Zimbabwe Guide - Zanzibar Information - Pure Zanzibar

Zimbabwe Guide

Zimbabwe Overview

Zimbabwe is a land-locked country blessed with fertile soils, mineral wealth and wonderful scenery. Destinations like Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Mana Pools are world-renowned and the country is blessed with diverse habitats, from the granite hills of the Matopos to the majestic mountains, lush forests and beautiful rivers of the Eastern Highlands. As such, there is much to attract the traveller, from wildlife viewing and adrenalin adventures to delving into the history of the Zimbabwean people going back thousands of years.

It is in the more unspoilt and peaceful northern parks that we concentrate our safari operations. The Zambezi has an exceptional variety of spectacular scenery as well as one of the world's natural wonders: the Victoria Falls. The National Parks along the Zambezi are legendary; our concession lies in Mana Pools, located on the floodplains of Africa's Great Rift Valley and offering superb wildlife viewing.

Along the Botswana border the easternmost tongues of the Kalahari sands creep into the country and mix with the teak forests of the interior, so that desert-adapted animals share the same habitat with woodland species. Hwange National Park is home to some of southern Africa's last great elephant, buffalo and sable herds; Wilderness' Makalolo concession within Hwange is a truly wild area where animals have no restrictions and can migrate back and forth. This area also offers Zimbabwe's best summer game viewing.


Capital: Harare
Population: 12 million
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 30 00 E
Area: 390,580 sq km


Currency

The currency in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean Dollar (Z$). For shopping or paying for activities, "cash is still definitely king" (US Dollars especially) and so you are encouraged to bring as much US$ cash as possible for your stay in order to get the best prices (small denominations only as $100 bills are not accepted). Please note that anything bought from registered dealers in local Zimbabwean cash is subject to 15% VAT (which is not refundable on departure).


Language

English is the official language. Other widely spoken languages are Shona and Sindebele, which also have various dialects and other minority languages.


Time

Zimbabwe is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.


Climate

Generally, the days are bright and sunny and the nights clear and cool. November to April are the summer months (which is also the rainy season) while winter is from May to August (which usually bring dry weather). September and October are very hot and very dry.



Ecology and Wildlife

Zimbabwe is cradled between two great African rivers - the myth-shrouded perennial Zambezi and the "great grey green greasy" seasonal Limpopo - between which two majestic watercourses lies a wealth of scenic landscapes, remnants of ancient civilisations and incredible wildlife. Spectacular granite landscapes rise up out of miombo woodland and mopane savannah in the south-west, while on the central plateau are extensive moist grasslands and broad-leaved woodland; to the south-east lie the dry woodlands and bushveld of the lowveld while in the north-west corner the Zambezi River pours over the world-famous Victoria Falls.

Biogeographically Zimbabwe sits at the crossroads of the northern tropics of Central Africa and the southern temperate zone of South Africa. Its more than 5 000 species of flowering plants and ferns are testament to the diversity that is possible in a relatively small country at such a meeting place. It is bisected by a well-defined east-west watershed where the northern half of the country drains into the Zambezi River while in the southern reaches of Zimbabwe, rivers wind their way southwards, flowing into the Limpopo or its eventual tributaries such as the Savé or Nuanetsi. The Zambezi zigzags through the Batoka Gorges below Victoria Falls before it carves a giant arc around the north of the country, great cliffs sliding down into riverine forest and wide floodplains. The river traces the northern border of the country flowing into Lake Kariba and then onward through the hot low-lying Zambezi Valley and the World Heritage Site of Mana Pools National Park.

The Limpopo is a very different river, as it ploughs its way between Zimbabwe and South Africa providing a corridor between Gonarezhou National Park and South Africa's Kruger in the south-west and forming the nucleus of another transfrontier park between Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa in the south-west. Both the Zambezi and the Limpopo reach the Indian Ocean on the coastal plain of Mozambique.

In the east, a range of rugged mountains forms the border with Mozambique. Known as the Eastern Highlands, this area is home to heath and rolling grasslands interspersed with Afro-montane forest - a complete contrast to the low-lying valleys of the lower Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers. This region is an extension of a series of relict isolated forest patches that stretch down the eastern seaboard of Africa and play host to an array of highly restricted plant and animal species such as Swynnerton's Robin-Chat. The western regions of Zimbabwe see the dramatic eastern ramparts replaced with the rounded and impossibly balanced boulders and granite domes of the Matobo Hills. The hills are also famously a stronghold for birds of prey, providing a refuge for more than 50 species including the characteristic Verreauxs' (black) eagle.

Along the Botswana border the easternmost tongues of the Kalahari sands creep into the country and mix with the teak forests of the interior. Here Zimbabwe's largest national park, Hwange, is home to some of southern Africa's last great elephant, buffalo and sable herds and plays an integral role in a network of southern African conservation areas. Likewise the mopane woodlands of the south-eastern lowveld, whose elephant herds continue to migrate between here and neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa. For these and other reasons, this beautiful river-bounded country is a vital link in the broad sweep of intact wilderness areas across the southern half of the African continent.



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