A land to stir the heart and soul, Zimbabwe exceeds expectations many times over. Suffused with colour and rich in culture its terrain encompasses endless plains dissected by majestic rivers, soaring granite kopjes, forested valleys and stretches of absolute wilderness. Sheer remoteness adds to the adventure, rising in the misty dawn to feel closer to nature than you could ever dream. In Hwange National Park elephant wander through the encampments, congregating in their hundreds by the water holes, whilst the blazing sunsets at Mana Pools are accompanied by the grunting of hippo as they wallow in the waters of the mighty Zambezi. There are predators at large too – harder to find yet supremely rewarding when spotted – adult lion and their cubs feasting on the night’s kill; a cheetah stalking her prey. What better way to follow the exhilaration and exertions of a safari than with a relaxing river cruise or to sit looking down on Lake Kariba with its skeleton-like semi-submerged trees and abundance of antelope. And yet, Zimbabwe has not played its trump card. A distant thunder grows closer. A curtain of shimmering vapour rises ahead. Victoria Falls announces its presence, and the zip-wire riding, white water rafting, adrenalin pumping fun has just begun.
The dry winter months between May and October are generally the best months for game viewing as the grass is lower, the vegetation less dense and the animals are driven to the waterholes to quench their thirst. Temperatures are hot during the day but can drop significantly at night, even falling below zero in Hwange. Daytime temperatures in October can be exceptionally high. The rainy season is usually from December to March, with beautiful, green landscapes. Victoria Falls are at their most dramatic from March to May, though the mist created by such a volume of water can obscure the views.
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Whether approached from the Zimbabwe side or the Zambia side, little can prepare you for the sight and sound of Victoria Falls: the deafening roar, the thundering mass of water, the rainbows that appear in the clouds of mist. View the spectacle from the air during an exhilarating helicopter ride or microlight flight, or walk parallel to the Falls and be prepared to get a little wet, especially when the Zambezi is in full flood in May and June. There are plenty of opportunities to go white water rafting along the Zambezi, but if you’d prefer a higher viewpoint, try zip wiring across a gorge or take a canopy tour through the riverine forest at Victoria Falls.
Hwange National Park
Visit Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe from May to September for unforgettable scenes as huge migratory herds of elephants and buffalo are drawn to the waterholes.