"Zimbabwe is, potentially, one of Africa’s top wildlife destinations. Blessed with large herds of elephant and other big game, plus specialities such as wild dogs and sable antelope, it also has some of Africa’s most impressive landscapes, from the thunderous majesty of Victoria Falls to the granite moonscape of Matabo Hills. The country’s relatively low safari profile reflects decades of political turmoil. Since the departure of former president Robert Mugabe in 2017, however, tourism has been reinvigorated. While some parks have undeniably suffered neglect, a clutch of new private operators and conservation initiatives suggest a promising future.”

- Mike Unwin

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a richly varied wildlife destination, with some impressive national parks spread across some inspiring landscapes. The largest and best-known of these lie mostly in the northwest, northeast and southeast corners, where the central plateau – the country’s agricultural heartland and the location of most of its towns – gives way to the hotter, wilder ‘lowveld’.

The largest national park is Hwange, in the far northwest, which protects immense seasonal gatherings of elephant and buffalo. Here you will also find wild dogs among the full suite of large predators, plus numerous antelope species – including sable, for which Zimbabwe is one of Africa’s strongholds. Further north, the Zambezi river forms the country’s northern border with Zambia, and links a chain of parks and conservation areas. Upstream, in the west, the world heritage site and tourist playground of Victoria Falls sits alongside Zambezi National Park, which houses small but healthy game populations. East, along the southern shore of manmade Lake Kariba, lies Matusadona National Park, where large elephant and buffalo herds graze the lake shore and black rhinos hide out in the thickets. Further east still, in the Lower Zambezi valley, Mana Pools National Park is a true wilderness, with a spectacular river and escarpment backdrop against which huge game herds gather in the dry season. Canoeists here will encounter plenty of hippos, while walking safaris often succeed in tracking lion – and even wild dog.

Elsewhere, the large but little-visited Gonarezhou National Park in the country’s southeast is opening up after many years of neglect. Known for the scenic Chilojo sandstone cliffs, its wildlife is rich, though skittish. The remarkable granite moonscape of Matobo Hills, just outside Bulawayo, is home to such rock denizens as klipspringers, leopards and black eagles. And the Eastern Highlands, along the Mozambique border, offers rugged hiking in the hills of Chimanimani and Nyanga, plus excellent birding in the lush montane forests of Vumba.

Zimbabwe’s political turbulence in recent times has dented both conservation and tourism. The ousting of Robert Mugabe in 2017, however, opened a new window for change. The country’s solid national park infrastructure once made it a renowned self-drive budget safari destination. Today the emphasis is increasingly on a more exclusive experience, with private operators working in concessions in and around national parks. Many excellent conservation initiatives now aim to restore the wildlife glories of the past. Meanwhile, the more visitors the country receives, the better.

When to go

Find out when is best to visit

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WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON – ‘EMERALD SEASON’

April can be a real gem of a month to visit if you are not necessarily looking for that classic safari – this is the best month of the emerald season. Temperatures are pleasant, and the rains are beginning to ease.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

May is the beginning of the dry season, although the landscape will still be many shades of green following the rains. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings can be surprising cool, so be sure to pack a warm fleece.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

The landscape continues to dry up, with game sightings becoming more likely. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings can be surprising cool, so be sure to pack a warm fleece.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

The landscape continues to dry up, with game sightings becoming more likely. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings can be surprising cool, so be sure to pack a warm fleece.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape has now become quite parched; ultimately making this the perfect time for game viewing. Midday temperatures are hot, morning temperatures are pleasant, though occasionally cool.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape has now become quite parched; ultimately making this the perfect time for game viewing. Midday temperatures are hot, morning temperatures are pleasant, though occasionally cool.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

DRY SEASON

Game viewing can be spectacular during October; however, temperatures continue to rise before the start of the rains, with midday temperatures over 40°C/104°F not uncommon. We suggest early morning starts during this time to make the most of the more pleasant temperatures!

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON

The first rains arrive, usually in the form of sharp afternoon showers. The temperatures remain very hot, while the humidity adds an additional level of discomfort. Game viewing can still be great, but just be prepared for a little heat. We suggest early morning starts during this time to make the most of the more pleasant temperatures!

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

WET SEASON

The wettest time of the year, with rain falling most days of the month, although rarely prolonged in nature. During this period parks transform into a lush green landscape, a stark contrast to the dry season.

Zimbabwe has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain is common, usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to early May, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. As Zimbabwe is predominately a safari destination we would generally recommend visiting during the peak of the dry season; as the landscape dries up wildlife becomes more concentrated around the rivers and watercourse while at the same time thinner/ drier vegetation improves visibility.

Having said this, there is a lot to be said for the ‘emerald season’; beautiful green scenery, fantastic birding, large flowing rivers and fewer tourists can make for a wonderful and unique experience.

One more consideration is Victoria Falls and the annual flow of the Zambezi River. Generally, the falls are at their most spectacular from February through to July, whilst November marks the falls at their lowest. Even at lowest water levels the Falls are still a sight to behold, the lower water levels also make for ideal white water rafting as well as allow access to the famous Devil’s Pool.

Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou is Zimbabwe’s second biggest national park. It forms part of the vast Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, shared with neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa. This is a park for the lover of true wilderness, where the scenery is as impressive as the wildlife.

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Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park

Hwange is Zimbabwe’s biggest and best known national park. It has impressive biodiversity, and large herds of elephant and buffalo, although game viewing is harder during the rainy season. Private concessions in the eastern and southern regions offer excellent guided safaris.

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Lake Kariba & Matusadona National Park

Lake Kariba & Matusadona National Park

Lake Kariba was created in the 1950s by the damming of the Zambezi river. The swamp-grass floodplains that subsequently formed have helped boost wildlife numbers. Matusadona National Park, on the southern shore, protects elephant and buffalo herds, black rhinos and a decent predator population.

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Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park lies on the southern shore of the lower Zambezi valley. It's a wild and scenic park, known for the large game herds and many predators. Guests can canoe along one of Africa’s most beautiful stretches of river, take walking safaris, and expect close encounters with big game.

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Matobo National Park

Matobo National Park

Matobo is a small but scenic national park best known for its granite rock formations. It protects Zimbabwe’s largest remaining rhino population while the region’s rich cultural heritage includes some of Africa’s finest rock art and the resting place of former colonial ruler Cecil Rhodes.

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Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

This famous landmark is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the focus of a booming tourist industry. There is rich wildlife along the river, around the falls and upstream in Zambezi National Park, and cultural hotspots such as an old hotel and bridge, and the legacy of Livingstone.

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