Country 55/196: Zimbabwe
Destination: Victoria Falls
As in Zambia, Victoria Falls are also the tourist capital of Zimbabwe. Naturally, we had to check it out. We just loved the falls so much in Zambia that we had to do it all over again. 😉 And I’m glad we did, as we actually liked the Zimbabwean side of the falls even a bit more. It was a bit cleaner, a bit bigger, and a bit more ‘touristy’-comfortable. Also, we visited the falls on a weekday, therefore it was significantly less crowded than the other day in Zambia.
Besides, it’s not just about the falls. This part of Zimbabwe offers tons of other awesome activities and adventures. ♥
Things to see and things to do
Zimbabwe is known for its many national parks, the Eastern Highlands, the Matobo Hills, a number of ancient ruined cities built in a unique dry stone style, and of course the spectacular Victoria Falls.
After the land reform program in 2000, Zimbabwe experienced a decline in tourism, but in 2017 the industry began to grow again. During our visit, there were quite a lot of tourists in the area and there was definitely a large variety of amazing tourist attractions and activities.
Victoria Falls – the city
Victoria Falls is a relatively small city in the Eastern part of the country. It offers many fun activities, a large selection of great restaurants, and some lovely attractions, such as the Jafuta Heritage Centre, the Elephant’s Walk Shopping and Artist’s Village, and the Victoria Falls Snake Park.
In Zimbabwe, they are currently going through a currency transition process, therefore we’ve had some issues with paying. Due to their shortage of cash, at the moment it’s impossible to withdraw cash from the ATMs and in some facilities, they do not accept credit cards or if they do, they will charge you the price in USD, which is 2.5-times higher than the Zimbabwean dollar. In case you are planning to travel to Zimbabwe in the near future, we suggest you arrive with cash (USD or Zimbabwean dollars if possible).
In Victoria Falls, we had the privilege to experience both a very luxurious and a simpler accommodation, as both were offered in support of our project.
At first, we were staying at the phenomenal Victoria Falls Safari Lodge on the outskirts of the city. It is a luxurious lodge overlooking the Zambezi National Park. It has super comfortable rooms, some great restaurants, a movie room, and two pools. They offer some awesome activities, including the famous Boma dinner and drum show and the Vulture culture experience – a conservation initiative to feed vultures and to raise awareness of their importance for people and wildlife. But the best part is that you can spot hundreds of animals (zebras, antelopes, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes, and elephants) from the hotel restaurant, from the wonderful pool, or even from the comfort of your own room. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is without a doubt the best hotel for a romantic holiday.
Afterwards, we were staying at the much simpler (but equally as luxurious in terms of friendliness, coziness, and relaxation) lodge – the Hippo House. They have a wonderful big backyard with garden furniture and a pool. Plus, the location is perfect – it’s walking distance from the city center, yet far enough from the noise.
Victoria Falls – the falls
From the Zambian side one can only see 25% of the largest waterfall in the world, as from the Zimbabwean side one can see the other 75%, which is a good enough reason to visit the Zimbabwean side as well, even though it is a bit more expensive (in Zambia the entrance fee costs 20USD, in Zimbabwe it’s 30USD per person). The park surrounding the falls is clean and well marked. We walked all the trails in the park, as we didn’t want to miss a thing. We liked the viewing points 2, 4, 6, 8, and the danger point the most. At the danger point, you get very close to the most spectacular part of the falls and on a sunny day, you can see a beautiful rainbow above the Zambezi River. It was a hot day, so we didn’t mind getting wet. 😉 We also saw a lot of animals, including baboons, vervet monkeys, and warthogs, which made the experience even more enjoyable.
A sunset safari cruise
Zambezi River is one of the biggest attractions in Zimbabwe, therefore a safari cruise is a must-do. We did a sunset cruise with the Shearwater Adventures agency. The price was 50 USD and it included the entrance fee to the national park, a snack and an ‘all you can drink’ bar. We didn’t see a lot of animals (only hippos), but the colorful sunset over the great river was pretty amazing. 😉
A lion encounter
On our last day, we decided to visit the Lion Encounter – a conservation program that is doing their best to ensure a secure future for the African lion, which has seen an 80/90% decline in the past 20 or 30 years. They are the first genuine program to ethically re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild. Offering people a secure walk with lion cubs that are adjusting to living in the wild is a way to promote and finance their cause. We do not support any animal entertainment facilities and they have made it very clear that they are not one of them. The lions are not chained, drugged, or tortured in any way. They are not there to attract or entertain tourists. They are looked after in the process of growing up and trained to be released back to the wild. They have managed to increase the population of the endangered species in the last couple of years and we hope they continue to do their best to preserve this magnificent species. Still, it did feel kind of weird for us to interact with lions on such level and the fact that the population of the African lion hasn’t increased as much as one might expect raises questions of whether such programs are truly necessary. You should judge for yourself.
Where to stay
Zimbabwe is an increasingly popular tourist destination. There are plenty of luxurious, mid-range, and budget accommodation options to be found throughout the country, especially near Victoria Falls.
Are you planning a trip to Zimbabwe? Here you can get a room with a 10% discount! 🙂
Zimbabwe is an affordable travel destination. However, the prices change quickly during the currency transition process and the rapid growth of the tourism industry. The Zambezi sunset safari cruise and other tourist activities tend to be quite pricey. Budget accommodation prices start at 16.6 USD (14 EUR) a night. Staying in luxurious suites and lodges will cost you more than 1200 USD (1012 EUR) a night. Food costs approximately 10 USD (8.5 EUR) a day in local restaurants. Local transportation is inexpensive.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Zimbabwe is during the winter (from May to October) when the weather is dry and sunny and the temperatures are pleasantly warm. The prices tend to be lower during the summer (from October to May).
Other than the decline of some animal species (including the African lion) in the territory of Zimbabwe, the country is also battling severe deforestation, erosion of its agricultural lands, air pollution (caused by transportation and industrial emissions), water pollution, and toxic waste pollution (due to poor mining practices). The nation has been estimated to have the highest DDT concentrations in the world in its agricultural produce.
Poaching is also a major issue, as it has significantly reduced the black rhinoceros herd. In order to protect the wildlife, the government has adopted a policy of shooting poachers on sight.
As we have learned during the Vulture culture experience, vultures play major roles in finding poachers. We have also learned that they are vital to the ecosystem, as they are the rubbish collectors and cleaners of the bush. Without them there would be more disease in our immediate environment, adversely affecting wildlife, domestic animals and humans.
Romance and adventure
Wildlife spotting (sometimes even from the comfort of your own hotel room), spectacular waterfalls, romantic sunset safari cruises on the Zambezi River, game drives, walking safaris, scuba diving in Chinhoyi Caves National Park, exploring the ancient ruins of Khami and the Great Zimbabwe ruins, and much more. Zimbabwe offers numerous romantic activities and adventures.
Found lots of LOVE in Zimbabwe. 😉 ♥
Honeymoon rating of the visited destinations: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♡
Zimbabwe offers lots of amazing adventures, natural wonders, and romantic sights, therefore it makes a great honeymoon destination.
* Note: This is NOT a general rating of the country, it is merely our personal opinion of the mentioned site(s) as honeymoon destinations, based on the level of tourism development, the number and quality of romantic and adventurous activities and sites it offers, and safety. We strongly believe that every country is beautiful in its own way, they may simply be more or less honeymoon oriented/friendly.
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