Why South Africans must visit Zimbabwe

It is a beautiful country. Usually, that should be good enough but allow us to give you more reasons. If you are driving, we suggest a first stop in Masvingo, the city where Great Zimbabwe is located. It is about three hours drive from the Beitbridge border post and the road is good all the way there. There is plenty of accommodation there, my personal favourite is the Lodge At Ancient City but you have a choice from National Parks Lodges to hotels.

The Great Zimbabwe site is a place that offers you the chance to reflect on how man can aspire to greatness, especially given the period when it was built. For South Africans, you might want to read up or stop over at Mapungubwe before visiting Great Zimbabwe. It is common knowledge that modern political boundaries are artificial barriers to the unity of the African people. Travel should be an eye opener both as a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the mind. You can choose to walk the site on your own with the family and friends or secure the services of a guide. We recommend that you ask for a guide on arrival for a more enriched experience. There is a silence at Great Zimbabwe that one experiences as the conical tower and the walls that shield it compel you to contemplate life in the distant past and the architectural prowess of the people that resided there. The steep climb to hill complex is rewarded with the discovery of more building work from an ancient time and a commanding view of the site and the savannah beyond. Allow two night for this visit.

We then recommend that you take the road west towards the City of Bulawayo. This is another three hour drive on tar. Again, there is a wide selection of places to stay but we would suggest the Matopos half an hour from the Bulawayo CBD. Oh the Matopos! The area is a chaos, in the positive sense, of balancing rocks so beautiful that colonial rogue Cecil John Rhodes asked to be buried there. South Africans are spiritual people. You will be glad to know that the Matopos are the location of an important spiritual shrine for Zimbabweans. There used to be a lot of Rhino in the area but you still get to see other wildlife and cave paintings. There is plenty of birdlife. Before you leave South Africa, buy your children a book on birds of southern Africa and have fun getting them to identify what they see. A small financial reward or promise of pizza for later for x number of birds identified will get them motivated. You can also drive in to Bulawayo to see the Natural History Museum, or the Khami ruins. Again, two nights will suffice although the Matopos are so beautiful that families can easily extend their stay by a day or two.

After that, a three hour drive will take you to Hwange National Park. Depending on your tastes, you have a variety of accommodation options to choose from. One of the mysteries of observing wildlife over a period of time is that you see how everything is interconnected in a natural dance that only the ecosystem can explain. As you whisper explanations to your child about what is going on at a waterhole, you are transported in to the world of the animal kingdom. You observe the way they walk, hesitate, look up, take a few more tentative steps before finally drinking their fill. Even the filling up process is something of an event. Animals do not simply walk down to the river and drink like cows on a farm. It is a fascinating world that you and your children will delight in. We reckon another two nights but three if you want to visit several watering holes.

An hour away, you have the pick of the pie. At one point way before you see the town, you see the Mosi Oa Tunya, the smoke that thunders in the distance and then the sign a few kilometres later: Welcome to Victoria Falls. Like sea side towns, these resort towns seem to move at their own pace, almost a small Republic on their own. Victoria Falls offers a total experience from excellent game viewing, extreme sports in white water rafting and bungee jumping, fauna and flora, river cruises and, of course, the mighty Victoria Falls. You need three days minimum, depending on your family interests for the Victoria Falls. Accommodation is plentiful and of the highest standard.

Finally, the people. The people of Zimbabwe are not only friendly and welcoming, they are hospitable. You will find a well-educated society of fairly conservative people in terms of norms and values, who love to converse and educate. They love their jobs which will allow you to benefit from personalised service. Everyone who has been to Zimbabwe has told us about how beautiful the country is and they all, without exception, make very positive comments about the Zimbabwean people but almost as if they were surprised to discover this. Well, Zimbabwe actually surprises a lot of people. Visit Zimbabwe.

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