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Zimbabwe, Africa Adventure Travel Guide

Place

Zimbabwe, Africa

Location

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa that borders Zambia to the northwest, Botswana to the southwest, South Africa to the south, and Mozambique to the east and north.

Major Cities

The largest cities in Zimbabwe are Harare (the capital), Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Mutare, and Gweru, all of which have populations greater than 100,000.

Climate and Geography

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. It’s 390,580 km2, about ten percent of which is lakes and reservoirs. Zimbabwe is roughly hexagonal in shape and composed mostly of a central plateau that runs from the southwest to the northeast and ranges from about 1200 – 1600 m high. Only about 35% of the country is lowlands, but it is in these lowlands where some of the finest wilderness is found. The country’s most prominent geographical feature is Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. The falls are located in the east on the Zambezi River, which also marks the Zambian border.

Zimbabwe, southern Africa is a cornucopia of exotic wildlife. With elephants, lions, cheetahs, monkeys, rhinoceros, buffaloes, crocodiles, water monitors, and more, the national parks here look pretty much like an episode of Wild Kingdom.

Although it is a tropical country, Zimbabwe’s climate is quite moderate because of the altitude. On the central plateau temperatures average around 12-13 °C in the winter (June to September) and 24 °C in the summer (October to April). At lower altitudes the temperature is generally about 6 °C warmer than in the highlands, and in the summer temperatures in the Zambezi and Limpopo valley’s the temperature can reach the high 30’s. The rainy season lasts from November to March. Although this period is normally very wet, Zimbabwe occasionally experiences droughts, the most recent of which was in 1992.

Description

Zimbabwe is most famous for two things. Unfortunately, they are not its bountiful ecology and the stunning Victoria Falls. They are political problems and poverty. Political and economic turmoil in the country has not surprisingly affected tourism. At the time of writing there were no official warnings about travel to Zimbabwe, however travelers are advised to stay up to date on the political situation in the country.

Tourism in Zimbabwe peaked in 1999 when it received 1.4 million visitors and then declined by 75% the following year following the implementation of a Land Reform programme. Although the government has been trying to boost the industry, its recovery has been slow. This is not necessarily bad for travelers in the country, though, because they are a commodity and as such are treated very well.

That being said, Zimbabwe is a first-class destination for adventure travel, especially for wildlife viewing in its many national parks, the most popular of which are Mana Pools National Park, Victoria Falls National Park, and Hwange National Park. Many activities are located around the epic Victoria Falls such as bungee jumping, abeiling/rapelling, whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, and riverboarding (shooting the rapids with something similar to a boogey board). There is little diving in Zimbabwe, but there is one gem: the Chinhoyi Caves, which located in the north of the country in recreational park of the same name. They are the most extensive cave system in the country open to the public and include a limestone cavern, a submarine passage, and several rooms. The visibility is said to be excellent.

Activities

  • Scuba diving (cave)
  • Snorkeling
  • Paragliding
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Kayaking (river and lake)
  • Canoeing (river and lake)
  • Riverboarding
  • Hiking/trekking (all levels)
  • Mountain climbing (all levels)
  • Abseiling/rappelling
  • Bungee jumping
  • Mountain biking (novice to expert)
  • Horseback riding
  • Elephant riding
  • Safaris

On a Budget?

  • Zimbabwe is not as cheap as it used to be, but it is still economical country for traveling. Beds in dorms can be found for $10 USD, and private double rooms for less than $20 USD.
    More information about hostels in Zimbabwe can be found here.
  • If you want to budget, Western food is not what you want to go for. Luckily, African food is delicious and healthy—and cheap. Local restaurants and groceries in Zimbabwe are quite cheap, and beer can be purchased in stores for less than $1 USD in the right places.

Have Insurance?

I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.

Photos

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Images (in order) courtesy of GusjerSusan Renee,travfotosKoffiemetkoekmm-jJosh Friedman Luxury Travelwhatleydudeyoungrobv (Rob&Ale)Mara 1cliff1066™m_dlg, and Aristocrats-hat on Flickr.

Suggested Reading

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