to see some gorgeous natural wonders.
The Victoria Falls are one of the most stunning sights to see on the whole African continent, never mind in Zimbabwe. They are gorgeous and dramatic water falls and are located right on the border with Zambia. Safari here entails seeing hippos, crocodiles, elephants, leopards, white rhino and many more animal species.
Hwange National Park
If a walking safari is your thing, the Hwange National Park is the one of you. The wildlife here is abundant and you will certainly see plenty of everything there, especially in terms of elephants. The park is home to 100 mammal species, including lions and leopards, which generally congregate around water holes in the dry season of August through to October.
Matobo Hills National Park
Stunning vistas are also a huge part of what makes a safari excellent, and at Matobo Hills there is no shortage of views. Thousands of granite boulders lay scattered around the park, almost framing it in a protective way. And in terms of wildlife, the park has the largest population of leopard and black and white rhino in all of Africa, which makes it a hit with wildlife lovers.
Chizarira National Park
Overlooking the Zambezi Valley is Chizaria National Park. Filled with winding ravines and dramatic gorges, the park is one of the most remote yet awesome in all of Zimbabwe. The terrain is rough, however, and difficult to move through so only enthusiastic walkers and travellers are suited here. There is a strong leopard population but the elephant, antelope and buffalo population are no longer what it once was.
Gonarezhou National Park
For the travellers who love birds and bird spotting, Gonarezhou is perfect. After the rains, the park is jam packed with birds of all kinds and colours and the surrounding environment is all forest – something that any true adventurer will cherish more than most.