The Best Things to Do Outdoors in Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls | © Only Point Five / Flickr
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Famed for its warm and welcoming people and for its 320 days of sunshine per year, Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in the south of Africa, is the perfect holiday destination for lovers of the great outdoors. From the bustling wildlife in the country’s grasslands to ancient sites, here are the best outdoor experiences around.

Victoria Falls

Natural Feature

Victoria Falls
© Only Point Five / Flickr
Victoria Falls are among the most impressive natural wonders of the world, stretching some 1.7 km (1.51 miles). They are shared with Zambia, and start where the mighty Zambezi River plummets into a 108 metre (354 feet)-high cleft. The Zimbabwean side has long been touted as providing the better view. There are other activities available here such as bungee jumping, swimming at Devils Pool, taking a helicopter ride above the falls, and sunset boat cruising. Victoria Falls is easily accessible from the Zimbabwean side as there are flights directly from Harare. The entrance fee is USD$30 for internationals, USD$20 from SADC countries and USD$7 for locals.

Hwange National Park

Natural Feature, Park

© Steven dos Remedios / Flickr
Hwange National Park is the biggest animal park in Zimbabwe occupying an estimated 14,650 sq km (5,656 sq miles). It is located in the northwest corner of the country about one hour south of the mighty Victoria Falls, and is home to Africa’s big five – the park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The park has three distinctive camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella and the largest one at Main Camp. It costs USD$20 to get into the park, USD$15 for SADC countries and USD$5 for Zimbabweans

Kariba Dam

Natural Feature

© Greg and Ashley / Flickr

Located in the north-east on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Kariba Dam is an imposing sight. The shore of Kariba is a wildlife haven in many places with a number of parks and wilderness areas allocated along the waterfront – the shoreline floodplains provide food for herbivores, which in turn fall prey to predators. Cruising close to the shore in a boat gives a unique perspective of the wildlife that inhabits the reserves of Kariba. Elephants are numerous, and it is even possible to see lions from the safety of the water. Tour operators charge different amounts for the houseboats and boat cruises.

Great Zimbabwe

Archaeological site, Ruins

© gomagoti / Flickr

Located in the ancient southern city of Masvingo, Great Zimbabwe is the place to visit for those who love history and monuments. Built 900 years ago, the massive stone structures create a breathtaking view, leaving visitors to wonder about the historical events that took place many centuries ago. The creative workmanship of these walls which were built without mortar leaves many visitors in awe. The country’s name is derived from this monument, which means ‘huts of stone’ in the local language. There is also the Great Zimbabwe Museum and Great Zimbabwe Hotel nearby to the site. Entry costs USD$15 for international visitors and USD$5 for locals.

Matobo National Park

Archaeological site, Natural Feature, Park, Ruins

Matobo National Park
© Txaro Franco / Flickr

Located about 35 km (21.8 miles) from Bulawayo, Matobo National Park was established in 1953 and was awarded World Heritage Status in June 2003. The park is an Intensive Protection Zone for endangered rhinoceros, and is also rich in cultural history as seen across its numerous cultural and historical sites. The park is well known for its unique balancing rock features with the popular ‘mother and child’ balancing rocks. It costs USD$15 for international tourists and USD$5 for locals to gain access.

Chinhoyi Caves

Natural Feature

Chinhoyi caves
© D. F. P. / Flickr

These caves made of dolomite and limestone, and are located about 135 km (84 miles) northwest of Harare, close to the town of Chinhoyi. The main cave contains a large pool known as the ‘sleeping pool’ – water in the main section of the sleeping pool is between 80 – 91 metres (266 – 295 feet) deep, fluctuating due to seasonal rainfall. The exact depth of the water system is unknown, but is estimated to be around 172 metres (564 feet). Divers can dive into the pool, which falls under management of the Zimbabwe National Park authority. Access costs USD$15 for international tourists and USD$3 for others.

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