The Zambezi River winds its way through six countries in Africa, starting in north-western Zambia and finishing in the Indian Ocean.
From its source it then flows through Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Botswana then back along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe finally discharging into the Indian Ocean at its delta in Mozambique. The area of its catchment basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres which is half that of the Nile.
The Upper Zambezi is only sparsely populated flowing towards the Victoria Falls which are considered the boundary between the upper and middle Zambezi. Below the falls, the river continues to flow, dropping some 250 metres over the next 200 kilometres, before entering Lake Kariba.
The Victoria Falls World Heritage Site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1989 as a trans-boundary Property shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The towns of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and Livingstone in Zambia, are located on either side of the falls.
The Victoria Falls plunging more than a 100 m into a sheer-sided chasm, is the largest and most spectacular waterfall in Africa. The high spray clouds give rise to the local name - Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that thunders. The Falls, named after the Queen Victoria, were discovered in 1866 by Dr David Livingstone, the explorer and missionary.
Some 420 kilometres downstream from Victoria Falls, the Kariba Dam is the largest man-made reservoir in the world. At a height of 128m and with a crest length of 617m, the dam has the capacity of holding 181 billion cubic metres of water. Designed as a double curvature concrete arc dam, the Kariba Dam was constructed across the Zambezi River between 1956 and 1959. Commissioned in 1960 and opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the dam has been central to regional energy security and economic development ever since.
Matusadona National Park is situated on the shores of Lake Kariba but was proclaimed a non-hunting area on 7 November 1958 before the dam was built.
It became a Game Reserve in 1963, and in 1975, in terms of the Parks & Wildlife Act, it became a National Park. The Park comprises some 1 400 square kilometers of diverse flora and fauna. Before the lake was built, Matusadonha was a vast, rugged wilderness with limited access.
Mana Pools is Zimbabwe’s second World Heritage Site and latter-day tourist attraction of choice. Here the visitor is treated to a perfect theatre of the jungle. The legendary Mana Pools is known for its wildlife rich flood plains and magnificent views of the Zambezi River.
In 1984, Mana became the first national park in Zimbabwe to be designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. During September and October - the dry season, this area has the highest concentration of wildlife in Zimbabwe. The large herds of elephant, buffalo and a wide variety of buck inevitably attract the predators.
Bulawayo was originally the royal kraal of the legendary Ndebele kings and today the second largest city in Zimbabwe.
The Khami Ruins are located on the west bank of the Khami river, about 10 km west of Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe. The site represents all that remains of the capital of one of southern Africa’s great empires, which was at its peak from 1450-1650. In its day, the population of Khami would have lived in mud-built huts surrounded by a series of granite walls.
The Matobo National Park established in 1926 is the oldest National Park in Zimbabwe, a bequest from Cecil John Rhodes. Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 kilometres south of Bulawayo.
The Hills cover an area of about 3100 km², of which 424 km² is National Park, the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. The park extends along the Thuli, Mtshelele, Maleme and Mpopoma river valleys. Part of the national park is set aside as a 100 km² game park, which has been stocked with game including the white rhinoceros. The highest point in the hills is the promontory named Gulati (1549 m) just outside the north-eastern corner of the park.
It has one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric rock paintings in Southern Africa, while the hills are still a focus for local community shrines and sacred places. It is the home of the regional oracular cult of the High God, Mwari(Chishona) or Mlimo (siNdebele), whose voice is said to be heard from the rocks.
The Matobo Hills feature in many of the important historical events that have shaped the modern nation of Zimbabwe. There are battle sites, graves, ruins and relics that date back thousands of years through to recent events
Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, Hwange National Park is the largest Park in Zimbabwe occupying roughly 14 650 square kilometers. It is located in the northwest corner of the country about one hour south of the Mighty Victoria Falls.
It became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th Century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species recorded. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the Park’s elephant population is one of the largest in the world.
The ruins of Great Zimbabwe – the capital of the Queen of Sheba, according to an age-old legend – are a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the Shona between the 11th and 15th centuries. The city, which covers an area of nearly 80 ha, was an important trading centre and was renowned from the Middle Ages onward, and is by far the largest man-made structures in Africa. It is the largest and most intact of more than 150 examples of walled remains in Zimbabwe and are found approx. 30 km from Masvingo the oldest town of Zimbabwe.