After a difficult decade or so, stability is returning to Zimbabwe and pioneering tourists are gradually trickling back to the country. They are richly rewarded for their endeavours: with its abundance of natural wonders, welcoming locals, fascinating heritage and good climate, Zimbabwe is one of the most remarkable countries in Africa.
The jewel in its glistening crown is Victoria Falls. Straddling the border between Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia, this waterfall is officially the largest on the planet and hearing the roar of all that cascading water makes for an unforgettable experience.
As well as awe-inspiring natural spectacles, Zimbabwe offers some of the best wildlife in southern Africa. From the forested mountains of the Eastern Highlands to the sun-washed grasslands of Hwange National Park, the country is teeming with flora and fauna, including the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo and lion).
Roughly 11% of Zimbabwe's land has been set aside for parks and wildlife estates, but it can do big cities too. The two most populous are Harare and Bulawayo, which serve up an impressive selection of cultural attractions, hip bars and fine dining restaurants. Between these two urban hubs lie the astonishing late Iron Age stone ruins at Great Zimbabwe, which shoot down theories that sub-Saharan Africa had no great civilizations.
It’s not all smooth sailing, though. Whilst Zimbabwe’s fragile economy is slowly improving, there is still widespread poverty and the government lacks the resources to deal with the ravages of the HIV pandemic, which affects an estimated one in four people here. Corruption is rife too, and roadblocks manned by officials looking for any excuse to fleece you can hinder cross-country travel.
But for the most part Zimbabwe remains a peaceful place full of peaceful people, who desperately need tourism to help build a better future for this incredible corner of Africa.