In the last few years Zimbabwe has suffered the lack of tourism dollar due to its political situation, however the country itself offers some of the most diverse landscapes and experiences, including of course the magical Victoria Falls. For the tourist travelling on a pre-organised itinerary, Zimbabwe is easy and convenient to visit especially the Victoria Falls which should be considered for the beginning or ending of any itinerary to Chobe or the Okavango Delta.
Bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe Victoria Falls is known as the ‘smoke that thunders’ and a spectacular sight not to be missed! Wonder the rainforest pathways to many viewpoints including the Devils Cataract, Cataract Island, Rainbow Falls, Eastern Cataract, Danger Point and Boiling Pot.
Hwange National Park
Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve boasting one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. Situated on the easternmost edge of the Kalahari Desert, its sandy soils harbour extensive stands of broad-leafed woodland.
Lake Kariba A host of mammals and birds live in this diverse habitat including leopard, lion, hyena and cheetah are found here amongst a myriad of other wildlife. This area is also a walker’s paradise!
A medieval city composed of three parts including the Great Enclosure, believed to have been a royal residence.
Eastern Highlands Located near the Mozambican border the Eastern Highlands is a mountainous area of natural beauty with rolling hills, green forests, rugged peaks, deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, rivers and lake making it very different area of Zimbabwe which most visitors identify with.
In terms of travelling on safari to Zimbabwe, the dry season is best for game viewing – around July through October. From November the wet season begins and so does the heat however the climate is reasonably moderate and never extreme on either side. The falls are at the fullest generally in March and April and lowest in November and December.
Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – “the Smoke that Thunders” and in more modern terms as “the greatest known curtain of falling water”, the Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Truly experiencing Victoria Falls means getting totally drenched by the volumes of mist it throws up as vast volumes of water thunder down into the canyon. Awesome! The mighty Zambezi River at Victoria Falls is home to wallowing hippos, and is surrounded in part by a National Park which hosts all manner of wildlife. I have experienced a range of hotels at Victoria Falls, and have narrowed my favourites down to four… the wonderfully colonial Out of Africa feel of The River Club, with its croquet lawn and Pimms in the afternoon; the vast Royal Livingstone Hotel for a bit of pampering, and zebra roaming the grounds; the stunning new Wilderness Safaris Toka Leya Camp – very stylish and comfortable; and lastly, the faded glory of the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwe side, where the atmosphere and history more than makes up for the slightly threadbare carpet. I highly recommend adding Victoria Falls to the end of any safari. A sunset cruise along the Zambezi is a fitting farewell to the wonders of Africa. Caroline
Currency The US dollar is the highly recommended currency to use in Zimbabwe. You are strongly recommended to take US dollars cash with you for your visit, as credit cards and travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted.
Language The official language of Zimbabwe is English, though the main national languages are Ndebele and Shona.
Why we love it Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries, with a diversity of landscape, scenery and rich culture. Political issues aside, though of course they have affected the country over the last decade, things seem to be improving and Zimbabwe tourism appears to be on the rise. Tour operators are adding more departures and scheduling more trips and safari lodges are opening up slowly but surely. The next year or two may be the very best time to visit – the country will still be gearing up for their re-entry into tourism (although Victoria Falls never lost its popularity) – you will be so well-treated. Victoria Falls is the most famous of sights in Zimbabwe and in fact, one of the most well known sights in all of Africa and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The story of David Livingstone arriving to “discover” these magnificent falls and name them after his Queen is one for the history books, and being there you feel part of this history. The falls differ from season to season; when water levels are lower in November/December you can appreciate the actual size of the gorges as opposed to March/April when the falls are high water which is just magnificent – however sometimes you can see the view for the spray! Any time of year we would highly recommend the “Flight of the Angels” helicopter for the amazing aerial views over the falls.
Other must-see areas of the country are Hwange National Park with its abundance of wildlife, the scenery of the Eastern Highlands, ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe and more.
Weather In terms of travelling on safari to Zimbabwe, the dry season is best for game viewing – around July through October. From November the wet season begins and so does the heat however the climate is reasonably moderate and never extreme on either side. The falls are at the fullest generally in March and April and lowest in November and December.
Social customs & quirks Zimbabwe, being originally a republic has retained much of its colonial “English” history and although the vast majority of population are the native Ndebele and Shona groups, the European cultures and values have mostly shaped the urban and rural areas. In terms of economy the two different cultures of African and European couldn’t be further apart. About 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and Harare and Bulawayo account for most of the approximately 30 percent in urban areas. The largest ethnic group is collectively known as the Shona which makes up almost 80% percent of the population. The second largest ethnic group is the Ndebele which constitute about 18 percent. Only about 2% of the total population is European.
Health* Please contact your General Practitioner for advice regarding the recommended vaccination programme for travellers to this region. The only compulsory health requirement is a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate if coming from, or travelling through, an infected area.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
I couldn't rate these guys high enough! We had our honeymoon in South Africa and it blew our minds!! Ange listened to what we wanted, used her vast years of South African travel experience to show us the best time and chose hotels that were magnificent and in locations with views to die for!
Jen & Mike
My birthday at Exeter was very special!
We had the most amazing trip it was perfect. Cape Town was fantastic - I loved the hotel and the full day tour we did was excellent. It was the first time I had eaten at the Two Oceans restaurant and that was very good. It was the first time I have done the cruise to the seal island out of Hout Bay and that was interesting. Thank you for the chocolates and the lovely card. Le Quartier was just so good - gosh I love that place it is clearly my favourite and the restaurant there is something out of this world. Lunch was another highlight. Exeter was brilliant and we had amazing game viewing. They have just opened the new dining/lounge area and the rooms have been newly painted. Three nights there was just right. Victoria Falls again brilliant and the sightseeing tour of the falls and sunset cruise very good. Sauvte Under Canvas - loved it although I believe 2 nights is perfect. Some Americans were staying there 5 nights and I thought they would be struggling with the lack of running water, power for that length of time. Game viewing was not fantastic but we had got all of that out of our system with our stay at Exeter so we were just happy to see what we could see. Sandibe - I was blown away. What an amazing new camp. Fantastic, everything was perfect and the building has to be seen to be believed. The service, food was outstanding. I know it has been newly rebuilt and hope they keep up the good work. I would put it on the same level as Mombo although it doesn't have the same amount of game but I am told that & Beyond have relocated rhino into the area with the view of more to arrive. The itinerary was perfect. Thank you it was more than what I could have wished for and my birthday at Exeter was very special.
I have been back now from Africa for a month and have been meaning to email to thank you re the amazing time we had in Victoria Falls and Muchenje Lodge in Botswana. Illala Lodge in Vic Falls was amazing - staff were awesome and so was the family of warthogs that were on the front lawn in the first hour we were there!! The Lookout Cafe was amazing and glad we booked a table as we had the best views on the deck
Muchenje Lodge â€“ I cannot say enough about this place â€“ the staff were amazing, the accommodation and views were awesome and game drives awesome. All of the group loved the trip (and glad I stuck to my guns and paid a bit more to be at Muchenje).
Best holiday ever!
Just wanted to say best holiday ever, couldn't have wished for more. The safari lodges were amazing and rangers, staff, accommodation and "fine dining" all fantastic. Saw so many animals and absolutely blown away as how close you can get to them - big five all spotted plus zebras, hyenas, kuru, cheetah - all unbelievable. First ranger said our truck had probably seen more than most people. The houseboat was way beyond expectations for comfort and food, plus seeing more wild life and birds, absolutely delightful.
Can't thank World Journeys enough for organising such a well run trip. All pick ups, transfers have been run like clockwork with all staff everywhere so helpful and friendly.
Deirdre and Terry
The best five weeks of our journey
Paul & Carolyn
Sensational 'Best of Southern Africa' journey
Pam and I got home from our sensational 'Best of Southern Africa' journey on Saturday morning. We can only applaud World Journeys on the itinerary and presentation of the Tour, and we feel rather 'hollow' on returning home, both commenting on how we wish we were still in Africa! Having been fortunate to have toured many countries in recent years, we rate our southern African experience up there with the very best!
I see that World Journeys has changed the 'Best of Southern Africa' Tour next year, and may I say the itinerary looks very good! Although it appears an expensive tour to begin with, in hindsight it includes almost everything and costs very little in the way of other essential spending once commenced - unlike many other tours where endless expenses keep mounting as the tour progresses.