Zimbabwe is a beautiful, landlocked country in southern Africa, bordered by the Zambezi River to the north and the Limpopo River to the south. A safari here provides some of the most prolific game viewing in southern Africa, unforgettable scenic landscapes, remnants of ancient civilizations, a variety of activities, and some of the most qualified safari guides on the continent. Walking safaris are of especially high-quality here, which offers an even more enriching and immersive experience.
From the plains and forests of Hwange National Park to the remote and pristine wilderness of Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi, from serene Lake Kariba to the expansive Gonarezhou, a safari in Zimbabwe ensures top game viewing in some of the more remote and truly wild reserves in Africa. Boasting five World Heritage Sites – Victoria Falls, known by the locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders), Mana Pools National Park, Matobo National Park, Great Zimbabwe National Monument, and Khami Ruins National Monument – Zimbabwe is rich in both natural wonders and historically significant sites.
With so many places to see and things to do, it is easy to spend an entire safari holiday in Zimbabwe. Here are our suggested locations for an immersive, well-rounded itinerary in this incredible country. Visit our Ultimate Zimbabwe Itinerary here for more information.
Hwange National Park
As Zimbabwe’s largest national park, covering more than 5,000 square miles, a visit to Hwange is a must in any Zimbabwe itinerary. Here, you will find uncountable buffalos, some 40,000 local elephants, antelopes, predators such as lions, cheetahs, and African painted dogs, the elusive pangolins, caracals, lesser bushbabies, and honey badgers, and more than 400 bird species. Activities in Hwange include walking safaris, game drives, birding, and cultural visits, all led by highly qualified, passionate guides, keen to share their knowledge and love of the bush with you.
Mana Pools National Park
Situated on the banks of the might Zambezi River, in one of the wildest and most remote parts of Africa, lies Mana Pools National Park. With sweeping riverine landscapes, groves of Trichelia and Mahogany trees, abundant wildlife, and a variety of activities, this natural wilderness is not to be missed when visiting Zimbabwe. Across the vast floodplain one can walk with the giant bull elephants, dine amidst herds of buffalo, gaze upon prides of lion, enjoy sundowners with hippos on the banks of the Zambezi River, paddle down the river in a canoe, and watch for some 400 species of birds.
Gonarezhou National Park
Still a relatively unknown addition to most southern African safaris, Gonarezhou is the ideal destination for travelers looking to avoid crowds and experience a more exclusive safari. Meaning ‘elephant’ in the local Shona language, the park is home to several thousand elephants, as well as lion, cheetah, wild dog, hyena, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, and hundreds of bird species. Whether it’s exhilarating game drives through the park, walking safaris, excursions to the epic Chilojo Cliffs, sundowners on the Save River, a day spent with the people of Mahenye Village, a visit to Tembwahata pan, or an outing to view the Bushman rock-art, Gonarezhou is an off-the-beaten-path location with much to offer. The adjacent Malilangwe Private Reserve is another option for luxury travelers looking for even more exclusivity.
Lake Kariba – Matusadona National Park
Matusadona National Park is a remote and isolated wilderness located on Lake Kariba, an enormous man-made lake. It is well known for very large herds of elephant and buffalo, which congregate along the shoreline, while other species include hippo, lion, leopard, hyena, waterbuck, sable and roan antelope, and 240 species of birds, including the iconic fish eagle. This is the perfect destination for walking safaris, boat cruises, and relaxing in this scenic paradise along the lake.
A trip to Zimbabwe would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Victoria Falls! One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, the Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Known to the locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders”, due to the impressive sound and spray made by the falls, it is located on the Zambezi River – the fourth largest river in Africa – which is also the defining border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Popular activities in the region (on both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides of the falls) include relaxing sunset river cruises, scenic flights, guided tours, rhino tracking in the national park, bungee jumping, gorge swinging, zip-lining off the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge, white water rafting, visits to local markets, museums and villages, and more! It is a great place to start or end a safari and combines well with other destinations in the region.
The Matobo Hills is one of Zimbabwe’s UNESCO Natural World Heritage sites and is renowned for its unique combination of rich human history, remarkably diverse wildlife – including both black and white rhino, and a very unusual landscape. Here you will find more than 2,000 sites of the San Bushman triibes, masses of giant rocks, stacks of boulders balancing on one another, and huge granite monoliths, all naturally sculpted, carved by millions of years of erosion. Visitors can explore on foot, go on safari, or enjoy a variety of other activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and canoeing.