Zimbabwe is famous for its wondrous wildlife and welcoming people. This landlocked country is located in the south of Africa, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique. It is the perfect holiday destination for those who love the outdoors, and there are lots of things to do in Zimbabwe.
The country is full of national parks, diverse wildlife, and ancient sites. With a rich history stretching back centuries and a vibrant capital city in Harare, here are 7 of the best outdoorsy things to do in Zimbabwe:
1The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls
The Zambezi River forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. You can explore the wildlife along the river at the Mana Pools National Park which is home to hippos, elephants and crocodiles. You can also visit the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Also shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe, these falls are over 100 meters high and 1.7 kilometres wide. Every minute, thousands of litres of water fall into the gigantic chasm, creating the world’s largest sheet of falling water. There are lots of activities to do here, such as bungee jumping or swimming. Or, you can simply marvel at the splendour that made explorer David Livingstone say that “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”.
2Great Zimbabwe Ruins
The ruins of an ancient African civilization, Great Zimbabwe is truly a spectacle to behold. Built over 900 years ago, in the 11th century, these massive stone structures are located near the city of Masvingo. They are made entirely of hewn stone that is not held together with mortar. Seemingly held together by nothing but gravity, it is a testament to the skill of the workmen. The country itself gets its name from the Great Zimbabwe (which means ‘huts of stone’).
3Hwange National Park
While Zimbabwe is full of fascinating national parks, Hwange National Park is its largest. Covering over 14,600 square kilometres in the northwest of the country, it has over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 species of birds. Among these are the African big five – elephants (one of the largest populations in the world), lions, leopards, rhinos (both black and white), and buffalos. The park is also located near the famous Victoria Falls.
4The Ruined City of Khami
Located neat Bulawayo, the Khami ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Monument. It was mostly built after the abandonment of the capital of Great Zimbabwe in the mid-16th century. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Butua of the Torwa dynasty, the city is built over many terraced levels with narrow alleyways and intricate stonework. Khami was destroyed by Rozvi rebels led by Changamire Dombo.
The Chinhoyi Caves are made of dolomite and limestone and filled with beautiful pools. They are located near the town of Chinhoyi near Harare. The main cave contains a large pool of cobalt blue water which is over 90 meters deep. It is called the Sleeping Pool or Chirorodziva (“Pool of the Fallen”). This name is said to come from the 1830s, where members of the Angonni tribe attacked locals and threw them into the cave.
This complex of ruins dates back to the 17th century and appear to resemble those at Khami and was likely occupied just after that city was abandoned. Along with the nearby ruins at Naletale, Danamombe was a centre of the Rozvi Empire. The buildings here are a combination of stone walls and wood-reinforced mud huts that can still be found in many Zimbabwean villages today. The site was destroyed in the 1830s with the arrival of the Matabele. Don’t miss the patterned stone decorations of the city wall.
7Matobo Hills and Chimanimani Mountains
The Matobo Hills are located in the Matobo National Park near Bulawayo and are famous for their ancient rock formations and cave paintings. Dating back over 2,000 years, they depict the life of a cave-dwelling civilization that left few other records. The park around it also houses the remains of the explorer Cecil Rhodes. The Chimanimani Mountains, on the other hand, are known for their huge volcanic rock formations and quartzite peaks. They are mentioned in Zimbabwean folklore and were used to transport guerilla fighters during the Zimbabwe liberation struggle.
Of course, there are lots of other things to do in Zimbabwe, and if you think we’ve missed any, be sure to share them in the comments below.