Natural and Historic Places to Visit in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The first thing that probably comes to your mind, hearing about places to visit in Zimbabweinfo-icon, is its distinctive president Robert Mugabe. Having appeared as a savior of his nation and conqueror of the British supremacy, this Marxist leader has caused a growing political and economic crisis.

Locals are aware of the overall political atmosphere and they recommend not to visit Zimbabwe – out of many, a local CouchSurfing contact, for example, told me to reconsider and stay away due to corrupt police. I took it all into account and still entered.

I prepared a list of places to visit in Zimbabwe to find out more about the history and selected natural sights, of course, because the nature of Africainfo-icon will never seize to take my breath away.

#1 Victoria Falls - crossing a mighty natural border

The Victoria Falls form a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambiainfo-icon. Due to a slight tilt, this side carries way more water all year round. Making this side of the falls more impressive but also more crowded.

Completely mind blowing was crossing the bridge over the no-mans-land, or no-mans-water, if you want to. I took my time to enjoy feeling tiny in the perspective of the canyon, to take pictures and just relax my mind midway. Locals usually sell overpriced souvenirs or have dubious currency exchange business around. I had plenty of time, so I wanted to engage in a conversation with one of them.

He had nothing to do but still told me not to waste his time by talking about the amazing scenery. Well, I just wanted to chat about his life, but he had his priorities…If you want to have the best experience, then you should check out the most interesting activities to do in Victoria Falls.

#2 Matopos Hills - ancient history on magic rocks

No wonder that this place used to be seen as holy! This national park is full of rock formations of the weirdest shapes and some of the balance on the top of each other in an incredible way as if gods were playing Jenga there. I experienced something amazing while looking for the ancient paintings that were still well preserved on the rocks.

Some of them are easily accessible by car and even encompass small museums. Others are hidden in remote places and you have to hike, at times for hours, to find them. Needless to say that saving offline maps works a miracle, especially in the case of longer strolls.

A nice touch was all the wild animals minding their own business and goofing around this sacred place. I can only recommend you to go out there and find some of the paintings by yourself, the feeling cannot be compared to seeing them in any exhibition halls.

Matopos Hills is one of the most interesting places to visit in Zimbabwe.

#3 Khami Ruins - a glimpse of Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is an umbrella title for ancient ruins of large cities built most likely by the people of Bantu tribes. This theory can be supported by the etymology of the word “Zimbabwe”, which means “stone house”, “ruin” or “yard” in local dialects.

These assumptions appear to raise lots of controversy among archaeologists, as some of them deny the possibility that it was built by indigenous Africans. There are many “Zimbabwe's” in the southern half of the continent.

I decided to visit the second largest, yet well preserved, Khami Ruins instead of the most famous Great Zimbabwe. The ruins vary in their size and the state of conservation. Some of them still represent beautifully decorated walls, others are just piles of stones.

The city must have been amazing because all of the walls were just embellishing, they did not serve as a fortification. The atmosphere of such a place shines from everywhere and it was fun to play archeologist!

#4 Bulawayo Downtown - a mixture of episodes

I did not have enough time to make it to the capital, but Bulawayo Downtown made up for it. As the second most important city, it reflects the nature of the recent history and political mood as well as Harare, the capital.

If I were to describe it in one word, it would probably be “mixture”, but not “fusion” though. The first impression is a communist and picturesque portrayal of a wannabe city, with a Wild-West-like main avenue. So, now you have an idea and let’s get down to the details.

In the end, it is just a city that has witnessed a few changes. Some of the oldest buildings really do resemble the Wild West by their facades; other buildings are just concrete blocks, abruptly interrupting the rows of decorative houses. The central avenue was full of cherry trees in blossom and ornamental lanterns, while the central square holds an enormous metal statue.

#5 Bulawayo Museum - capturing a touch of nature

This museum is one of the biggest and best-accomplished museums in Africa with an outstanding collection of stuffed animals in really good shape. It also contains a part dedicated to the national history and culture which is as well carefully conceptualized and prepared.

What I will never forget, was not even part of the exhibition. It was an employee, who had been looking after a bunch of venomous snakes in his own house during the annual cleaning of their terrarium.

He just brought them back in boxes and was handling them with such grace and respect, carefully, but without fear. We have a lot to learn about patience and humility from people, who still live in touch with nature.

Zimbabwe was once a proud African nation that fought its way into independence from Englandinfo-icon. Despite the political and economic decay influencing the general atmosphere, there are many great places to visit in Zimbabwe. This country has truly enchanted me and I can only hope that the current president’s successor will learn how to work with its potential.