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Zimbabwe

One major reason to visit Zimbabwe (and there are many) is to see the Victoria Falls, a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” whispered explorer Dr David Livingstone on first seeing them.

Landlocked Zimbabwe is bordered by four countries: South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambique to the east. The magnificent Victoria Falls define the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and on the Zimbabwean side they form part of the wildlife-rich Victoria Falls National Park.

During the wet season, more than 500-million litres of the Zambezi River plunge over the edge of steep cliffs to a depth of 108m. This massive amount of water generates a huge cloud of spray billowing high into the sky, which is visible for kilometres around – hence the local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the Smoke that Thunders”).

Walk along the paved paths through the rain forest where monkeys play and birds sing to view the falls face-on. On foot you’ll experience the full force of the spray, noise and spectacular rainbows (arm yourself with a raincoat, waterproof poncho or umbrella.) You can also take a short flight in a small plane over the falls, or if you’re more adventurous, opt for a microlight flight.

Don’t miss out on a sunset cruise, where, after being entertained by local dancers, you’ll chug along the banks of the Zambezi River above the falls and watch hippos, elephants, buffalo and other game come down to drink as a glorious African sunset paints the sky pink, orange, gold and red.

The Vic Falls (as they’re affectionately known) are one of the adventure capitals of the world. Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge is a highlight, and rafting down the rapids of the Zambezi River, one of the world’s best white-water rafting spots, is an unforgettable adventure. You can also kayak, canoe, abseil, riverboard, swing through the gorge, ride horses, take an elephant-back safari, walk with lions or go on guided game drives. And if you decide on a game of golf, remember that animals have right of way.

Zimbabwe is renowned for its unique history. The Great Zimbabwe National Monument, a World Heritage Site, is all that remains of what was once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Zimbabwe. Constructed from the 11th to the 15th century, the ruins are majestic, awe-inspiring and timeless.

The Great Zimbabwe National Monument.

The Great Zimbabwe National Monument.

Spanning an area of more than 700ha, up to 18 000 people are believed to have lived here. Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe meaning “stone houses”) was a main regional trading centre, its wealth associated with Arab gold trading. Its Great Enclosure is the largest single ancient structure south of the Sahara. Fragments of Persian and Chinese pottery have been found at the site. Guided tours are available, and there is ample accommodation near the monument, offering an array of activities such as swimming, volleyball and game drives.

The Khami Ruins near Bulawayo, another World Heritage Site, are where, after Great Zimbabwe was mysteriously abandoned, another great trading empire grew. Artefacts such as Ming porcelain items and Spanish silverware have been found here, hinting at wide-ranging trading contacts. The ruins consist of a series of terraces and passages supported by massive granite walls, some overlooking Khami Dam and Khami Gorge. Relics found at the site, some over 100 000 years old, are displayed at a small museum.

Travellers to Zimbabwe will also be enthralled by its friendly people and rich culture. In fact, the Mbende Jerusarema dance – a popular dance style of the Zezuru Shona people in eastern Zimbabwe – has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Zimbabwe is also synonymous with great game viewing. Situated between Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, the country’s top game reserve, covers approximately 14 600km2 and is home to vast herds of elephant, buffalo and zebra. It’s also a haven for many endangered species, and the only area where gemsbok, brown hyena and wild dog occur in reasonable numbers.

Take a guided game walk or game drive, use your own vehicle or enjoy a horseback safari. Accommodation to suit all pockets is available, from self-catering park chalets and campsites to upmarket private lodges.

Your clients may also want to visit the impressive Lake Kariba, along the Zambezi River – the largest man-made lake in the world, that is home to about 40 species of fish, crocodiles and hippos – as well as the mountains of the beautiful Eastern Highlands.