Few African destinations can compete with Victoria Falls for sheer visual drama. At its full, roaring peak, the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ is one of the continent’s most mesmerising sights, leaving visitors lightly soaked and absolutely exhilarated at the same time. The falls are on the mighty Zambezi river, which means you can see them from either Zambia or Zimbabwe. Arguably, the best on-foot views are from Zimbabwe’s side – so lovely, in fact, that explorer David Livingstone declared they must have been gazed on by angels.
But while these views have won international fame, Zimbabwe is so much more than Victoria Falls: it is one of Southern Africa‘s most rewarding big game safari destinations.
Zimbabwe’s flagship reserve is Hwange National Park, a short drive from Victoria Falls and home to a full cast of your favourite mammals, from lions, leopards and hyenas to big herds of elephant and buffalo, elegant antelope, giraffe and zebra. Add to these characters the wildlife of the Zambezi River – hippos, crocodiles and shy water buck and you’re on safari in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, where activities include game drives, canoe adventures and walking safaris.
Zimbabwe’s less well-known destinations offer some unique experiences that make them well worth the effort of getting there. Fly in to Matusadona National Park, set on the shores of Lake Kariba, a haven for rhinos and elephants and home to a thriving lion population. The far flung wilderness of neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park and Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve is hard to beat. Its remote setting makes this fly-in destination romantically adventurous and immensely rewarding, featuring big-tusker elephants, all the big cats and nearly 400 bird species. You may not see much wildlife at Matobo National Park, but it’s a lovely reserve of tumbled rocks sheltering ancient San (Bushman) paintings, ideal for short hikes and comfortable walks.
Destinations within Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls: adventure activities, safaris & iconic scenery
At 1 708 metres wide, the Victoria Falls is the most expansive curtain of water in the world and drops more than 100 metres into the sheer Zambezi Gorge. Visit Victoria Falls at peak flow and discover why it’s considered a Natural Wonder: the falls are immense, the towering column of mist is unique and the whole area is scenically beautiful. Plus the town of Victoria Falls is known as Africa’s Adventure Capital thanks to the wide range of activities on offer. Enjoy scenic flights, elephant-back safaris, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, game viewing and Zambezi River cruises plus access to places of interest such as local markets and traditional villages.
Hwange National Park: classic game viewing & bird watching
Mana Pools National Park: beautiful wilderness area, canoe safaris
Mana Pools National Park lies at the heart of the Zambezi Valley, where the Zambezi River meanders for 300km to the Mozambican border. It is a remote, wildlife-rich place with spectacular views of the river, floodplains, the tree canopy and the mountains of the Rift Valley escarpment over the border in Zambia. Wild, remote little-visited Mana Pools lies along the Zambezi River, its forests and floodplains home to large herds of elephant, rare antelope and plenty of plains game. Its rivers are filled with hippo and crocodile, tigerfish and bream. Best explored on drives, guided walks and canoe expeditions, Mana Pools is a genuine wilderness area that delivers an exciting, off-the-beaten-track safari experience.