When my friends first suggested we take a trip to Africa, my self-preservation senses said “No Way”, but my sense of adventure soon took over, and almost in the blink of an eye, we were ready. We weighed our options for a while and decided that we go to the country that intrigues us the most – Zimbabwe.
Flying to the Harare International Airport from London was a long journey, a total of 17 hours, and we were weary by the time we got out of the airport, but the big wide smiles of the Zimbabweans, especially our greeter, made our tiredness melt away. There we were, five Londoners coming from a particularly wet Autumn in a sea of sunshine being greeted and driven by a man named “Blessing”. He drove us to our B&B, where we could unload, get freshened up, and be prepared for the long journeys ahead.
As we arrived in the early morning, we decided to take a small trip around the city of Harare. The capital of Zimbabwe was full of surprises, as it has several sights to see: the impressive parliament building was the highlight of the city centre while the Kopje, a small rocky hill on Harare’s outskirts, offered spectacular views of the city. There was sadly little time for the botanical garden, because it was truly a place worth a proper visit. There was also a smattering of shopping districts that we would have liked to visit, but we had to get back to our B&B for an early morning drive to Nyanga.
A good way to measure how great a destination is, is the number of times you say “Wow!”. Nyanga National Park is the first wildlife spot we visited, and the “Wow!” meter was rising. Nyanga offers spectacular views of the surroundings. The highest mountain in Zimbabwe, Mount Inyangani, is also located here. We spent two days at Nyanga, after which our tour took us to Chimanimani.
The exotically named Chimanimani only added to the Wows of the previous two days. The views are different from Nyanga, but this was as beautiful to see, if not more. An amazing array of birdlife, jagged peaks, winding trails, and the small but spectacular Bridal Veil Waterfalls were the highlights of the two days at Chimanimani.
Masvingo is the location of the famous Great Zimbabwe Ruins, the only remains of a once great civilisation thought to have been from around the 11th to the 15th centuries. We spent around 4 hours at this place.
Our sixth and seventh days were spent in Matopos National Park, off Bulawayo, which is home to the Natural History Museum, which is well worth the few hours we spent there. Matopos was a great hiking experience, made better by a bubbly guide who seemed to know the park as if it were his home.