Zimbabwe possesses great national parks, World Heritage-designated archaeological sites and Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall. Alas, during the 30-year misrule of former President Robert Mugabe, the country was bedeviled by vicious politics, corruption and economic collapse. In many areas, poaching and deforestation greatly reduced the amount of wildlife. Only when the Zimbabwean dollar was suspended in 2009 did a semblance of sanity return. Visitors are now returning to view the “Big Five” on the savannas of Hwange National Park and take safari walks in Mana Pools National Park in the magnificent Zambezi Valley. Nonprofit organizations are also helping to get Zimbabwe back on its feet as a leading safari country.
Credit cards usually work at hotels in Zimbabwe, but ATMs no longer function. Bring whatever cash you might need into the country with you, ideally either South African rand or U.S. dollars.
Endangered Species Sanctuary
The 130,000-acre private Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve adjoins Gonarezhou National Park, which in turn is separated by a narrow corridor from Kruger National Park in South Africa and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. In 1994, the not-for-profit Malilangwe Trust (made possible by a large donation from American billionaire Paul Tudor Jones) was established to purchase and manage this strategically located tract of wilderness and make it a sanctuary for endangered species.
In 1998, 28 rhino from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa were released into the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. Seventeen years later, Malilangwe contained more than 100 rhino. In June 2015, five Malilangwe rhino were flown to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Decimated by poaching, black rhino had been declared “locally extinct” in Botswana in 1992, but the commitment of the government and the newfound competence of the anti-poaching patrols meant the translocation could be undertaken with confidence.
Uncrowded Game Drives
While visiting Victoria Falls, don’t miss the chance to do a game drive or two in Zambezi National Park. It tends to be uncrowded; indeed, we saw no other vehicles during our visit. We had the splendid giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and rare sable antelope all to ourselves.
Zimbabwean dollar (ZWD). Fluctuating rate valued at ZWD361.90 = US$1.00 as of April 2020.
Harare, Tel. (263) 867-701-1000.
To phone hotels in Zimbabwe, dial 011 (international access) + 263 (Zimbabwe code) + city code and local numbers.
June, July and August make up the cool, dry season. October is often the hottest month. Rainfall is highest in December and January.