Zimbabwe - Africa's Paradise
Situated on a high plateau in Southern Africa ,between the Zambewi and the Limpopo rivers,Zimbabwe is landlocked ,bounded by Zambia,Mozambique,South Africa and Botswana.Zimbabwe covers an area of 390 245 km2,equal to the state of California.Most parts lie more than 300 meters above sea level,At the end of 2001 the Zimbabwean population was about 13500000
The climate is warm without being oppressive ,with a daily sunshine average of seven hours all year around.Generally,days are bright and sunny and nights clear and cool.Within the country,temperatures and rainfall are directly influenced by altitude.The highveld and eastern highlands are cooler and the lowveld and the Zambezi Valley hotter,with summer temperatures often soaring over 35 degree C,well above the highveld average 28 degree C.November to April are rainy summer months,with dry winter running from May to July,when daytime winter temperatures range 13 degree C to 20 degree C but can fall to -5 degree C at night.The August to October period is particularly hot and dry.
Equally warm are the Zimbabwean people,reckowned for their friendliness and hospitality .Zimbabwe is a multi-racial society where people of all nationalities live in harmony.Although people living in urban areas have adopted westernized lifestyle,in the country areas many African tradition have been preserved.English is the official language with the other widely spoken languages being Chishona and Sindebele.Other minority languages include Sotho,Venda,Tonga,Kalanga
Harare is a pearl among African cities,an ordered haven of smart shops,hotels and offices punctured by spaciuos boulevards and manicured parks.In its older quarters verandas overhang the pavement supported by wrought iron pillars belonging to a bygone age .But an even deeper impression is made by the city's modern architecture.The clean ,glassy lines of the new building demonstrate a culture which belongs firmly in the late twentieth century
There is far more to do at Victoria Falls than to marvel at the Falls themselves;upstream,the Zambezi plays host to the famous 'sundowner' cruises,excursions onto the river to watch the local wildlife while partaking a light snack.
Hwange National Park is a huge slice of Zimbabwe which has been set aside purely for the purpose of conserving wildlife in its natural habitat.With a land area of more than 14,000 square kms.Hwange boasts over a hundred species of bird - a concentration which makes this National Park one of the finest in the world.
Hwange is also one of the few great elephant sanctuaries in Africa.
Accomodation in the park is provided by camps where visistor can stay in lodges,chalets,tenste or caravans
Safari operators at Hwange offer day and moonlight trips which ,during the dry months from July to October,offer all the game one could ever hope to see.
Lake Kariba is a large, man-made lake and reservoir located on the Zambezi river, about halfway between the river's source and mouth, about 1300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean. The lake lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.The massive valley, which now forms Lake Kariba has survived, with most plant and animal species having adapted to the changed conditions.
After Lake Kariba ,the Zambezi ambles through an ancient floodplain on its way to the Indian Ocean.It is this Zambezi,so different from the one that challenges the white water rafters at Victoria Falls,that is home to one of Zimbabwe's two world heritage sites,the Mana Pools National Park.Here the river has left behind the remains of old channels,forming small seasonal pools scattered over 2000 sq kms.
During the dry months of September and October ,the Park attracts a staggering profusion of big game,including buffalo,kudu,eland,zebra and waterbuck.On the Acacia Albida which dominate both banks of the river ,the browse line of the elephants is clearly visible.
Birdlife is also incredibly varied:plovers,nyasa lovebird,and several varieties of eagle swoop and flutter over the riverside woodlands.
But one species makes Mana Pools particularly special.This is one of the few places left on earth where the black rhino ,hounded to the brink of extinction elsewhere,can still be found.
For an experience of Africa bereft of the excesses of twentieth century,it is hard to beat a canoeing safari along the Zambezi,Several operators conduct these trips under the supervision of higly experienced guides,enabling the visitor to get closer to the spirit of primeval Africa than could ever be possible in a world governed by the internal combustion engine.
On Zimbabwe's eastern border, running some three hunderd kilometres from north to south in its rugged beauty.Forming a natural border with neighbouring Mozambique ,the Eastern Highlands vary from the gently rolling countryside near Nyanga in the north to the fierce granite spikes of Chimanimani.
The fabulous scenery of the Eastern Highlands makes them a natural hoilday destination.Trout Fishing,golf,bowls and horse riding are all enjoyed throughout the year and there are several sumptuous hotels of an exceptionally high standard.
At the southern end of this exquisite mountain chain ,the volcanic peaks of Chimanimani are sharp and jagged.
Most of them can be conquered with little mountering skill,and they are punctured with hunderds of rivers, waterfalls and pools to entice bathers after a long day's hike.
The second major city of Zimbabwe is Bulawayo.With a population of half a million,Bulwayo is a spacious and attractive city,laid out on a grid of boulevards designed to be so wide that they would allow a team of sixteen oxen to turn a full circle.The city is proud of its grand buildings ,and allocates substantial funds to keep them maintained.
But no visist would be complete without a trip to the railway museum,which houses engines ,rolling stock and machinery dating back to the begining of the century.
A short drive south of Bulwayo are the ancient Matopos hills, a world of knobby granite outcrops that look as if they have been transplanted from another planet.As soon you enter this National Park ,another Africa descends upon you.Here is an eerie panorama so brooding and mysterious that it has enchanted Ndebele kings and colonial settlers alike.Today ,the visitor can gaze upon the tomb of Cecil Rhodes and those of his deputies.
Not far from these monuments to colonial ambition are the vestiges of very different people,cave paintings by ancient bushmen depicting another world which existed thousands of years before the name "Zimbabwe" was vere invented.
Zimbaweans are rightly proud of the ancient city which has given the modern nation its name.Great Zimababwe , a sprawling archipelago of carefully hewn stone,is conclusive evidence of a burgening African civilisation which reached its apex long before the arrival of Europeans.modern dating techniques indicate that the city was started around AD 1200 ,and lasted some three or four hunderd years before it was abondened.Today the visitor cab stay at a first class hotel on the primeter of the site,and when the day's rambling around the ruins are over,relax in the swimming pool before enjoying excellent evening meal to the sound of musicians playing on traditional Shona instruments.
Just outside Bulwayo is the ancient capital of Khami ,while in Midlands Province ,the younger ruins Dhlo Dhlo and Natale portray the true extent of the country's pre-colonial civilisation.
To Visit Zimbabwe You need to know the following