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Click on the links below to find out about our first trip to Zimbabwe in 2011
Zimbabwe has a rich history and heritage and behind the grim data lies one of southern Africa’s most beautiful countries. And despite being forced to sacrifice so much, Zimbabweans have not lost their humour or resolve. With so few visiting the country, those who do can expect royal treatment. They need you. While the world’s media focuses on the fall of Zimbabwe, visitors will see a very different image of the country. Zimbabweans are a peace-loving people, warm and hospitable.
Zimbabwe is no longer nearly as cheap as it once was, but its richness in culture and colour remain. Colonialism remains etched in all sorts of ways, but local traditions are visible. A country of charm, political intrigue and magnificent wilderness awaits. Oh, and Zimbabwe’s got one of the world’s best climates… even the worst government can’t destroy that.
One of Africa's finest havens for wildlife and is home to vast herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and has a very large concentration of giraffe. It is also home to many predators and endangered species plus very large and varied birdlife.
The park is situated on the main road between Bulawayo and the world famous Victoria Falls.
Hwange National Park covers just over 14 600 square kilometres.
The Park carries 105 mammal species, including 19 large herbivores
and eight large carnivores. Elephant make up the largest proportion of the biomass.
All Zimbabwe's specially protected animals are to be found in Hwange and it is the only protected area where gemsbok and brown hyena occur in reasonable numbers. The population of wild dog to be found in Hwange is thought to be of one of the largest surviving groups in Africa today.
The landscape includes desert sand to sparse woodland as well as grasslands and granite outcrops. Due to the lack of water, man-made waterholes were introduced to sustain the animals through the dry season. The park has an interesting variety of landscapes with one part running alongside the North-eastern end of the Kalahari desert. The south is sandy with extensive forests and open grassland. A feature of the area is ancient fossil dunes - ancient sand dunes held together by vegetation.
Walking, driving and horseback safaris are a popular way of seeing the wildlife.
To travel through Hwange National Park today is to see what much of the interior of Africa might have been like more then 150 years ago.
Hwange National Park (formerly Wankie) is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe. The park lies in the west, on the main road between Bulawayo and the widely noted Victoria Falls.
It was founded around 1928 by a 22-year-old game ranger, Ted Davidson. He befriended the Manchester-born James Jones who was the stationmaster for the then Rhodesian Railways at Dete which is very near Hwange Main Camp. Jones managed incoming supplies for the park.
Elephants have been enormously successful in Hwange and the population has increased to far above that naturally supported by such an area. However there have been consecutive years of drought in the Hwange region and this population of elephants has put a lot of strain on the resources of the park. There has been a lot of debate on how to deal with this, and culling may well be the only solution.
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With little awareness of what lies ahead, the steadily flowing Zambezi River casually approaches Victoria Falls, then topples out of control over a sheer 330-foot (100 metre) drop. This mile-wide (1,609 metre) curtain of water really is as spectacular as its reputation and can be viewed from various angles at numerous viewpoints. It is the widest curtain of falling water in the world, and during the warm wet months of February to April, it cascades at over thirty times its dry season flow. The resulting spray can be seen from 20 miles (32kms) away and explains the local African name for the falls - Mosi-oa-tunya ‘Smoke that Thunders’
The best view of the falls is from the air and the so called 'Flight of Angels', was born out of Livingstone's November 1855 diary entry when seeing the falls he stated, "Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in flight." It was Cecil Rhodes and his dream of a railway from Cape to Cairo, that brought settlers and tourists to the area in 1905, and the original Victoria Falls Hotel was built soon thereafter. Around the falls is 9 miles² (23 km²) of riverine jungle with ferns, figs, ilala palms, vines, mahogany trees and patches of rain-forest, providing a tranquil setting from which to view the five cascades. Antelopes can be seen in these areas and troops of nonchalant baboons patrol the walkways. Airborne droplets of fine mist creates an almost constant rainbow, which can even be seen by the light of the moon.
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.
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.
As one moves northwards towards the Zambezi River from the forests on the Karoo sediments, the vegetation changes to open Faidherbia albida woodlands on the old river terraces. This vegetation gives an unique look to the area and a surreal light filters through the trees giving Mana Pools its distinctive cathedral-like atmosphere.
On the old river terraces, tourists can walk unaccompanied by guides in the open Albida woodland because visibility is good and there is little danger of unexpectantly coming across dangerous animals. This privilege of walking alone in an area with dangerous wildlife is unique in Zimbabwe. Elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo are some of the larger herbivores to be seen regularly on the river terraces as they come out to eat the fallen Albida fruit. Lions, leopards, spotted hyaena and cheetah are present in the area, but their secretive nature makes them more difficult to see. Despite this, it is not often that the visitor leaves Mana Pools without seeing at least one of these large carnivores.
This large area is without physical boundaries and the wildlife is free to move throughout the area - even northwards across the Zambezi River into Zambia, where there are also large wilderness areas set aside for wildlife conservation.
Northwards, off the river terraces, is the mighty Zambezi River flowing sedately on its way to the Indian Ocean. This now tranquil river was a major route for the trade in ivory and slaves in the dark past.
Mana Pools is 2,196 square kilometres in extent but is part of the 10,500 square kilometre Parks and Wildlife Estate that runs from the Kariba Dam in the west to the Mozambique border in the east.
Situated 8 kilometres from Gweru in the Zimbabwe Midlands, Antelope Park is the ideal stopover for anyone looking for a truly unique experience - and we do mean unique! After all, where else in the world can you walk with lions, accompany them on a hunt or swim with one of Africa’s Big 5? Nowhere! Because we can claim three World Exclusives: the Lion Walk, the Night Encounter and Elephant Swim!
However, that’s not the only reason to visit us. You can also ride elephants, go game viewing on horseback, on foot or in a vehicle, relax on a boat ride, canoe and fish on our wonderfully scenic lake – and much, much more! Whatever you want, it’s all here and we’ll make sure you fit in as much, or as little, as you like.
Home to the African Lion Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and the world’s first Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme, your stay at Antelope Park will not only leave you with memories that will last a lifetime, but also with the knowledge that you have personally helped contribute to the survival of the African Lion.
Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which existed from 1100 to 1450 AD during the country’s Late Iron Age. The monument, which first began to be constructed in the 11th century and which continued to be built until the 14th century, spanned an area of 722 hectares (1,784 acres) and at its peak could have housed up to 18,000 people. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of their political power. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high and which were constructed without mortar.
Eventually, the city was largely abandoned, and fell into ruin, first being encountered by Europeans in the early 16th century. Investigation of the site first began in the 19th century, when the monument caused great controversy amongst the archaeological world, with political pressure being placed upon archaeologists by the then white supremacist government of Rhodesia to deny that it could have ever been produced by native Zimbabweans.
Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, with the modern state being named after it.
The word "Great" distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, known as Zimbabwes, spread across the Zimbabwe highveld. There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manekweni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls and Great Zimbabwe is the largest
The ruins form three distinct architectural groups. They are known as the Hill Complex, the Valley Complex and the Great Enclosure. The Hill Complex is the oldest, and was occupied from the ninth to thirteenth centuries. The Great Enclosure was occupied from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries and the Valley Complex from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. Notable features of the Hill Complex include the Eastern Enclosure, in which it is thought the Zimbabwe Birds stood, a high balcony enclosure overlooking thae Eastern Enclosure, and a huge boulder in a shape similar to that of the Zimbabwe Bird. The Great Enclosure is composed of an inner wall, encircling a series of structures and a younger outer wall. The Conical Tower, 18 ft in diameter and 30 ft high, was constructed between the two walls. The Valley Complex is divided into the Upper and Lower Valley Ruins, with different periods of occupation.
The Valley Complex.
There are different archaeological interpretations of these groupings. It has been suggested that the complexes represent the work of successive kings: some of the new rulers founded a new residence. The focus of power moved from the Hill Complex in the twelfth century, to the Great Enclosure, the Upper Valley and finally the Lower Valley in the early sixteenth century. The alternative "structuralist" interpretation holds that the different complexes had different functions: the Hill Complex as a temple, the Valley complex was for the citizens, and the Great Enclosure was used by the king. Structures that were more elaborate were probably built for the kings, although it has been argued that the dating of finds in the complexes does not support this interpretation. Some researchers claim that the ruins may have housed an astronomy observatory, although the significance of the alignments upon which these claims are based is contested.
Masvingo is a town in south-eastern Zimbabwe and the capital of Masvingo Province. The town is close to Great Zimbabwe, the national monument from which the country takes its name.
Known as Fort Victoria until 1982, when its name was briefly changed to Nyanda. Within a few months its name was again changed to Masvingo when it was discovered that Nyanda did not translate very well across dialects. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe, and grew up around the encampment established in 1890 by the Pioneer Column en route to their eventual destination, Salisbury. The Old Fort national monument is located in the centre of town, and was erected in 1891 as one of a series of fortifications to guard the route from Salisbury to the south. The very first cricket match in Zimbabwe is said to have taken place close by in 1890.
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Shona (or chiShona) is a Bantu language, native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify peoples who speak one of the Shona language dialects, namely Zezuru, Karanga, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore. Shona is a principal language of Zimbabwe, along with Ndebeleand the official language, English. Shona is spoken by a large percentage of the people in Zimbabwe and spoken by a substantial number of people in Mozambique. Other countries that host Shona language speakers are Zambia and Botswana. The total number of Shona speakers is at least 20,000,000 or more.
Ndebele is related to the Nguni language of Zulu spoken in South Africa. When Mzilikazi and his people separated from the Zulu, they took the Zulu language with them. Part of them remained in the region of modern Pretoria. They are now the South Ndebele. Their language combines Zulu and Sotho-Tswana elements taken over from the neighbouring peoples. The major part of the Ndebele went northward into present-day Zimbabwe. Therefore their language is Nguni without Sotho-Tswana elements.
Agriculture produces about 13% of the GDP and employs about 25% of the labour force. Commercial crop production, primarily on large farms, includes corn, sugarcane, wheat, seed cotton, tobacco, sorghum, and soybeans. The remaining land is made up of small farms raising subsistence crops, including corn, millet, peanuts (groundnuts), cassava, potatoes, dry beans, bananas, and oranges. Coffee and tea have been introduced in an effort to diversify crop production. The principal livestock include cattle, goats, and sheep. About half of the cattle are held by blacks practising traditional pastoralism. Zimbabwe has abundant mineral reserves. Gold, nickel, asbestos, coal, copper, chrome, iron ore, silver, and tin are produced. Manufacturing is fairly well diversified and includes crude steel, pig iron, cement, electrical and other machinery, cotton textiles, clothing, footwear, chemicals, plastics and rubber products.
Medical facilities are good in the major towns and there are well-equipped clinics in most outlying areas, although medical costs can be high. There may be drugs shortages in public hospitals. Health insurance is essential; adequate medical provision is often only provided privately, especially in urban areas. Private hospitals may require health insurance or a cash payment before admission.
The one vaccine that you must get is for Hepatitis A.
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please consult your doctor or a travel health specialist. The choice of vaccinations can depend on a range of issues including the specific destination, the duration of the trip, your personal health and of course what vaccines you have had before.
There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations.
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The Victoria Falls are shared by both Zambia and Zimbabwe and is territorially divided by Cecil Rhodes' famous bridge - which he never lived to see. As well as a spectacular view down into the gorge, this bridge has more recently become famous for its adrenaline-pumping bungy jump with a fall of 364 feet (111 meters)! The other most popular adventure pursuit here is white-water rafting on the Zambezi.
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