A journey to Zimbabwe will take you through an attractive patchwork of landscapes, from highveld, balancing boulders and flaming msasa trees, to laidback towns, lush mountains and lifeblood rivers. Here you can spot the Big Five (leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo) in its national parks, discover World Heritage–listed archaeological sites and stand in awe of one of the natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls.
Zimbabwe's largest game reserve (roughly 15 000 square kilometres), Hwange National Reserve, is home to more than 400 bird species and a hundred species of mammal, including thousands of elephants who trudge a migratory route from here to neighbouring Botswana every year. Meanwhile, the second-largest reserve Gonarezhou (meaning “elephant's tusk” in the local Shona language) forms part of the even bigger Greater Limpopo ecosystem incorporating Kruger in South Africa and Mozambique's Limpopo. Between the two reserves you are virtually guaranteed intimate game-drive encounters with zebra, giraffe, buffalo, baboons and elephants by the hundred. Only the sneakier big cats may elude your camera lens if you’re unlucky.
At twice the height of Canada’s Niagara, Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River is one of Africa’s, if not the Earth’s, most spectacular natural wonders as the world’s largest sheet of falling water. Called "Mosi-oa-Tunya" (“the Smoke that Thunders”) by local people, its epic rumbling and iridescent mist clouds can be seen from 50km away, and are truly awe-inspiring in closer quarters. If you want to get properly involved, its waters and steep gorge are a perennial playground for thrill-seekers, with activities encompassing abseiling, white-water rafting, bungee jumping or soaring over it all in a chopper or microlight. This World Heritage Site captivates visitors as much today as it did explorer David Livingstone in the nineteenth century, and its surrounding area has been declared a National Park to protect against excessive commercialisation.
Situated in the northern region of Zimbabwe, on the southern banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools National Park will leave you breathless with its beauty. A paradise for walking and canoeing safaris, Mana Pools is a wildlife-rich, biodiverse wonderland that will delight at every turn. You can expect to spot hippopotamus, crocodile, elephants and a wonderful array of aquatic birds within this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there’s a good chance of seeing lioness’ hunting around waterholes, where prey are seemingly easy pickings.
With 2,000 km of shoreline, Lake Kariba is the 4th largest man-made lake in the world and the 2nd largest in Africa – so it’s a truly impressive place to explore, especially by boat. With a ready supply of regenerative grasses as a source of food and an abundance of water from the lake, buffalo, waterbuck, zebra, and impala have thrived. With this so have the predators, so you can expect incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. The lake itself is teeming with huge Nile crocodiles and the lake shored offers fantastic herds of elephants and the Big Five. Meanwhile, birdlife thrives here, so keep an eye out for the population of fish-eagles, amongst many others.