Five more reasons to get excited about volunteering or travelling to Zimbabwe!
Despite often being in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Zimbabwe has remained on the bucket list of canny travellers throughout the last two decades. The welcoming locals, abundant wildlife and unspoilt national parks make it a destination not to be missed.
Take the time to explore the multitude of World Heritage Sites (the country is the proud home to no less than five of these coveted sites), but also listen to the locals for tips on visiting the less well-known highlights and hidden secrets.
Our next 5 reasons to travel to or volunteer in Zimbabwe:
6. Passionate conservationists
Operators that stayed during Zimbabwe’s lean times have invested their energy and funds in conservation and community projects, dedicated to securing the future of the country’s abundant wildlife.
Zimbabwe’s conservationists are some of the most passionate in Africa, who recognised the need early on to engage local communities in the conservation of their natural heritage.
7. The weather!
According to a report from International Living Magazine, Zimbabwe ties with Malta as having the best climate in the world, with Zimbabwe scoring 100% on climate (and, interestingly, 75% on leisure). The country boasts more than 290 days of sunshine and a pleasant, temperate climate throughout most of the year.
December to March is low season, where temperatures can get hot, and the days can be humid with short, well-needed rain showers, usually in the afternoons. Everyone in the country looks forward to the rains, so important for the wildlife and for the agriculture industry.
April and May are (in our opinion) the best months, weather-wise to be in the country. The lowveld (low altitude) areas of Victoria Falls, Kariba and Gonerazhou are lush and green, and the humidity falls dramatically in these areas. In the highveld areas, daytime temperatures range from around 25-28 degrees, and the nights are extremely pleasant.
June – September is prime time to visit Zimbabwe. Game viewing is at its best throughout the country, the days are bright and clear, with skies a brilliant blue all day long. Best of all? Absolutely no rain!
October and November, up until the first rains, can be stifling, particularly in the lowveld areas, but the game viewing is amazing, albeit dusty and dry. The fishing in these months is also fantastic, so a trip to Mana Pools or the Zambezi River is highly recommended!
7. Hidden gems
The country is at the perfect point where it is becoming increasingly sophisticated, but is quintessential hidden gem territory. From small eco-lodges in off-the-beaten-track locations, cultural home stays, mountain trails, waterfalls (other than Victoria Falls!) and family-run conservation projects, the country is just calling out to be explored.
Zimbabwe is proudly host to five UNESCO World Heritage sites, which include Mana Pools National Park and the Victoria Falls. A World Heritage Site is a natural or cultural site that the world community regards as having immense universal value.
Less well-visited attractions which are definitely worth exploring are:
– Great Zimbabwe (UNESCO World Heritage Site – Culture);
– Nyanga and the Eastern Highlands;
– Matobo Hills (UNESCO World Heritage Site – Culture);
– Gonarezhou National Park – one of Zimbabwe’s largest and finest wilderness areas.
8. Varied cultural history
Despite the nation’s colonial past, the Zimbabwean people have managed to retain much of their roots and ethnic identity.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, Zimbabwe was the seat of one of the greatest African civilizations. The region was inhabited mainly by Bantu tribes, who descended from the north and lived a mostly pastoral lifestyle. The impressive structures that were constructed during this period can be found at the Great Zimbabwe National Monument.
- Great Zimbabwe (UNESCO World Heritage Site – Culture)
The Great Zimbabwe ruins, with its massive curving walls constructed from millions of granite blocks fitted together without mortar, hosts the largest stone structures south of the pyramids.
Great Zimbabwe, which means “houses of stone”, is an ancient city situated 30 kilometers from Masvingo. Awe-inspiring, majestic and timeless, these structures were built by indigenous African people between 1250 and 1450. At the height of its power, Great Zimbabwe had over 18,000 inhabitants and was a main trading centre for gold trading.
- Khami Ruins (UNESCO World Heritage Site – Culture)
The Khami Ruins are the second most important archaeological site in Zimbabwe after the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Khami developed and grew between 1450 and 1650, after the capital of Great Zimbabwe had been abandoned. The Khami Ruins are a national monument and are an impressive but almost unknown attraction in Zimbabwe.
- Matobo hills (UNESCO World Heritage Site – Culture)
The Matobo Hills in southern Zimbabwe, are home to an outstanding collection of prehistoric rock paintings, the largest in southern Africa, with evidence of human occupation from the early Stone Age. The hills and caves of the area are home to 20,000 cave-paintings and petroglyphs, some more than 13,000 years old.
The national park occupies 106,750 acres (43,200 hectares) and includes the scenic View of the World Hill, or Malindidzimu (4,700 feet ), where Cecil Rhodes is buried.
9. You being there really matters
With Zimbabwe having been off the tourist radar for more than 20 years, the country’s government-managed infrastructure (National Parks accommodation and personnel, and government investment into wildlife safety and anti-poaching) has inevitably suffered. Many parks rely on the support of private organisations and NGOs to continue operating.
Now is a great time to book your trip as soon as you can – to harness the new hope, and sustain the momentum to move forward. Recent events, such as the currency shortage and lack of imported goods, only makes it more important for tourism to grow. Tourism is now funding education and healthcare in rural communities, it is supporting conservation efforts, both through volunteering and through traditional safaris. Your visit to the country has a dramatic and long-lasting impact on whole communities and endangered animal species.
10. Making a plan
Said as a single word, “Don’t worry, we’ll makeaplan”, the phrase is synonymous with all aspects of life in Zimbabwe, and goes some way to understanding the stoicism of the Zimbabwean people, and their ability to thrive through situations that would beat most people. “Making a plan” allows Zimbabweans to get up every morning and find a way to overcome the issues that are thrown in front of them.
How does this translate to your travel experience? Zimbabweans spirit of ingenuity and perseverance has produced a ‘can-do’, ‘no problem is too big’ mentality, where entrepreneurship thrives and a friendly smile goes a LONG way! Where someone you don’t know is willing to open their home to you, and will know someone who can show you something special, or help you with a particular problem.
Why you should travel with Conservation Travel Africa to Zimbabwe
Our foundations are in Zimbabwe and our business was born from a passion inspired by our experiences here. We have the local contacts to customise an itinerary for almost every budget, and can deliver a tailor-made adventure which can include community engagement, volunteering, cultural trips and iconic wildlife experiences.
At CTA, we have a motto stemming from the Zimbabwean ‘makeaplan’ spirit: “Just ask, we can do pretty much anything”. To nowhere does this apply more than travels in Zimbabwe.
We say, when it comes to volunteering, or just visiting Zimbabwe in 2019, be the pioneers of rediscovery, visit before the floodgates inevitably re-open, and have a wild, remote and authentic travel experience.
Be open to every experience – Zimbabwe is 2019’s destination.
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