Forget what you think you know about Zimbabwe. Original Travel Africa Expert and former safari guide Matt tells us why we should cast aside any aspersions of Zimbabwe, and why he thinks this amazing country should be top of your list before it becomes one of Africa's premier and most sought after safari destinations.
Preconceptions and Misconceptions
For decades now, Zimbabwe has been almost a taboo word in travel circles, especially from a British perspective. The colonial history, domestic politics and economic situation has long warned travellers away from the country, making it somewhat of a pariah in southern African destinations. I am here to tell you that we should forget and dispel this perception of Zimbabwe. Having recently returned from a research trip covering Mana Pools, Hwange, and Victoria Falls, I was unbelievably impressed by the entire experience and the country as a whole.
With the recent departure of a certain politician 2 years ago, the country is slowly on the up. While I am completely aware of the significant and innate problems within the country - namely economically - I believe we should be supporting the Zimbabwean people now more than ever.
I was astounded by the level of hospitality, the genuine sense of welcoming, and overall service and interaction I had with the Zimbabwean people. They are so optimistic and hopeful for what their country could become, harking back to pre-1987 when Zimbabwe was one of the most prosperous of African nations. When you couple these dreams for how the country could (and should) progress with some of the best wildlife viewing and pristine wilderness areas in southern Africa, I think everyone should be putting Zimbabwe on their travel list.
Some highlights include Mana Pools in the north, probably the most scenically-beautiful place I have ever visited in Africa; Lake Kariba - upstream on the Zambezi - offers a pristine body of water and amazing luxury lodges from which to enjoy the lake; Hwange National Park, one of the largest National Parks in southern Africa which contains unbelievable game viewing; and of course, the Victoria Falls, a destination I can return to time and time again devoid of boredom or repetition. This is just a small encapsulation of what Zimbabwe has to offer for safari-goers.
The Conservation Conversation
As with a lot of African countries, tourism is swiftly becoming one of the largest sources of employment and income for Zimbabwe, and Original Travel will be doing everything it can to support this. Not only does tourism help the people of Zimbabwe, but it strongly impacts conservation efforts for the better. Building on this, we aim to use camps and lodges which support amazing community and conservation initiatives, such as African Bush Camps who do amazing work throughout Zimbabwe. I saw first hand how dearly Zimbabwe values it's wildlife and how desperate they are to conserve its natural areas. I admit that I saw very little of the issues that Zimbabwe faces on a domestic level, with my travels taking me to the far flung wilderness areas and national parks which are largely untouched by the country's issues; however tourism in these areas has an incredibly positive trickle down effect to the wider population.
If you want help booking the ultimate Zimbabwe safari holiday, do not hesitate to get in touch.