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Eastern Zimbabwe doesn’t boast any attractions quite so renowned as Victoria Falls in the west, but it is worth visiting simply for the opportunity to explore Great Zimbabwe, the ruined city for which the country is named. The city was founded in the 13th century by an indigenous empire whose wealth was based on the mining of alluvial gold for trade with Kilwa, a coastal port in present-day Tanzania that traded with boats from all over Arabia and Asia. Built entirely from stone, Great Zimbabwe is easily the most compelling archaeological site in sub-equatorial Africa, and it takes several hours to explore the striking Great Enclosure and ...

Eastern Zimbabwe doesn’t boast any attractions quite so renowned as Victoria Falls in the west, but it is worth visiting simply for the opportunity to explore Great Zimbabwe, the ruined city for which the country is named. The city was founded in the 13th century by an indigenous empire whose wealth was based on the mining of alluvial gold for trade with Kilwa, a coastal port in present-day Tanzania that traded with boats from all over Arabia and Asia. Built entirely from stone, Great Zimbabwe is easily the most compelling archaeological site in sub-equatorial Africa, and it takes several hours to explore the striking Great Enclosure and fortress-like Hill Complex. Also in eastern Zimbabwe, Mana Pools National Park offers the opportunity to hike and canoe along a part of the Zambezi teeming with wildlife, while the more southerly Gonarezhou is an extension of the Kruger Park in South Africa. The eastern highlands, protected in Chimanimani and Nyanga National Parks, boast some great walking opportunities through highland meadows, into lush montane forest, and past tall waterfalls. The capital Harare and smaller city of Mutare are both quite attractive and there are plenty of prehistoric rock art sites in their vicinities.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The southern winter (May-September) is best for game viewing and it is also most comfortable climatically. It's also perfectly possible to travel in the southern summer.