Balancing Rocks © Susan E Adams
For a small, landlocked country in southern Africa, Zimbabwe offers an astounding variety of natural beauty and spectacular scenery. The country holds great appeal for active adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts and anybody with an appreciative eye for beauty. Famous sights include the majesty of the iconic Victoria Falls, the giant marble-like boulders of the Motopo Hills, the verdant mountains of the Eastern Highlands, the national parks teeming with wildlife, and the Great Zimbabwe ancient ruins. Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare, is also impressive in many ways.
The Victoria Falls are Zimbabwe's most popular tourist destination and one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Their mile-wide (2km) curtain of water plunges deep into the Zambezi Gorge creating a cloud of mist that can be seen up to 20 miles (32km) away. This area is renowned for being the 'adventure capital of Africa', offering a variety of high adrenaline activities, including one of the wildest days of whitewater rafting on earth, and a 364-foot (111m) bungee jump into the Zambezi River gorge from the bridge linking Zimbabwe to Zambia. If you'd rather lie back and relax, there are scenic flights over the area, game viewing adventures and tranquil sundowner cruises above the falls.
Wildlife flourishes in the untamed wilderness of the Zambezi Valley, in national parks, and on the shores of Lake Kariba, where hippo, crocodiles, buffalo, rhino, elephant and lion roam freely. Remote and protected wildlife reserves line the banks of the Zambezi River and the region offers some of the finest canoe safaris in Southern Africa, particularly the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Mana Pools, which is renowned for its outstanding variety of game. The saltpans and grassy plains of Hwange National Park support one of the largest concentrations of animals in the world, and is the largest game reserve in the country. Lake Kariba is treasured as a source of hydro-electricity, as well as for its fishing resources. It is a beautiful stretch of water studded with islands and the sun-bleached branches of dead trees, surrounded by mountains and forests. Houseboats offer a wonderful opportunity to relax and take in the spectacular sunsets, enjoy a variety of watersports, and spot the vast quantities of game attracted to the lake, including huge Nile crocodiles and hippos.
The ongoing social and political unrest in Zimbabwe, together with an exceptionally weak economy, has deterred many potential travellers from visiting Zimbabwe and experiencing some of the most breathtaking scenery and first-class game viewing safaris in Africa. Although visitors to the country are urged to exercise caution at all times and to remain aware of recent political developments, the main tourist areas, and national parks in particular, have been largely unaffected by the political situation, being far from the main cities where much of the instability exists. Ivory poaching, particularly of Black Rhino horn, has become a significant challenge for conservationists. In a desperate attempt to attract business, many game lodges are offering extremely competitive prices to travellers.