I always thought that Cape Town in South Africa would be my first port of call when I made my debut trip to the African continent but knowing how important tourism is to the economy of a nation, I decided to head to Zimbabwe to witness the beauty behind the country renowned for its political turbulence.
One advantage to being amongst the few who travel to a country that is often feared by many tourists because of its turbulent history of racial discrimination, poverty and political issues, is that the friendly locals are more than welcoming and extremely hospitable to travellers. However, it’s probably best not to express your opinions on the political unrest, as the issue is sensitive amongst the Zimbabwe residents.
If you are looking for places to stay in Zimbabwe, there are a number of hostels, lodges, B&Bs and fancier hotels. During our time in the cities we opted for slightly more expensive hotels rooms as we were two girls travelling by ourselves, but once we headed out of the city we opted for rustic lodges and friendly B&Bs for an authentic African experience.
Food and drink in Zimbabwe is fresh and unprocessed – just how I like it. Normally I am fairly unadventurous when it comes to trying new food but I was pleasantly surprised with the local dishes. ‘Sadza’ soon became my favourite meal during my trip and despite its porridge-like appearance, it’s really tasty when you roll the maize mixture into balls and then dunk them into stew and gravy –just imagine sloppier, lumpier Yorkshire puddings. Remember to clap twice when you receive your food to say thank you!
Fortunately for me Zimbabwe is a fantastic wine-producing region and no trip is ever complete without a taste of the local tipple. The Busham Rock Estate sits in the Nyamasanga River Valley, 40km outside of Zimbabwe’s capital city Harare, and is a great place to sample some of the country’s finest wines whilst taking in some pretty spectacular views overlooking the estate’s 14 hectares of vineyards and surrounding rolling hills, under the blazing sun.
But of course, I could not travel all the way to Zimbabwe without a visit to the world’s largest waterfalls –Victoria Falls. The stunning falls are located on the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and neighbouring country, Zambia. Famously known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the mile-long Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for me, one of Mother Nature’s most impressive creations.
The noise is deafening and don’t forget to take your cagoule because you will get a bit soggy! The remarkable thing about these falls is that the water doesn’t flow down from surrounding mountains or deep valleys, but instead from flat terrain which extends out by 100’s of kilometres. I was lucky enough to witness my very own breathtaking Victoria Falls rainbow, and I have since heard that when the moon is full, a shimmering ‘moonbow’ can be seen in the spray.
While you’re in the Victoria Falls area, one place I strongly recommend visiting is the country’s largest game reserve, Hwange National Park. This national park extends over 14,600 square kilometres and is home to some of the world’s most magnificent creatures including lions, elephants, buffalo, zebras, leopards, rhinos, impala, kudu, and hundred of different species of birds.
Despite my preconception of Zimbabwe, this is one place I would highly recommend to travellers who are seeking natural unspoiled beauty and thrilling adventures. If that hasn’t convinced you, surely the chance of seeing a magical moonbow at Full Moon will tempt you to this beautiful and flourishing African nation?
Author bio: Anna Ridley
Anna Ridley is a freelance travel writer who has a passion for travel, writing and fizzy wine. After living in the French Alps for two years, she now lives back by the beach in Cornwall where she is attempting to work her way through her “bucket list”.
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