Zimbabwe is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and landforms you can see in Africa.
Outside Africa, Zimbabwe is mostly known for its diverse wildlife, likable climate, and friendly people. With this in mind, many less known but more interesting attractions like landforms and landscapes are touted as mere side trips. But people and animals aside, Zimbabwe is also home to some of Africa’s most spectacular and beautiful landscapes that deserve a share of the spotlight on the country’s top tourist attractions.
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WHERE: Victoria Falls, Mashonaland West Province
This Natural Wonder of the World is a masterpiece of nature that you just have to witness in person to fully appreciate its grandeur and beauty. At its peak, this giant curtain of falling water stretches for 5,604 feet and plunges 354 feet into a gorge producing a breathtaking sight and a thunderous splash that can be heard miles away.
The Vic Falls Bridge and the areas around it are also exciting places to be. There, you can witness or take part in many adrenaline-pumping activities like bungee jumping. For the ultimate bird’s eye view of these sprawling falls, you can easily book a helicopter ride.
INSIDER TIPThe best time to see The Vic Falls in all its glory is during the Zambezi River’s high water season between December and July when more water will be flowing from the Zambezi River into the falls.
WHERE: Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province
Conveniently located near a highway, these ancient limestone and dolomite caves are one of the most scenic and stunningly beautiful landscapes in Zimbabwe. However, the main attraction here is The Sleeping Pool—a marvelous pool of uniquely cobalt blue and tranquil water that you will see in few places around the world.
A tour of this complex cave is a journey back in time. Inside the caves, different tunnels lead you into different caves that were used as hideouts during tribal wars and sites for traditional rain-making ceremonies. A rest camp and a couple of motels are conveniently located near the caves.
INSIDER TIPTo get a full and informed appreciation of the Chinhoyi Caves, request a guide for a hustle-free tour of these complex caves.
WHERE: Gonarezhou National Park, Chiredzi
Stretching over 12 miles and more than 590 feet at their highest point, these red and white sandstone cliffs are like no other in Africa in terms of their geological make-up and untamed wilderness. Below the cliffs, the ecologically vibrant Runde River brings an equally exciting dimension to the phenomenal beauty of this place. On and around the cliffs, sightings of famous African mammals like elephants, hippos, and zebras are routine.
Patience pays off deep in untamed Africa. If you can wait for sunset, you will be rewarded with an incredible panoramic view of the cliffs shifting their colors as the sun slowly calls it a day. A trip here will certainly require more than a full day but there are quite remarkable places for overnight camping nearby.
INSIDER TIPSMake sure you bring all your camping provisions because the mobile phone network in this relatively remote park is erratic. Oh, and watch out for crocodiles and hippos when you are at river banks.
WHERE: Matobo National Park, Bulawayo
This dramatic and scenic landscape is mostly composed of large granite hills, massive boulders, delicately balancing rocks, and thickly vegetated valleys–another classic product of millions of years of nature’s opposing elements. So majestic and enchanting are the views of the Matopo Hills and its vast wilderness that even Cecil John Rhodes, the world-famous 19th-century British imperialist-cum-businessman chose to be buried here.
There is abundant wildlife here too, and the nearby Matopo National Park is home to a large population of many animals including the elusive leopards and white rhinos, the cousin to the famous but highly endangered black rhinos. In between the hills, there are also many millennium-old art galleries in the form of caves that host some of the world’s best-preserved San (Bushman) rock paintings.
INSIDER TIPSDon’t attempt to climb the balancing rocks because they might crumble. If you venture into the wilderness, watch out for elusive leopards because they are aggressively protective especially when they are nursing cubs.
WHERE: Northern Zimbabwe, Mashonaland West Province
The Mana Pools are flood plains of the Lower Zambezi river. During the dry season, these pools and pans of water are a magnet for a variety of thirsty and hungry animals and birds. In Africa and even beyond, few places will offer you such a unique opportunity to see many animals without having to travel much.
For your convenience, it is important to know the pans and camps where you can see more animals at Mana pools. If you are unlucky not to encounter your favorite animals, don’t despair. The unspoiled riverine environment–punctuated by occasional sights of elephants drinking in the pools–and mountain backdrop is one of the most awesome views of untamed Africa you will ever see.
INSIDER TIPMana pools have some of the most unique and strict guidelines for visitors, so make sure to check before you go.
WHERE: Nyanga National Park, Nyanga
At just 8,504 feet, Nyangani Mountain is certainly not among the highest or most challenging mountains in the world. However, it compensates for its lack of height with breathtaking views of one of Africa’s most scenic regions where majestic mountain ranges and deep valleys dominate the landscape between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Even if you are not into mountain climbing, a hike in the rolling lush forests around Nyangani mountain will bewilder you with its alluring scenery and unexpected encounters with wild animals including antelopes and leopards. In the nearby rivers like Mare and Nyangombe, you can also test your skills in fly-fishing, a unique but exciting method of fishing common at these rivers.
INSIDER TIPOn this mountain, weather can change quickly from sunny to misty, so always follow the marked paths and watch out for the steep slopes and deep ravines.
Chiremba Balancing Rocks
WHERE: Epworth, Harare
If you happen to pass through Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, one of the places that have to be on your must-see list is Chiremba Balancing Rocks—a small national park dominated by igneous rocks and boulders. These rocks have a unique and eye-catching formation because each one seems to be balancing on another rock or two.
The main draw is the most famous rock formation in Zimbabwe, composed of five giant boulders. These boulders rest precariously on top of each other, producing one of the most mind-boggling balancing rocks in the world. There are also some San rock paintings to admire and all these are just half an hour by road from the city center.
INSIDER TIPThis place is near a heavily populated area so watch out for your valuables and do not leave them in the car.
Covering an area of more than 3,355 square miles, this vast expanse of freshwater is the world’s largest man-made lake in terms of volume. But in this scorching and untamed region, there is no better way to cool down than taking a leisurely boat ride, engaging in tiger fishing, or enjoying watersports while admiring the lake’s magnificently beautiful scenery. For the ultimate view of the lake and its surrounding areas, Kariba Heights is the best vantage point.
It is pretty hot here, but a late afternoon boat ride will compensate you with an exceptionally charming and world-famous sunset that is silhouetted by its calm waters. The shores of Lake Kariba beam with life too and a trip there is a recipe for spitting-distance encounters with many famous African species including crocodiles, hippos, and elephants.
INSIDER TIPIf you visit during the summer (September to March) don’t forget to take malaria prevention medicine because it is one of the hottest and mosquito-prone areas in Zimbabwe.
WHERE: Mutarazi National Park, Nyanga
The Mtarazi Falls is indeed one of Zimbabwe’s truly hidden gems. With an incredible height of 2,533 feet (compared to Vic Falls’ 354), they are some of the highest and most dramatic in the world. The mere sight of this narrow and fast-flowing curtain of water plunging into the Honde valley is an awe-inspiring sight that will astonish even the most doubtful beholder.
For a much more spectacular and adrenaline-pumping view, arrange for a walk on one of the world’s longest skywalks on a suspended bridge. The view from this bridge will offer you a heart-stopping glimpse of these wonderful falls, the nearby mountains, green valleys, and the lushly wildlife-rich wilderness.
INSIDER TIPThe road to these falls is not in very good shape, make sure the car you use is a reliable off-road vehicle.
Damboshava, which means “red rock,” is a stunningly mammoth granite rock in the north-eastern outskirts of Harare. If you love the outdoors, this is the perfect and refreshing getaway with stunning views of the unique “rock island” and rural Africa with its trademark grass-thatched huts. Out there, you can opt to relax on this massive rock by enjoying the peace and fresh air away from the maddening city crowds. Here, you can also walk back in time by visiting some of the local caves filled with ageless San rock paintings.
Domboshava may appear devoid of wildlife to many passersby. However, a tour of the hill will remunerate you with regular sightings of impressively colorful and eye-catching lizards like agamas and skinks that reside on this giant rock’s many crevices.