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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

General Information

Zimbabwe enjoys a lovely temperate climate. The central Highveld plateau has temperatures coming up to 28°C/82°F. Lower-lying parks like Hwange and Zambezi NP are warmer year-round and temperatures can reach 31°C/88°F. Mana Pools, Matusadona and Gonarezou are even lower and get hot, with temperatures soaring to 35°C/95°. The Eastern highlands are much colder and receive significantly more rain.

During the wet season, from November to March, rains usually fall in heavy afternoon showers, but they can sometimes be lighter and continuous for a couple of days. The dry season, from April to October, is pretty much rain free and colder. Nights and mornings can be as cold as 5°C/41°F to freezing, but daytime temperatures are still pleasant with a great deal of sunshine. Zimbabwe experiences winter and summer in opposite times as Europe and North America and they correspond to the dry and wet season. 

Reasons To Visit

Wildlife
Some of Africa’s most exclusive wildlife is found in Zimbabwe. Many of the national parks contain the classic Big 5 – Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino, the remoteness of the region combined with attentive guiding make for a likely wildlife encounter. Zimbabwe is also world famous as a birding destination, and Hwange National Park contains some of the highest concentrations of birds on the planet. Species that are unique to Zimbabwe, or found in only limited ranges elsewhere, include the king cheetah in Gonarezhou, and the samango monkey in the Eastern Highlands. 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are four different World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in Zimbabwe: Mana Pools National Park, Matobos National Park, Victoria Falls and the Great Zimbabwe ruins.

Heritage and History
To say that the history of Zimbabwe is rich is an understatement, the abundance of rock art and ruins bear witness to ancient cultures and traditions.

The Matobo Hills for example are home to various archaeological finds dating back to as far as the Pre-Middle Stone Age. Zimbabwe is home to many ethnic groups including the Shona people whose soapstone sculptures have become world famous in the art scene.

Agriculture
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the Southern Africa region with an area of over 390 000 km2.It is bordered by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia . It is situated between 15 and 22° south latitude and 26 and 34° east longitude. Climatic conditions are largely sub-tropical with one rainy season, between November and March. Rainfall reliability decreases from north to south and also from east to west. Only 37% of the country receive rainfall considered adequate for agriculture.

Zimbabwe's economy is driven by agriculture and the majority of the rural people depend on it for their livelihood.

Mineral Resources
Zimbabwe is rich in natural resources and produces more than 40 types of metals and minerals. About 40% of the country's foreign exchange is earned from the export of these metals and minerals, accounting for 5% of total employment and 7% of GDP.Gold belts run along sources of nickel, asbestos, iron ore and pyrites production and contain reserves of antimony, tungsten, corundum and limestone. The world's third largest source of platinum group metals and significant reserves of nickel are found in an area known as the Great Dyke.

Coal is one of Zimbabwe's primary energy sources. High quality coal deposits occur in Hwange, parts of North Matabeleland, the Zambezi valley and in the south east. The Makonde basin in the north west of Zimbabwe, contains the country's copper and graphite mines as well as reserves of lead, zinc and silver.  In recent years diamonds have become the most popular target mineral, following a survey which revealed several potential diamond areas.

Infrastructure to support the industry includes a well maintained system of paved roads, railway links, electricity grid and many industries manufacturing a wide range of mining inputs. Manpower training is carried out at the Zimbabwe School of Mines and University of Zimbabwe which offers many related degrees. To encourage the development of the mining industry, government offers free geological, metallurgical and advisory services to those mines which do not have their own expertise.

Art

Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewellery and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Shona sculpture has become world famous in recent years having first emerged in the 1940s. Most subjects of carved figures of stylised birds and human figures among others are made with sedimentary rocks such as soapstone, as well as harder igneous rocks such as serpentine and the rare stone verdite. Some of these Zimbabwean artefacts being found in countries like Singapore, China and Canada. i.e. Dominic Benhura's statue in the Singapore botanic gardens.

Zimbabwean art includes decorative aesthetics applied to many aspects of life, including art objects as such, utilitarian objects, objects used in religion, warfare, in propaganda, and in many other spheres. Within this broad arena, Zimbabwe has several identifiable categories of art. It is a hallmark of African cultures in general that art touches many aspects of life, and most tribes have a vigorous and often recognisable canon of styles and a great range of art-worked objects. These can include masks, drums, textile decoration, beadwork, carving, sculpture, ceramic in various forms, housing and the person themselves. Decoration of the body in permanent ways such as scarification or tattoo or impermanently as in painting the body for a ceremony is a common feature of African cultures.

Spoken or musical art is also a prominent part of Africa generally. Various instruments including drums, lamellophones and stringed bows have been used in Zimbabwe, while oratory, poetry, fable telling, praise singing and tribal ritual chants are also prominent.

In recent decades Zimbabwe has become widely recognised internationally for its sculpture.

National Parks

Chimanimani National Park
Chimanimani National Park is situated along the eastern boundary of Chimanimani district (bordering Mozambique) in an area of rugged mountain grandeur, enhanced by many spectacular gorges and high peaks rising to 2436m.

There are several streams cascading through the mountain formations as  well as numerous mountain springs. Development in the park has been limited in order to preserve  the  natural, pristine beauty and wild landscapes of this mountainous area. Wildlife species found in this area include eland, sable, bushbuck, blue duiker, klipspringer and an occasional leopard. Forest lovers will take a delight in the virgin forests of the area. The thick, moist, evergreen forest that is found here is rare. Several species of butterfly, birds, plants, snakes and shy cats are commonly seen.
There are no roads in this wild area and only footpaths and narrow tracks lead to the various places of interest. This adds to the fun of the wild and unspoilt character of the area.

Mana Pools National Park
A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Mana Pools National Park is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, remoteness and wilderness. This unique park is a WORLD HERITAGE SITE, based on its wildness and beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, over 350 bird species and aquatic wildlife. Mana Pools is one of Zimbabwe's most popular parks, and it is easy to see why it falls into this profile. The name "Mana'' means "four" in the local Shona language. This applies to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River. These pools are the remnant ox-bow lakes that the Zambezi River carved out thousands of years ago as it changed its course northwards. Hippopotamus, crocodiles and a wide variety of aquatic birds are associated with the pools. ''Long Pool'', is the largest of the four pools, extending some six kilometres in a west-east direction. This pool has a large population of hippo and crocodiles and is a favourite for the large herds of elephant that come out of the thickly vegetated areas in the south to drink.

Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Park
A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Parks are situated on the western tip of Zimbabwe. The Falls, known by the local Kololo tribe as Mosi oa Tunya- The Smoke that thunders, is one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" and one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls on earth.

Nyanga National Park
Nyanga National Park is situated in one of the most scenic areas of Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands. Rolling green hills and perennial rivers transverse the 47 000 hectare Park. Altitudes between 1 800 and 2 593 metres provide cool weather and fresh mountain air, perfect for rest and relaxation. With its stunning mountainous views, numerous waterfalls, varied activities and unique flora and fauna, Nyanga National Park can provide the visitor with an unforgettable holiday experience. The park is located about 268 km from Harare along a well tarred highway.

Matusadona National Park
Matusadona National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba but was proclaimed a non-hunting area on 7 November 1958 before the dam was built. It became a Game Reserve in 1963, and in 1975, in terms of the Parks & Wildlife Act, it became a National Park. The Park comprises some 1 400 square kilometres of diverse flora and fauna. Before the lake was built, Matusadona was a vast, rugged wilderness with limited access.  With the lake came ecological changes. One in particular, the lakeshore contributed greatly to the increase of large mammal populations in the area, especially elephant and buffalo. The grass found on the shoreline is Panicum repens and is a rejuvenating grass - needing only fluctuating lake levels to replenish its nutrients. With this ready food source, buffalo, waterbuck, zebra, and even impala have thrived and with them the predators. Matusadonha is an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) and home to several relocated rhinoceros.

Matobo National Park
A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, Matobo National Park occupies a total area of 44 500 hectares. Established in 1953, the Park was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in June 2003. The Park includes an Intensive Protection Zone where a large population of Black and White Rhinoceros are successfully breeding. The Park offers a diverse package of tourist attractions and activities.  The park is situated in the magnificent Matobo Hills, a range of domes, spires and balancing rock formations which have been hewn out of the solid granite plateau through millions of years of erosion and weathering. The majestic and rugged terrain of the park is a hiker's paradise and the diversity of the vegetation supports a wide range of wildlife.

Matobo meaning 'bald heads' was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park. Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu -' hill of benevolent spirits'. He referred to this hill as having a 'View of the World'. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of massive boulders.

The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. The Park is home to a wide variety of animal species including: black and white rhinoceros, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, eland, sable, klipspringer, leopard, hyena, cheetah, hippo, warthog, rock dassies, waterbuck, wildcat, springhare, common duiker, crocodiles, baboons and monkeys.

The richness of the Park can also be seen from the diverse bird life. The park is famous for its large concentration of black eagles, which can be seen perched atop the rock formations or soaring along the cliffs in search of prey. Bird species that can be found include, fish eagle, martial eagle, francolin, secretary bird, weavers, pied crow and Egyptian geese. Fish species readily found in this Park include, bass, bottle fish, bream, catfish and robustus.

Matobo National Park has a mixed type of vegetation that ranges from Mopane, Acacia species, Brachstegia in other area, Figtrees, Azanza species, Zizphus species, Strychnos species and Terminalia species.

Kazuma Pan National Park
Situated in the north-west corner of Zimbabwe between Kazungula and Hwange National Park, and south-west of Victoria Falls, the Kazuma Pan National Park is 31 300 hectares in extent. The Park which is an extension of the Matetsi Safari Area was developed to be a refuge for the animals during the hunting season.

Chizarira National Park
Chizarira National Park is situated on top of the great Zambezi Escarpment in the north western part of Zimbabwe - overlooking the mighty Zambezi Valley and the upper waters of Lake Kariba. This large remote area of 192 000 hectares of wild, untouched flora and fauna is endowed with magnificent gorges, plateaus and flood plains, which make this pristine park a spectacular destination for any visitor. Because of its wild and remote nature, the tranquillity and rugged beauty of Chizarira National Pak is indeed unequalled. 

Chizarira takes its name from the word "sijalila" meaning "great barrier" in the local Tonga dialect. The magnificent range of mountains which are part of the Zambezi Escarpment form the Park's western border and offer challenging hiking and spectacular views of the valley below. The Park is renowned for its walking trails which offer the visitor an unparalleled opportunity to getup-close to nature. Due to the presence of large game and predators, visitors are only allowed to walk under the supervision and protection of an experienced guide. Chizarira is the place for 4 x 4 enthusiasts with its broken terrain of untamed gorges and hills. There are many challenging roads and tracks which lead to hidden gorges, spectacular viewpoints and richly vegetated natural springs. Visitors are able to make game drives in their own vehicles or book guided tours with the local operators.

Hwange National Park
Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometres. It is located in the northwest corner of the country about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls. It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th Century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park's elephant population is one of the largest in the world. The Park has three distinctive Camps and administrative offices at Robins, Sinamatella and the largest one at Main Camp.

Gonarezhou National Park
Gonarezhou National Park is situated in the south eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe and covers an area in excess of 5 000 square kilometres. "Gonarezhou" meaning "Place of many Elephants" is an extremely scenic Park full of rugged and beautiful landscapes. Alternative folklore suggests the are was named for the herbalists who would stock their medicines in tusks (known as gona in the Shona language).

Three major rivers - The Save, Runde and Mwenezi - cut their courses through the Park, forming pools and natural oases from which hundreds of species of birds, wildlife and fish gather to feed and drink. As its name implies, Gonarezhou is famous for its elephants, and many of the largest-tusked elephants in the region maybe found within the Park.

Information courtesy of Zimbabwe Tourism.

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