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Zimbabwe on the Rebound
Zimbabwe is a safari traveler’s dream come true. being a small country means that the sights are not too far apart and you can make a leisurely journey across the country to visit all the main sights. This is a country that is blessed with a mild climate and very distinct hot and cold seasons. Zimi’s most popular attractions are undoubtedly the Great Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River. The Zambezi begins its journey in the northwest corner of Zambia as a small spring and snakes slowly through Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, eventually discharging its load into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.
Made famous by the Intrepid Traveler and Missionary, David Livingstone, the Falls are the largest single curtain of water falling on the planet when in full flood. Zimbabwe has other attractions such as the Mana Pools on the countries northern border with Zambia. Named after the four pools located on the floodplains, Mana is a world heritage sight and is one of the few places on earth where you can go unaccompanied on a wild game walk. This dates back to the ancient times when Mana was the playground of the local farming communities when they were on vacation. It was agreed that these ranchers would live their whole lives in the deserts of Africa and would have the sensitivity to know what to do in Big Game Country. Mana is home to acrobatic bull Elephants who can be seen standing on their hind legs as if in a circus act. They will actually try to get to the nutritious Albida fruit that feeds most of the herbivores in the valley during the winter.
Lake Kariba is another great stop. Built in 1959 as a source of hydroelectric power, the lake soon became one of the best water playgrounds in the region. After the creation of the Dam, the valley faced a dilemma as many animals were drowning on the islands from the rapidly rising water. A man named Rupert Fothergill is interested in what would become the largest animal rescue operation ever on the planet. Operation Noah was a huge success with the help of ladies from all over the world who donated their nylon stockings to be used as ropes to secure the animals during transport. The southern shore of the lake is home to the Matusadona National Park. This aquatic wonderland has breathtaking sunsets and is home to the elusive Black Rhino, as well as having the highest concentration of lions on the continent. Walking safaris are a big draw, as are game drives in vehicles and small boats.
Leaving the Valley behind, one travels up the escarpments and within 3 hours reaches the Capital Harare. A vibrant metropolis with fine architecture and amazing art sculptures. The city comes alive at night to the beat of many local musicians. There are many places to enjoy good local and international cuisine and the people are very friendly and welcoming.
Zimbabwe’s Great Ruins Give this place its name. This place was once the center of civilization for the Shona Kingdom and from here the Shona kings traded with Arab traders from the east coast. These ruins are the largest ancient civilization south of the equator and the second largest on the continent after the pyramids of Egypt. A walk up to the hill complex leaves you in awe of the workmanship and some say they can feel the “magic” of the kings.
To the south of Matabeleland lies Matopos National Park
BULAWAYO (City of Kings)
Home of the warrior nation of the Ndebele, who have fled from the Zulus. Bulawayo has retained its colonial splendor and has wide roads designed to allow 16 oxcarts to make u-turns.
Matobo National Park is nearby and has white rhino trekking as its main attraction. Matopos has rolling hills of balanced granite rocks that create the feeling of being in a giant art gallery as we really are. Matopos also has the highest concentration of Leopards and Black Eagles in the world.
Cecil John Rhodes fell so in love with Matopos that he chose his burial place in what is known as the “View of the World”.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest park and is home to the Big Five. Hwange is unique in that there are no rivers running through the heart of the park, so the animals must rely on natural water holes which are supplemented by man-made pumps during the dry season. Ted Davidson was the first park ranger and he came up with the ingenious plan to pump water during the dry season. The result was that the animals stopped making the annual migration to the rivers in the north and this increased the game numbers to what we see today.
Zimbabwe is not just about a big game. The eastern highlands are home to hills reminiscent of parts of England. Pine forests were introduced here long ago and are now a thriving business. Mount Nyangani is the highest point in the country and is a good challenge for more adventurous hikers. There are many ancient structures that are still at the center of great debate as to who built them and the function of the “pit structures”.
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