Declared one of the best safari destinations in the world, an authentic African safari should be at the top of every traveler, avid adventurer, and nature and wildlife enthusiast’s travel bucket list. Some of the top safari destinations in Africa include Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Tanzania is one of the most captivating and diverse African safari destinations. Boasting a remarkable array of national parks and game reserves, ranging from the expansive and world-renowned Serengeti National Park to the wild and secluded hidden wilderness gem of Katavi National Park, Tanzania has it all! There are few destinations in Africa that can rival Tanzania’s sheer diversity and abundance of wildlife and vast and varied landscapes.
A landlocked country in southern Africa, Zambia is emerging as a premier safari travel location due to its unspoiled landscapes and diversity of wildlife and birdlife. But it’s the sheer remoteness of Zambia’s many wonderful wilderness regions and national parks that makes it one of the top safari destinations for locals, tourists, and adventure travelers alike.
Offering an endless variety of things to see and experience, here are the best things to do and top 10 tourist attractions in Zambia, all of which should be on your Zambian travel and safari bucket-list.
#1 VICTORIA FALLS
Regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and one of Africa’s most astonishing sights, Victoria Falls reigns supreme as one of the top tourist attractions in Zambia. Locally known as Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, this jaw-dropping waterfall on the Zambezi River is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Stretching 1.7km wide and reaching a height of 355 feet, Victoria Falls is considered to be the world’s biggest sheet of falling water.
When the Zambezi River is in full flood, it is estimated that 500-million litres of water per minute thunders over the drop, crashing into a deep rocky gorge at the bottom, throwing a cloud of mist and rainbow-lit spray high into the air. While the Main Falls lie within the borders of Zimbabwe, the Zambian side is equally as impressive during peak flood season (February to May). By far one of the best Zambian viewpoints is the Knife-Edge Bridge, which takes you right up close to this thundering waterfall – be prepared to get soaked!
Victoria Falls is a fantastic start or end point to a Zambian safari. If you have the time, it is highly recommended that you spend a few days exploring and sampling the many thrilling activities on offer. From relaxed sightseeing on foot and scenic helicopter flights to heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing experiences like white water rafting on high-grade rapids, microlight flights and bungee jumping – there is something for everyone to enjoy!
#2 LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK
Situated along the lower section of the Zambezi River, the Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s premier wildlife and safari destinations. The main draw of the national park is its remote off-the-beaten-path location and pristine wilderness. Encompassing vast and varied terrain, including forest, grassland, and floodplain, the Lower Zambezi National Park supports a fantastic diversity of wildlife. Home to plenty of big game, including elephants, lions, buffaloes, hippos, and Nile crocodiles, as well as an array of birdlife and other wildlife species, wildlife enthusiasts will definitely not be disappointed.
Wildlife viewing is best along the rivers, which border the park on three sides. The Zambezi River is the region’s main source of water as well as its top attraction, both for game and visitors.
When visiting the Lower Zambezi National Park you can go on a safari or game drive and explore all the wonders the park has to offer or enjoy an adventure-filled nature walk. By far one of the major highlights is going on a canoe safari along the Zambezi River! It is both peaceful and undeniably thrilling paddling and drifting past the twitching ears and snorts of submerged hippos and knobbly Nile crocodiles basking on the riverbanks. The guides are utterly attuned to the animals’ habits and behaviour and are completely at ease predicting their next moves – So you can rest assured you are in safe hands!
#3 SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
South Luangwa National Park is arguably the greatest wildlife-viewing destination and top tourist attraction in Zambia. Boasting among the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Africa, the park is regarded as one of the very best places to see large herds of buffalo, elephants, and giraffes.
South Luangwa is home a number of rare and endemic species including Thornicroft’s giraffe, Cookson’s wildebeest and Crawshay’s zebra, along with plenty of leopard, lion, and hippo. In late October, just before the start of the rain, thousands of hippos gather in the Luangwa River’s deeper pools – It is a remarkable spectacle to witness as they jostle and fight for space.
The best time to visit South Luangwa National Park for pristine wildlife sightings is during the dry season when the area’s wildlife flock to the banks of the river. This also gives you the opportunity to see predators such as leopards and lions in action!
South Luangwa is famous for their walking safaris, which are led by expert guides through some of Africa’s best game viewing territory. Another major attraction is boat safaris, especially during the park’s rainy season. As the Luangwa River breaks its banks, shallow-draft vessels can navigate into the flooded riverine groves – this is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s most unique and exciting safari highlights!
#4 KAFUE NATIONAL PARK
Kafue National Park is the largest national park and wildlife reserve in Zambia and the second-biggest park in all of Africa. It covers more than 22000km² (2500km2 more than South Africa’s Kruger National Park), with the terrain varying significantly from north to south. Despite being one of Africa’s largest parks, Kafue is the least visited of Zambia’s three major national parks. Located well off-the-beaten-track, Kafue National Park is still very, very wild and regarded as somewhat of a Zambian hidden gem.
Rivers, seasonal floodplains, and far-reaching, wildlife-rich wetlands dominate northern Kafue. The extreme north of Kafue National Park is also where you’ll find the Busanga Plains, one of Zambia’s most significant wetland resources and the best region of the park for game viewing. Huge herds of red lechwe, puku, stately roan antelope, blue wildebeests, and zebras graze these grassy floodplains. Their large numbers attract plenty of predators, including lion prides, lone cheetahs, packs of wild dogs, and leopards. The Kafue River – the namesake of the park – is home to plenty of hippos as well as some of the largest crocodiles in southern Africa.
Birders will delight in the extreme northwest of the Kafue National Park where the Busanga Swamps, an official Ramsar site, attracts close to 500 birdlife species, including large flocks of herons, egrets, and endangered wattle cranes.
Southern Kafue boasts large sections of Kalahari wood- and grassland, making it the ideal location for ever-growing populations of plains game as well as the park’s largest population of elephant and buffalo.
Along with game drives, you can spend your days in Kafue National Park on walking safaris and boat rides/safaris on either the Kafue River or Lunga River. Walking safaris are best during winter, while boat safaris are available along the Kafue River during the wet summer months.
#5 LAKE KASHIBA
Lake Kashiba is undoubtedly one of Zambia’s best hidden gems. As the surface level of the water is 30 feet below the floor of the surrounding forest, Lake Kashiba is often referred to as a ‘sunken lake’. While the surface area of the lake is small, it is incredibly deep with a depth of 330 feet around its sides. The depth of the centre of Lake Kashiba is however unknown, which has given rise to several mystical tales and legends of monsters below the surface.
Despite the air of mystery that surrounds it, the bluish-green water of the lake is extremely welcoming, and it has become a popular destination for activities like fishing and swimming.
Lake Kashiba is located in the north of Zambia, about a 40-minute drive from the town of Mpongwe in Copperbelt Province.
#6 KASANKA NATIONAL PARK
Lying just south of the Bangweulu Wetlands, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kasanka National Park is one of the top national parks and tourist attractions in Zambia. It is Zambia’s only privately managed park.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful reserves in Zambia, it boasts wonderful papyrus marshes, swamp forests and the miombo woodlands together with several criss-crossing rivers and seasonal, swampy pools which support almost 500 species of birds.
By far one of the top attractions of Kasanka is its annual bat migration. Every year from late-November to December, the skies around Kasanka National Park come alive with around 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats. The annual Kasanka National Park bat migration is regarded as the largest mammal migration in the world! While the sheer volume of bats is nothing short of draw-dropping, it’s the atmosphere surrounding this phenomenon that’s the most thrilling part as huge birds of prey swoop through the skies and take down as many bats as possible. Small predators and scavengers can also be found waiting below, ready to pounce on any that fall.
Kasanka is home to various wildlife and several antelope species including the rare, swamp-dwelling Sitatunga antelope which is fairly common in this area and can most often be spotted grazing in the misty dambos (wetlands). Hippo and crocodile are also plentiful, while buffalo, leopard, and elephant are present, but tougher to spot.
Many visitors combine Kasanka National Park with a trip to the nearby Bangweulu Wetlands to see the renowned shoebills and endemic black lechwe.
What You Need to Know:
- Kasanka is the only place in the world where you can witness this natural phenomenon.
- The migration only takes place for about 90 days (late October to mid-December).
- We recommend flying directly to Kasanka by private charter plane (there is an airstrip inside the park).
#7 LAKE KARIBA
Lake Kariba may not be as deep as Lake Kashiba, but it holds the distinction of being the largest man-made reservoir in the world by volume, extending over 5000km2 along Zambia’s southern border. The lake spans over 140 miles/220 kilometers along the border with Zimbabwe and reaches up to 25 miles/40 kilometers in width at its widest point.
Access to the Zambian side of Lake Kariba is fairly limited, with Sinazongwe and Siavonga being the only two towns of any significance providing access to the lake. Siavonga is only a few hours’ drive from Lusaka. Regarded as a laid-back lakeside holiday village, it is the larger of the two towns and very popular among locals. As Sinazongwe is much smaller and less developed, most locals and visitors head to Siavonga as their base for exploring Lake Kariba.
The Zambian side of Lake Kariba is far less wild than the Zimbabwean side. For wildlife sightings and encounters you will have to visit one of two large islands, Chete or Chikanka. Both islands are located in the southwest and accessible from Sinazongwe. Chete is the larger of the two islands and guided game walks/walking safaris are possible. Chete is home to a small population of elephants, some leopards and plenty of hippos, crocodiles, and birds.
Chikanka is privately owned, with a single, dedicated fishing lodge. It is one of many fishing options on Lake Kariba, with tigerfish being the most sought-after catch.
Houseboating is a very popular activity on Lake Kariba, and you are likely to see countless hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and all manner of birds as you drift along. You can also opt to enjoy a private motorboat trip or canoe safari. All of these exciting expeditions and safari adventures can be arranged from Siavonga.
#8 BLUE LAGOON NATIONAL PARK
Located a mere 75 miles/120km by road from Lusaka (the capital city of Zambia), Blue Lagoon National Park is not only one of the top wilderness destinations and tourist attractions in Zambia, but one of its most accessible parks for locals and tourists alike. Besides being incredibly easy to get to, it is absolutely worth the visit.
Blue Lagoon National Park is a relatively undiscovered park that was established in 1976. However, it was closed to the public by the Ministry of Defence and became a haven for poachers. Thanks to highly dedicated and successful rehabilitation efforts, the park reopened to the public in 2003.
Today, Blue Lagoon National Park welcomes visitors and avid wildlife enthusiasts from far and wide to its stunning location and vast wilderness terrains. As it remains largely untouched by the masses and developmental efforts, it has a certain undeniable and untamed natural beauty that’s hard to deny.
The best time to visit the Blue Lagoon National Park is during its wet season when the vast floodplains fill with water, attracting thousands of birds and mammals.
#9 LIUWA PLAIN NATIONAL PARK
Located west of the upper Zambezi River, close to the border with Angola, Liuwa Plain National Park is one of Zambia’s most remote national parks. Liuwa Plain is primarily made up of vast grasslands with a smattering of pans, palms, and clumps of Kalahari woodland.
During the rainy/wet season (December – April) large areas of the park are completely flooded, as with much of northern Zambia. Even during the drier winter months, Liuwa Plain National Park is difficult to reach. This only heightens its appeal among eager adventurers, thrill seekers and dedicated nature and wildlife enthusiasts. The lucky ones who reach this Zambian wilderness hidden gem, will feel like they have the entire national park to themselves – and perhaps they even do!
Boasting jaw-dropping panoramic views and unapologetic natural beauty, genuinely low visitor numbers (due to its remote location), and an abundant and diverse wildlife population, Liuwa Plain National Park is the ultimate African wilderness and safari destination.
Liuwa Plain’s biggest single wildlife attraction is its annual blue wildebeest migration when an estimated 40000 animals or more migrate as the rising water levels force the herds southeast in search of fresh grazing. This remarkable spectacle takes place in November each year and is the second largest of its kind in the world.
Liuwa Plain’s birdlife is another major draw, with some of its pans holding water year-round. Attracting a large variety of species, including spoonbills, marabou and saddle-billed storks, herons, and a noteworthy bird rarely found in groups elsewhere, the Slaty egret – it is a true bird lover’s paradise! Another notable wildlife highlight is Liuwa Plain National Park’s thriving hyena population. Estimated at around 600, they take the top spot as Liuwa’s apex predator.
#10 SIOMA NGWEZI AND NGONYE FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Covering 5,000km² of Kalahari woodland, Sioma Ngwezi is Zambia’s third-largest national park. Bordered by the Kwando River to the west (which also forms Zambia’s border with Angola) and Namibia to the south, Sioma Ngwezi is tucked away in the southwestern corner of Zambia. Combined with the impressive Ngonye Falls National Park located further north, it has become one of Zambia’s top up-and-coming regions to visit with its diverse wildlife attracting avid adventure travelers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Sioma Ngwezi National Park has a history of excellent giraffe sightings and visitors can look forward to seeing various wildlife species, including lion, leopard, and spotted hyena when visiting the park. As water is scarce in this region of Zambia, the best time for wildlife viewing is just after the summer rains when animals congregate in large numbers around the drying pools.
While Zambia’s 25 metre high Ngonye Falls may not be as grand as the renowned Victoria Falls, what it lacks in stature it more than makes up in volume. Besides admiring its beauty, visitors can enjoy various exhilarating adventure experiences, including kayaking, white water rafting, swimming, and fishing.
Zimbabwe is a country endowed with so much natural beauty, profound history, vast and remarkable landscapes, and an incredible diversity of wildlife, birdlife, national parks, and reserves to explore. Zimbabwe boasts a range of diverse habitats, from the forested valleys of Matobo Hills National Park, and the watery wilderness of Lake Kariba, to the floodplains of Mana Pools National Park, and the mopane woodlands and savannas of Hwange National Park.
Beyond its astounding landscapes and habitats, Zimbabwe is home to an astounding 500 species of birds, 199 mammal species, 130 species of fish and several rare and endemic species such as the sable antelope.
What sets Zimbabwe apart from its fellow southern African neighbors is the fact that it offers tourists and travelers alike the chance to experience superb game viewing and unforgettable safari adventures without the large crowds – Undoubtedly making it one of the best safari destinations to visit in Africa.
Offering an endless variety of things to see and experience, here are the best things to do and top 10 tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, all of which should be on your Zimbabwean bucket-list.
#1 Hwange National Park
Hwange National Park is one of Africa’s top national parks. Covering a vast expanse of around 5,655 square miles/14,650 square kilometers, it is both the largest and oldest of Zimbabwe’s game reserves.
Hwange National Park is undoubtedly one of the top tourist attractions for wildlife enthusiasts as the park has the biggest diversity of mammals out of the world’s national parks. Home to over 100 species of mammals, including the renowned African Big 5, lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and buffalo, Hwange National Park’s game viewing and sightings are unparalleled. In addition to its exceptional diversity of wildlife, this world-renowned national park is famous for its profound population of elephants, boasting over 50 000 elephants. The Hwange elephant population is thought to be one of the largest in the world.
The park is also known for regular sightings of some of Africa’s rarest safari animals, such as the brown hyena, the critically endangered black rhino, roan, sable, and the endangered wild dog – Hwange National Park is said to be home to one of Africa’s largest populations of the endangered wild dog. Visiting Hwange during the dry winter months of July to October guarantees spectacular wildlife sightings, as animals gather around the man-made waterholes in the park to drink. Birdlife is also abundant at Hwange National Park, with over 500 species recorded within the park.
What makes Hwange so special is the fact that it is easily accessible as well as its lack of crowds. For all of its biodiversity, huge herds of elephants and ease of sightings in the winter months, the park never gets crowded, which means you have the space and the quiet to soak up the magic of the bush.
#2 Lake Kariba
Situated in the north of Zimbabwe, northeast of Victoria Falls and sharing a border with Zambia, Lake Kariba is landlocked Zimbabwe’s answer to the seaside: a massive manmade lake that provides a wonderful combination of water and wildlife. Stretching for over 140 miles/220 kilometers in length, and measures 25 miles/40 kilometers across at its widest point, it is the world’s largest man-made lake in terms of volume. The traditional and by far the best way to explore the wonders of Lake Kariba is on a houseboat. Kariba is renowned as one of the best places in the world to catch tiger fish, a ferocious freshwater species, as well as for its remarkable sightings of hippos, crocodiles, elephants and vast birdlife.
The lake’s islands also offer ample opportunities for game viewing. Perhaps the most rewarding wildlife area is Matusadona National Park, located on Kariba’s southern shore.
#3 Mana Pools National Park
Regarded as being both Zimbabwe’s best park and one of the finest wilderness areas in Africa, Mana Pools National Park is a superb safari destination. Situated at the northern most point of Zimbabwe straddling the Zambian border, Mana Pools is renowned for its untamed natural beauty: a riverine wilderness on the Zambezi River of pools, floodplains, baobab trees and forests that feels totally remote and never gets crowded.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its incredible and diverse concentration of wildlife, Mana Pools National Park is undoubtedly one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe for wildlife lovers from around the world. The park is famous for its huge elephant herds, as well as exceptional sightings of cheetahs and the entire African Big 5. It is also known as one of the top places in Africa to spot the endangered African wild dog.
Mana Pools is a haven for water-based wildlife, with large populations of hippo and Nile crocodile. They live in the four pools that give the park its name, each one created by the Zambezi River before it altered its course to flow northward. The largest pool is approximately 3.7 miles/6 kilometers long, and acts as a valuable water source, especially in the height of the dry season. The abundance of water present in this area makes it a prime spot for birders.
The appeal of the park is not just its wildlife – it’s how you get to experience the bush in immersive ways: staying in unfenced campsites in the midst of the wilderness and going on walking and canoeing safaris to see its profound and diverse wildlife and birdlife is where the true magic and adventure lies. Mana Pools National Park is also one of the only parks in Africa where you can walk and explore without a guide. It is however advised that you have a lot of bush knowledge and experience before going off on your own.
#4 Victoria Falls
Tumbling down 100-metre-high cliffs surrounded by lush forests, Victoria Falls is the biggest sheet of falling water on the planet. Regarded as one of Africa’s most astounding sights as well as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls reigns supreme as one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions.
During peak flood season (February – March), the spray thrown up by the plunging Victoria Falls water can be seen from approximately 50 kilometers away. This spectacular natural spectacle which has people travelling from around the world to witness and experience first-hand, gives the falls its indigenous name — Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders”.
Stretching 1.7 kilometers wide, the falls span across both Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are pathways on each side of the border that lead you to the edge of cliffs. On the Zimbabwean side, the path winds its way along the edge of the gorge with viewpoints offering breathtaking panoramas of the plummeting water and the renowned rainbows that hang suspended above the chasm. While the sound is known to be somewhat overwhelming, and you’re bound to get soaking wet from the famous falls’ spray (a bucket-list worthy experience in itself), the magnificent spectacle you get to witness is one you’ll never forget.
As the town of Victoria Falls sits right by the falls themselves on the Zimbabwean side, it is famous for its vast variety of thrilling adrenaline sports and incredible safari activities. Some of these experiences include bungee jumping, abseiling, white-water rafting, and wildlife spotting from horseback.
#5 Matobo National Park
Regarded as the spiritual home of Zimbabwe, Matobo National Park boasts some of the world’s most impressive granite scenery. The fascinating granite rock formations and lunar landscape of balancing rocks, known as kopjes – giant boulders stacked on top of each other, as if they’re about to topple over – is not only a remarkable sight and one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, but a stunning natural spectacle and work of art. This site has an intriguing history, tracing back some 2000 million years ago when molten rock erupted across the landscape.
Several of the rocks are marked with ancient rock art created by the San bushmen about 2000 years ago. In fact, the recreational section of Matobo National Park has Southern Africa’s highest concentration of ancient rock art with 3500 sites dating back 13,000 years. To this day the Matobo Hills are considered incredibly important to the local community as they are used as sacred sanctuaries and shrines.
Matobo National Park is an exceptional wildlife and safari destination. The game park section of Matobo National Park is not only home to Zimbabwe’s highest concentration of white and black rhinos, it has one of the largest leopard populations in Southern Africa and is a great place to spot Verreaux’s eagles, in addition to other wildlife and birdlife species.
**Interesting Fact: Cecil Rhodes, a controversial 19th-century imperialist, businessman, and politician, was buried here. His remains are marked by a brass plaque perched atop World’s View, the park’s most iconic viewpoint.
#6 Chimanimani National Park
Located on the eastern border with Mozambique, the mountainous Chimanimani National Park is known for its unapologetic natural beauty. Famous for its plunging gorges, lush valleys, mountain landscapes, and soaring peaks, with the highest summits reaching over 7,990 feet/2,400 meters, Chimanimani National Park has become a top destination among adventure seekers, keen hikers, campers, and those looking to immerse themselves in nature.
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you certainly won’t be disappointed when visiting this top Zimbabwe tourist attraction and natural oasis. As the lower reaches of the park are covered by dense virgin forest, it is known to attract and provide shelter to several obscure wildlife species including eland, sable, and the blue duiker antelope. It is also one of the best parks in Zimbabwe to spot the elusive leopard as they roam free in the Chimanimani mountains, as well as enjoy incredible sightings of Southern Africa’s smaller cat species such as Serval, the African Wildcat, Caracal, the mysterious Sand Cat, Jungle Cat, Black-Footed Cat, and the African Golden Cat. If you’re an avid birder, you can look forward to some spectacular birdlife sightings when visiting Chimanimani National Park and the Chimanimani mountains.
Amenities in the park include unpaved hiking trails, communal huts and a campsite with basic cooking and ablution facilities. Wild camping is also allowed throughout the park.
#7 Nyanga National Park
Regarded as the home of the Highveld, Nyanga National Park is a wild and wonderful place to visit on any trip to Zimbabwe. Located more than 1,800 meters above sea level, it is said to be perched on the very roof of Zimbabwe, formed by hulking hills of dolomite rock and suspended boulders – Making it quite a unique sight to behold.
Besides being the home of the Zimbabwean Highveld, Nyanga National Park boasts a fascinating and incredible landscape which is dressed in groves of msasa trees and cypresses which are considerably rare to these regions. Due to the vastly unique landscapes of the park, the unique habitats that exist within Nyanga National Park can host a truly otherworldly array of creatures and a remarkable diversity of wildlife species.
Several of the species in the park are entirely endemic to the region, such as the Old World Samango monkeys with their white-brushed throats that can only be found in these parts of the world. The Nyanga National Park is also home to a number of leopards, lions, and other wildlife species, ensuring you get to enjoy the full authentic African safari and wildlife experience.
#8 Chinhoyi Caves
Located in north central Zimbabwe, the mysterious Chinhoyi Caves is not only one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe, but a place of geological interest too. Made up of a subterranean system of limestone and dolomite caverns and tunnels, the caves are protected as part of the Chinhoyi Caves National Park. The caves have a mystical appeal about them as local elders believe they are sacred. Due to several artifacts found and uncovered in the caves (such as pottery, drawings, and human remains), it is suggested that the caves have been inhabited since at least the 1st century. Most famously, the Chinhoyi Caves provided a refuge from raiding tribes for Mashona chief Chinhoyi and his people.
Undoubtedly the main attraction of the Chinhoyi Caves is the ‘Wonder Hole’. This deep blue natural pool is a collapsed cavern with sheer walls that drops straight down into what is known as the crystalline Sleeping Pool. Besides a bucket-list worthy experience, the glacial blue color of the lake’s water provides the perfect backdrop for the most incredible photographs. It is also the site where visitors can enter the illuminated Dark Cave.
A visit to Chinhoyi Caves is a great opportunity to hear and learn about the historical significance of the caves as well as the folklore that surrounds this mysterious place. Chinhoyi is a popular destination for technical scuba divers.
#9 The Great Zimbabwe National Monument & Masvingo
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument is located approximately a four-hour drive south of Harare or east of Bulawayo (two of Zimbabwe’s largest towns). Regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument protects the remains of Great Zimbabwe, the capital of the historic Kingdom of Zimbabwe and the most important stone ruins south of the Sahara. Built between the 11th and 15th centuries, these 700-year-old ruins crumble and crack under the sun, revealing tales of grave history and the nation’s old Shona-speaking folk.
The ruins cover a vast area, including a hilltop acropolis which once housed kings and chiefs. Making it quite an enthralling historical landmark to visit and explore on your trip to Zimbabwe. The valley surrounding the Great Zimbabwe National Monument is scattered with the ruins of more humble dwellings, all of which were built using perfectly cut granite blocks. As various artifacts such as porcelain from China and Arab coins from the East African coast have been discovered at this very site, it suggests that Great Zimbabwe was once a powerful and wealthy center of trade.
Some 20 kilometers away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Great Zimbabwe is where you’ll find Masvingo. Situated neatly on the edge of the Mutirikwi National Park, Masvingo is the ultimate destination for keen adventure travelers and thrill seekers looking to explore and discover as it has plenty in the way of outdoor exploration up its sleeve. It is also regarded as one of the prime drop off points, welcoming VIP tourists and travelers to the deeper reaches of Zimbabwe, as they make their way through to the southern edge of the country.
#10 Matusadona National Park
A relic of the former state of Rhodesia, Matusadona National Park clings to the southern banks of Lake Kariba, on the Zimbabwean side of the great water body. After becoming subsumed by Zimbabwe following the various upheavals, the area retained its protected status and established itself as one of the top tourist attractions in Zimbabwe.
One of Matusadona National Park’s main allures is that the whole region is beautifully untouched and untrodden. This makes it the perfect African wilderness escape for those seeking an off-the-beaten-track safari adventure. In addition to its vast diversity of wildlife, the majestic Cape buffalo and African elephant are by far the two most popular wildlife species you can look forward to seeing when visiting Matusadona National Park.
The nearby water of Kariba provides ample grazing lands which has only flourished since the creation of the Kariba Dam. This allows ungulates such as giraffes, hippos, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest, aardvark, and an incredible array of antelope (to mention merely a few), and predators alike to thrive along its fringes.
Kariba is also known as one of the best places in the world to catch tiger fish, as well as for its remarkable sightings of hippos, crocodiles, and vast birdlife. The lake’s islands offer ample opportunities for game viewing with the most rewarding wildlife area being none other than Matusadona National Park.
Did you know that the famous waterfall has a little town tucked away close by, with the same name? In Lozi ( the local dialect ) the falls are called “The Smoke that Thunders” and thousands of people flock to admire the magnificent waterfall every year. It’s 1,708 metres wide and 108 metres high, creating a majestic sight to behold.
If you’ve travelled to Zimbabwe to admire the waterfall, and you’re staying over at one of the fantastic Victoria Falls hotels, there’s a lot of other activities to indulge in after you’ve seen (and felt) the thunderous waters. We’ve gathered the Top 10 Things to Do at Victoria Falls for you.
#1 Zambezi River White Water Rafting
Not only can you stand and admire the Victoria Falls, you can also ride the “waves” created by it. Below the falls the Zambezi River offers you top-notch white water rafting opportunities. It’s some of the best in the world. There are 24 thrilling rapids to conquer. Right after the falls lies an intense stretch of the river with a channel of high volume water. A truly unforgettable experience!
Average cost: US$ 120 p/p
#2 Bungee Jumping
If you don’t like the idea of the water slapping you in the face on a raft, why not get your adrenaline shot from jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge? It is 111 metres high, guaranteed to give you the thrill of a lifetime.
Average Cost: US$ 160 p/p
Suggested Companies: Shearwater Bungee
#3 Swim in Devil’s Pool
Another option if you like being adventurous, but still prefer to stay on the safe side of thrill seeking. The rocky bathing pool is on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls and offers an extremely unique swimming opportunity. With the assistance of a local guide you can scoot to the edge of the pool to stand in awe of the 108m drop. But beware, the water is quite icy.
Average Cost: US$ 110 – 175 p/p
Suggested Companies: Victoria Falls Guide (official tour guide provider of Devil’s Pool swims)
#4 A Guided Tour of Victoria Falls
The waterfall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore on your own, but a guided tour can give you the inside scoop on interesting little-known facts, delving into the history of the Falls. There are various viewpoints along the way to admire the waterfall from different angles.
Average Cost: US$ 23 p/p (excl. US$30 National Parks fee)
#5 Tiger Fishing on the Zambezi River
Tiger Fish are feisty little buggers, ranking among the top fighting fish in the world. Sit next to the Zambezi River, soaking up the serene surroundings, awaiting a bite, and then get ready to work hard to haul out one of these mighty fish. In the fast-flowing waters of the Zambezi, they can grow to weigh up to 10kg, with the smallest ones weighing around 2kg.
Average Cost: US$ 145 p/p
Suggested Companies: compare packages on Tiger Fishing Zambezi
#6 A Sunset Cruise
Watching the sun sink below the horizon from the leisure of a riverboat is a once in a life time experience. With the thunderous falls in the background, you can enjoy the constant flow of the river pushing you along while you soak up the vibe.
Average Cost: US$ 55 – 85
#7 Historical Tour of the Victoria Falls Bridge
Challenge your tolerance for heights to learn more about the great architectural feat bridging the gap between the two sides of the river. The tour includes walking along the catwalks below the bridge, which were used in the construction process. The informative presentation will leave you with a greater appreciation of the formidable bridge.
Average Cost: US$ 65
#8 High Tea at Victoria Falls Hotel
A visit to the Victoria Falls Hotel will transport you back to colonial times. Sip tea and pretend you are one of the early explorers of the country. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to indulge in the tea drinking ceremony. It’s not every day that your cup of tea is accompanied by a view of one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the world. Keep an eye out for the rainbows forming in the spray. The High Tea is hosted from 3 to 5PM.
Average Cost: dependent on menu selection
Suggested Companies: Victoria Falls Hotel
#9 Flight of Angels
Another great safe thrill-seeking option. Experience the Victoria Falls from a completely different angle, soaring about the roaring waters. David Livingstone coined the saying after writing about the area, “a sight so wonderful that Angels must have gazed down on it in flight”. The helicopters used for the aerial exploration have a special structure that offers each passenger unhindered views of the formidable falls. There are 15- and 30-minute flights available throughout the day.
Average Cost: US$ 150 – 290 (excl. US$15 National Park Fees)
#10 Local Village Tour
When you are visiting a foreign country, it’s great to immerge yourself in its culture. The area around the Victoria Falls is rich with fascinating history, stories date back to over 700 years. The local guides will give you a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who call this area home. Try the local cuisine and learn more about the traditions of the communities staying close to the waterfall.
Average Cost: US$ 50