By His Excellency Dr. Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Former Member of Parliament, Royal Thai Government
Located in South East Africa, separated from Zambia by the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe shares border with South Africa in the south, Mozambique in the east, and Botswana in the west. Gifted with many natural wonders and diverse landscapes, varied wildlife and high-quality safari destinations, unique heritage, history and museums, it is one of the most attractive travel destinations of the world
Zimbabwe is considered an attractive destination for tourists interested in traveling to Africa. In 2018, about 2.6 million tourists visited Zimbabwe, accounting for 3.8 percent of all tourists coming to Africa. It is ranked 4th, after Morocco (18.3 percent), South Africa (15.6 percent) and Tunisia (12.4 percent) (International Tourism Highlights 2019 Edition, p.21) (1). Although tourism may not be as important to the Zimbabwe economy as the mining and agriculture sectors, tourism also plays an important role in its economy. In 2016 and 2017, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Zimbabwe’s GDP was 3.5 percent, but the total contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP, including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts, was over 8 percent (World Travel and Tourism Council) (2). Tourism in Zimbabwe is continuously expanding, average annual growth rate is 3% for the past 10 years. Tourists come to Zimbabwe for many reasons. Some of the features of Zimbabwe that attract tourists include the following:
MANY NATURAL WONDERS AND DIVERSE LANDSCAPES
Zimbabwe is a fabulous destination with abundant natural wonders and diverse landscapes. You can go to Zimbabwe and find great lakes, parks, waterfalls, mountains etc. National parks in Zimbabwe are amongst the finest in Africa. Some of them are truly spectacular, such as Hwange National Park (the third largest in Africa), Mana Pools (a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site) and Victoria Falls National Park. Zimbabwe has spectacular waterfalls in all shapes and sizes. Victoria Falls is one of greatest waterfalls in the world. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989 and is classified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. There are also the Mtarazi Falls, which is Zimbabwe’s highest waterfall, and the Nyangombe Falls, a wider collection of cascading falls that form natural swimming pools. Moreover, there is Lake Kariba, where you can go relax on the shores, and the Eastern Highlands, a mountain range in the east of Zimbabwe, where you can hike the slopes.
VARIED WILDLIFE AND HIGHQUALITY SAFARI DESTINATIONS
Zimbabwe is a tourist destination that has some of the greatest variety of wild animals. Within 11 national parks and many special reserves in the country, you can find the Big Five – elephants, leopards, rhinos (black and white), buffalos and lions. Elephants are especially plentiful: Zimbabwe is home to one of the largest concentrations of elephants in the world. Other creatures include wild dogs, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, crocodiles and hippos. Zimbabwe is also renowned for its birdlife, with more than 600 species recorded countrywide. Zimbabwe is therefore a great place for a safari experience. It’s an exclusive place to travel as there are no masses of people or vehicles gathering around wildlife like the other tourist spots in its neighboring countries.
As a tourist, you can try a walking safari with an experienced, armed ranger and a high standard guide. At Mana Pools, Lake Kariba and Hwange, bush walks of all durations are available. Self-guided walking is also allowed at the Matobo hills as it lacks predators. Another highlight you should try if you love safari and want to experience the adventure is horse riding to explore the untamed wilderness.
Almost every national park, including the surrounds of Victoria Falls, have this activity. The Eastern Highlands is also a good spot for horse riding.
UNIQUE HERITAGE, HISTORY AND MUSEUMS
Zimbabwe is full of notable historic attractions. Evidence of ancient civilizations can be found in many places in Zimbabwe. The UNESCO site of Great Zimbabwe, or Great Enclosure, is the best place to start. The giant drystone walls are one of the main attractions of Zimbabwe today and can provide people who interested with an insight into Zimbabwe’s incredible history and remain as a reminder of ancient African civilization.
There is another UNESCO title holder, which is similar to Great Zimbabwe in many ways. It is called the Khami Ruins. It is the site of a former Iron Age capital that was constructed without any mortar, and housed residents and a royal family for around 200 years. Another interesting place to go see the best-preserved rock paintings in Africa is the Matobo National Park in the southwest of Zimbabwe. There is a selection of interesting artefacts dating all the way back to the pre-middle Stone Age, or more than 13,000 years. For museum lovers, Zimbabwe has some excellent collections for you to see.
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare shows the country’s heritage. The Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences is home to the oldest wooden artefact discovered in sub-Saharan Africa. The Bulawayo Railway Museum has a collection of locomotives, carriages and provides a potted history of the city’s role at the heart of Zimbabwe’s once burgeoning railway network.
MANY FUN ACTIVITIES AND GENUINE CUSTOMER SERVICE
Zimbabwe has endless adventures to offer. In just the town of Victoria Falls alone there’s white-water rafting on the Grade 5 rapids of the mighty Zambezi River, bungee jumping, horseback safaris, gorge swinging, zip lining, abseiling and crocodile cage diving. Zimbabwe is an excellent, more affordable, option to some of its neighbours which offer similar experiences. As guiding is a comparatively well-paid career in Zimbabwe, it means that there are plenty of high-quality candidates willing to do the job. Moreover, Zimbabwe’s education system is one of the best in southern Africa. Therefore, Zimbabwe is full of well-educated guides who speak excellent English. They also have a reputation as being among the best in the business.
Their passion for wildlife is infectious and they delight in showing you what makes Zimbabwe so special. Not just as tour guides, Zimbabwean people are truly a joy to meet. They are warm, friendly, genuinely happy to see you enjoying their country and keen to share experiences they have as well. There is no better place to experience this than being on safari in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe may not be your first thought for a tourist destination. However, Zimbabwe has improved gradually. Zimbabwe is beautiful. It has a great number of tourist facilities. It is generally a safe country. Therefore, Zimbabwe is a great destination for you to visit once in your lifetime.