But while these views have won it international fame, Zimbabwe is so much more than Victoria Falls: it is one ofSouthern Africa’s most rewarding big game safari destinations.
Whether it’s a canoe trail safari or a getaway in a luxury safari lodge, our selection of top accommodation in Zimbabwe will ensure you’ll enjoy a smooth and memorable stay.
The largest uninterrupted sheet of falling water in the world, unspoilt Victoria Falls sits on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. On the Zimbabwe side, paths wind in and out of dripping rainforest to reveal extensive views of the Main Falls, while across in Zambia the Knife-Edge Bridge takes you exceptionally close to the cascading water and a steep footpath leads to the Boiling Pot – a huge whirlpool at the base of the falls.
It is also home to arguably the greatest concentrations of lions outside Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater as well as healthy numbers of leopards and spotted hyenas. Cheetahs and wild dogs are regularly seen, and lucky visitors may even get the chance to tick off both black and white rhino.
Matobo means ‘bald heads’ in the local Ndebele language and it’s easy to see why: the park’s signature feature is its collection of granite outcrops, weathered into stacks of bare, balancing boulders. It is among these boulders that the grave of English colonialist Cecil Rhodes is found as well as 3 000 examples of Khoi rock art and even earlier Stone Age settlements.
Mana Pools is the golden child of the Zambezi Valley, rugged and beautiful, it is home to a wonderful mix of grassy floodplains, woodlands and riverine forest. Forming the park’s northern border is the broad Zambezi River, its backdrop the mountains of the Rift Valley Escarpment across the waters in neighbouring Zambia.
The name ‘Mana’ means four in the local Shona language and refers to the four large pools situated in the interior of the park. This abundance of water acts as a magnet for all manner of wildlife: elephant, buffalo and waterbuck graze on the wide green floodplains; predators such as lion, leopard and wild dog are often seen; and the rivers and pools are home to large populations of hippo and crocodile. The bird watching is superb – highlights include fish eagles, water fowl and colourful clouds of carmine bee-eaters.
Hwange is the largest and best known of Zimbabwe’s national parks. At 15 000 km² this immense wildlife reserve is packed with big game and is famous for massive numbers of buffalo and – in particular – its elephant herds. Indeed, Hwange’s 30 000-strong elephant population is the second largest in the world after the Chobe National Park in neighbouring Botswana.
But it’s not just elephants that draw visitors to Hwange National Park; this Big 5 reserve has a well-deserved reputation for predator sightings too. Lion, leopard and cheetah are regularly seen, and night drives reveal the smaller nocturnal predators – serval and civet cats, and bat-eared foxes. Then there are the rarer animals: Hwange is an important breeding ground for endangered African wild dog, black rhino and the beautiful roan and sable antelopes.
Its name translates as ‘Place of Many Elephants’ and you will see plenty of them, including big tuskers, but Gonarezhou is home to the rest of the Big 5 too – rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Rivers cut through the park, attracting antelope, zebra and giraffe; wild dogs and cheetah patrol the floodplains and the air resonates with the calls of some of the 400 recorded bird species.