Choose from 5 Fun Things to Do in Zimbabwe
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Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest and most historic game reserve. Just two hours drive from Victoria Falls, this park (about the size of Belgium) is home to more than 100 species of mammals and some 400 different types of birds, making it one of the most diverse game parks in the world. Packs of painted wild hunting dogs, buffalo, lions and leopards call Hwange home, as well as one of the largest elephant herds on earth.
Accommodations within Hwange range from exclusive lodges to tented camps and visitors can choose to explore the park on guided game drives, walking tours or even horseback safaris.
The park is located on the main road between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Be sure to check out the northern portion of the park, where sparse vegetation makes for the best game-viewing.
From $ 260
Cecil Rhodes, a businessman from England, wanted engineers to build a bridge across the Zambezi where “trains, as they pass [could] catch the spray of the falls.” And while he may have died before this dream was realized, the Victoria Falls Bridge was crossed by regular train traffic for more than 50 years. Today, this 650-foot long bridge, which stands 420 feet above the Zambezi River, is a destination for history buffs and extreme sports enthusiasts alike. Guided tours focusing on construction and history are a popular activity for those visiting Victoria Falls. Those in search of serious adventure can use the bridge for bungee jumping, gorge swinging and ziplining.
Walking under the bridge’s main deck offers unique views of not only the falls, but the bridge itself. There’s a small, free museum on the Zambia side where thirsty travelers can grab cool drinks.
Hours: Check website for details
Admission: Varying tours can be purchased
From $ 45
Located the northeastern corner of Botswana, Chobe National Park encompasses more than 4,500 square miles (12,000 square kilometers) of floodplains, forest, swamps, and rivers. The park is known for having one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa; most notably, a large elephant population.
With a location near the borders of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia, Chobe is great for a daylong or multi-day tour from any of these neighboring countries. You can combine a Chobe day trip from Victoria Falls with a scenic drive through the adjoining Zambezi National Park. Popular activities include boat cruises along the Chobe River, a game drive through the wilderness areas, and lunch at the Chobe Safari Lodge.
If you have some extra time, a camping safari will allow you experience Chobe at sunrise and sunset. If you’re short on time, take a safari from Kasane, which will often include a scenic river cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable shoes and layered clothing, and bring sunscreen, bug spray, and water.
- If you’re arriving from a neighboring country, be sure to bring your passport.
- Some safari vehicles and boats offer wheelchair access, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
Chobe National Park stretches along the Zimbabwe border in northern Botswana, and the most convenient entry points are Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia. From the falls, it’s about two hours by 4WD.
When to Get There
Chobe National Park is open year round, but you’ll see the best wildlife in the dry season (May to October), when game viewing around the waterholes and riverbanks is at its best. For bird watching, come later in the season; most migratory birds arrive from August onwards. Visitors traveling in rainy season (November to April) will have the most luck spotting wildlife in the Ngwenzumba Pans, which fill with water and attract animals from across Chobe. Road closures are common during the wettest months.
Wildlife watching opportunities at Chobe National Park
Chobe has at least four of Africa’s Big Five—elephant, lion, leopard, and cape buffalo—plus pachyderms, antelope (including the rare oribi antelope), hyenas, impalas, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, and warthogs. It’s not uncommon to spot hippos and crocodiles by the rivers. The area is also home to more than 460 birds, including fish eagles, skimmers, spoonbills, egrets, kingfishers, and coppery-tailed coucal.
Address: Chobe National Park, Zimbabwe
From $ 170
The Batoka Gorge, located just below the powerful Victoria Falls, winds through 75 miles (120 km) of rocky cliffs and sparse mopane forests between Zambia and Zimbabwe. And while hiking along this gorge that reaches heights of 400 feet in some areas ranks high on things to do, it’s the thrilling one-day whitewater rafting adventures that draw travelers to Batoka Gorge. Rapids with nicknames like “The Ugly Sister” and “Oblivion” put adrenaline junkies face-to-face with their fears and have travelers emerging from the waters with epic stories of survival. In addition to embarking on wild rides and challenging hikes, visitors to Batoka Gorge can spot a variety of species of indigenous birds, witness baboons wandering along beaten pathways and get up close to some of the rare plants that help to make Batoka Gorge so scenic.
The Batoka Gorge is located in the Hwange Communal Land and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. It’s most accessible via the Boiling Pot, just below Victoria Falls. Though the majority of available hikes are strenuous, cable car service out of the gorge is offered in at least one location so travelers can escape the challenge of actually climbing out.
Address: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
From $ 120
More than 6,000 acres along the Zambezi River make up this lush rainforest reserve, which boasts some of the best views of Victoria Falls. From the shores of this protected land it’s easy to see at least four of the five sections that make up this natural wonder—the Devil’s Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the Eastern Cataract.
Take the short walk to Cataract Point in the far west to experience a profile view of the falls looking east. Then wander to Danger Point, where you can descend the 73 steps into the gorge separating Zimbabwe from Zambia. This may be the closest visitors can get to the Devil’s Cataract, the lowest of the five falls, but it’s not such a great spot for catching scenic views, since the bigger picture tends to get lost in the mist.
The park is open year round but the falls lose some of their magic during dry season, between October and November. The park is an easy two-kilometer walk from town.
Hours: Check website for details
Admission: Adult: $30; Child (6-12): $10
From $ 45