Welcome to Zimbabwe

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park

Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 5 656 mi², and is located between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, bordering Botswana. It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 1900’s and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. 

Hwange is home to some of Africa’s largest elephant herds and renowned for its wild dog population. All the predators are here together with buffalo and other big game. Hwange is a Big Five destination with a varied topography and vegetation ranging from arid semi-desert in the west to lush teak forests in the east, Hwange is hugely diverse. Some of Africa’s largest elephant herds congregate here. Black and white rhino find reasonable sanctuary and it’s one of the best places to see wild dogs. 

The first warden, Ted Davison, walked most of the park's immense area and assessed the wildlife populations. He then implemented protective measures against poaching and began to develop it for tourism. Over 60 artificial pans were created in the dry heart of the park, enabling wildlife populations to make use of these areas which had previously been inaccessible during the dryer months due to lack of water. These man-made water holes pump calcium rich water from 200 feet below ground level. The seasonal pans and network of water holes attract a profusion of game and predators, especially by the end of the dry season.

Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park

A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, remoteness and wilderness. This unique park is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. The name "Mana'' means "four" in the local Shona language. This applies to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River. These pools are the remnant ox-bow lakes that the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago as it changed its course northwards. Hippopotamus, crocodiles and a wide variety of aquatic birds are associated with the pools. ''Long Pool'', is the largest of the four pools, extending some 4 miles in a west-east direction. This pool has a large population of hippo and crocodiles and is a favorite for the large herds of elephant that come out of the thickly vegetated areas in the south to drink.As one moves northwards towards the Zambezi River from the forests on the Karoo sediments, the vegetation changes to open faidherbia albida woodlands on the old river terraces. This vegetation gives a unique look to the area and a surreal light filters through the trees giving Mana Pools its distinctive cathedral-like atmosphere.Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces as they come out to eat the fallen Albida fruit. Lions, leopards, spotted hyena and cheetah are present in the area.

Northwards, off the river terraces, is the mighty Zambezi River flowing sedately on its way to the Indian Ocean. This now tranquil river was once a major route for the trade in ivory and slaves. Mana Pools is 848 mi² in extent and is part of the 4 055 mi² Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. This large area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area - even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.

Kanga Pan is set in the most remote part of the world Heritage site, about an hour from the Zambezi River. The Kanga Pan area has never been developed and gives you the pure and unspoiled African experience. The area is very diverse and has multiple of open vlei lines, river systems of the Ruckomechi River, and mixed woodland types from mopane woodland to jesse bushes and riverine forests. Kanga pan is the only known source of water in the area that provides a regular watering point for elephant, buffalo and an array of plains game and their associated predators (particularly lion and wild dog).

Lake Kariba & Matusadona National Park
Lake Kariba & Matusadona National Park
With over 1 240 miles of shoreline, Lake Kariba is the 4th largest man-made lake in the world and the 2nd largest in Africa. It was built to generate hydropower from the powerful Zambezi River. The dam wall with 6 flood gates was built between 1955 and 1959 and is 420 feet high and 2 024 feet wide. The lake is 175 miles long at full level and 20 miles across at its widest point, 381 feet deep and covers an area of 2 000 mi² of what once was the Gwembe trough.
 
The Matusadona National Park, comprising 541 mi² was established in 1975 and is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba.
 
Operation Noah, one of the great acts of mankind giving back to nature. When the 2 sluice gates that were used to dam the Zambezi River were closed, the water started rising. Within 24 hours the level had gone up by 20 feet and by September 1959 it had risen by 197 feet. Alarm bells started ringing when it was realized that the dam was creating numerous islands and even submerging some pieces of land thereby threatening the resident animal population that had largely been left behind in the Gwembe Trough even as the local tribes were being forcibly resettled.
 
A concerted drive was made by the National Parks and Government to rescue the animals from the fast submerging islands. By the end of the operation the Zimbabwean team (then Southern Rhodesia) had rescued nearly 5 000 animals while the Zambian team (then Northern Rhodesia) had rescued about 2 000.
 
Adapting to the initial flooding and annual fluctuation has caused several changes in the local animal population around the shores of the lake. The shoreline is a rich grazing area for many species, which has in turn attracted the predatory animals that hunt these species. The lake is renowned for its tigerfish but it is also home to over 40 fish species that include nkupe, chessa, bottlenose, vundu, barbell and several types of bream.
Before the lake was built, Matusadona was a vast, rugged wilderness with limited access. With the lake came ecological changes. One in particular, the lakeshore contributed greatly to the increase of large mammal populations in the area, especially elephant and buffalo. The grass found on the shoreline is panicum repens (torpedo grass) and is a rejuvenative grass - needing only fluctuating lake levels to replenish its nutrients. With this ready food source, buffalo, waterbuck, zebra, and even impala have thrived and with them the predators. Matusadona is also an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) and home to several relocated rhinoceros.
 
Matusadona has three distinct ecological areas. First is the lake and shoreline grassland; second, the Zambezi Valley floor, a mass of thick jesse and mopane woodland, and; third, the Escarpment area of Julbernadia and Brachystegia woodlands. 
 
The Jesse/ Mopane area is sparsely grassed, but provides habitat for browsers, most notably the black rhino. Elephants range throughout the Park, seeking the shade of the Jesse in the heat of the day. The Escarpment rises some 2 297 feet above the Valley floor and is extremely rugged.
 
The lake is teeming with massive Nile crocodiles, herds of swimming elephants, and the lake shores of Kariba include sightings of the big five. Animal species that are found in abundance include elephant and buffalo. Other common species are those of: night ape, honey badger, civet, small spotted genet, slender mongoose, banded mongoose, spotted hyena, wild cat, lion, leopard, yellow spotted dassie, black rhinoceros, zebra, warthog, common duiker, grysbok, klipspringer, waterbuck, bushbuck, scrub hare, porcupine, vervet monkey, chacma baboon, side-striped jackal, hippopotamus, roan antelope, kudu and bush squirrel. Some of the more elusive species include: clawless otter, white-tailed mongoose, reedbuck, sable antelope, eland, civet, rusty spotted genet, caracal and bush pig. Animals that are present but only sighted on rare occasions include wild dog, cheetah, roan and pangolin.
Victoria Falls & Zambezi National Park
Victoria Falls & Zambezi National Park
Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Parks are situated on the western tip of Zimbabwe. The 1.1 mile wide Falls, known by the locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya or “The Smoke that Thunders,” is one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" as well as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Victoria Falls is made of 5 different “falls” with Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and Horseshoe Falls on the Zimbabwe side, and the Eastern Cataract on the Zambian side.
 
Devil's Cataract
The falls here are about 230 feet deep. They derive their name from an adjacent island in the Zambezi River where it is reported that locals used to conduct sacrificial ceremonies. With the advent of the missionaries, this practice was frowned upon and considered "devilish", resulting in the name of the area.
 
Main Falls
The falls at this point are at their most majestic. With a wide curtain of water thundering down 305 feet into the gorge below and peak water flows of 185 million gallons per minute, this section throws out a magnificent spray that continually nourishes the evergreen rainforest around the area.
 
Horseshoe Falls
This section is horseshoe shaped and is 312 feet deep. This section usually dries up at the height of the dry season between October and November. 
 
Rainbow Falls 
A beautiful rainbow can clearly be seen from this viewpoint. The falls are 354 feet deep at this point and are the deepest of the whole series.
 
Eastern Cataract
These falls are situated completely on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls but have a stunning view from the Zimbabwean side. They are the second deepest falls of the series at 331 feet deep.
The Zambezi National Park together with Victoria Falls National Park cover an area of 138 379 acres. The northern border of the Park is formed by the great Zambezi River which also forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia for much of its length. The park is crossed by a road going from Victoria Falls to Botswana, which basically divides the park into two very distinct areas: the river section, which is dominated by the presence of the Zambezi River and the Chamabondo vlei section. 
Its northern part, called the “Zambezi section”, is bordered by the Zambezi River. On the other side of the river, there is Zambia. This area has a denser fauna frequentation, due to the presence of the river. The southern part of the ZNP (called ‘Chamabonda section’) is much dryer. The Chamabonda section only has one
road, from the South of the park to the North. The park is composed of 4 types of landscapes : a vast open swathe with high grasses (southern part), small bushes (both southern and northern parts), the Kalahari forest (more like woodlands, with big trees growing on sand, both in Northern and Southern sections) and the river side (northern section).
Despite its political past and its economic challenges, Zimbabwe has kept intact its most extraordinary tourist credentials: dramatic landscapes under a perfect climate, friendly and welcoming people, a wide range of historical and cultural attractions, a number of thrilling adventure activities, and some of the best wildlife encounter worldwide.
 
About the political situation
Fifteen years ago, Zimbabwe was considered the safari holiday destination par excellence for its unique array of assets; political unrest followed by economic collapse had, to a large extent, ruined this reputation – but not the attractions. African Bush Camps have continued operating in Zimbabwe throughout the hardships, supporting its people, maintaining its natural assets, and not least sharing with our guests the beautiful wonders of the wildlife. As stability to the country has returned, so too have the travelers and slowly but surely Zimbabwe is once again earning its reputation as the top Safari Destination of choice. 
Before engaging into political discussions though, be aware Zimbabweans are sensitive to issues related with colonialism and the image of their country abroad; opinions are sharp and contrasted over the current political situation and it is advised to avoid giving opinions on their leaders. The dollarization of the economy has sparkled a new sense of optimism and entrepreneurship among local business and has even attracted foreign investments. Life remains difficult for many Zimbabweans, but the new economic recovery and the return of tourists are both a positive factor.
 
Is it not amoral to travel in Zimbabwe?
Mostly raised before the formation of the all-inclusive government, this issue still worries some fellow travelers. At African Bush Camps, we believe tourism has and will always be a positive factor in the development of the country. The Zimbabwean people have been and are going through hard times and an uncertain future; many of them desperately need support and protection to make their living, keep open to the outside world, and continue to preserve the beautiful country and wildlife. We remain dedicated to provide those living along the national parks employment opportunities, to support community-based development and conservation initiatives, and enable Zimbabweans to develop cultural exchange around their passions, in a friendly atmosphere with people from around the world.
 
Wildlife & Safari 
Dramatic landscapes, teeming with wildlife, beautiful national parks, rugged mountains and lush forests, provide the greatest wilderness experiences, thus making Zimbabwe a prime safari destination. Zimbabwe is renowned in Africa for the high quality of its guides, and the standard of lodges. The decline in tourism in the past years in Zimbabwe provide even greatest opportunities for unparalleled wilderness experiences, far from the safari highways known in South Africa, Kenya or elsewhere. Zimbabwe’s national parks offer great opportunities for game viewing. There is a good chance you will see several the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino), as well as giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, monkeys, antelopes… Zimbabwe is one of the last rhinoceros havens with both white and black rhinos. Other rare species to be found in Zimbabwe include the wild dog, nyala, the king cheetah and the samango monkey.
Good infrastructure make it relatively easy to move between different parks and enjoy different environments. Hwange national park is just about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls, in the northwest corner of the country. On the edge of the Kalahari Desert, it features desert sand to sparse woodland as well as grasslands and granite outcrops, and hosts over 400 species of birds, more than 100 different mammal species including up to 30,000 elephants. Further South to Bulawayo, Matobo Hills National Park is also easy to access; another World Unesco heritage site, it features not only valuable game viewing, but also amazing landscapes of granite constructions, and interesting history. More difficult to reach but highly rewarding is Mana Pools by the Zambezi river, in the North of the country. It has some of the most spectacular river scenery and game-viewing, with superb opportunities to get close to game coming to the Zambezi to drink. Another great water-based safari experience is at Matusadona Park, on the Southern shore of Lake Kariba, between Victoria Falls and Mana Pools.
 
Zimbabwe at a Glance
Location:  Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers. It borders South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east.
Country Size:  150 803 mi² 
Capital:  Harare
Provinces:  8 provinces - Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands
Independence Day: 18 April 1964
Head of State: Robert Mugabe
Population: 13.7 million
National Language:  -
Official Language: 16 official languages with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used
Currency: USD$
Ethnic groups:  African 99.4% (predominantly Shona; Ndebele is the second largest ethnic group), other 0.4%, unspecified 0.2%
Economy: Zimbabwe's economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year from 2010-13, before slowing to roughly 3% in 2014 due to poor harvests, low diamond revenues, and decreased investment. Infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, a poor investment climate, a large public and external debt burden, and extremely high government wage expenses impede the country’s economic performance.
Electricity: 220 Volts AC 50 Hz
 
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