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Zimbabwe

Although a small land locked country, Zimbabwe has something to offer for everyone: active adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts and those with an exquisite eye for beauty alike.

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While the saltpans and grassy plains of Hwange National Park offer one of the largest concentrations of animals in the world, the UNESCO world heritage site at Mana Pools, where bird-watching can be an added pleasure to a safari, is renowned for its outstanding variety of game. Also very popular with game is Lake Kariba, where you can spot the vast quantities attracted to the lake, including the huge Nile crocodiles and hippos, while enjoying a variety of water activities or simply relaxing and enjoying the stunning sunset from the most tranquil of accommodations, a houseboat.

The Matobo Hills, yet another UNESCO world heritage site, are a profusion of densely packed granite landforms, creating a sea of hills. These extraordinary rock forms have exerted a strong presence over the area both in natural and cultural terms. For many millennia this presence has motivated human interaction with the dramatic, natural formations and as a result of this, one of the most outstanding rock art collections in Africa lies amongst these hills. The Mwari religion, which is still practised in the area and may date back to as far as the Iron Age, is the most powerful oracular religion in Southern Africa. The Matobo rocks are seen as the seat of God and ancestral spirits. Contact can be made with the spiritual world from sacred shrines within these hills.

But, if waterfalls, animals, sunsets and shrines haven’t quite grasped your attention, don’t worry there’s more. Great Zimbabwe, the country’s capital during the Iron Age (1100-1450), is home to the UNESCO world heritage site of The Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Beautifully set at the head of the Mutirikiwi River, in a lush and flourishing valley, the ruins spread over 722-ha. Here, rather than building from granite blocks in free standing walls, men moulded structures around existing granite outcrops and balancing boulders. What’s left is now recognised as the oldest stone structure south of the Sahara and is praised for the amazing effort and skill that went into cutting the stone and assembling it in what are mostly geometrical forms. All this, using only simple tools and technology.

As a result of the social and political woes in Zimbabwe over the past decade or so, together with the economy in a fragile state, many potential travellers have been deterred from visiting Zimbabwe and experiencing some of the most breath-taking scenery and first-class safaris in Africa. Although visitors to the country are urged to exercise caution at all times and to remain aware of recent developments, the country’s reputation for stability is improving rapidly and tourism in Zimbabwe is flourishing once more.