Listed City Guide - Z

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Bulawayo Travel Guide

Bulawayo, ‘the City of Kings,’ is a multicultural hub in the southwest of Zimbabwe. The second-largest city after Harare, it is regarded as a business and industrial capital, partly due to its proximity to South Africa and Botswana. Once a thriving city, Bulawayo has experienced a sharp decline in living standards and infrastructure over the past decade. The city was once home to a number of large business headquarters, including large manufacturing centres and transportation company hubs, but many of these have since closed or moved to Harare, leaving behind large-scale unemployment and poor service delivery. Nevertheless, Bulawayo remains the country’s cultural centre, with a large community of creatives and artists in the city. Various theatre and dance productions, classical and contemporary music events and open mic poetry evenings can be enjoyed here. The city is home to the strongest opposition against Robert Mugabe.

The scattered parks, low colonial buildings, minimal traffic and wide, tree-lined streets give Bulawayo a laid-back atmosphere. Close to the Kalahari Desert, Bulawayo is hot and dry for most of the year, with enough rainfall in the summer to support the natural vegetation of open woodland that surrounds the city. Bulawayo is the largest city near the tourist hotspots of Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Matobo National Park. If you’re stopping in, make sure to visit the city’s museums and parks. A good kid’s attraction in Bulawayo is the Bulawayo Railway Museum, one of only a few of its kind in the world, which features some excellent colonial-era exhibitions. The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage for abandoned, sick or wounded animals is a great educational outing for the kids, as many exotic animals there are rescued pets and therefore perfectly tame.

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Harare Travel Guide

Known as ‘the sunshine city’, Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and a gateway to the country’s many attractions, including Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba. Recent turmoil in Zimbabwe cast a dark shadow on the city, with fuel and food shortages affecting tourism and day to day life throughout the country. However, the situation in Zimbabwe has improved somewhat of late and the shortages have abated, making Harare an appealing travel destination once again. Foreigners should note that the country is still struggling with many hardships; violence is seldom aimed at tourists but travellers should be sensitive to the political situation and exercise caution in the big cities, such as Harare. The tourist enclaves like Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba remain virtually untouched by any sort of upheaval.

Beautiful residential areas surround the city centre of Harare, the most developed being Borrowdale, Chisipite, Mount Pleasant and Avondale. There are some interesting galleries and museums in and around Harare showcasing local culture and heritage, some of the most popular being the National Gallery, the Dendera Gallery and the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences (formerly the Queen Victoria Museum).

Borrowdale Village is a quaint complex offering a variety of shops, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs – an excellent place to spend the day (or night!) while on holiday. Other Harare shopping centres include Westgate, which has a great movie theatre, and the Eastgate Shopping Mall, located in the CBD. When not sipping cappuccinos at a café in the village, the local residents often go to the Harare Sports Club to watch cricket, or to Old Georgians (OGs) for rugby. Golf is another favourite pastime, with some fantastic courses as well as a couple of fun putt-putt courses based in the city.

For nature lovers, visiting the Lion and Cheetah Park is a must when in Harare, and the Chriemba Balancing Rocks are also good to see. The National Botanical Garden is another good outdoor attraction in Harare. Horse riding and walking safaris are offered in the nearby Mukuvusi Woodlands, while Lake Chivero is great for jet-skiing, sailing and fishing. There are a number of parks in Harare – in particular the Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental Centre is a popular spot for family picnics and birdwatching. Two thirds of the 260-hectare reserve is natural parkland, while the remainder is a small wildlife park.

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Victoria Falls Travel Guide

Victoria Falls is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, and one of the few attractions that exceeds even the wildest expectations of its visitors. The town itself, referred to locally simply as ‘Vic Falls’, straddles the banks of the Zambezi River, in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North province. It is a pleasant place to base oneself, home to a number of hotels and lodges, a couple of good restaurants, and some great bars to enjoy.

Known as both an adventure centre and romantic getaway, there is an excellent selection of things to see and do in Victoria Falls, from a mist-soaked stroll to the viewpoints that run the length of the falls to adrenaline-packed activities like whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. There are canoe trips, river cruises, safaris and fishing trips available in Vic Falls, as well as first-rate national parks to visit nearby. A day-trip across the border into Zambia is also well worth doing. Young children might enjoy the restored colonial-era steam train, which offers scenic day-tours around the Vic Falls area, including a two-hour stop over the Victoria Falls bridge for breakfast. An elephant-back safari or ‘elephant encounter’ is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for little ones and adults alike.

There are busses, trains and airlines that travel to Vic Falls and, once there, the town is easily walkable but also has plenty of minibusses and regular taxis available for visitors to use. A popular holiday destination since the 1930s, Vic Falls is a must on any African travel itinerary.

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