Zimbabwe also offers glorious mountain ranges in the Eastern Highlands, African mystique at Great Zimbabwe and a melting pot of culture in Harare, capital of this colorful nation.
The Zambezi is Nirvana for adventure seekers. Adrenaline addicts from all over the world flock here for white-knuckle, grade five river rafting and the heart-stopping bungi jump from the Victoria Falls bridge. There are sensible alternatives for the more faint of heart, including hiking and canoe trails, and the famous “flight of the Angels” to view the true splendour of the Falls from the air.
The Lake was finally built in 1955 after a failed attempt in 1954 where the Koffer dam burst, creating the largest man-made lake in Africa and a vital source of hydro-electric power.
The Zambezi valley then, as it does now, teemed with wildlife, and a major animal rescue project was launched to save these creatures from the rising waters after the dam wall was built. “Operation Noah” carried an incredible variety of animals to safety on the banks of the lake, where their descendants thrive to this day, allowing the unique opportunity to view big game from the safety and comfort of a houseboat.
Not only wildlife was relocated to make way for the dam. The Batonka people were moved out of the Gwembe Valley, and a legend was born. The Batonka believed that the dam wall separated the river god, Nyaminyami, from his wife further downstream, and predicted that the god’s anger would destroy the wall. Twice during the construction period record floods almost washed the wall away.
Kariba is an excellent lake for fishing, and is well-stocked with game species like tiger-fish and other varieties that are fished both commercially and for sport. It is equally well-stocked with crocodiles, so swimming is only advisable from a boat away from the shore, or in the pool of one of the hotels or lodges.
This ancient, ruined city is the second largest stone structure in Africa, next to the pyramids of Egypt.
Great Zimbabwe was built in the 13th century by an African culture, as an economic and religious capital. Archaeological findings reveal that the 40 000 inhabitants of this mystical place traded extensively with far-off countries. So far a satisfying explanation for the disappearance of this fascinating culture has not been found.
Zimbabwe is blessed with some of the most beautiful game reserves in Africa. The largest, Hwange, is home to a medley of species, including 22 000 elephant. There are a number of reserves along the shores of Lake Kariba and the Zambezi river which hold a rich diversity of habitats and variety of animals. In many of Zimbabwe’s national parks it is possible to go on guided walking safaris – a fulfilling way to experience the magic of the bush. The National Parks provide comfortable chalet accommodation and camping facilities and there are a number of luxury private lodges that operate in conjunction with the parks.
This area borders on Mozambique and features some of the most beautiful, unspoilt mountain ranges in Africa.
The Chimanimani mountains offer hiking trails that take you into the crystal clear air close to heaven, where it is possible to experience the bliss of utter solitude. Inyanga and the Vumba are popular destinations for sports enthusiasts, offering fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking and perfect golf courses.
It is here that the founder of the Ndebele nation - Mzilkazi - settled after fleeing from Shaka Zulu. Bulawayo is the main town in this area, providing a base from which to explore the Matopos Hills.
The boulders of this area are piled in fantastic formations and covered with a kaleidoscope of lichen. This is the habitat of a stunning array of brightly colored lizards that can be seen sunning themselves on the ancient rocks. Cecil John Rhodes is buried here - his remains entombed in stone, looking out over a landscape untouched by time, in a country vastly different from what it was in the days of the British Empire.