Zimbabwe – What To See

The Great Enclosure - Great Zimbabwe, near Masvingo, Zimbabwe

The Great Enclosure – Great Zimbabwe, near Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Unfortunately for most people, the only part of Zimbabwe they see is the area around Victoria Falls. This is nothing like the rest of Zimbabwe and anyone only visiting here will not get a real feel for the country.  The main reason for stopping in Victoria Falls is the experience the falls for which the town is named. It costs US$30 to enter, and the time of year you visit will determine the quality of your experience. Best viewed in early morning or late afternoon, the falls are a usually damp encounter, but the water levels at the falls vary dramatically throughout the year – during the peak months of April to June, the falls can barely seen due to the immense amount of mist. Conversely, from October to December there is hardly any water and one does not feel or see the falls at anywhere near its best. February, March, July and August are considered to be the best times.

During the full moon and one night either side Victoria Falls is open for viewing of the lunar rainbow for an additional fee. In my opinion, the falls are better when viewed from the Zambian side as the moon rises from behind the viewer, thus increasing the rainbow effect. Read Zambia – what to see for more information.

If you wish to stay for a prolonged period in the vicinity of Victoria Falls, I would recommend the town of Livingstone in Zambia. Not only is it cheaper but it feels more like a rural Zambian town instead of a town geared largely around the tourism industry. For short stays, either side of the Falls provide a similar experience.

The other standout attraction in Zimbabwe is Great Zimbabwe. It was this monument from which the nation of Zimbabwe derived its name after the change from Rhodesia upon independence. Entrance fees are US$15 for most foreigners and you can pay a few dollars extra for a guide. However, my guide was very average, so choose you guide well – look at the recommendations on Trip Advisor.  Zimbabwe means “House of Stone” and this name is apt for this remarkable collection of 14th century buildings on the Hill Complex and The Great Enclosure all constructed without any mortar.

It can get hot during the day so time your visit for late afternoon and bring plenty of water. There is accommodation on site but this is only practical if you have your own vehicle and food to cook in this self-catering option.

Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, though one could hardly tell due to the rather dilapidated state and lack of energy from a centre of this size. For rail enthusiasts, a visit to the Bulawayo Railway Museum is essential as one can even see the private railcar of Cecil Rhodes. Two other sites worth noting are the Natural History Museum and the nearby Matabo National Park – though I didn’t visit either, it received strong reviews from those I spoke to.

I did visit Harare, but restricted my visit to the bustling capital city mostly attending cricket games at the Harare Sports Club – one of the most beautiful cricket grounds I’ve ever seen.