Evergreen Escape has tailored a 12-day combined cultural and safari trip, which gives you the chance to experience a country where the experiences almost come like pearls on a string. A journey where you both experience the fantastic wildlife, unique historical monuments, and meet the local tribes on their terms.
When you have passed through passport control at the airport, your Danish tour guide, local tour guide and driver are ready to welcome you. You will be driven to your hotel, so you have the opportunity to have a refreshing shower before we go on a short sightseeing tour around the city.
Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, is the country’s largest city with a small population of 2 million. The city was founded in 1890 by the British South Africa Company and was originally called Salisbury, named after the then British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. In connection with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the city name was changed to Harare.
After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to get out and experience and feel the vibrant atmosphere in Harare.
We begin today’s sightseeing by driving past the Parliament, located in a former hotel for the British colonizers. We hear little about the political situation and developments in the country after President Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe in 2017.
From there we drive to the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, which includes houses the 700-year-old drum Ngoma Lungundu, which is said to have been made from the remains of the original Ark of the Covenant. After the museum visit, we will go out to experience the local people up close when we visit colourful Mbare. On our tour around Mbare, we will also see markets where recycled clothes and handmade souvenirs are sold. Among other things. we will visit the Canon Paterson Craft Centre where local artists make the world-famous Shona sculptures.
In the afternoon we drive to Domboshava Rocks, located approx. 35 kilometres northeast of Harare. It is a series of rock formations formed by natural erosion. Here we will enjoy the fantastic view with a sundowner.
After breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to Harare and continue south to the next highlight of the journey – Great Zimbabwe. Together with a local guide, we will take a big step back into the past and experience the origins of what we know today as Zimbabwe.
The name Zimbabwe is derived from “Dzimba Dzembahwe”, which in the local Shona language means “stone houses without the use of mortar”. The name refers to Great Zimbabwe, an ancient city in present-day Zimbabwe, which was built from the 11th century and continued until it was abandoned in the 15th century.
We continue our journey into the past as we drive on to our lodge for the night – Lodge at the Ancient City. It is built on a rocky outcrop and has a wonderful view across the valley towards the Great Zimbabwe ruins. The cabins are decorated in such a way that we can almost feel like an African king for a night.
After a wonderful breakfast, it’s time to shake off yesterday’s dust and continue the journey towards Bulawayo, which is the country’s second largest city. On the outskirts of the city is Makokoba, which was the first black township in the city. The township is named after Mr. Fallon, who was the first commissioner in the area, and who usually walked around with a cane (“ukukhokhoba” in the local Ndebele language). The word describes the noise of the cane hitting the ground ko-ko-ko.
No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without visiting a local urban community and getting a real feel for their daily life. So, this morning we are going out to experience the everyday life of the local inhabitants of Makokoba. On the tour, we get the opportunity to experience the large market, where all kinds of local and traditional things are sold, including traditional medicine.
After an eventful tour, we continue our journey to Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage. Chipangali is a refuge for wild animals that do not have much chance to survive in the open. These are animals that are orphaned, sick, born in captivity or have been unsuccessfully tried to be kept as pets.
After breakfast, it’s time to go on a game drive in Matobo National Park. The scenery in Matobo is literally breathtaking. A land area characterized by massive kopjes, which are small, rounded peaks of granite. Matobo National Park is located right in the heart of the Matobo Hills and is the country’s oldest national park from 1926.
But even though the park does not have the greatest concentration of wild animals compared to Hwange, it is actually the best park for spotting both the white and black rhino. It will be possible for us to leave the car and experience the thick-skinned giants on foot in a fenced area that acts as an intensive protection zone. It is an experience out of the ordinary and compared to sitting in a safari vehicle, it is far more rewarding to meet the animals on their terms, as participants in their world.
The park is also home to the largest number of leopards in Zimbabwe, but they are very shy, so spotting them requires a little extra luck. After our game drive, we will go out to visit a small local village, located just outside the park.
The village is inhabited by people from the Ndebele tribe – the same tribe we met in the township of Makokoba. Ndebele make up approx. 15% of the population and is the second-largest tribe after the Shona tribe, which makes up approx. 70% of the population of Zimbabwe. On our tour around, we hear more about life in the village and get a unique insight into a daily life that is so far away from our own.
After the visit to the village, we will go out to experience the Matobo Hills on foot.
For the local population, Matobo Hills is a sacred place – a place where you can come into contact with the spiritual world. And when you look around, it might be easy to understand why the area is considered Zimbabwe’s spiritual home.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we continue our journey to yet another one of the country’s wonders – Khami Ruins National Monument – which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986. Khami was the capital of the kingdom of Butua from around 1450 until it was destroyed approx. 200 years after.
The area is completely unique and provides unusual evidence of a civilization that has disappeared. The archaeological remains are also a testimony of historical trade relations, and Khami was actually at that time known as the source of gold for Arab and Portuguese merchants in particular.
After the visit, it is time to drive towards the country’s largest national park, Hwange National Park. Hwange National Park is one of the best national parks on the African continent and should be on every animal lover’s list. With its 15,000 km², this huge reserve is one of Africa’s most animal-rich national parks and is famous for its large herds of buffalo and elephant.
In the park we will visit The Painted Dog Conservation. The Painted Dog – or the wild African dog – is about to become extinct. There are fewer than 7,000 left on the entire continent. They may not be as famous as their horned counterparts, but African wild dogs are beautiful, unique, and fascinating social animals.
Today we have to get up early to go on a game drive and experience the animals just after sunrise. We drive around in an open 4-wheel drive, so we have the best conditions for experiencing wildlife.
Hwange today has the country’s largest concentration of animals. The elephants in particular have benefited from the protected area and the artificial watering holes that have been constructed. The park today has so many elephants that they almost pose a problem. But they are also the park’s biggest attraction.
Among other things, the park is home to the “Big Five Antelopes”: eland – the largest of them all; kudu – with the world’s longest horn; oryx – whose horn in the Middle Ages was marketed as being from the unicorn; the roan – which is almost extinct, and the sable antelope – with its backward-pointing horns and where the males’ skin is jet black.
We drive around the park until lunchtime. After lunch there is some time to relax before we go on a game drive again in the afternoon.
After breakfast, it is time to continue our journey further northeast as we drive towards Lake Kariba. Lake Kariba is effectively the world’s largest artificial reservoir created by a 128-meter high and 617-meter-wide dam across the Zambezi River. The nature around the lake consists of lush grassland with trees and bushes, which is ideal for the many elephants that live in the area. The lake is also home to many hippos and crocodiles, and the large population of fish attracts a large number of birds.
After we have checked into our lodge, we will go out to experience the local people and learn more about the Tonga tribe. We begin by visiting the BaTonga Museum, where we hear more about their history and culture. The Tonga tribe is part of the Bantu people, and can trace their origins back to central Africa, arriving in Zimbabwe around the year 300.
After the museum visit, we will go out to have a unique experience when we visit one of the local villages and a local school. The school has students aged 3-24 divided into Early Childhood Development (2 years), Primary School (7 years of schooling) and Secondary School (4-6 years of schooling). We eat lunch in the company of the teachers, where we can exchange experiences with the school system in other countries.
After an eventful day it is time to return to our lodge for the next 2 nights. We spend the night at Masumu River Lodge, which is located on the riverbank with the most beautiful view of Lake Kariba.
The day is at your disposal until the afternoon and can be used to relax by the swimming pool or explore the area on your own.
After lunch, it’s time to get ready for the afternoon and evening experience. No trip to Africa is complete until you have experienced the very special African sunset, where the sky is lit up in the most fantastic burnt orange-red colours. At the same time, many animals are active at sunset and in the twilight, so you may be lucky enough to see hippos, crocodiles, and elephants, while at the same time you can keep an eye out for the rich birdlife in the treetops and in the sky.
After breakfast, it’s time to drive to the next highlight of the journey – Victoria Falls. When talk falls on Victoria Falls, 2 things often come to mind: Of course, the world-famous waterfall, and then the almost equally legendary hotel Victoria Falls Hotel. The Victoria Falls Hotel has been modernized over the years but has retained the distinctive colonial style that makes us almost feel like we are in a time warp when we walk around the hotel. Here we will have their famous High Tea with a view of the Victoria Falls Bridge.
We spend the night at the 4-star hotel Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which has been voted the best safari lodge in Zimbabwe for 11 years in a row. The lodge has a perfect location on a natural plateau overlooking the Zambezi National Park and a water hole where the wild animals come to drink.
After a delicious breakfast, it’s time to drive towards the impressive Victoria Falls, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1989.
Before we get to the waterfall, we make a stop at the big Baobab tree, which is probably both the oldest and largest Baobab tree in Zimbabwe. The tree is estimated to be at least 2000 years old and has an impressive girth and height – 22.40 meters in circumference and 24 meters high. A traditional legend tells how the baobab tree got its appearance.
From there we continue the journey to Africa’s largest and the world’s second largest waterfall Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is one of the natural wonders of the world and with its width of 1.7 km and a drop of 128 meters is very spectacular. After we have enjoyed the guided tour around the waterfall, heard a little more about the geological wonder and the legends that surround it, the rest of the afternoon is at your disposal. There is an opportunity to go sightseeing in the city and maybe buy a few souvenirs to take home.
We will meet again at 19.00, where we will have our farewell dinner at The Boma restaurant. We sit overlooking the Zimbabwean night sky and enjoy various excellent local dishes. While we eat, we are entertained by traditional dance and music.
Enjoy the last morning atmosphere in Zimbabwe. Take a dip in the hotel swimming pool or buy the last souvenirs before we get ready to go to Victoria Falls Airport to begin your journey home. Tired, but filled with lots of lovely holiday memories, new friendships and, of course, unique spot shots.
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