]Voted amongst the world’s top 40 most beautiful destinations, the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mana Pools and Victoria Falls are high up on the lists of those visiting Zimbabwe. Mana Pools is delightfully remote and game-rich thanks to its flood plains, whilst the mighty Victoria Falls is the world’s most expansive curtain of water and iconic sights.
Once the royal hunting ground of King Mzilikazi, Hwange National Park is now considered one of the greatest conservation areas in Africa. Proclaimed in 1929, here you will find a tremendous selection of wildlife and almost all of Zimbabwe’s specially protected animals. The 14,650 kilometre square area consists mainly of scrublands and stunted scattered woodlands with the well drained north dominated by mopane and mixed terminalia. Hwange has absolutely no shortage of wildlife, with over 100 mammal species, 400 birds and 100 trees and shrubs. It is world renowned for its huge elephant herds which roam the park, wallowing in the muddy watering holes. There is a fantastic population of wild dog and lion sightings are common, but leopard and rhino are seen only by the lucky. Other wildlife includes cheetah, giraffe, sable, eland, waterbuck, zebra, baboon and warthog, as well as over 400 bird species. Here you can find the impressive ground dwelling kori bustard and during mating season, crowned cranes perform comical dances for each other.
The most visited attraction in Zimbabwe, the falls are almost one mile wide and offer some of the most impossibly scenic viewpoints in the continent, with a mist spray that can reach almost 400 metres high after the water has plummeted 110 metres into the Batoka Gorge before continuing its journey. Located on the mighty Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, these majestic falls actually share borders with both countries but are generally better known in Zimbabwe.
Expansive wilderness plains with no road access, the delightfully remote Mana Pools national park was designated in 1963 and has developed as an untouched environment only explored on foot, with much of the game species you are likely to encounter completely at ease with human presence. Such is the protected beauty of the park, with no physical boundaries keeping wildlife in or out, that it was announced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The park itself is a network of long and twisting ox-bow lakes and pools that are formed where the mighty Zambezi slows its pace after crashing through the Victoria Falls, meandering through the Lower Zambezi Valley. The river is spread across a flattened floodplain stretching as far as the distant hills of the escarpment and reflecting the many islands and sandbanks where copious animals and birds roam. This is especially so in the dry season, from June to October, when herds of thirsty elephants and buffalo make their way from the Lower Zambezi National Park to the pools, where pods of hippo, crocodiles, kudu, wild dog, leopard, lion and cheetah may be found, drawn in by the sweet water. Canoe safaris are popular in the lower Zambezi area, spending a few days floating down meandering waters, dodging hippo pods as you go.
This year-round destination is perfect walking safari territory, an exotic blend of pristine and rugged wilderness that has created a home for an abundance of wildlife. Massive Nile crocodiles sun themselves on the lake shore, bare trees - dead since the lake was formed - burst the water’s surface like sculptures and the watery sunsets are renowned for being some of the best in Africa. Matusadona National Park comfortably sits on the shores of Lake Kariba, one of several protected wildlife areas along the banks.
For a park this tiny, just 440 kilometres square, Matobo Hills sure does squeeze a lot in. The landscape of spectacular granite kopjes and giant whalebacks have been sculpted and shaped over time by the elements, rock faces have been used as a canvas, portraying incredible art from bushmen and times of war and peace between races and artefacts have been found to be over 35,000 years old on archaeological digs. Here you will find hidden caves, local villages thriving in a tribal culture and stunning wildlife, the purple hills of the Zambian escarpment resonating a peaceful calm in the background.